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

  • 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)

  • 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
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/43407
    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
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/44698
    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
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/36806
    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
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/34700
    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
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/33713
    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

COMMERCE A - Bldg 114
Level 1, Room 127
3A SYMONDS ST
AUCKLAND 1010
New Zealand

Web links