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Mrs Charlie Phelps

Overview of thesis

Microbes on the surfaces of macroalgae form a relationship often referred to as the holobiont.  This relationship can be mutually beneficial, parasitic and commensalistic.  Disturbances can severely impact marine ecosystems and have the potential to alter the holobiont relationship.

Through the use of 16S next generation sequencing techniques, metagenomic analysis and a series of aquaria based studies, I will aim to determine how environmental conditions and disturbance effect the composition of microbial communities on the canopy forming kelp Ecklonia radiata. To do this, I will specifically aim to determine the stability of the microbial community on kelp and the influence of environmental variation on community composition. Then determine the effect of disturbance on the microbial community composition of kelp and to examine the cumulative effect of putative pathogenic microbes, high temperatures and herbivory on kelp.

Project link: The role of the environment and disturbance on the Ecklonia radiata holobiont


  • Master of Science: Biological Science, ECU, 2016
  • Bachelor of Science: Biological Science, ECU, 2013


Research Interests

  • Marine Ecology
  • Microbial Ecology
  • Phycology
  • Disturbances

Scholarships and Awards

  • Recipient of the ECU Marine Microbe PhD Scholarship 2016
  • School of Natural Science Post Graduate Student Support Grant (2014 & 2015)

Recent Publications

Journal Article

  • Phelps, C. M., Boyce, M.     C., Huggett, M. J. (2017) Future     climate change scenarios differentially affect three abundant algal     species in southwestern Australia. Marine Environmental Research. 126:     69-80

Conference Publications/ Presentations

  • AMSA conference Geelong     2015 – Oral Presentation


Dr Megan Huggett
Dr Kathryn McMahon
Professor Peter Steinberg, University of New South Wales
Dr Thomas Wernberg, University of Western Australia


PhD Student
Mrs Charlie Phelps
Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research
School of Science
Telephone: (61 8) 6304 5381

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