Microorganisms and the management of ecosystems


Our society is dependent on ecosystems services mediated by microorganisms. The majority of these organisms are difficult to grow under laboratory conditions and so a suite of molecular techniques known collectively as ‘omics technologies have been developed to investigate them. This talk will introduce a range of these methods and highlight how they are being used to identify the factors that influence microbial diversity and function in a range of systems. The overall objectives of the research examples presented are to improve our ability to predict the consequences of environmental change, assess the risks associated with pollutants and management practices, and to help maintain/enhance the provision and stability of ecosystem services. Projects encompassing climate change, pollution and food security will be presented.


Paul Dennis leads an exciting new research group in SEES that applies cutting-edge technologies to understand the roles of microorganisms and their responses to environmental change.

He is also a passionate educator and public speaker who advocates for the importance of biological diversity and evidence-based environmental awareness. He has talked about his research on ABC Radio and a range of other media outlets. His teaching covers aspects of ecology, microbiology, plant and soil science, and climatology. He considers these topics to be of fundamental importance for the development of more sustainable societies and takes pride in helping others to obtain the knowledge and skills they need to build a better future.

Paul's research has taken him to Antarctica, the Amazon Rainforest, high mountains and oceans. The approaches used in his lab draw on a wide range of expertise in molecular biology, ecology, statistics, computer science, advanced imaging and soil science. He applies these skills to a wide-range of systems including tropical agriculture, plant-microbe interactions, Antarctic marine and terrestrial ecology, biogeography, pollution and human health.


Room 518/519, Chamberlain Building (#35)