Marina Cvetkovska


Marina Cvetkovska
Assistant Professor

Room: GNN 375
Office: 613-562-5800 ext. 6355
Work E-mail:


Research in the Cvetkovska Lab is focused on extremophilic photosynthetic algae from the Antarctic. Photosynthetic microorganisms, including algae, are the dominant primary producers in polar habitats. The Antarctic contributes more than 30% of global carbon sequestering through photosynthesis but we know very little of how this process operates at extreme conditions. As a model, I use the eukaryotic green alga Chlamydomonas sp. UWO241, an unusual organism that originates from the depths of the permanently ice-covered lake Bonney in Antarctica and is adapted to a host of extreme conditions (low temperatures, high salinity, extreme shading). My research program employs a combination of molecular and computational biology to investigate how photosynthetic genes and proteins evolve and function at low temperatures, and how Antarctic algae survive extended periods of darkness during the 6-month long polar night.

Selected publications:

  • Cvetkovska M, Orgnero S, Huner NPA, Smith DR. (2018). The enigmatic loss of light independent chlorophyll biosynthesis from an Antarctic green alga in a light-limited environment. New Phytologist.
  • Cvetkovska M, Szyszka-Mroz B, Possmayer M, Pittock P, Lajoie G, Smith DR, Hüner NPA. (2018). Characterization of photosynthetic ferredoxin from the Antarctic alga Chlamydomonas sp. UWO241 reveals novel features of cold adaptation. New Phytologist. 219(2): 588-604.
  • Cvetkovska M, Hüner NPA, Smith DR. (2017). Chilling out: the evolution and diversification of psychrophilic algae with a focus on Chlamydomonadales. Polar Biology. 40: 1169-1184.

Fields of Interest

  • Algae and plants
  • Photosynthesis
  • Chloroplast
  • Extremophiles
  • Cold adaptation
  • Photoperiod
  • Antarctica
  • Genome
  • Protein structure and function
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