Dr Gavin Lear
DPhil (Env. Biotech.), Oxford, UK; BSc (Hons) Env. Biol, Nottingham, UK.
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)
BioSci 202 (Genetics)
BioSci206 (Principles in Ecology)
BioSci 741 (Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology)
BioSci 347 (Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology)
BioSci 749 (Ecology of Microbial Interactions)
Syrie Hermans (PhD student) The biogeography of bacteria in NZ soils
Jieyun Wu (PhD student) Functional biogeography of soil bacterial communities in New Zealand’s indigenous tussock grasslands
Paulina Giraldo-Perez (PhD student, co-supervised) Evaluating the impact of synthetic pesticides on the biodiversity and evolution of biological systems.
Olivier Laroche (PhD student, co-supervised) Assessment of eDNA as a monitoring tool for marine benthic ecosystem health near offshore oil and gas activities
Xiaoqing Li (PhD student, co-supervised) Spatial variation of soil respirate in native tussock grasslands
Camila Mery (PhD student, co-supervised) Micropollutant degradation using aggregate and flocular sludge in wastewater treatment processes
Diana Montenegro (PhD student, co-supervised) Use of biomarkers in a fish bioindicator species to assess the effects of pollution on New Zealand estuaries.
Areas of expertise
I have key interests in:
- The role of microorganisms in maintaining environmental health and productivity
- Molecular methods to assess microbial community diversity, function and distribution.
- Microbial diversity and biogeography
- The use of microorganisms for the bioremediation of polluted environments
Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)
- Hermans, S. M., Buckley, H. L., & Lear, G. (2018). Optimal extraction methods for the simultaneous analysis of DNA from diverse organisms and sample types. Molecular ecology resources, 18 (3), 557-569. 10.1111/1755-0998.12762
Other University of Auckland co-authors: Syrie Hermans
- Thomsen, M. S., Altieri, A. H., Angelini, C., Bishop, M. J., Gribben, P. E., Lear, G., ... South, P. M. (2018). Secondary foundation species enhance biodiversity. Nature Ecology & Evolution, 2 (4), 634-639. 10.1038/s41559-018-0487-5
- 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