David L Herrin

Molecular Biosciences


Phone: 512-471-3843

Office Location
PAI 2.24

Postal Address
The University of Texas at Austin
Molecular Biosciences, College of Natural Sciences
2506 Speedway
Austin, TX 78712

My degrees are in Chemistry (BS) and Biology (PhD) and it was during graduate work at the University of South Florida that I was introduced to the "green world" in the form of the Chlamydomonas chloroplast. Using this unicellular alga model system, I studied photosynthetic membrane biogenesis and regulation. I continued working on Chlamydomonas choroplast biogenesis as a postdoc at the University of Georgia, focussing on mutants affected in molecular genetic processes, before coming to the University of Texas at Austin in 1988. Our discovery of self-splicing introns in the Chlamydomonas chloroplast, which began at Georgia and culminated here in Austin, greatly impacted the direction of the lab for more than 20 years. During this time, we also made discoveries in  transcriptional (by the circadian clock) and post-transcriptional (RNA splicing and mRNA turnover) gene control; intron mobility and evolution; and chloroplast DNA repair. The intron-encoded endonucleases that we discovered, I-CreI and I-CreII, have been studied and/or employed by a number of labs around the world.

For the last several years, we have been developing Chlamydomonas strains for the purpose of sustainable mosquito control. Mosquito larvae must develop in water, and green algae like Chlamydomonas are preferred larval food sources. We believe that we can modify these alga to make them lethal to the larvae, but not to other organisms, and thereby control mosquito populations and the diseases they transmit.

Representative Recent Publications:

Kwon, T., E. Huq and D.L. Herrin (2010) Microhomology-Mediated and Nonhomologous Repair of a Double-Strand Break in the Chloroplast Genome of Arabidopsis. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107, 13954-13959.

Luo, L. and D.L. Herrin (2012) A Novel Rhodanese is required to Maintain Chloroplast Translation in Chlamydomonas. Plant Mol Biol 79, 495-508.

Kawazoe, R., B. Venghaus, K.M. Mahan, M.C. Carter and D.L. Herrin (2012) Circadian Regulation of Chloroplast Transcription in Chlamydomonas is associated with little or no fluctuation in RPOD Levels or Core Polymerase Activity. Mol Biol Rep 39, 10565-10571.

Odom, O.W. and D.L. Herrin (2013) Reverse Transcription of Spliced psbA mRNA in Chlamydomonas spp. and its Possible Role in Evolutionary Intron Loss. Mol Biol Evol 30, 2666-2675.

Qiu, W., Y. Zhong and D.L. Herrin (2014) Adaptation of a Catalytic GIY-YIG Domain into a DNA-Binding Domain in the Homing Endonuclease I-CreII. Curr Topics Biochem Res 16, 17-28.

Kang, S., O.W. Odom and D.L. Herrin. Toward Mosquito Control with Green Algae: Expression of Cry genes from Bacillus thuringiensies israelensis in the Chlamydomonas Chloroplast. In preparation.

Bio350M/388M Plant Molecular Biology

Bio311C  Introductory Biology II

Bio344  Molecular Biology