Dr Xavier Pochon

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Senior Lecturer


Trained as a marine phylogeneticist, my Ph.D. thesis investigated co-evolutionary traits and ecological adaptation of a group of large tropical foraminifera (soritids) and their symbiotic dinoflagellates (zooxanthellae; genus Symbiodinium). Over the last 15 years, I took part in various research projects in the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific regions,  looking at the diversity and ecological adaptation of host communities (foraminifera and corals) from shallow to mesophotic reef environments. My postdoctoral research at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology included the design of novel genetic markers and tools able to specifically detect free-living Symbiodinium from environmental DNA (eDNA).

Capitalising on this previous experience, my current research at the Cawthron Institute (Nelson, New Zealand) focuses on developing multi-species detection tools using high-throughput eDNA sequencing to identify the taxa present in various marine ecosystems.


Research | Current

My research at the Cawthron Institute is highly applied to marine industries and focuses on the developement of metabarcoding tools for bio-monitoring diversity changes around operation sites (e.g., aquaculture farms, deep-sea mining, and biosecurity in NZ marinas and ports). I particularly enjoy interacting with regulators and industry partners to find better ways of protecting our marine environment.

At the University of Auckland, I combine 'real-world' and 'blue-sky' research applications. The 'blue-sky' projects are varied and include; i) metabarcoding Symbiodinium dinoflagellates in tropical forams, corals and giant clams, ii) characterizing the functional role of microbiomes in aquaculture settings (e.g. oysters, salmon), iii) conducting phylogenetic analyses on tropical and temperate cyanobacteria, and iv) unvealing the diversity and dynamics of open-ocean plankton communities.

Postgraduate supervision

Postgraduate research opportunities

  • Developing multi-trophic metabarcoding tools for environmental monitoring of marine industries
  • Investigating the functional underpinnings of symbiotic dinoflagellate communities in tropical soritid foraminifera, corals and giant clams
  • Unravelling the eDNA secrets of 10% (380) of NZ lakes (www.lakes380.com
  • Exploring the diversity and dynamics of open-ocean plankton communities in the South-West Pacific (www.planktonplanet.org)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • von Ammon, U., Wood, S. A., Laroche, O., Zaiko, A., Lavery, S. D., Inglis, G. J., & Pochon, X. (2019). Linking Environmental DNA and RNA for Improved Detection of the Marine Invasive Fanworm Sabella spallanzanii. FRONTIERS IN MARINE SCIENCE, 610.3389/fmars.2019.00621
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Shane Lavery, Anastasija Zaiko
  • Hawes, N. A., Amadorou, A., Tremblay, L. A., Pochon, X., Dunphy, B., Fidler, A. E., & Smith, K. F. (2019). Epigenetic patterns associated with an ascidian invasion: a comparison of closely related clades in their native and introduced ranges. Scientific reports, 9 (1)10.1038/s41598-019-49813-7
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Louis Tremblay
  • Keeley, N., Valdemarsen, T., Strohmeier, T., Pochon, X., Dahlgren, T., & Bannister, R. (2019). Mixed-habitat assimilation of organic waste in coastal environments - It's all about synergy!. The Science of the total environment, 69910.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.134281
  • Rouzé H, Lecellier, G., Pochon, X., Torda, G., & Berteaux-Lecellier, V. (2019). Unique quantitative Symbiodiniaceae signature of coral colonies revealed through spatio-temporal survey in Moorea. Scientific reports, 9 (1)10.1038/s41598-019-44017-5
  • Pochon, X., Wecker, P., Stat, M., Berteaux-Lecellier, V., & Lecellier, G. (2019). Towards an in-depth characterization of Symbiodiniaceae in tropical giant clams via metabarcoding of pooled multi-gene amplicons. PeerJ, 2019 (5)10.7717/peerj.6898
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/49052
  • Adamowicz, S. J., Boatwright, J. S., Chain, F., Fisher, B. L., Hogg, I. D., Leese, F., ... Pochon, X. (2019). Trends in DNA barcoding and metabarcoding. Genome, 62 (3), v-viii. 10.1139/gen-2019-0054
  • Wood, S. A., Pochon, X., Ming, W., von Ammon, U., Woods, C., Carter, M., ... Zaiko, A. (2019). Considerations for incorporating real-time PCR assays into routine marine biosecurity surveillance programmes: a case study targeting the Mediterranean fanworm (Sabella spallanzanii) and club tunicate (Styela clava) 1. Genome, 62 (3), 137-146. 10.1139/gen-2018-0021
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Anastasija Zaiko
  • Guibert, I., Bonnard, I., Pochon, X., Zubia, M., Sidobre, C., Lecellier, G., & Berteaux-Lecellier, V. (2019). Differential effects of coral-giant clam assemblages on biofouling formation. Scientific reports, 9 (1)10.1038/s41598-019-39268-1

Contact details

Alternative contact

Phone +64 3 548 2319 ext 285

Email xavier.pochon@cawthron.org.nz

Primary office location

New Zealand