Probiotics for the ocean – how microbes can improve the health and performance of macroalgae

Probiotics for the ocean – how microbes can improve the health and performance of macroalgae

This project aims to investigate how bacteria can improve the growth, health and environmental adaptation of marine seaweeds (macroalgae). By using new knowledge of microbial functions and innovative approaches in experimental ecology the project intends to develop natural bacterial communities that benefit seaweeds.

It is anticipated that these bacteria will constitute novel marine probiotics that can be used to enhance and protect the performance of macroalgae in their natural environment or in aquaculture systems. Such outcomes may contribute to safeguarding marine ecosystems against anthropogenic stressors (such as pollutants) and provide opportunities for the development of a blue economy. 

Potential Honours projects in this area could involve:

1) exploring the microbial diversity associated with healthy seaweeds to identify key microbial species and their functions important for seaweed health.

2) Investigating the processes by which microbial symbionts colonise seaweed hosts and their impact on subsequent community development.

3) Assessing the stability of probiotic communities exposed to environmental disturbance. I am also open to explore your personal interests and ideas around this topic.

Supervisor: A/Prof. Suhelen Egan