People > Professor Mike Allen

Professor Mike Allen

Microbial Biochemist

Contact Details

+44 (0)1752 633100 (switchboard)


Professor Mike Allen holds joint positions as a Microbial Biochemist at PML (Merit Scientist) and as an Associate Professor of Single Cell Genomics at the College of Life and Environmental Sciences at University of Exeter. He is also an Honorary Fellow of the School of Physics at Bristol University. His interests are varied and encompass both blue skies and applied research topics. Blue skies research focuses mainly on understanding the role of viruses in the ocean using genomic, proteomic, transcriptomic and metabolomic approaches. Applied research focuses on biocatalysis, bioremediation, biotransformation, bioprocessing and technology development. Mike’s current academic research projects include co-evolution of coccolithophores and coccolithoviruses, sphingolipid biosynthesis, novel protein characterisation, lytic and latent phytoplankton viruses, phytoplankton and virus isolation. Applied projects include the development and application of genetically modified microalgae for high value products, marine biorefineries, biofuel/fertiliser production and processing, water sanitation, high throughput liquid processing and the development of novel photobioreactor technologies for promoting microalgal growth.

Current and recent funding sources include Innovate UK, The Roddenberry Foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, NERC and BBSRC.


Optimization of recombinant antiviral antibody production in the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum
Optimization of recombinant antiviral antibody production in the diatom Phaeodactylum tricornutum

Contact: Dr Felix Ciceron

Microalgae represent a promising resource for the production of various high-value products, such as lipids, polysaccharides and recombinant...

Touchy Feely GM algae
Touchy Feely GM algae

Contact: Professor Mike Allen

The genetic manipulation of marine microalgae has revolutionised the bespoke production of membrane associated products such as triacyl glycerides ...

Other key projects

Virus isolation, screening and characterisation

Developing transformation protocols for Botryococcus braunii and microalgae

Whole genome sequencing of giant algal viruses

Understanding the biosynthesis of omega-3 long chain polyunsaturates in E. huxleyi

Characterisation of novel enzymes from the marine algal virus EhV-86 and evaluation of their use for commercial biocatalysis

Isolation and development of novel marine micro-algal strains for biofuel production
Acid mine drainage and bioremediation

Photobioreactor development

Vortex bioreactors in large scale liquid processing

Vortex bioreactors for waste water

Selected key publications

Jensen CN, Ali ST, Allen MJ and Gideon Grogan G, Exploring nicotinamide cofactor promiscuity in NAD(P)H-dependent flavin containing monooxygenases (FMOs) using natural variation within the phosphate binding loop. Structure and activity of FMOs from Cellvibrio sp. BR and Pseudomonas stutzeri NF13. Journal of Molecular Catalysis B: Enzymatic, Volume 109, Nov 2014. Pages 191-198.

Pagarete A, Kusonmano K, Petersen K, Kimmance SA, Martínez-Martínez J, Wilson WH, Hehemann JH, Allen MJ and Sandaa RA. Dip in the gene pool: Metagenomic survey of natural coccolithovirus communities. Virology.  Available online 16 June 2014,

SF Thomas, Rooks P, Rudin F, Atkinson S, Goddard P, Bransgrove R, Mason PT and Allen MJ. The Bactericidal Effect of Dendritic Copper Microparticles, Contained in an Alginate Matrix, on Escherichia coli. PloS One 2014, 9 (5), e96225.

Nissimov JI, Jones M, Napier JA, Munn CB, Kimmance SA, and Allen MJ. Functional Inferences of Environmental Coccolithovirus Biodiversity.  Virologica Sinica, 2014. 28 (5), 291-302

Kimmance SA, Allen MJ, Pagarete A, Martínez-Martínez J and Wilson WH. Reduction in photosystem II efficiency during a virus-controlled Emiliania huxleyi bloom. Marine Ecology Progress Series. 2014, 495, 65-76

Jensen CN, Ali ST, Allen MJ and G Grogan. Mutations of an NAD (P) H-dependent flavoprotein monooxygenase that influence cofactor promiscuity and enantioselectivity. FEBS Open Bio 2013, 3, 473-478.

Reid EL, Weynberg KD, Love J, Isupov MN, Littlechild JA, Wilson WH, Kelly SL, Lamb DC and Allen MJ. Functional and structural characterisation of a viral cytochrome b5. FEBS letters 2013, 587 (22), 3633-3639.

Pagarete A, Lanzén A, Puntervoll P, Sandaa RA, Larsen A, Larsen J, Allen MJ, Bratbak G. Genomic sequence and analysis of EhV-99B1, a new coccolithovirus from the Norwegian fjords. Intervirology, 2012. 56 (1), 60-66.

