Supported by a William MacLeay Microbiology Research Fund of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, David Vardeh went on a field trip to ephemeral and hypersaline shallow lakes in South Australia’s Coorong Lagoon, Yorke Peninsula and Eyre Peninsula, sites that have hardly or not at all been microbially assessed before, in October 2013. Thrombolites and other microbialites of different shapes and sizes were sampled and brought back to UNSW for DNA extraction and subsequent microbial community analysis. By screening for non-ribosomal peptide synthesase (NRPS) and polyketide synthesase (PKS) genes, the potential of these extremophile communities to produce bioactive natural products for future medical applications will be evaluated.

photo credit: Sandra Vogel, School of BEES