Louis D. Druehl, Professor Emeritus

Biological Sciences
Simon Fraser University

Louis D. Druehl

B.Sc. Washington State University
M.Sc. University of Washington
Ph.D. University of British Columbia
Bamfield Marine Station: (604)728-3301;


Research Program

My research focuses on the large brown algae, the kelp (Laminariales). Presently, our laboratory is concentrating on two aspects of kelp biology: 1. evolution and population genetic diversity and 2. marine agronomy.

Evolution and genetic diversity are being explored using molecular tools. Our contributions are most advanced in our evolution studies. We have examined chloroplast and ribosomal DNA diversity among kelp species, genera and families, and between the kelp order Laminariales, other orders of brown algae, and other divisions of plants. These studies have provided provocative insights into kelp evolution; for example: 1. We were able to demonstrate a surprisingly close evolutionary relationship of kelp and the freshwater fungus Achlya. 2. On the basis of ribosomal and chloroplast DNA data we have proposed that the taxonomy of the Laminariales is greatly inflated and suggested a reduction of advanced families of kelp from three to one, a reduction of kelp genera from 25 to five, and a reduction of kelp species from well over 100 to 25. 3. Application of a molecular clock to our DNA data suggests kelp genetically diverged 16-22 million years ago, thus, evolving simultaneously with the modern terrestrial legumes. Earlier estimates, based on questionable fossil fragments, had these 3dinosaurs of the plant world2 diverging very much earlier.

Some questions we are presently pursuing are: 1. What is the genetic diversity of a relatively undisturbed population and how is this diversity affected through such events as oil spills and global warming? 2. Do modes of dispersal (e.g. spores, plant rafting) and various life-history attributes (e.g perennial vs. annual persistence) influence the genetic diversity and gene flow of different kelp species? 3. At what level of molecular divergence are kelp taxa sexually incompatible?

Our kelp agronomy studies focus on improving kelp farming through the application of recent advances in kelp biology and stock selection based upon physiological and molecular genetic studies.

Selected Publications

Kusumo, H.T. and L.D. Druehl.  2000.  Variability over time and space in the genetic structure of the winged kelp Alaria marginata.  Mar. Biol. 136: 397-409.

Swanson , A.K. and L.D. Druehl.  2000.  Differential meiospore size and tolerance of ultraviolet light stress within and among kelp species along a depth gradient.  Mar. Biol. 136: 657-664

Druehl, L.D., C. Mayes, I.H. Tan and G.W. Saunders.  1997.  Molecular and morphological phylogenies of kelp and associated brown algae.  Pl. Syst. Evol. 11: 221-235.

New Yorker cartoon"First of all, let me say yes, you are getting enough kelp."
New Yorker, September 24, 1990.

This page last updated August, 2000