Sabeeha Merchant, Ph.D.

University of California Berkeley


Mechanisms by which algae scavenge, share and recycle essential metals that are required to maintain photosynthesis; comparative genomics to capture the diversity and distribution of such mechanisms.

Sabeeha Merchant, Ph.D.

Research Description

My lab uses Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, a key reference organism in the green algal branch of the tree of life, for state of the art imaging, molecular approaches and spectroscopic tools to quantify, track and visualize elements in time and space. We are fearless experimentalists who re-tool and re-invent ourselves to exploit new technologies to continue to make fundamental discoveries about trace metal metabolism and recycling in algae in the laboratory, in environmental samples and in associations with other organisms.

A new initiative in the laboratory is to understand how algae interact in symbioses with other microbes, and the impact of these interactions on trace metal acquisition and central carbon metabolism.

Research Impact

Our present work with the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii is focused on obtaining a systems-biology level picture of elemental metabolism, including relationships with other organisms in the nutrient milieu. With genomic resources and gene editing tools, the breadth of biology is now accessible, facilitating the understanding of the molecular underpinnings of how a model alga interacts with its symbionts, changing the way we think about metabolism and nutrient exchange in aquatic symbioses in the laboratory and in the environment.


related links

Science Symbiosis in Aquatic Systems University of California, Berkeley California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences Back


  • B.S., Molecular Biology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
  • Ph.D., Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
  • Postdoctoral study, Molecular Plant Biology, Harvard University, USA