Go Back

Photo of Curtis A. Suttle

Curtis A. Suttle Marine Virologist

Despite their ubiquity in nature, where a teaspoonful of seawater contains a billion viruses, little is known about most oceanic viruses. Curtis Suttle’s work focuses on discovering new and unusual viruses in the ocean, and investigating both their biology and their role in the global ecosystem. For example, his research into how marine viruses prey on photosynthetic organisms, which form the base of the food web in the ocean, demonstrated that viruses have a tremendous impact on critical environmental processes such as nutrient and energy cycling.

A heightened awareness of global environmental changes has emphasized the need to understand more fully the nutrient and energy cycling in the world’s oceans. There is strong evidence that viruses play an important role in the dynamics of organisms and nutrients in marine ecosystems. Current research in Suttle’s laboratory involves determining the effect that viruses have on the mortality of bacteria and phytoplankton; isolating and characterizing novel viral pathogens from the marine environment; developing molecular approaches for enumeration and identification of viral pathogens; determining the temporal and spatial distribution of specific viruses; and exploring and understanding the diversity of viruses in the environment.


G. Evelyn Hutchinson Award for Excellence in Limnology or Oceanography, 2013.

Timothy R. Parsons Medal for Excellence in Ocean Sciences, 2011.

Elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, 2008.

Relevant Publications

C.A. Suttle, "Viruses in the sea," Nature, vol. 437, no. 7057, pp. 356-361, Sept. 2005.


S.W. Wilhelm et al, Eds., Manual of Aquatic Viral Ecology. Waco, TX: American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, 2010



Senior Fellow Integrated Microbial Biodiversity


University of British ColumbiaDepartments of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Botany and Microbiology and Immunology


PhD (Botany) University of British Columbia

BSc (Zoology, honours) University of British Columbia



Ideas Related to Curtis A. Suttle

Video | Integrated Microbial Biodiversity

Marine Microbes – Our Invisible Allies

“We tend to think of things that we can see as being the really important contributors to the environment …...

News | Integrated Microbial Biodiversity

Mitochondria, plastids evolved together into this single-celled plankton’s “eye”

Scientists have peered into the eye-like structure of single-celled marine plankton called warnowiids and found it contains many of the...


CIFAR researchers receive prestigious awards

CIFAR is pleased to announce that several of its talented researchers recently received prestigious awards. ** David Botstein (Princeton University),...