Michael Melkonian

Michael Melkonian (born 1948 in Hamburg) is a German botanist and professor of botany at the University of Cologne.

Michael Melkonian
EducationUniversity of Hamburg
Known forprotists esp. algae
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Münster
University of Cologne


Michael Melkonian studied Biology at the University of Hamburg 1968–1978, receiving a Diploma degree in Botany in 1974. He remained in Hamburg to complete a doctorate in Botany (plant physiology) in 1978. In 1978 he moved, as an Assistant Professor to the Botany Department at the University of Münster, where he stayed until his appointment as Full Professor and Chair of Botany at the University of Cologne in 1988. In 1982 he was Visiting Assistant Professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University (Bronx, N.Y.). From 1986–1988 he was a Heisenberg Fellow of the German Research Foundation (DFG). Since 2001 Melkonian is also Director of the Culture Collection of Algae at the University of Cologne (CCAC).[1][2]

Scientific contributionsEdit

Melkonian has research interests that range from cell biology, [3][4][5][6][7] systematics and biodiversity,[8][9][10][11][12] through to evolution[13][14][15][16][17] biotechnology, and environmental biotechnology of algae,[18][19][20][21] especially microalgae. To date, he has published more than 240 refereed research papers, and book articles, edited several books, among them the Handbook of Protoctista (1990), and wrote books in German ranging from General Botany (1974, 1984) to an Illustrated Guide to Freshwater Algae (2004, 2012). Melkonian holds 15 patents and is Co-Founder of Algenion GmbH & Co. KG, an algal biotec company.[22]

Melkonian studied the structure, function and development of the flagellar apparatus in algae[7] and co-discovered several centrosomal proteins novel for eukaryotes (e.g. centrin,[4] SF-assemblin). He further provided evidence that flagellar development in unicellular eukaryotes extends over more than one cell cycle generating flagella with different functions in the same cell.[5] Through the study of the biogenesis of extracellular scales in green algae, the cisternal maturation model of intra-Golgi apparatus transport was revived.[6] Studies on the eyespot apparatus of green algae[3] eventually led to the identification of the photoreceptor channelrhodopsin and the emergence of the research area optogenetics. Melkonian also studied the systematics, diversity and evolution of algae with emphasis on green algae,[13] cryptophytes, and euglenophytes[15] but also heterotrophic protists,[12] such as the Picozoa.[11] Molecular phylogenetic analyses helped to identify the flagellate Mesostigma as the earliest divergence in the Streptophyta[10] and the Zygnematophyceae as the likely sister group to the embryophyte land plants.[17] The cercozoan photosynthetic amoeba Paulinella chromatophora[14] was discovered as an example for the evolution of photosynthetic organelles through a second primary endosymbiosis independent of the origin of plastids.[16] Additionally, his group developed a novel technique to grow microalgae at technical scale immobilized on Twin-Layers.[19][20][21]

Activity in International OrganizationsEdit

  • 1992–1994 President, International Society for Evolutionary Protistology
  • 1993–1994 Vice-President, British Phycological Society Britain, my Life and the British Phycological Society
  • 1996 Organizer, First European Phycological Congress[23]
  • 2002–2004 President, International Phycological Society[24]
  • 2011–2012 Vice-President, International Society of Protistologists
  • 1998– Editor-in-Chief PROTIST [25]

Academic MembershipsEdit

  • 2003 - Corresponding Member, Botanical Society of America[26][27]
  • 2014 Honorary Member, Hellenic Phycological Society[28]


  • 1984 Biology Prize, Göttingen Academy of Sciences[29]
  • 2004 Fritz Schaudinn Award for the best original paper published during 2002 and 2003 in the journal Protist[30]
  • 2014 Hans-Adolf von Stosch Medal, Section of Phycology (German Botanical Society), for outstanding service to Phycology in Germany[31]

