Paul Dunlap

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Paul Dunlap


Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
1015 Natural Sciences

Office Location(s): 1015 / 1009 Kraus Natural Science Building
Phone: 734.615.9099
Lab Phone: 734.615.9804
Fax: 734.763.0544
Dunlap Lab
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  • Fields of Study
    • Evolutionary ecology of vertebrate-microbe mutualisms
  • About

    Research interests

    My research group studies the evolutionary ecology of specific pairwise mutualisms between marine teleost fish and light-emitting bacteria. We are interested primarily in the genetic, developmental, and ecological processes and mechanisms involved in symbiont acquisition and specificity, the nature and evolutionary consequences of host – symbiont genetic integration, and the influence of symbiosis in shaping the population genetic structure of host and symbiont. Our work is necessarily interdisciplinary and uses concepts and methods from a diversity of scientific areas in a combination of laboratory, computer-based, and field research studies. Our laboratory and computer-based work is carried out primarily at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Field study sites for current research projects include the coral reefs of Okinawa and near-shore and deep-sea habitats of Suruga Bay.


    Biology 207 Introductory Microbiology: This four-credit lecture and laboratory course in general microbiology is taught by Dr. Paul Dunlap in fall term. BIO 207 serves as the gateway course for the undergraduate microbiology concentration program (link) and is intended for second or third year students who have completed university level introductory biology, inorganic chemistry, and at least one term of organic chemistry. BIO 207 consists of three one-hour lectures and one three-hour laboratory session each week.

    BIO 207 introduces fundamental aspects of microbial life. It is designed to provide undergraduate students preparing for professions in academic and applied sciences with a comprehensive, holistic introduction to microbial biology. The course provides a foundation for advanced studies in microbiology, genetics, molecular biology, genomics, evolution, ecology, bioinformatics, environmental studies, medicine, dentistry, and public health. The themes of diversity, adaptation, and evolution at the molecular, metabolic, physiological, and cellular levels are emphasized throughout the course.

    The organismal emphasis of BIO 207 is bacteria (domains Bacteria and Archaea), with treatment of eukaryotic microorganisms (domain Eukarya) and viruses at various levels to provide balance and perspective. The course is divided into four approximately equal lecture areas. (1) Basic biology of bacteria: bacterial cell structure and function; bacterial nutrition, cultivation, growth, and environmental effects; and bacterial energy metabolism. (2) Bacterial molecular biology and genetics:  basic molecular biology of the bacterial cell; bacterial gene expression; bacterial viruses; bacterial genetics; and bacterial genomics. (3) Bacterial evolution, systematics, and diversity: the origin of cellular life; the divergence of Bacteria and Archaea; the origin of the eukaryotic cell; metabolic and ecological diversity of bacteria; nutrient cycles and microbial interactions; and diversity of eukaryotic microorganisms. (4) Microbial pathogenesis: epidemiology; human-microbe interactions; basic immunology; and bacterial, viral, and eukaryotic diseases of humans.

    The laboratory portion of BIO 207 guides students in the development of basic skills necessary for working effectively in a microbiology laboratory setting. These skills include lab safety, microscopy, aseptic and pure culture techniques, microbial identification, quantification of bacteria from natural samples, physiological analysis, mutant selection, and enrichment culture methods. The goal of the laboratory portion of BIO 207 is for students to develop confidence and skill in working with bacteria.

    The required text for the course is Brock Biology of Microorganisms, 12th edition, (Madigan, Martinko, Dunlap, and Clark), Pearson/Benjamin Cummings (2009; scheduled for release in March, 2008).

    The required laboratory manual for the course is Benson's Microbiological Applications: Laboratory Manual in General Microbiology (Brown) (Short Version, most recent edition).

    EEB 470 Microbial Diversity: This three-credit senior undergraduate/graduate level course is offered by Dr. Paul Dunlap in winter term in alternate years (e.g., 2007, 2009). EEB 470 introduces students to modern and classical concepts and methods for exploring microbial diversity from the perspective of the most numerous and diverse of these organisms, the bacteria (Bacteria and Archaea). EEB 470 emphasizes recent advances in understanding the tremendous metabolic and physiological diversity of microbial life, its evolutionary origins and history, and the essential roles microbes carry out in maintaining Earth's biosphere.

    EEB 470 involves lectures, for approximately three-quarters of the course, and oral and written presentations by students on an organism or microbial activity of their choice. Lecture topics include the microbial origins of life, the evolutionary history of the biosphere, metabolic diversity, extremophiles, physiological adaptation, modern microbial taxonomy, microbial phylogeny, microbial biogeography, microbial symbiosis, and genomic and metagenomic analysis of bacteria, together with descriptions of specific phenotypic groups, e.g., halophiles, phototrophs, nitrogen fixing bacteria, etc., and a characterization of some of the unusual and extreme habitats bacteria inhabit, e.g., the deep sea, hydrothermal vents, hot springs, etc. The historical foundations of microbial diversity, e.g., the work of Pasteur, Winogradsky, Beijerinck, Kluyver, and van Niel, also are briefly presented, to provide perspective on areas of current research.

    Currently, a limited number of laboratory sessions are included in the course to complement certain lecture topics. These vary from year to year.

    The required text for the course is Brock Biology of Microorganisms, 12th edition, (Madigan, Martinko, Dunlap, and Clark), Pearson/Benjamin Cummings (2009).

  • Education
    • PhD, Biology, University of California (Los Angeles), 1984
  • Research Areas of Interest
    • Evolutionary ecology of vertebrate-microbe mutualisms
  • Graduate student
    • Alison Gould