The Environmental Microbiology Research Initiative (EMRI) is a research consortium that aims to explore how environmental microorganisms influence ecosystem and human health, change the chemistry of the planet, respond to the impacts of industrial contamination and climate change, and potentially yield new biotechnologies.
Environmental systems harbour complex microbial networks and interactions that reflect biological and geological co-evolution, including the impacts of the Anthropocene.
Only recently have the vastness, novelty and ingenuity of Earth’s microbiomes been revealed through advances in metagenomics and utilisation of multi-omics approaches.
Understanding the distribution, complexity and functionality of the planet’s largely uncultivated environmental microbes presents a new frontier of science.
EMRI is an interdisciplinary research initiative created to explore and make discoveries across this new frontier. EMRI involves five faculties at the University of Melbourne: Science; Engineering; Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences; Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences; and Arts.
EMRI RESEARCH PROGRAM
EMRI research is grouped into three interconnected themes of microbial resilience, microbial systems and microbial evolution. The three themes underpin the research program that will address five key research objectives:
- Contribute strategically to the growing global catalogue of environmental genomes and metagenomics datasets
- Understand key environmental factors that shape microbial communities
- Predict adaptations in microbial communities and their functionality under changing environmental conditions
- Identify novel metabolic/enzymatic pathways for nutrient cycling or contaminant remediation
- Use metagenomics to drive cultivation-based hypothesis-testing experiments and selective enrichment/species isolations.
DEAN OF SCIENCE
Karen Day, Dean, Faculty of Science
John Moreau, School of Earth Sciences
Jill Banfield, School of Earth Sciences
Malcolm McConville, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Bio21 Institute
Linda Blackall, School of BioSciences and School of Earth Sciences
Robyn Sloggett, Grimwade Centre
Jizheng (Jim) He, Agriculture and Food, Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences
Andrew Western, Department of Infrastructure Engineering, Melbourne School of Engineering
Sammy Bedoui, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Biomedical Sciences
Andrew Brooks, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Biomedical Sciences
Douglas Brumley, School of Mathematics and Statistics
Deli Chen, Agriculture and Food, Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences
Stuart Dashper, Melbourne Dental School
Mark Davies, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Biomedical Sciences
Zoe Dyson, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Bio21 Institute
Sally Gras, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Melbourne School of Engineering
Ralf Haese, School of Earth Sciences
Eric Hanssen, Bio21 Institute
Ary Hoffman, School of BioSciences, Bio21 Institute
Kathryn Holt, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Bio21 Institute
Ben Howden, Molecular Diagnostics Unit, Doherty Institute
Kate Howell, Agriculture and Food, Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences
Alexander Idnurm, School of BioSciences
Alex Johnson, School of BioSciences
Stephan Kaiser, Administration Support, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Biomedical Sciences
Caroline Kyi, Grimwade Centre
Kim-Anh Le Cao, School of Mathematics and Statistics
Michael McCarthy, School of BioSciences
Andre Mu, Doherty Institute
Hayley Newton, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Biomedical Sciences
Laura Parry, School of BioSciences
Ute Roessner, School of BioSciences
Robyn Schofield, School of Earth Sciences
Anne Steinemann, Department of Infrastructure Engineering, Melbourne School of Engineering
Geoff Stevens, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Melbourne School of Engineering
Michael Stewardson, Department of Infrastructure Engineering, Melbourne School of Engineering
Timothy Stinear, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Biomedical Sciences
Dick Strugnell, Chancellery (PVC-GR) and Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Biomedical Sciences
Stephen Swearer, School of BioSciences
Madeleine van Oppen, School of BioSciences
Heroen Verbruggen, School of BioSciences
Peter Vesk, School of BioSciences
Karena Waller, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Biomedical Sciences
Michelle Ward, Administration and Support, Faculty of Science
Mathew Watts, School of Earth Sciences
Tony Weatherley, School of Ecosystem and Forest Sciences
Andrew Western, Department of Infrastructure Engineering, Melbourne School of Engineering
Bioremediation of mine wastes
Gold mining produces toxic heavy metals and other chemical waste products.
Some environmental microorganisms can biodegrade these contaminants into less harmful or non-toxic substances.
The Moreau Geomicrobiology Lab applies both cultivation-based and molecular biology approaches to developing new biotechnologies for mitigating mining impacts on soil and groundwater
Geomicrobiology and biogeochemistry of mercury methylation
The Moreau Geomicrobiology Lab studies the processes by which certain microorganisms convert toxic ionic mercury (Hg2+) into the more toxic organometallic compound, methylmercury (CH3Hg+).
This process occurs in aqueous environments from riverine sediments to the open ocean, but the mechanisms and triggers for microbial mercury methylation are still poorly understood.
Manipulation of microbes to assist coral adaptation to climate change
We explore how corals interact with their associated microbial communities, and attempt to augment the capacity of corals to tolerate stress by manipulating these communities. Our research aims to support development of novel coral reef restoration approaches.
