The University of Auckland
School of Biological Science, Auckland
CONTACT PI: Gavin Lear [email]
University of Auckland - Gavin Lear
Laboratory - The microbial ecology of NZ soils Lab


The Lear laboratory explores the complex interactions among microbial communities and the varied environments that they inhabit. We 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 our 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 our 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. We share a broad-range of interests in both pure and applied aspects of environmental microbiology and are always keen to help motivated individuals investigate diverse research interests.


  • Biogeography
  • Microbial Ecology
  • Bioremediation

Staff and Post-docs: Carmen Astudillo Grací
Postgraduate students: Syrie Hermans, Jieyun Wu, Isobel King, Velonika Falaniko, Kade Allen


Hermans SM, Buckley HL, Lear G. 2018. Optimal extraction methods for the simultaneous analysis of DNA from diverse organisms and sample types. Mol Ecol Resour, 18, 557-569, doi:10.1111/1755-0998.12762.

Thomsen MS, Altieri AH, Angelini C, Bishop MJ, Gribben PE, Lear G, He Q, Schiel DR, Silliman BR, South PM, Watson DM, Wernberg T, Zotz G. 2018. Secondary foundation species enhance biodiversity. Nat Ecol Evol, 2, 634-639, doi:10.1038/s41559-018-0487-5.

Hermans SM, Buckley HL, Case BS, Curran-Cournane F, Taylor M, Lear G. 2017. Bacteria as Emerging Indicators of Soil Condition. Appl Environ Microbiol, 83, doi:10.1128/AEM.02826-16.

Lear G, Lau K, Perchec AM, Buckley HL, Case BS, Neale M, Fierer N, Leff JW, Handley KM, Lewis G. 2017. Following Rapoport's Rule: the geographic range and genome size of bacterial taxa decline at warmer latitudes. Environ Microbiol, 19, 3152-3162, doi:10.1111/1462-2920.13797.

Wu J, Anderson BJ, Buckley HL, Lewis G, Lear G. 2017. Aspect has a greater impact on alpine soil bacterial community structure than elevation. FEMS Microbiol Ecol, 93, 5, doi:10.1093/femsec/fix032.

Lear G, Bellamy J, Case BS, Lee JE, Buckley HL. 2014. Fine-scale spatial patterns in bacterial community composition and function within freshwater ponds. ISME J, 8, 1715-1726, doi:10.1038/ismej.2014.21.

Lee JE, Buckley HL, Etienne RS, Lear G. 2013. Both species sorting and neutral processes drive assembly of bacterial communities in aquatic microcosms. FEMS Microbiol Ecol, 86, 288-302, doi:10.1111/1574-6941.12161.