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UTS C3 Climate Change Cluster

Ocean Microbes and Healthy Oceans


Associate Professor Justin Seymour - ARC Future Fellow, Group Leader
Liz Deschaseaux - Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Prof Michael Kuhl - Distinguished Research Professor
Lauren Messer - PhD Candidate
Dr Jean Baptiste-Raina - Postdoctoral Research Associate
Dr Bonnie Laverock - Postdoctoral Research Associate
Dr Nahshon Siboni - Research Assistant, Technical Support
Jaime Bibiloni-Isaksson - PhD student
Richard Carney - PhD student
Fabio Ramos - PhD student
James O'Brien - Sulphur-mediated microbial interactions under mesoscale oceanographic perturbations
Dr Maria Schmitz Fontes - Visiting Research Fellow, Brazil
The principle goal of the team is to understand the ecological and biogeochemical function of microbes in marine environments. Our research tackles the important questions of who are the key microbial populations in different ocean ecosystems, and what they are doing?

Key Research Themes:

Our research investigates processes that have profound implications for the function of the ocean and our planet, and can be defined under five key research themes including:

(i) Microbial Oceanography: How the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of different oceanic provinces influence, and are influenced by, the composition and functionality of marine microbial assemblages.

(ii) Marine Microbial Ecology: Understanding the ecological interactions between different microbial groups, including Bacteria, Archaea, Viruses and Eukaryotes.

(iii) Marine Microbe – Animal Interactions: Understanding the roles of microbes in the ecology and health of marine animals, including corals and fish

(iv) Marine Microbe – Plant Interactions: Understanding the roles of microbes in the ecology and health of marine plants, including seagrasses and macroalgae

(v) Marine Microbe – Human Interactions: Examination of the occurrence and dynamics of potentially harmful indigenous and introduced bacteria in coastal marine environments, with specific focus on the influence of shifting environmental conditions (e.g. pollution and climate change processes).


Our research considers processes taking place from the microscale to the global-scale and utilises an array of sophisticated tools and techniques including;

  • molecular microbiological procedures (fluorescence in situ hybridization, molecular finger-printing tools),
  • next-generation sequencing approaches (ribosomal tag pyrosequencing, metagenomics, metatranscriptomics),
  • microfluidics, microsensors and microbial physiological assays (bacterial production, respiration measurements).

We apply these approaches in a range of marine environments including, open ocean habitats, coastal ecosystems, coral reefs, estuaries and within the lab, with the ultimate goal of understanding the role of the ocean’s smallest, but arguably most important, inhabitants.

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PhD Project Opportunities

Interactions between benthic primary producers and bacteria in DMS production in Australia’s coastal seas. Project description PhD_DMSP+benthic_producers (2).pdf

Sulphur and nitrogen coupling in phytoplankton stress management Project description PhD Nitrogen limitation.pdf