Dr. Bill Henley, Professor
Mailing Address: Oklahoma State University
Dept. of Plant Biology, Ecology, and Evolution
301 Physical Sciences, Stillwater, OK 74078-3013, USA
Telephone: +1 (405) 744 5956
Plant Science Ph.D. Coordinator
View my video on Blue-Green Algae here


My core interests are in the area of algal stress physiology and algal biofuels.

Current research focuses on the project Continuous Cultures of Algae: Basic Research Toward Biofuels funded by the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology (OCAST). We are exposing pure and mixed cultures of salt tolerant green algae, diatoms and cyanobacteria to variable temperature, salinity, and nutrients to test the hypotheses that mixtures of the algal classes will maintain higher biomass, productivity and yields of neutral lipids (the direct feedstock for biodiesel) compared to monocultures. Longer term goals include (1) design of process control mechanisms and algorithms based on an empirical understanding of community dynamics and algal physiology derived from this project, and (2) scale-up to outdoor mesocosms.

Recent past research focused on the phylogeny and physiological ecology of broadly halotolerant algae and cyanobacteria from the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge near Cherokee in northwestern Oklahoma. This work comprised two NSF-funded projects:

Collaborative Research: Salt Plains Microbial Observatory(MCB-0132097).

LExEn: Response of photosynthetic microbes of the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge to dynamic extreme conditions (MCB-9978203).

Current research directions and possible thesis/dissertation topics include:

Growing algae for biofuels: optimizing growth and yield conditions, comparing productivity/yields and/or stablility of pure single isolates vs. communities of mixed genetic strains (addresses fundamental ecological concepts)

Global phylogeography of the halophilic alga Dunaliella (addresses fundamental ecological concepts)

Demonstrating and characterizing obligate or facultative interactions between (halophilic) algae/cyanobacteria and heterotrophic bacteria/archaea (addresses fundamental ecological concepts)

Characterization of putatively primitive isolates of cyanobacteria from the Great Salt Plains: morphology, physiology and molecular genetics

Physiological ecology of aquatic plants and algae/phytoplankton in local lakes and the the Great Salt Plains

I am interested in mentoring M.S. and Ph.D. students in any of the above (or closely related) areas.

BOT 5110.364 Analysis of Liquid Biofuels
, fall 2011. A graduate course emphasizing group discussions and reviews of the literature, culminating in written reports that compare the life cycle pros/cons of selected types of biofuels (e.g., ethanol vs. biodiesel) and feedstocks (e.g., cellulose from plants such as switchgrass vs. oils from algae). For diverse perspectives and expertise, students spanning the natural/social sciences and engineering are welcome.

BOT 3253 Environment and Society, every spring. This is an environmental issues course primarily for nonmajors; we cover topics such as global climate change, biodiversity, air and water pollution, solid waste, energy issues, resource depletion, environmental economics and politics, etc. Uses the WebCT interface. Prerequisite: BIOL 1114 or equivalent.

BOT 4214/5214 Ecology of Algae and Aquatic Plants, fall of even numbered years. A graduate/advanced undergraduate course emphasizing the ecology, physiology and morphology of phytoplankton and macrophytes in lakes and ponds. Lab involves both field trips and laboratory experiments. Uses the WebCT interface. Prerequisites: graduate or advanced undergraduate standing; BOT 1404 (Plant Biology); some limnology and botany background would be helpful.


Recent Publications

Novoveská, L. & W.J. Henley. 2014. Lab-scale testing of a two-stage continuous culture system for microalgae. Indust. Biotechnol. 10:228-236. http://dx.doi.org/10.1089/ind.2013.0034

Henley, W.J., R.W. Litaker, L. Novoveská, C.S. Duke, H.D. Quemada and R.T. Sayre. 2012. Initial risk assessment of genetically modified (GM) algae for commodity-scale biofuel cultivation. Algal Research 2:66-77. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211926412000549 (Also see this related editorial: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211926413000076#)

Buchheim, M.A., A.E. Kirkwood, J.A. Buchheim, B. Verghese and W.J. Henley. 2010. Hypersaline soil supports a diverse community of Dunaliella(Chlorophyceae). J. Phycol. 46:1038–1047.

Kirkwood, A.E., J.A. Buchheim, M.A. Buchheim and W.J. Henley. 2008. Cyanobacterial diversity and halotolerance in a variable hypersaline environment. Microb. Ecol.55:453-465.

Henley, W.J., J. Milner, J. Kvíderová, A.E. Kirkwood and A.T. Potter. 2007. Life in variable salinity: algae of the Great Salt Plains of Oklahoma, U.S.A. In: J. Sekbach [ed.] Algae and Cyanobacteria in Extreme Environments, pp. 683-694. Springer, Berlin.

Kirkwood, A.E. and W. J. Henley. 2006. Algal community dynamics and halotolerance in a terrestrial, hypersaline environment. J. Phycol. 42:537-547.

Potter, A.T., M.W. Palmer and W.J. Henley. 2006. Diatom genus diversity and assemblage structure in relation to salinity at the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, Alfalfa County, Oklahoma. Amer. Midl. Nat. 156:65-74.

Kvíderová, J. and W.J. Henley. 2005. The effect of ampicillin plus streptomycin on growth and photosynthesis of two halotolerant chlorophyte algae.J. Appl. Phycol. 17:301-307.

Major, K.M., A.E. Kirkwood, C.S. Major, J.W. McCreadie and W. J. Henley. 2005. In situ studies of algal biomass in relation to physicochemical characteristics of the Salt Plains National Wildlife Refuge, Oklahoma, USA. Saline Systems 1:11.