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

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]


Nissimov J.I., Pagarete A., Ma F., Cody S., Dunigan D.D., Kimmance S.A., Allen M.J. (2017). Coccolithoviruses: a review of cross-kingdom genomic thievery and metabolic thuggery. Viruses 9: 52; doi: 10.3390/v9030052 (Special Issue on Marine Viruses)


Yolken, R.H., Severance, E.G., McFarland, R., Jones-Brando, L., Dunigan, D.D., Gresssitt, K.L., Pletnikov, M.V., Petro, T.M., Nimgaonkar, V.L., Van Etten, J.L., Dickerson, F.B. (2017). The virome, cognition, and human psychiatric disorders: A possible role for virues with human, bacterial and algal hosts. Old Herborn University Seminar Monograph 31: Evolutionary Biology of the Virome, and Impacts in Human Health and Disease. Editors: Peter J. Heidt, Pearay L. Ogra, Mark S. Riddle and Volker Rusch. Old Herborn University Foundation, Herborn, Germany: 67-87 (http://www.old-herborn-university.de/publications/#monograph-31)


DeLong, J.P., Al-Ameeli, Z., Lyon, S., Van Etten, J.L., Dunigan, D.D. (2017). Size-dependent catalysis of chlorovirus population growth by a messy feeding predator. Microbial Ecology 75 (4): 847-853 (https://doi.org/10.1007/s00248-017-1106-8)


Seitzer, P.; Jeanniard, A.; Ma, F.; Van Etten, J.L.; Facciotti, M.T.; Dunigan, D.D. (2018). Gene Gangs of the Chloroviruses: Conserved Clusters of Collinear Monocistronic Genes. Viruses 10, 576. (Special Issue on Algae Viruses, dedicated to James L. Van Etten, Guest Editor: David D. Dunigan)



Dunigan, D.D., Al-Sammak, M., Al-Ameeli, Z., Agarkova, I.V., DeLong, J.P., Van Etten, J.L. (2019). Chloroviruses lure hosts through long-distance chemical signaling. Journal of Virology 93 (7) doi:10.1128/JVI.01688-18


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.