We study the ocean’s smallest inhabitants – the microorganisms. These microbes including viruses, bacteria, archaea and algae form the foundation of marine food-webs, control the ocean’s chemical cycles and can both positively and negatively influence the health of marine animals and plants. Some pathogenic marine microbes threaten the viability of marine industries including aquaculture and fisheries, while others have significant human health impacts.
Our goal is to understand how the diversity and function of these microbes are influenced by, and influence, oceanographic processes and the over-all status of marine ecosystems. We employ a diverse suite of cutting edge technologies including ecogenomics, microfluidics and single-cell imagings to examine the ecological interactions of marine microbes from scales spanning individual cells to ocean-basins. The outcomes of our research are directed towards developing a more complete understanding of marine ecosystem health and function along with a better perception of the impacts of aquatic microbes on human industries and health.
- Associate Professor Justin Seymour - ARC Future Fellow, Group Leader
- Prof Michael Kuhl - Distinguished Research Professor
- Dr Jean-Baptiste Raina - ARC DECRA
- Dr Nahshon Siboni - Research Associate, Technical Support
- James O'Brien - PhD candidate, Sulphur-mediated microbial interactions under mesoscale oceanographic perturbations
- Varunan Balaraju – PhD candidate
- Eva Fernandez – PhD candidate - - Sulphur-mediated phytoplankton ecophysiology: the role of DMSP in marine microbial food webs and cellular function
- Marco Giardina - PhD candidate - Micro-scale measurements of marine microbial interactions with global-scale consequences
- Valentina Hurtado McCormack - PhD candidate - The microbiology of seagrasses in a changing ocean: Does environmental stress encourage seagrass pathogens?
- Nhan Tri Tran - PhD candidate - Microalgal harvesting by bacterial bioflocculation
- Caitlin Lawson - PhD candidate
- Trent Haydon - PhD candidate - Roles of Metabolite Transformations in Providing Corals with Enhanced Stress Tolerance
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.
PhD Project Opportunities
Visit the Student Research Opportunities page for information on scholarships, PhD, honours and research projects.
We have developed a suite of microfluidic platforms that allow us to directly examine the swimming behaviour of marine microorganisms in controlled experiments conducted in both the laboratory and the ocean environment.
Bacterial network of Sydney Harbour generated by next-generation DNA sequencing and network analysis software.
Justin Seymour discusses the ocean microbiology team in C3 and the technology of microfluidics he uses to investigate the interactions of microorganisms at the scale of a drop of seawater.