In the last ten years, the effects of disease on natural marine communities have become increasingly apparent.
It's likely that human impacts via pollution or climate change have played a major role in the prevalence and severity of these diseases. We're investigating the interplay between bacterial virulence and environmental factors, such as temperature, light and nutrients, and natural bacterial inhibitors to understand the development and impact of disease on seaweeds. Here we're using genomic and gene expression analysis together with site-directed mutagenesis to identify and characterise potential virulence mechanisms in model macroalgal disease systems.
We also perform environmental surveys to assess the prevalence of pathogens and determine how the natural microbial community shifts and the host responds to environmental stress and disease conditions.
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.
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.
In this important project, we aim to define the assembly of microbial communities by functional properties rather than by the species.