Dr Gavin Lear

DPhil (Env. Biotech.), Oxford, UK; BSc (Hons) Env. Biol, Nottingham, UK.

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Associate Professor

Research | Current

My research largely explores the complex interactions among microbial communities and the varied environments that they inhabit. I investigate how microbial communities adapt to human influences such as pollution events and agricultural management, as well as to natural variability in environmental conditions. A key goal of my research is to use microbial responses to such events as a quantitative indicator of the impact of human activities on New Zealand’s fragile soil and freshwater environments. In my laboratory, we therefore use modern molecular tools to conduct a wide-range of research in the broad fields of microbial ecology, biotechnology and environmental science. I have a broad-range of interests in both pure and applied aspects of environmental microbiology and am keen to help motivated individuals investigate diverse research interests.

Teaching | Current

BioSci 204 (Principles in Microbiology)

BioSci206 (Principles in Ecology)

BioSci 347 (Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology)

BioSci 749 (Ecology of Microbial Interactions)

Postgraduate supervision

  • Victor Gambarini (PhD student) Microbial indicators of plastic pollution

  • Stefan Maday (PhD student) Isolation adn characterisation of plastic-degrading microbes

  • Anju Gautam (PhD student) Response to environmental change by bacterial communities in stream biofilms 

  • Syrie Hermans (PhD student) The biogeography of bacteria in NZ soils.

  • Amrita Bains (PhD student, co-supervised) Whole-cell biocatalysis of emerging wastewater pollutants.

  • Paulina Giraldo-Perez (PhD student, co-supervised) Evaluating the impact of synthetic pesticides on the biodiversity and evolution of biological systems.

  • Katie Worrallo (PhD student, co-supervised) Marine microbiology and genomics: Improving our understanding of how microbial communities respond to estuarine nutrient pollution.

  • Hwee Sze Tee (PhD student, co-supervised) Understanding spatial and temporal patterns of bacterial communities in aquatic ecosystems

Areas of expertise

I have key interests in:

  1. The role of microorganisms in maintaining environmental health and productivity
  2. Molecular methods to assess microbial community diversity, function and distribution.
  3. Microbial diversity and biogeography
  4. The use of microorganisms for the bioremediation of polluted environments
  5. Microbial interactions with plastic pollution

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Laroche, O., Wood, S. A., Tremblay, L. A., Ellis, J. I., Lear, G., & Pochon, X. (2018). A cross-taxa study using environmental DNA/RNA metabarcoding to measure biological impacts of offshore oil and gas drilling and production operations. Marine pollution bulletin, 127, 97-107. 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.11.042
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Louis Tremblay, Xavier Pochon
  • Lear, G., Dickie, I., Banks, J., Boyer, S., Buckley, H., Buckley, T., ... Hermans, S. (2018). Methods for the extraction, storage, amplification and sequencing of DNA from environmental samples. New Zealand Journal of Ecology10.20417/nzjecol.42.9
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Robin MacDiarmid, Thomas Buckley
  • Wakelin, S. A., Gomez-Gallego, M., Jones, E., Smaill, S., Lear, G., & Lambie, S. (2018). Climate change induced drought impacts on plant diseases in New Zealand. Australasian Plant Pathology, 47 (1), 101-114. 10.1007/s13313-018-0541-4
  • Lear, G., Lau, K., Perchec, A.-M., Buckley, H. L., Case, B. S., Neale, M., ... Lewis, G. (2017). Following Rapoport's Rule: The geographic range and genome size of bacterial taxa decline at warmer latitudes. Environmental Microbiology, 19 (8), 3152-3162. 10.1111/1462-2920.13797
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Kim Handley, Gillian Lewis
  • Laroche, O., Wood, S. A., Tremblay, L. A., Lear, G., Ellis, J. I., & Pochon, X. (2017). Metabarcoding monitoring analysis: The pros and cons of using co-extracted environmental DNA and RNA data to assess offshore oil production impacts on benthic communities. PeerJ, 510.7717/peerj.3347
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Xavier Pochon, Louis Tremblay
  • Wu, J., Anderson, B. J., Buckley, H. L., Lewis, G., & Lear, G. (2017). Aspect has a greater impact on alpine soil bacterial community structure than elevation. FEMS microbiology ecology, 93 (5).10.1093/femsec/fix032
  • Wu, J., Anderson, B. J., Buckley, H. L., Lewis, G., & Lear, G. (2017). Aspect has a greater impact on alpine soil bacterial community structure than elevation. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 93 (3)10.1093/femsec/fiw253
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Gillian Lewis
  • Anderson, C., Beare, M., Buckley, H. L., & Lear, G. (2017). Bacterial and fungal communities respond differently to varying tillage depth in agricultural soils. PeerJ, 5, e3930-e3930. 10.7717/peerj.3930

Contact details

Primary office location

Level 2, Room 254
New Zealand

Social links

Web links