We use the sea anemone Exaiptasia pallida as a model animal, and focus on the role of prokaryotes and the algal symbiont Symbiodinium. The approaches used to manipulate microbial communities include use of probiotics, experimental evolution and genetic engineering.
Microbiologically influenced corrosion
Accelerated low water corrosion (ALWC) is a type of microbiologically influenced corrosion that substantially increases damage to metal structures in seawater around the low tide level. ALWC is a costly global issue.
We hypothesise that the functional features of microbes, including their propensity to attach to metal surfaces and their metabolic pathways, facilitate ALWC. We aim to identify the microbes in ALWC tubercles with the aim of better understanding this phenomenon.
Microbial fluid dynamics
Fluid mechanics at the microscale governs a myriad of physical, chemical and biological processes in the environment.
We apply advanced video-microscopy and microfluidic techniques to directly visualise dynamic processes at the single cell level, from the collective beating of cilia to the active search behaviour of motile bacteria.
These results will uniquely inform the development of mathematical models with far-reaching ecological insights.
Contact: Douglas Brumley
Albert Shimmins Fellowship Lecture – Prof. Marco Polin
When: Thursday 3 May, 6:15-7:15pm, followed by refreshments Where: JH Michell Theatre, Peter Hall Building A quantitative view of swimming microorganisms Microorganisms are the most abundant and diverse group of living organisms on the planet, and their activity underpins all major ecosystems. Many of these organisms, including bio technologically and medically relevant species, have evolved the ability to swim, move or crawl and are capable …News
Prof Gene Tyson delivers Annual Biodiversity Lecture for School of BioSciences
Where: BioSciences 2, Turner Theatre When: Tuesday 24th April 2018 at 12:00noon-1:00pm Chairperson: Prof Linda Blackall Expanding our view of the microbial world Over the last decade, metagenomics has changed the face of microbial ecology. Metagenomics bypasses traditional culture-dependent approaches and holds the promise of genome-level insights into the mostly uncharted microbial world. My research team is applying metagenomic techniques to recover a large …News
Employing genome-resolved metagenomics to understand and optimize a thiocyanate degrading bioreactor treating gold mine wastewater
Dr Mathew Watts School of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Melbourne 1 November 2017 12-1pm Bio21 Institute Auditorium 30 Flemington Road, ParkvilleEvents
SysGen Seminar: Lessons from the Neandertal microbiome: how our past impacts our future health
Laura Weyrich The Australian Centre for Ancient DNA, University of Adelaide Friday 27 October 12-1pm Babel Chisholm Theatre, Babel Building, The University of MelbourneEvents
EMRI scientist Professor Jill Banfield receives 2018 UK Microbiology Society Prize Medal
The Microbiology Society’s Prizes recognise excellence and are awarded to those making significant contributions in the field of microbiology, based on nominations received from the membership. The 2018 Microbiology Society Prize Medal was awarded to EMRI's Professor Jill Banfield. Jill investigates the diverse range of microbial communities living in different environments and has made huge contributions to the disciplines of microbiology, earth sciences …News
‘Omics datasets integration: could it help improve waste degradation?
Olivier Chapleur National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture (IRSTEA), Paris, France Friday 13 October 2017 12-1pm FW Jones Theatre, Level 3 Medical Building, The University of MelbourneEvents
Environmental Microbiology Symposium
Professor Linda Blackall Dr Doug Brumley Dr Eleonora Egidi Dr Chris Greening Professor Mark Osborn Dr Steve Petrovski Tuesday 10 October 2017 6-9pm Turner Theatre, Biosciences 2, University of Melbourne, ParkvilleEvents
Controlling life, one cell at a time
Dr Filippo Menolascina The University of Edinburgh Thursday 5 October 4.30-5.30pm Evan Williams Theatre, Peter Hall Building, Monash Road, University of Melbourne, ParkvilleEvents
Madeleine van Oppen featured on ABC Catalyst
EMRI scientist Professor Madeleine van Oppen has been featured in a story on ABC's Catalyst entitled "Can we save the reef?”News
Jill Banfield Named 2017 V.M. Goldschmidt Medalist
EMRI researcher Jill Banfield has received the 2017 V. M. Goldschmidt Award. The Goldschmidt Award recognizes major achievements in geochemistry or cosmochemistry consisting of either a single outstanding contribution or a series of publications that have had great influence on the field.News
Environmental Microbiology Research Initiative (EMRI) seminar triple bill
Dr Jeremy J. Barr Dr Chris Greening Dr Mike McDonald Friday 21 July 2017 2-4pm Agar Theatre, BioSciences 4, University of Melbourne, ParkvilleEvents
A new view of the tree of life and the roles of novel lineages in subsurface biogeochemistry
Professor Jill Banfield 12 July 2017 11am-12pm Agar Theatre, BioSciences 4, University of Melbourne, ParkvilleEvents
Dr John Moreau (EMRI IInterim Director)
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