Dr Hon Lun Wong

Adjunct Lecturer
School of Biotech & Biomolecular Science

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.


Professional Experience

  • 2021-current: EMBO Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Hydrobiology, Biology Centre, CAS
  • 2020-2022: Postdoctoral Researcher, Institute of Hydrobiology, Biology Centre, CAS
  • 2019: Research Associate, School of BABS, UNSW
  • 2015-2019: Doctoral Student, School of BABS, UNSW


Honours and Awards

  • IBERA Grant, Biology Centre (2022)
  • EMBO Postdoctoral Fellowship (2021)
  • UNSW Visiting Fellow (2020)
  • Dean’s Award for Outstanding PhD Thesis (2019)
  • Science PhD Writing Scholarship (2019)
  • UNSW Science Award for Research Excellence (Higher Degree Research level) (2018)
  • AMSI BioInfoSummer Travel award (2017)
  • School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Science (BABS) PhD Top-up Scholarship (2016, 2017)
  • ISME16 Travel award (2016)



  • Journal articles | 2023
    Fraser MW; Martin BC; Wong HL; Burns BP; Kendrick GA, 2023, 'Sulfide intrusion in a habitat forming seagrass can be predicted from relative abundance of sulfur cycling genes in sediments', Science of the Total Environment, 864, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2022.161144
    Journal articles | 2022
    Johnson MS; Burns BP; Herdean A; Angeloski A; Ralph P; Morris T; Kindler G; Wong HL; Kuzhiumparambil U; Sedger LM; Larkum AWD, 2022, 'A Cyanobacteria Enriched Layer of Shark Bay Stromatolites Reveals a New Acaryochloris Strain Living in Near Infrared Light', Microorganisms, 10, http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms10051035
    Journal articles | 2022
    Kindler GS; Wong HL; Larkum AWD; Johnson M; MacLeod FI; Burns BP, 2022, 'Genome-resolved metagenomics provides insights into the functional complexity of microbial mats in Blue Holes, Shark Bay', FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 98, http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/femsec/fiab158
    Journal articles | 2022
    Nobs SJ; MacLeod FI; Wong HL; Burns BP, 2022, 'Eukarya the chimera: eukaryotes, a secondary innovation of the two domains of life?', Trends in Microbiology, 30, pp. 421 - 431, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tim.2021.11.003
    Journal articles | 2022
    Ray AE; Zaugg J; Benaud N; Chelliah DS; Bay S; Wong HL; Leung PM; Ji M; Terauds A; Montgomery K; Greening C; Cowan DA; Kong W; Williams TJ; Hugenholtz P; Ferrari BC, 2022, 'Atmospheric chemosynthesis is phylogenetically and geographically widespread and contributes significantly to carbon fixation throughout cold deserts', ISME Journal, 16, pp. 2547 - 2560, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41396-022-01298-5
    Journal articles | 2021
    Ji M; Williams TJ; Montgomery K; Wong HL; Zaugg J; Berengut JF; Bissett A; Chuvochina M; Hugenholtz P; Ferrari BC, 2021, 'Candidatus Eremiobacterota, a metabolically and phylogenetically diverse terrestrial phylum with acid-tolerant adaptations', ISME Journal, 15, pp. 2692 - 2707, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41396-021-00944-8
    Journal articles | 2020
    Campbell MA; Grice K; Visscher PT; Morris T; Wong HL; White RA; Burns BP; Coolen MJL, 2020, 'Functional Gene Expression in Shark Bay Hypersaline Microbial Mats: Adaptive Responses', Frontiers in Microbiology, 11, http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2020.560336
    Journal articles | 2020
    Chen R; Wong HL; Kindler GS; MacLeod FI; Benaud N; Ferrari BC; Burns BP, 2020, 'Discovery of an Abundance of Biosynthetic Gene Clusters in Shark Bay Microbial Mats', Frontiers in Microbiology, 11, http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2020.01950
    Journal articles | 2020
    Wong HL; MacLeod FI; White RA; Visscher PT; Burns BP, 2020, 'Microbial dark matter filling the niche in hypersaline microbial mats', Microbiome, 8, pp. 135, http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40168-020-00910-0
    Journal articles | 2019
