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Nov - Laura Parfrey

Speaker: Laura Parfrey

Talk Title: “Microbial community assembly on seaweeds and seagrasses”

Event Details


Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017 6:00pm

Affiliation: Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia

Web-site: Laura Parfrey


Multicellular marine organisms host diverse collections of microbes (bacteria, protists, and others) on their surface and within their tissues. These microbes are integral to the biology of the host, playing key roles in defense, development, and nutrient acquisition. Yet, we do not understand basic parameters of community assembly and dynamics on marine hosts. For example, is there a core microbiota for each species that performs essential functions? Are microbial taxa species-specific, or are they broadly shared across seaweed species? We surveyed the epibiotic communities of bacteria and protists living on 35 sympatric species of seagrass and seaweed in the nearshore environment along the central coast of British Columbia. By sampling multiple replicates for each species and the environmental pool of microbes from the water column and biofilms we are able determine which microbes are 1) characteristic of host species, 2) broadly distributed across seaweeds and seagrass, and 3) transients from the environment. We show that bacteria are much more likely to be specific to a host species, while protists are broadly distributed across seaweeds and seagrasses. These results suggest that community assembly and co-evolutionary history differ for protists and bacteria on marine hosts.


Dr. Laura Parfrey is an Assistant Professor in Botany and Zoology at the University of British Columbia. Research in the Parfrey lab focuses on the microbial ecology of eukaryotic microbes (protists) and their interaction with bacteria. We work in two distinct ecosystems: the mammalian gut and coastal ecosystems. Along coastal British Columbia we are investigating how water column and biofilm microbes colonize marine hosts (invertebrates, seaweed, and sea grass), and how these host-associated microbes impact host and ecosystem health. Laura is fascinated by microbial diversity and enjoys exploring many facets of our microbial world. She got her scientific start investigating the eukaryotic tree of life and carries this phylogenetic perspective into all aspects of research.

Please note:

Trainees are invited to meet with the VanBUG speaker for open discussion of both science and career paths. This takes place 5:00-5:45pm in either the Boardroom or Lunchroom on the ground floor of the BCCRC

Recommended Readings

Introductory Speaker: Jasleen Grewal (PhD Student, Dr. Steven Jones’ lab, BC Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre)

Title: “Using machine learning to identify the site of origin of metastatic cancers”

Webcast Link:

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