Nicole Webster is a marine microbial ecologist whose research focuses on elucidating microbial contributions to reef ecosystem health.  Her career has unified around studying microbial symbioses in reef species using culture-independent molecular approaches to predict how environmentally induced microbial dysbiosis impacts the health of reef invertebrates. During her dissertation research (James Cook University), Nicole pioneered the application of molecular and advanced imaging approaches to studying sponge symbiosis.  Her subsequent postdoctoral research (University of Canterbury) investigated the utility of applying microbial dysbiosis as a biomarker for environmental stress and explored the role of microorganisms as inducers for settlement and metamorphosis of coral reef invertebrates.

Nicole’s research group at the University of Queensland uses experimental and field based ecological research to explore multiple facets of coral reef microbiology.  Metagenomic, metatranscriptomic and advanced imaging approaches are employed to understand reef invertebrates as metaorganisms / holobionts, and translate this research into strategic tools for coral reef management. Nicole holds a joint appointment at the University of Queensland and the Australian Institute of Marine Science, where she leads inter-institutional research projects in the field of ecogenomics.

1995 B.SC (Hons I), James Cook University
2001 PhD, James Cook University

GBR Microbial Observatories

This project aims to construct the first Great Barrier Reef microbial genomics database which will provide a framework to ascertain the environmental relevance / ecosystem consequences of changes in microbial community structure and function following environmental perturbation.

Establishing Ianthella basta as a Model Species for Symbiosis Research

This project aims to assess the establishment and maintenance of microbial symbiosis in Ianthella basta as a model species, visualize physiological interactions between host and symbionts, and assess holobiont stability under future climate conditions.

Sponge Holobiont Response to Climate Change

Analysis of Ircinia ramosa host and symbiont transcriptomic responses to ocean warming and acidification to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underpinning this acclimatisation response.

Defining Species & Functional Sensitivity Distributions for Microorganisms

This project will develop a unique molecular platform for deriving quantitative stress thresholds for microbial communities inhabiting key reef habitats (seawater, sediments, invertebrates).


Australian Centre for Ecogenomics
Level 5, Molecular Biosciences Bldg
University of Queensland
Brisbane, Australia

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