    Charlesworth JC; Watters C; Wong HL; Visscher PT; Burns BP, 2019, 'Isolation of novel quorum-sensing active bacteria from microbial mats in Shark Bay Australia', FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 95, http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/femsec/fiz035
    Journal articles | 2019
    Chen R; Wong HL; Burns BP, 2019, 'New Approaches to Detect Biosynthetic Gene Clusters in the Environment.', Medicines (Basel), 6, http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/medicines6010032
    Journal articles | 2019
    D'Agostino PM; Woodhouse JN; Liew HT; Sehnal L; Pickford R; Wong HL; Burns BP; Neilan BA, 2019, 'Bioinformatic, phylogenetic and chemical analysis of the UV-absorbing compounds scytonemin and mycosporine-like amino acids from the microbial mat communities of Shark Bay, Australia', Environmental Microbiology, 21, pp. 702 - 715, http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1462-2920.14517
    Journal articles | 2019
    Macleod F; Kindler GS; Wong HL; Chen R; Burns BP, 2019, 'Asgard archaea: Diversity, function, and evolutionary implications in a range of microbiomes', AIMS Microbiology, 5, pp. 48 - 61, http://dx.doi.org/10.3934/microbiol.2019.1.48
    Journal articles | 2019
    Reinold M; Wong HL; MacLeod FI; Meltzer J; Thompson A; Burns BP, 2019, 'The vulnerability of microbial ecosystems in a changing climate: Potential impact in shark bay', Life, 9, http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/life9030071
    Journal articles | 2018
    Fisher A; Wangpraseurt D; Larkum AWD; Johnson M; Kühl M; Chen M; Wong HL; Burns BP, 2018, 'Correlation of bio-optical properties with photosynthetic pigment and microorganism distribution in microbial mats from Hamelin Pool, Australia', FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 95, http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/femsec/fiy219
    Journal articles | 2018
    White RA; Wong HL; Ruvindy R; Neilan BA; Burns BP, 2018, 'Viral communities of Shark Bay modern stromatolites', Frontiers in Microbiology, 9, http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2018.01223
    Journal articles | 2018
    Wong HL; White RA; Visscher PT; Charlesworth JC; Vázquez-Campos X; Burns BP, 2018, 'Disentangling the drivers of functional complexity at the metagenomic level in Shark Bay microbial mat microbiomes', ISME Journal, 12, pp. 2619 - 2639, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41396-018-0208-8
    Journal articles | 2017
    Wong HL; Visscher PT; White RA; Smith DL; Patterson MM; Burns BP, 2017, 'Dynamics of archaea at fine spatial scales in Shark Bay mat microbiomes', Scientific Reports, 7, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep46160
    Journal articles | 2016
    Wong HL; Ahmed-Cox A; Burns BP, 2016, 'Molecular ecology of hypersaline microbial mats: Current insights and new directions', Microorganisms, 4, http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms4010006
    Journal articles | 2015
    Wong HL; Smith DL; Visscher PT; Burns BP, 2015, 'Niche differentiation of bacterial communities at a millimeter scale in Shark Bay microbial mats', Scientific Reports, 5, http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep15607
  • Preprints | 2022
    Johnson MS; Burns B; Herdean A; Angeloski A; Ralph P; Morris T; Kindler G; Wong HL; Kuzhiumparambil U; Sedger L; Larkum AWD, 2022, A Cyanobacteria Enriched Layer of Shark Bay Stromatolites Reveals a New Acaryochloris strain Living in near Infrared Light, , http://dx.doi.org/10.20944/preprints202204.0112.v1
    Preprints | 2021
    Ray A; Zaugg J; Benaud N; Chelliah D; Bay S; Wong HL; Leung PM; Ji M; Terauds A; Montgomery K; Greening C; Cowan D; Kong W; Williams T; Hugenholtz P; Ferrari B, 2021, Atmospheric chemosynthesis is phylogenetically and geographically widespread and contributes significantly to carbon fixation throughout cold deserts, , http://dx.doi.org/10.21203/rs.3.rs-948000/v1
    Preprints | 2020
    Wong HL; MacLeod F; White RA; Visscher P; Burns B, 2020, Microbial dark matter filling the niche in hypersaline microbial mats, , http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/2020.06.18.160598