Auckland University of Technology (AUT)
School of Science, Auckland
CONTACT PI: Stephen Archer [email]
Auckland University of Technology - Stephen Archer


  • Aerosol microbiology.
  • Global process of microbial aerosolisation and longevity.
  • Ecological roles of atmospheric microbiome.
  • Transboundary pollutant transportation and their ecological effects.
  • Microbial ecology and metagenomics of extreme environments.


Our work centres on the molecular genetics of low-biomass samples collected from extreme environments which has led to our primary research focus in the emerging field of aerosol microbiology. Little is known about the dynamics of the airborne microbial communities due to the technological challenges of biomass retrieval, which has provided us an excellent opportunity to conduct valuable foundational work. Recently, we have developed techniques that can reliably characterise microbial communities using high-volume vortex air samplers and high-throughput sequencing. By reducing sampling time down from typically 24 hours to an hour, we have established one of the most rapid approaches available for aerosol microbiome study. We have implemented this consistent methodology to understand the microbiology of the atmosphere at various temporal and spatial scales both locally and internationally. This approach is critical in addressing fundamental biogeographic questions regarding the global presence and dispersal of microorganisms, with significant implications relating to public health, biosecurity, and engineering of built environments.

    Staff and Post-docs: Kevin Lee, Tim Lawrence, Donna Lacap-Bugler
    Postgraduate students: Catherine Agnoli, Egide Kalisa


    Archer SDJ, de los Ríos A, Lee KC, Niederberger TS, Cary SC, Coyne CJ, Donnabella SD, Lacap-Bugler C, Pointing SB. 2017. Endolithic microbial diversity in sandstone and granite from the McMurdo Dry Valleys, Antarctica. Polar Biol, 40, 997-1006, doi:

    Lacap-Bugler DC, Lee KK, Archer S, Gillman LN, Lau MCY, Leuzinger S, Lee CK, Maki T, McKay CP, Perrott JK, de Los Rios-Murillo A, Warren-Rhodes KA, Hopkins DW, Pointing SB. 2017. Global diversity of desert hypolithic cyanobacteria. Front Microbiol, 8, 867, doi:

    Maki T, Hara K, Iwata A, Lee KC, Kawai K, Kai K, Kobayashi F, Pointing SB, Archer S, Hasegawa H, Iwasaka Y. 2017. Variations in airborne bacterial communities at high altitudes over the Noto Peninsula (Japan) in response to Asian dust events. Atmos Chem Phys, 17, 11877-11897, doi:,.

    Maki T, Kurosaki Y, Onishi K, Lee KC, Pointing SB, Jugder D, Yamanaka N, Hasegawa H, Shinoda M. 2017. Variations in the structure of airborne bacterial communities in Tsogt-Ovoo of Gobi desert area during dust events. Air Qual Atmos Health, 10, 249-260, doi:

    Lee KC, Archer SD, Boyle RH, Lacap-Bugler DC, Belnap J, Pointing SB. 2016. Niche filtering of bacteria in soil and rock habitats of the Colorado Plateau Desert, Utah, USA. Front Microbiol, 7, 1489, doi: