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Benthic microbial community dynamics and climate change

Marine microbes form partnerships with benthic organisms including seaweeds, sponges, corals and seagrass. These microbes can be very abundant (up to 35% of the biomass of their host) and are usually also quite diverse, with hundreds of different species found in a single host. Shifts in the composition or diversity of the microbial community may be the first sign of stress to the host, and by monitoring these communities we can detect early warning signs that benthic marine ecosystems are under pressure. These field observations can be coupled with laboratory based manipulative experiments to test thresholds of climate change and impacts to marine microbial communities. This project aims to describe the baseline benthic-pelagic coupling of microbial communities associated with habitat forming benthic species around Australia.

Funding agency

BioPlatforms Australia, EdithCowan University

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Project duration



Dr Megan Huggett
Ms Rachele Bernasconi
Dr Kathryn McMahon
Mrs Charlie Phelps

This nationally collaborative project involves scientists from the Australian Institute of Marine Science, CSIRO, Curtin University, Edith Cowan University, Macquarie University, Sydney Institute of Marine Science, University of NSW,University of Queensland and University of Technology, Sydney.

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