Microbes and healthy waterways

Yellow spots which are single cells of micro-algae as seen under a microscope.

Micro-algae are single celled algae which absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Micro-algae under a microscope. They are an important food source for many marine animals.

What is the relationship between microbes and healthy waterways? We know that microbes influence ecosystem health in many fundamental ways, but their exact role in our marine environment is not well understood. This means that microbes are not well integrated into ecosystem health assessments and ecological models, which are relied on heavily in marine management.

We are assessing the relationship between the microbes present and their role in the ecosystem at several coastal sites around Australia. We are addressing a question fundamental to microbial ecology: what is the relationship between identity and function? Our project will also establish baseline data of microbial diversity and ecosystem health for use in ecosystem models.

Project lead: Dr Andrew Bissett