David D. Dunigan, Ph. D.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Plant Pathology
Morrison Center
Lincoln, NE 68583-0900

Research Professor

Dr. Dunigan is fascinated by the evolving concept of “virus” in the context of the Five Great Questions, and his research explores the many ways viruses interact with organisms, from the consequences of infection to virovory. For the past several years he has studied the chloroviruses, which are evolutionarily related to other large DNA viruses, collectively known as “giant viruses”. He is 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. Surprisingly, chloroviruses are associated with certain neurological disorders and his role includes evaluating their natural history to understand the likelihood of humans coming into contact with chloroviruses. In addition to defining the hosts in aquatic systems, he is 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? Equally important are the explorations of the roles of chloroviruses in ecosystem functioning that has led to the discovery of virotaxis, ecological catalysis and that virus is food.


1985 - 1988

Postdoctoral Fellow, Virology - Cornell University


Ph.D.,Biochemistry - The University of Connecticut


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

Professsional Experience

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

Research Publication


Yashchenko, Y., Dunigan, D.D. (2020). Paramecium bursaria virus symbiosis featured in a educational video. Complexly – Journey to the microcosmos https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KoGSUXiORUk , 

Mary Harner (Producer/Director), David Dunigan (Project Leader). (2022). Introduction to a research collaboration in the extreme environments of the alkaline lakes of western Nebraska https://vimeo.com/showcase/10275946/video/810299162

Mary Harner (Producer/Director), David Dunigan (Project Leader). (2022). Highlights of students as part of the collaborative team studying alkaline lakes and surrounding areas in western Nebraska https://vimeo.com/showcase/10275946/video/810299069

Google Scholar

Courses Taught

  • Virology
  • Biology of AIDS
  • Cell Biology & Cell Biology Laboratory
  • Seminar in Microbiology
  • Readings in Virology
  • Advanced Virology
  • Virus Replication Mechanisms
  • Transcriptional Control