Project title: Environmental and anthropogenic drivers shaping Australian coastal bacterioplankton ecology
Supervisors: Associate Professor Justin Seymour, Dr Simon Mitrovic
Project Background: Microorganisms form the foundation of ocean food webs, are key drivers of marine biogeochemical cycling processes and are fundamental elements of the ecology of marine ecosystems. However, the role of microbes in coastal ecosystems is poorly defined, and in particular their response to highly dynamic conditions associated with a variety of natural environmental and anthropogenic influences remains unclear.
Through application of novel ecogenomic approaches, the composition and functionality of microbial communities can be characterised by directly sampling microbes from their environment and comparing biological patterns to a broad suite of environmental parameters. In this way, we gain a deeper understanding of how natural features like rivers and estuaries shape spatiotemporal distributions in microbial communities, and gain new insight as to what extent anthropogenic structures such as stormwater and sewerage outlets influence the occurrence and persistence of potential pathogens in coastal ecosystems.
Aims: In my project I aim to:
1. Reveal the biotic and abiotic drivers of weekly, seasonal and annual fluctuations in the assemblage of microbial communities inhabiting pristine and impacted coastal habitats.
2. Determine how urban and tributary inputs influence bacterioplankton ecology with a focus on exogenous pathogens and potentially harmful endemic microbes.
3. Understand the influence of freshwater inflows that deliver terrestrial nutrients via river plumes to estuaries and adjacent coastal habitats on resident microbial communities.
Teaching/demonstrating: Teaching Associate in subjects Microbial Ecology, Biocomplexity and Biosphere