Jensen CN, Cartwright J, Ward J, Hart S, Turkenburg JP, Ali ST, Allen MJ, Grogan G. A Flavoprotein Monooxygenase that Catalyses a Baeyer-Villiger Reaction and Thioether Oxidation Using NADH as the Nicotinamide Cofactor. Chembiochem. 2012 Mar 13.

Pagarete A, Le Corguillé G, Tiwari B, Ogata H, de Vargas C, Wilson WH, Allen MJ. Unveiling the transcriptional features associated with coccolithovirus infection of natural Emiliania huxleyi blooms. FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2011 Dec;78(3):555-64.

Allen MJ, Lanzen A, Bratbak G. Characterisation of the coccolithovirus intein. Marine Genomics, 2011 (4) 1-7.

Sayanova O, Haslam RP, Calerón MV, López NR, Worthy C, Rooks P, Allen MJ, Napier JA. Identification and functional characterisation of genes encoding the omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid biosynthetic pathway from the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi. Phytochemistry, 2011 (72) 594–600.

Reid EL, Worthy CA, Probert I, Ali ST, Love J, Napier J, Littlechild JA, Somerfield PJ, Allen MJ. Coccolithophores: Functional Biodiversity, Enzymes and Bioprospecting. Marine Drugs 2011, 9, 586-602.

Weynberg KD, Allen MJ, Gilg IC, Scanlan DJ, Wilson WH. Genome Sequence of Ostreococcus tauri Virus OtV-2 Throws Light on the Role of Picoeukaryote Niche Separation in the Ocean. Journal of Virology, 2011, 85 (9) 4520–4529.

Fischer MG, Allen MJ, Wilson WH and Suttle CA. Giant virus with a remarkable complement of genes infects marine zooplankton. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA.  2010 107 (45) 19508-19513.

Kegel JU, Blaxter M, Allen MJ, Metfies K, Wilson WH and Valentin K. Transcriptional host-virus interaction of Emiliania huxleyi (Haptophyceae) and EhV-86 deduced from combined analysis of expressed sequence tags and microarrays. Eur. J. Phycol. (2010), 45(1): 1–12.

Weynberg D, Allen MJ, Ashelford K, Scanlan DJ, Wilson WH. From small hosts come big viruses: the complete genome of a second Ostreococcus tauri virus, OtV-1. Environmental Microbiology, 2009. 11-11; 2821-2839.

Pagarete A, Wilson WH, Kimmance SA, Allen MJ, de Vargas C. Viral replacement of its host sphingolipid pathway during an Emiliania huxleyi bloom: the survival of the fattest. Environmental Microbiology, 2009. 11-11: 2840-2848.

Monier A, Pagarete A, de Vargas C, Allen MJ, Read B, Claverie JM, Ogata H. Horizontal gene transfer of an entire metabolic pathway between a eukaryotic alga and its DNA virus. Genome Research, 2009. 19(8):1441-9.

Wilson WH, Van Etten JL, Allen MJ. The Phycodnaviridae: the story of how tiny giants rule the world. Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2009; 328:1-42.

Frada M, Probert I, Allen MJ, Wilson WH, de Vargas C. The "Cheshire Cat" escape strategy of the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi in response to viral infection. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2008 Oct 14;105(41):15944-9

Field D, Garrity G, Gray T, Morrison N, Selengut J, Sterk P, Tatusova T, Thomson N, Allen MJ et al, The minimum information about a genome sequence (MIGS) specification. Nature Biotechnology. 2008 May;26(5):541-7.

Allen MJ and Wilson WH. Aquatic virus diversity accessed through omic techniques: A route map to function. Curr Opin Microbiol. 2008 Jun;11(3):226-32.

Allen MJ, Howard JA, Lilley KS, Wilson WH. Proteomic analysis of the EhV-86 virion. Proteome Sci. 2008 Mar 17;6:11.Allen MJ,  Martinez-Martinez J, Schroeder DC, Somerfield PJ, Wilson WH. Use of microarrays to assess viral diversity: from genotype to phenotype. Environmental Microbiology 2007, 9 (4), 971–982.

Kegel J, Allen MJ, Metfies K, Wilson WH, Wolf-Gladrow D, Valentin K. Pilot study of an EST approach of the coccolithophorid Emiliania huxleyi during a virus infection. Gene. 2007 Dec 30;406(1-2):209-16.

Han G, Gable K, Yan L, Allen MJ, Wilson WH, Moitra P, Harmon JM, Dunn TM. Expression of a novel marine viral single-chain serine palmitoyltransferase and construction of yeast and mammalian single chain chimera. J Biol Chem. 2006, 281, 39935-42.