Publications (books)Edit


  1. ^ Culture Collection of Algae1
  2. ^ Culture Collection of Algae2
  3. ^ a b Melkonian, M., Robenek, H. (1980): Eyespot membranes of Chlamydomonas reinhardii: a freeze-fracture study. J. Ultrastruct. Res. 72, 90-102
  4. ^ a b Salisbury, J.L., Baron, A., Surek, B., Melkonian, M. (1984): Striated flagellar roots: isolation and partial characterization of a calcium-modulated contractile organelle. J. Cell Biol. 99, 962-970
  5. ^ a b Melkonian, M., Reize, I.B., Preisig, H.R. (1987): Maturation of a flagellum/basal body requires more than one cell cycle in algal flagellates: Studies on Nephroselmis olivacea (Prasinophyceae). In: Algal Development. Molecular and Cellular Aspects (Wiessner, W., Robinson, D.G., Starr, R.C., eds.), pp. 102-113. Berlin-Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag
  6. ^ a b Becker, B., Bölinger, B., Melkonian, M. (1995): Anterograde transport of algal scales through the Golgi complex is not mediated by vesicles. Trends in Cell Biology 5 , 305-306
  7. ^ a b Geimer, S., Melkonian, M. (2004): The ultrastructure of the Chlamydomonas reinhardtii basal apparatus: identification of an early marker of radial asymmetry inherent to the basal body. J. Cell Sci. 117, 2663-2674
  8. ^ Preisig, H.R., Melkonian, M. (1984): A light and electron microscopical study of the green flagellate Spermatozopsis similis spec. nova. Pl. Syst. Evol. 146, 57-74
  9. ^ Norton, T.A., Melkonian, M., Andersen, R.A. (1996): Algal biodiversity. Phycologia 35, 308-326
  10. ^ a b Marin, B., Melkonian, M. (1999): Mesostigmatophyceae, a new class of streptophyte green algae revealed by SSU rRNA sequence comparisons. Protist 150, 399-417
  11. ^ a b Seenivasan, R., Sausen, N., Medlin, L.K., Melkonian, M. (2013) Picomonas judraskeda gen. et sp. nov.: The first identified member of the Picozoa phylum nov., a widespread group of picoeukaryotes, formerly known as ‘picobiliphytes.’ PLoS ONE 8(3): e59565
  12. ^ a b Hess, S., Melkonian, M. (2013) The Mystery of Clade X: Orciraptor and Viridiraptor genera nova are highly specialised, algivorous amoeboflagellates (Glissomonadida, Cercozoa). Protist 164: 706-741
  13. ^ a b Melkonian, M. (1982a): Structural and evolutionary aspects of the flagellar apparatus in green algae and land plants. Taxon 31, 255-265
  14. ^ a b Bhattacharya, D., Helmchen, T., Melkonian, M. (1995): Molecular evolutionary analyses of nuclear-encoded small subunit ribosomal RNA identify an independent rhizopod lineage containing the Euglyphina and the Chlorarachniophyta. J. Eukaryot. Microbiol. 42 , 65-69
  15. ^ a b Marin, B., Palm, A., Klingberg, M., Melkonian, M. (2003): Phylogeny and taxonomic revision of plastid-containing Euglenophytes based on SSU rDNA sequence comparisons and synapomorphic signatures in the SSU rRNA secondary structure. Protist 154, 99-145
  16. ^ a b Nowack, E.C.M., Melkonian, M., Glöckner, G. (2008): Chromatophore genome sequence of Paulinella sheds light on acquisition of photosynthesis by eukaryotes. Curr. Biol. 18, 410-418
  17. ^ a b Wodniok, S., Brinkmann, H., Glöckner, G., Heidel, A.J., Philippe, H., Melkonian, M., Becker, B. (2011) Origin of land plants: Do conjugating green algae hold the key? BMC Evol. Biol. 11: 104
  18. ^ Podola, B., Nowack, E.C.M., Melkonian, M. (2004): The use of multiple-strain algal sensor chips (ASC) for the detection and identification of volatile organic compounds. Biosens. Bioelectron. 19, 1253-1260
  19. ^ a b Nowack, E.C.M., Podola, B., Melkonian, M. (2005): The 96-well twin-layer system: a novel approach in the cultivation of microalgae. Protist 156, 239-251
  20. ^ a b Shi, J., Podola, B., Melkonian, M. (2007): Removal of nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater using microalgae immobilized on Twin-Layers: an experimental study. J. Appl. Phycol. 19, 417-423
  21. ^ a b Naumann, T., Çebi, Z., Podola, B., Melkonian, M. (2013) Growing microalgae as aquaculture feeds on Twin-Layers, a novel solid state photobioreactor. J. Appl. Phycol. 25: 1413-1420
  22. ^ "Algenion-biotec.de". Archived from the original on 2014-03-02. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
  23. ^ FEPS
  24. ^ International Phycological Society
  25. ^ "Michael Melkonian".
  26. ^ Botanical Society of America
  27. ^ Botanical society of america
  28. ^ Hellenic Phycological Society (HEL.P.S.)
  29. ^ Biology Prize, Göttingen Academy of Sciences
  30. ^ Fritz Schaudinn Award
  31. ^ "Hans-Adolf von Stosch Medal". Archived from the original on 2014-11-06. Retrieved 2014-04-22.
  32. ^ International Plant Names Index.  Melkonian.

External linksEdit