My research focusses on the microbial ecology and geobiological interactions within extreme ecosystems with the aim of underpinning conservation efforts, providing for industrial applications, and to understand the ecosystem services provided by these microbial communities. Much of my fieldwork is carried out in geothermal ecosystems in the central north island of New Zealand known as the Taupo Volcanic Zone.
I investigate the taxonomic, genomic and functional diversity of extremophile communities using cross-disciplinary approaches.
These include the cultivation and characterisation of novel microbial
strains (I have described first representatives of a new phylum, and a class, as well several genera and species), molecular community and
geochemical surveys (e.g. the 1000 Springs Project: http://1000Springs.org.nz), and the
genomic and physiological analyses of isolates and consortium (particularly
methanotrophs and atmospheric trace gas scavengers) to understand growth and survival mechanisms within these challenging environments
The themes of this research have both strong conservation and industrial foci.