Allen MJ, White GF, Morby AP. The response of Escherichia coli to exposure to the biocide polyhexamethylene biguanide. Microbiology 2006. Apr;152 (Pt 4): 989-1000.

Allen MJ, Wilson WH. The coccolithovirus microarray: an array of uses. Brief Funct Gen & Prot.  2006, Dec, 5 (4), 273-9

Allen MJ, Forster T, Schroeder DC, Hall M, Roy D, Ghazal P, Wilson WH. Locus-specific gene expression pattern suggests a unique propagation strategy for a giant algal virus. J Virol. 2006 Aug;80(15):7699-705.

Morrison N, Wood AJ, Hancock D, Shah S, Hakes L, Gray T, Tiwari B, Kille P, Cossins A, Hegarty M, Allen MJ, Wilson WH, Olive P, Last K, Kramer C, Bailhache T, Reeves J, Pallett D, Warne J, Nashar K, Parkinson H, Sansone SA, Rocca-Serra P, Stevens R, Snape J, Brass A, Field D.  Annotation of environmental OMICS data: application to the transcriptomics domain. OMICS. 2006 Summer;10(2):172-8.

Allen MJ, Schroeder DC, Donkin A, Crawfurd KJ, Wilson WH. (2006) Genome comparison of two Coccolithoviruses. Virol J. 2006 Mar 22;3:15.

Allen MJ, Schroeder DC, Wilson WH. Preliminary characterisation of repeat families in the genome of EhV-86, a giant algal virus that infects the marine microalga Emiliania huxleyi. Arch Virol. 2006. Mar;151(3):525-35.

Allen MJ, Schroeder DC, Holden MT, Wilson WH. Evolutionary history of the Coccolithoviridae. Mol Biol Evol. 2006 Jan;23(1):86-92.

Wilson WH, Schroeder DC, Allen MJ, Holden MT, Parkhill J, Barrell BG, Churcher C, Hamlin N, Mungall K, Norbertczak H, Quail MA, Price C, Rabbinowitsch E, Walker D, Craigon M, Roy D, Ghazal P. (2005) Complete genome sequence and lytic phase transcription profile of a Coccolithovirus. Science. Aug 12;309(5737):1090-2.

Allen MJ, Morby AP, White GF. Cooperativity in the binding of the cationic biocide polyhexamethylene biguanide to nucleic acids. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004 May 28;318 (2):397-404.

Genome announcements
JI Nissimov, JA Napier, SA Kimmance, MJ Allen. Permanent draft genomes of four new coccolithoviruses: EhV-18, EhV-145, EhV-156 and EhV-164. Marine Genomics 2014.15, 7-8

Allen MJ, Tait K, Mühling M, Weynberg KD, Bradley C, Trivedi U, Gharbi K, Nissimov JI, Mavromatis K, Jensen C, Grogan G, Ali ST, Genome sequence of Stenotrophomonas maltophilia PML168, which displays Baeyer-Villiger Monooxygenase activity. J Bac. 2012 Sep Volume 194 Number 17 p. 4753–4754

Nissimov JI, Worthy CA, Rooks P, Napier JA, Kimmance SA, Henn MR, Ogata H, Allen MJ. Draft genome sequence of four coccolithoviruses: Emiliania huxleyi virus EhV-88, EhV-201, EhV-207, and EhV-208. J Virol. 2012 Mar;86(5):2896-7.

Nissimov JI, Worthy CA, Rooks P, Napier JA, Kimmance SA, Henn MR, Ogata H, Allen MJ. Draft genome sequence of the coccolithovirus Emiliania huxleyi virus 202. J Virol. 2012 Feb;86(4):2380-1.

Nissimov JI, Worthy CA, Rooks P, Napier JA, Kimmance SA, Henn MR, Ogata H, Allen MJ. Draft genome sequence of the coccolithovirus EhV-84. Stand Genomic Sci. 2011 Oct 15;5(1):1-11. Epub 2011 Sep 23.

Nissimov JI, Worthy CA, Rooks P, Napier JA, Kimmance SA, Henn MR, Ogata H, Allen MJ. Draft genome sequence of the Coccolithovirus Emiliania huxleyi virus 203. J Virol. 2011 Dec;85(24):13468-9.

Temperton B, Thomas S, Tait K, Parry H, Emery M, Allen MJ, Quinn J, Macgrath J, Gilbert J. Permanent draft genome sequence of Vibrio tubiashii strain NCIMB 1337 (ATCC19106). Stand Genomic Sci. 2011 Apr 29;4(2):183-90.


Other activities

NERC Peer Review College

Editorial Board Member for Oceanography
Patents held:
Method for bioprocessing cellular material. Patent Application GB1121598.5