Debbie Lindell

Education/ Resume:

Debbie Lindell received her BSc, MSc and PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and carried out her MSc and PhD research at the Interuniversity Institute for Marine Sciences (IUI) in Eilat. During her MSc research she found pronounced seasonal succession between different phytoplankton populations in the Red Sea. In her PhD she studied nitrogen utilization in marine cyanobacteria and developed a gene expression method for assessing the nitrogen status of Synechococcus field populations. Lindell carried out postdoctoral research training at MIT in the USA working on the physiological and evolutionary implications of photosynthesis genes in phages that infect the cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus. Lindell is currently a Professor in the Faculty of Biology at the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology, where she studies host-virus interactions between marine cyanobacteria and cyanophages.

Research Summary:

Research in the Lindell lab focuses on understanding how host-virus interactions impact the population dynamics, diversity and genome evolution of host cells and the viruses that infect them. We use the marine cyanobacteria, Synechococcus and Prochlorococcus, abundant primary producers of global importance, and the viruses that infect them as our model system. Some of the key questions we are currently addressing are: How abundant are viruses that infect cyanobacteria?

How much of cyanobacterial mortality is due to viral infection and how does this influence the population dynamics and diversity of both the cyanobacteria and cyanophages? How do changing environmental conditions impact these interactions? Once a virus meets its host, how does it go about taking over host metabolic processes? What defense mechanisms do the hosts employ against infection? What are the roles and importance of interesting phage genes on the infection process? In our work we combine oceanographic field sampling, laboratory experimentation and state-of-the-art molecular technologies to analyze these interactions.

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Lindell received the Yigal Alon Fellowship from the Israel Council for Higher Education (2007-2010), the Robert J. Shillman Career Advancement Chair from the Technion (2007-2012) and the Krill prize for scientific excellence from the Wolf Foundation (2009). She is a two-time ERC awardee and is a Simons Foundation SCOPE Investigator (2014-present). Lindell holds the Dresner Chair for Life Sciences and Medicine.

Key Publications:
  • Lindell, D., D. Jaffe, Z.I. Johnson, G.M. Church, S.W. Chisholm. 2005. Photosynthesis genes in marine viruses yield proteins during host infection. Nature 438:86-89.
  • Lindell,, J.D. Jaffe, M.L. Coleman, M.E. Futschik, I. Axmann, T. Rector, G. Kettler, M.B. Sullivan, R. Steen, W.R. Hess, G.M. Church, S.W. Chisholm. 2007. Genome-wide expression dynamics of a marine virus and host reveal features of co-evolution. Nature 449:83-86.
  • Avrani, S., Wurtzel, I. Sharon, R. Sorek, D. Lindell. 2011. Genomic island variability facilitates Prochlorococcus-virus coexistence. Nature 474:604-608.
  • Sabehi, G., Shaulov, D. Silver, I. Yanai, A. Harel, D. Lindell. 2012. A novel lineage of myoviruses infecting marine cyanobacteria is widespread in the oceans. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 109:2037-2042.
  • Zborowsky, S. and Lindell. 2019. Resistance in marine cyanobacteria differs against specialist and generalist cyanophages. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA. 116:16899-16908.
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Recent Publications:
  • Mruwat, N. and M.C.G. Carlson, S. Goldin, Ribalet, S. Kirzner, Y. Hulata, S.J. Beckett, D. Shitrit, J.S. Weitz, E.V. Armbrust, D. Lindell. 2021. A single-cell polony method reveals low levels of infected Prochlorococcus in oligotrophic waters despite high cyanophage abundances. The ISME Journal 15:41-54.
  • Goldin, S., Y. Hulata, N. Baran, Lindell. 2020. Quantification of T4-like and T7-like cyanophages using the polony method show they are significant members of the virioplankton in the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre. Frontiers in Microbiology 11:1210.
  • Zborowsky, S. and Lindell. 2019. Resistance in marine cyanobacteria differs against specialist and generalist cyanophages. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA. 116:16899-16908.
  • Enav, H., S, Kirzner, Lindell, Y. Mandel-Gutfreund, O. Beja. 2018. Adaptation to sub-optimal hosts is a driver of viral diversification in the ocean. Nature Communications 9:4698.
  • Baran, N., S. Goldin, I. Maidanik, Lindell. 2018. Quantification of diverse virus populations in the environment using the polony method. Nature Microbiology. 3:62-72.
  • Schwartz, D.A. and Lindell. 2017. Genetic hurdles limit the arms race between Prochlorococcus and the T7-like podoviruses infecting it. ISME J. 11:1836-1851. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2017.47.
  • Fedida, A. and Lindell. 2017. Two Synechococcus genes, two different effects on cyanophage infection. Viruses 9:136. doi:10.3390/v9060136.
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Open Positions:

Research Assistant: We are looking for a research assistant to work on projects investigating the impact of specific genes and environmental conditions on cyanophage infection properties. We are looking for candidates with an MSc in Life Sciences (or equivalent research experience), scientific curiosity and quick to learn. Experience with cultures and molecular biology is an advantage. Send CV and contact information of 2-3 references to

Graduate student/Post-doctoral researcher positions: We are seeking motivated, talented and creative students/scientists with a keen interest in host-virus interactions or marine microbial ecology and evolution. Candidates should be both independent and capable of working in a team. Experience in microbiology, molecular biology, ecology or evolution is an advantage. Available topics include:  Horizontal gene transfer in cyanobacteria using experimental evolution; cyanophage ecology in the North Pacific Ocean; Synechococcus genome adaptation to environmental conditions in the Red Sea.

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