I obtained my PhD degree at University of New South Wales in Sydney. My primary research during my PhD is microbial ecology in extreme environments, delineating functional complexity, microbial interactions, and enigmatic microbial groups in microbial mats. I performed amplicon sequencing at a millimetre scale to examine the phylogenetic diversity of bacterial and archaeal communities, coupled with elemental analysis and microelectrode measurements on Shark Bay microbial mats. I used the data obtained to propose putative microbial interactions and niches. Subsequently I performed metagenomics to reveal complex yet partitioned biogeochemical cycles and adaptive responses of the microbial communities. For the first time metagenome-assembled genomes affiliated to microbial dark matter (Asgard archaea, DPANN archaea, Patescibacteria, etc.) were reconstructed in hypersaline microbial mats. Upon examining their genomic repertoire and metabolic capacities, I proposed that these enigmatic groups, despite lacking complete biosynthetic pathways, utilizes hydrogen, carbon dioxide and ribose as prominent energy currencies. By combining the data, I constructed an ecological model of Shark Bay microbial mats. I also took great interests in collaborative projects, and published works on metatranscriptomics, viral diversity, quorum sensing systems, photosynthetic characteristics, UV absorbing compounds and biosynthetic clusters in modern microbial mats.
I became a visiting fellow of UNSW since 2020. Since then I have worked with Associate Professor Belinda Ferrari to characterize bacteria scavenging atmospheric gas in Antarctica soil. I am also currently in collaboration with Dr Michael Johnson from UTS to characterize a new strain of Cyanobacteria found in Shark Bay microbial mats. Furthermore, I am also involved in investigating seagrass microbiome in Western Australia as a tool to assess sulfur intrusion and erosion of seagrass.
I am now working as a post-doc in the Institute of Hydrobiology, Biology Centre, CAS in České Budějovice. I am a member of the Pan-European Lake Sampling - Microbial Eco-genomics (PELAGICS), in which we sampled over 70 freshwater lakes across 15 European countries. My work focused on both cultivation-based and metagenomics-based analyses on freshwater microoganisms. By utilizing high-throughput culture-dependent and culture-independent approaches, we can have better understanding towards the “uncultivated majority”.
In 2021, I was awarded the EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowship. My research focuses on phage ecology in the aforementioned European freshwater lakes. I am currently investigating virus-host systems in these freshwater environments in order to model how viruses model freshwater lake microbial structures.
Honours and Awards