David D. Dunigan, Ph. D.

Research Professor
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Plant Pathology
203 Morrison Center
Lincoln, NE 68583-0900
Phone - 402.472.5776
Fax - 402.472.3323

Professional Organization

American Society for Virology

American Society for Microbiology

Sigma Xi

American Association for the Advancement of Science

Nebraska Center for Virology


World of Viruses, NIH, SEPA-sponsored project for developing K-12 educational materials on viruses, 2008 - 2011

ISCO-TELEDYNE, Incorporated, Lincoln, NE, 2002 - 2006

Hampshire Chemical Corporation, Lexington, MA, 1996 - 1998

Life Technologies, Incorporated, Gaithersburg, MD, 1994 - 1995

Courses Taught

Undergraduate - Virology, Biology of AIDS, Cell Biology, Cell Biology Laboratory, Seminar in Microbiology

Graduate - Readings in Virology, Advanced Virology, Virus Replication Mechanisms, Transcriptional Control

Professional Positions

2014 - Present
Research Professor, Department of Plant Pathology University of Nebraska-Lincoln

2008 – 2014
Research Associate Professor, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

2000 – 2008
Research Assistant Professor, Department of Plant Pathology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

1996 - 2000
Visiting Assistant, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida

1989 – 1996
Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Florida

1985 – 1989
Postdoctoral Associate/Research Associate, Postdoctoral Fellow of the Cornell Biotechnology Program, Department of Plant Pathology, Cornell University

1978 – 1985
Research Assistant I/II, Section of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of Connecticut

Recent Invited Lectures

“A virus, some algae, confused mice? What a stupid idea”, Nebraska Center for Virology Science Series, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA, February 2015


“Chloroviruses through the looking glass:  Big viruses, Big data, Big ideas”, Department of Plant Pathology Seminar Series, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska, USA, October 2015


“An expanding view of the chloroviruses:  From aquatic systems to human brains”, United States Geological Survey – Indiana/Kentucky Water Science Center, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, November 2015


“Chlorovirus Ramblings – from Aquatic Systems to Cognitive Impairment – a Wild Ride”, John Innes Centre, Norwich, United Kingdom, July 2016


“Chloroviruses:  Expect the Unexpected”, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom, July 2016


“Chloroviruses at the crossroads of aquatic ecology and cognitive neurosciences", University of South Florida, College of Marine Science, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA, February 2017

Selected Recent Publications

Dunigan D. D., Cerny R. L., Bauman A. T., Roach J. C., Lane L. C.,  Agarkova I. V., Wulser K., Yanai-Balser G. M., Gurnon J. R., Vitek J. C., Kronschnabel B. J., Jeanniard A., Blanc G., Upton C., Duncan G. A., McClung O. W., Ma F., Van Etten J. L. (2012). Paramecium bursaria chlorella virus 1 proteome reveals novel architectural and regulatory features of a giant virus. Journal of Virology 86: 8821-8834 (See the issue Spotlight, and the journal cover of the vol. 86, no. 17 issue) (http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/virologypub/226/)


Jeanniard A., Dunigan D. D., Gurnon J. R., Agarkova I. V., Kang M., Vitek J., Duncan G., McClung W. O., Larsen M., Claverie J-M., Van Etten J. L., Blanc G. (2013). Towards defining the chloroviruses: a genomic journey through a genus of large DNA viruses. BMC Genomics 14: 158-171 (http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2164/14/158)


Rowe J. M., Jeanniard A., Gurnon J. R.; Xia Y., Dunigan D. D., Van Etten J. L., Blanc G. (2014). Global analysis of Chlorella variabilis NC64A mRNA profiles during the early phase of Paramecium bursaria chlorella virus-1 infection. PLoS ONE 9(3): e90988. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0090988



Yolken R.H., Jones-Brando L., Dunigan D.D., Kannan G., Dickerson F.B., Severance E.G., Subunciyan S., Talbot C.C., Prandovszky E., Gurnon J.R., Leister F., Gressitt K.L., Chen O., Agarkova I.V.,  Ma F., Pletnikov M., Van Etten J.L. (2014). Chlorovirus ATCV-1 as a novel virus associated with cognitive dysfunction in humans and experimental mice. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 111(45):  16106-16111.  doi/10.1073/pnas.1418895111


[featured on TWiV: http://www.microbe.tv/twiv/twiv-315]


Petro, T.M., Agarkova, I.V., Zhou, Y., Yolken, R., Van Etten, J.L., Dunigan, D.D. (2015). Response of mammalian macrophages to challenge with the Chlorovirus ATCV-1. Journal of Virology 89: 12096-12107 (J. Virol. doi:10.1128/JVI.01254-15) (http://jvi.asm.org/content/89/23/12096.full.pdf+html)



Quispe CF, Sonderman O, Seng A, Rasmussen B, Weber G, Mueller C, Dunigan DD, Van Etten JL. (2016). Three-year survey of abundance, prevalence and genetic diversity of Chlorovirus populations in a small urban lake. Archives of Virology 161: 1839-1847

(DOI 10.1007/s00705-016-2853-4)


Van Etten, J.L. and Dunigan, D.D. (2016). Giant Chloroviruses - Five Easy Questions. PLOS Pathogens 12(8): e1005751. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1005751

[We contributed the journal cover art for this issue.]


DeLong, J.P., Al-Ameeli, Z., Duncan, G.A., Van Etten, J.L. and Dunigan, D.D. (2016). Predators catalyze an increase in chloroviruses by foraging on the symbiotic hosts of zoochlorellae. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 113: 13780-13784

(doi: 10.1073/pnas.1613843113)

[featured on TWiV:  http://www.microbe.tv/twiv/twiv-416]

[featured video at PNAS:  http://www.pnas.org/site/misc/16-13843.mp4]


Quispe, C.F., Esmael, A., Sonderman, O., McQuinn, M., Agarkova, I., Battah, M., Duncan, G.A., Dunigan, D.D., Smith, T.P., DeCastro, C., Speciale, I., Ma, F. and Van Etten, J.L. (2016). Characterization of a new Chlorovirus type with permissive and non-permissive features on phylogenetically related algal strains. Virology 500: 103-113



Nissimov JI, Pagarete A, Ma F, Cody S, Dunigan DD, Kimmance SA, Allen MJ (2017). Coccolithoviruses: a review of cross-kingdom genomic thievery and

metabolic thuggery. Viruses (Special Issue on Marine Viruses) 9: 52; doi: 10.3390/v9030052


Cornell University
Postdoctoral Fellow, Virology
(1985 - 1988)

The University of Connecticut
Ph.D., Biochemistry

University of Southern Indiana
B.S. Life Science/Chemistry

Research Interests

My research focuses on host-virus interactions, especially as it relates to the consequences of infection. For the past several years I have studied the chloroviruses, which are evolutionarily related to other large DNA viruses, such as asfar, asco, irido, marseille, mimi and pox viruses; collectively known as “giant viruses”. We are investigating many aspects of chloroviruses including the virion structure and function; genome structure, function and evolution; metabolic changes associated with infections, as well as the role of algal viruses in aquatic ecosystems. We collaborate with a team of researchers at the Johns Hopkins University regarding the extraordinary observation they made when evaluating post mortem brains from individuals with serious mental disorders: individuals with psychiatric disorders tend to have chlorovirus sequences in the brain. Our role has been to evaluate the natural history to address the issue of the likelihood of humans coming into contact with chloroviruses. In addition to defining the hosts in aquatic systems, we are evaluating a key issue to this linkage, can chloroviruses replicate in mammalian cells and/or tissues and what are the neurological consequences of these infections.