CIE Seminar Series – 2019: Marine microbiomes in host and ecosystem health: how an improved understanding of the microbiome may support industry and environment management in a changing world

SPEAKER: Dr Andrew Oxley, Marine Microbiology, School of Life & Environmental Sciences, Centre for Integrative Ecology, Deakin University

DATE: Friday, 13th December 2019

TIME: 1:30pm

LOCATION: Geelong Campus at Waurn Ponds – Room ka4.207 (Green room)

Seminar will also be video linked to the following campuses: Melbourne Campus at Burwood –Burwood Corporate Centre and Warrnambool Campus, Room J2.19 (Fishbowl)


Although you cannot see them with the naked eye, microbes are everywhere. They are in the air we breathe and on the surfaces we touch. Many also live on and inside us. Collectively, these microbes form complex communities that are shaped from our birth by the environment around us, where they contribute significantly to our health and fitness as what we now refer to as the “Microbiome”.

In the marine environment, microbes are equally as important. Billions of microbes live in each litre of seawater, occur within the sediments, and form intimate relationships with a variety plant and animal life. Each of these individual cells harbours a suite of genes that together outweigh the genomic diversity of their hosts. Marine microbiomes are often highly diverse (comprising an array of species of bacteria, archaea, fungi, protists and/or viruses), and play critical roles in driving marine host and ecosystem services.

They are highly adaptive, responding to changes in the environment, support marine animal health, and are a wealth of genetic material that can be exploited for a multitude of applications. In this talk, I will address how recent knowledge gained from studies of the microbiome from various marine hosts can be used to support challenges facing industry and the environment in a changing world.

This will include recent insights into the relevance of the microbiome in: (i) improving the propagation of seagrasses for supporting restoration initiatives; (ii) monitoring and promoting the health and nutrition of commercially important finfish species; and (iii) expanding the dietary range of farmed species for promoting improved tolerance of more environmentally sustainable feeds in the aquaculture industry.


Andrew has recently joined SEBE LES as the new Lecturer in Marine Microbiology. His interests in marine microbiology (and microbial ecology more broadly) began at James Cook University, where he completed a Bachelor of Science (Marine Biology) and was awarded a Class I Hons for his work on exploring the bacterial communities associated with wild and cultivated prawns using classical methods.

Having left a lasting impression on him, Andrew moved towards gaining a greater appreciation for the involvement of specific bacterial assemblages within the marine host in undertaking his PhD at the University of New England (UNE) and the University of the Sunshine Coast (USC), where he explored the association of Helicobacter spp. in free-ranging and captive marine mammals, revealing some interesting insights into their occurrence in gastroenteritis and likely routes of transmission.

After gaining his PhD, Andrew embarked on a number of journeys which saw him gain experiences in both the agricultural, medical and marine sectors, where he developed further capacity in the use of both conventional and new and emerging (omics-based) technologies for addressing pertinent questions in microbial ecology, particularly as it relates to the host.

Some of the most notable work Andrew has undertaken on his journey thus far has included exploring the relevance of the microbiome in fish health and nutrition; documenting the first known occurrence of typically environmental microbial extremophiles (halophilic archaea) in the gut of humans; isolating and formally identifying new bacterial lineages from conditions of disease; and establishing the mechanisms that allow certain bacterial species to become pervasive chronic infections in the host.

Having gained significant experiences in Germany at the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI, Braunschweig) and having recently started a young family, Andrew moved back to Australia to take up a position at the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) Aquatic Sciences centre, where between 2014-2019, he established the SARDI Aquatics Molecular Sciences Laboratory, and brought new capacity for addressing fundamental questions and challenges arising in the marine sciences, particularly in fisheries and aquaculture.

Andrew is inspired as a mentor and supervisor to many students, and enjoys passing on the knowledge gained from his experiences, whether it be showing his PhD student how to conduct microbiome transplants in fish, or taking his little boy and girl beach combing.

Appointments with speaker may be made via

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