Funded by the Sea World Research and Rescue Foundation
Recent human gut research has revealed the fundamental importance of microorganisms to human health, with differences in gut microbiota linking strongly with diet, diseases, and overall performance. In comparison, far less is known about the relationships between gut microbiomes and host health in non-human vertebrates.
This project focuses on the structure of gut microbiomes associated with the largest group of vertebrates: marine fishes. In particular, this project will test whether range-shifting tropical fishes acquire new microbial taxa to assist in the digestion of food sources when they move into temperate waters. If confirmed, such acquisition would be a significant example of assisted evolution that may accelerate environmental adaptation in fish and the tropicalisation of temperate reefs.
Our large-scale coastal microbial observatory program investigates the temporal and spatial dynamics of microbial communities in the water column. We observe sediments and coral, seaweeds, sponges and seagrasses.
In this important project, we aim to define the assembly of microbial communities by functional properties rather than by the species.
Despite the lack of sunlight and nutrients, many deep-sea environments are full of coral reefs and sponge gardens. We’re aiming to understand how the metabolic capacity and versatility of symbiotic bacteria support their growth.