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)

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)

Postgraduate supervision

  • 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:

  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

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • 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
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/36806
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Kim Handley, Gillian Lewis
  • 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
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/33713
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Gillian Lewis
  • Laroche, O., Wood, S. A., Tremblay, L. A., Ellis, J. I., Lejzerowicz, F., Pawlowski, J., ... Pochon, X. (2016). First evaluation of foraminiferal metabarcoding for monitoring environmental impact from an offshore oil drilling site. Marine Environmental Research, 120, 225-235. 10.1016/j.marenvres.2016.08.009
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/30525
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Xavier Pochon, Louis Tremblay
  • Perez-Garcia, O., Lear, G., & Singhal, N. (2016). Metabolic Network Modeling of Microbial Interactions in Natural and Engineered Environmental Systems. Frontiers in microbiology, 710.3389/fmicb.2016.00673
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Naresh Singhal
  • Commault, A. S., Lear, G., & Weld, R. J. (2015). Maintenance of Geobacter-dominated biofilms in microbial fuel cells treating synthetic wastewater. Bioelectrochemistry, 106 (Pt A), 150-158. 10.1016/j.bioelechem.2015.04.011
  • Lau, K. E. M., Washington, V. J., Fan, V., Neale, M. W., Lear, G., Curran, J., & Lewis, G. D. (2015). A novel bacterial community index to assess stream ecological health. Freshwater Biology, 60 (10), 1988-2002. 10.1111/fwb.12625
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Vicky Fan, Gillian Lewis, James Curran
  • Dopheide, A., Lear, G., He, Z., Zhou, J., & Lewis, G. D. (2015). Functional gene composition, diversity and redundancy in microbial stream biofilm communities. PloS one, 10 (4)10.1371/journal.pone.0123179
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/29079
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Gillian Lewis
  • Curran-Cournane, F., Lear, G., Schwendenmann, L., & Khin, J. (2015). Heavy metal soil pollution is influenced by the location of green spaces within urban settings. Soil Research, 53 (3), 306-306. 10.1071/SR14324
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/30491
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Luitgard Schwendenmann

Contact details

Primary location

COMMERCE A - Bldg 114
Level 1, Room 127
New Zealand

Web links