Sallie (Penny) W. Chisholm

Sallie (Penny) W. Chisholm

Institute Professor

Sallie (Penny) W. Chisholm studies the biology, ecology, and evolution of the single most abundant marine phytoplankton species in order to understand the forces that shape microbial ecosystems.





Taylor Stern



Assistant Phone


  • PhD, 1974, SUNY Albany

Research Summary

Our goal is to understand the ecology and evolution of ocean microbes and how they influence global biogeochemical cycles. We focus on the cyanobacterium Prochlorococcus, which is the smallest and most abundant microbe in ocean ecosystems — sometimes accounting for half the total photosynthetic biomass. We use this model system to study life across all scales — from the genome to the ecosystem.


  • Crafoord Prize, 2019
  • Generalitat of Catalonia, Ramon Margalef Prize in Ecology, 2013
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science, Fellow, 2012
  • National Medal of Science, 2011
  • National Academy of Sciences, Alexander Agassiz Medal, 2010
  • National Academy of Sciences, Member, 2003
  • John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, Guggenheim Fellowship, 1997
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Fellow, 1992

Key Publications

  1. Niche partitioning among Prochlorococcus ecotypes along ocean-scale environmental gradients. Johnson, ZI, Zinser, ER, Coe, A, McNulty, NP, Woodward, EM, Chisholm, SW. 2006. Science 311, 1737-40.
    doi: 10.1126/science.1118052PMID:16556835
  2. Genome divergence in two Prochlorococcus ecotypes reflects oceanic niche differentiation. Rocap, G, Larimer, FW, Lamerdin, J, Malfatti, S, Chain, P, Ahlgren, NA, Arellano, A, Coleman, M, Hauser, L, Hess, WR et al.. 2003. Nature 424, 1042-7.
    doi: 10.1038/nature01947PMID:12917642
  3. Physiology and molecular phylogeny of coexisting Prochlorococcus ecotypes. Moore, LR, Rocap, G, Chisholm, SW. 1998. Nature 393, 464-7.
    doi: 10.1038/30965PMID:9624000

Recent Publications

  1. Frequency of mispackaging of Prochlorococcus DNA by cyanophage. Laurenceau, R, Raho, N, Forget, M, Arellano, AA, Chisholm, SW. 2020. ISME J , .
    doi: 10.1038/s41396-020-00766-0PMID:32929209
  2. Publisher Correction: Marine microbial metagenomes sampled across space and time. Biller, SJ, Berube, PM, Dooley, K, Williams, M, Satinsky, BM, Hackl, T, Hogle, SL, Coe, A, Bergauer, K, Bouman, HA et al.. 2019. Sci Data 6, 47.
    doi: 10.1038/s41597-019-0054-1PMID:31113983
  3. Co-culture and biogeography of Prochlorococcus and SAR11. Becker, JW, Hogle, SL, Rosendo, K, Chisholm, SW. 2019. ISME J 13, 1506-1519.
    doi: 10.1038/s41396-019-0365-4PMID:30742057
  4. Emergence of trait variability through the lens of nitrogen assimilation in Prochlorococcus. Berube, PM, Rasmussen, A, Braakman, R, Stepanauskas, R, Chisholm, SW. 2019. Elife 8, .
    doi: 10.7554/eLife.41043PMID:30706847
  5. Marine microbial metagenomes sampled across space and time. Biller, SJ, Berube, PM, Dooley, K, Williams, M, Satinsky, BM, Hackl, T, Hogle, SL, Coe, A, Bergauer, K, Bouman, HA et al.. 2018. Sci Data 5, 180176.
    doi: 10.1038/sdata.2018.176PMID:30179232
  6. Single cell genomes of Prochlorococcus, Synechococcus, and sympatric microbes from diverse marine environments. Berube, PM, Biller, SJ, Hackl, T, Hogle, SL, Satinsky, BM, Becker, JW, Braakman, R, Collins, SB, Kelly, L, Berta-Thompson, J et al.. 2018. Sci Data 5, 180154.
    doi: 10.1038/sdata.2018.154PMID:30179231
  7. Heterotroph Interactions Alter Prochlorococcus Transcriptome Dynamics during Extended Periods of Darkness. Biller, SJ, Coe, A, Roggensack, SE, Chisholm, SW. mSystems 3, .
    doi: 10.1128/mSystems.00040-18PMID:29854954
  8. Evolutionary radiation of lanthipeptides in marine cyanobacteria. Cubillos-Ruiz, A, Berta-Thompson, JW, Becker, JW, van der Donk, WA, Chisholm, SW. 2017. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 114, E5424-E5433.
    doi: 10.1073/pnas.1700990114PMID:28630351
  9. Prochlorococcus. Chisholm, SW. 2017. Curr. Biol. 27, R447-R448.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2017.02.043PMID:28586674
  10. Fundamental differences in diversity and genomic population structure between Atlantic and Pacific Prochlorococcus. Kashtan, N, Roggensack, SE, Berta-Thompson, JW, Grinberg, M, Stepanauskas, R, Chisholm, SW. 2017. ISME J 11, 1997-2011.
    doi: 10.1038/ismej.2017.64PMID:28524867
More Publications






Photo credit: Richard Howard