Rachel Parsons


Rachel is a microbial oceanographer who investigates the microbial communities in the open ocean at the Bermuda Atlantic Time-Series Study (BATS) site using a variety of molecular techniques. She is currently investigating how the microbial community adapts to changing oxygen levels within the twilight zone of the Atlantic Ocean. Most recently, Rachel joined BIOS-SCOPE, an international research collaboration that utilizes a broad suite of genomic, ecological, oceanographic and biogeochemical approaches to evaluate microbial process, structure, and function on various scales.

Rachel received her MSc in aquatic resource management from King’s College in London, England.  Her degree work included a research project at BIOS, where she previously participated in the Bermuda Program.  After graduation, she joined the BIOS staff working as a research technician in the lab of Dennis Hansell investigating dissolved organic matter and the oceanic carbon cycle in the Antarctic, North Atlantic, Arabian Sea, and Pacific Ocean. She presently runs the Microbial Ecology Laboratory and the Microscopy and Image Analysis Facility at BIOS.

Research Interests:
Microbial communities within oxygen minimum zones, the open ocean and Bermuda’s inshore waters; microbial response to ocean acidification and anoxia; coral-microbe interactions, including how corals influence the microbial community within the surrounding water.

Educational Background:
King's College, London, England, 1991-1993
-MSc Aquatic Resource Management
University of Nottingham, Nottingham, England, 1987-1991
-B.Sc Biochemistry and Biological Chemistry

Further Information:
Microbial Ecology Laboratory
Microscopy and Image Analysis Facility

Selected Publications

James, A., Carlson, C., Passow, U., Brzezinski, M., Parsons, R.J. and Trapani, J.N. (2017) Elevated pCO2 enhances bacterioplankton removal of organic carbonPLoS ONE 12(3):e0173145. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0173145.

McNally, S.P., Parsons, R.J., Santoro, A.E., and Apprill, A. (2017) Multifaceted impacts of the stony coral Porites astreoides on picoplankton abundance and community compositionLimnology and Oceanography 62: 217-234.

Apprill, A., McNally, S., Parsons, R. and Weber, L. (2015) Minor revision to V4 region SSU rRNA 806R gene primer greatly increases detection of SAR11 bacterioplankton. Aquatic and Microbial Ecology 75(2) 129-137.

Parsons, RJ, Nelson, CE, Demnan, CC, Andersson, AJ, Kledzik, AL, Vergin, K, McNally, SP, Treusch, AH, Carlson, CA, and Giovannon, SJ. (2014) Marine bacterioplankton community turnover within seasonally hypoxic waters of a sub-tropical sound: Devil¹s Hole, Bermuda. Environmental Microbiology 17(10): 3481-3499.

Parsons RJ, Breitbart M, Lomas MW, Carlson CA (2011) Ocean time-series reveals recurring seasonal patterns of virioplankton dynamics in the northwestern Sargasso Sea.” The ISME Journal 6(2):273-284.

Pause-Tucker, K., Parsons, R., Symonds, E.M. and Breitbart, M. (2011) Diversity and distribution of single-stranded DNA phages in the North Atlantic Ocean. The ISME Journal 5:822-830

Carlson, C.A., Morris, R., S.J. Giovannoni, Parsons, R., Treusch, A.H. and K. Vergin. (2008) Seasonal dynamics in SAR11 populations in the euphotic and mesopelagic zone of the northwestern Sargasso SeaThe ISME Journal 3:283-295.

Angly,F.E., B. Felts, M. Breitbart, P. Salamon, R.A. Edwards, C.A.Carlson, A.M. Chen, M. Haynes, S. Kelly, H. Liu, J. Mahaffy, J.E. Mueller, J. Nulton, R. Olson, R. Parsons, S. Rayhawk, C.A. Suttle, F. Rohwer. (2006) The Marine Viromes of Four Oceanic RegionsPublic Library of Science Biology 4:2121-2131

Venter, J.C., K. Remington, J. Heidelberg, A.L. Halpern, S. Levy, J.A. Eisen, I. Paulsen, K.E. Nelson, D.E. Fouts, W. Nelson, D. Rusch, A.H. Knap, M.W. Lomas, K. Nealson, O. White, J. Peterson, H.O. Smith, J. Hoffman, R. Parsons, C. Pfannkoch and Y. Rogers. (2004) Environmental whole genome shotgun sequencing: The Sargasso SeaScience 304:66-74.

Carlson, C.A, Giovannoni, S.J.,Hansell, D.A., Goldberg, S.J, Parsons, R., and Vergin, K., (2004) Interactions among dissolved organic carbon, microbial processes, and community structure in the mesopelagic zone of the northwestern Sargasso SeaLimnology and Oceanography 1073-1083.

Contact Info

Rachel Parsons

Research Specialist, Microbial Ecology Laboratory


Tel: 441-297-1880 x726