Principal Research Scientist within the Healthy and Resilient GBR Program where I lead frontier research into the roles of microbial and viral symbionts in invertebrate health and adaptation to changed environments.
I obtained a PhD in 2001 which investigated the microbial ecology of a GBR sponge, focussing on the stability of the symbiotic associations over different latitudinal and stress gradients. Between 2001-05 I undertook postdoctoral research at the University of Canterbury / Gateway Antarctica. This research investigated the utility of microbial symbionts as biomarkers for environmental stress in the Antarctic marine ecosystem and facilitated the development of effective diagnostic tools for measuring sub-lethal stress in Antarctic marine biota. In 2005 I commenced a research scientist position at AIMS undertaking research that assesses the impact of environmental stress on model invertebrate symbioses (primarily sponges and their microbial symbionts). During this period I also undertook research into the role of microorganisms as inducers for settlement and metamorphosis of coral reef invertebrates.

2001: PhD James Cook University Marine Microbiology

1995: Bachelor of Science (Hons) James Cook University

Current Research Activities
My research assesses the impact of environmental pressures on reef bacterial symbiosis. Molecular science has recently uncovered an incredible diversity of marine microorganisms and highlighted the critical importance of these microbes to invertebrate health, fitness & ultimately survival. If we are to provide accurate predictions of the sensitivity & vulnerability of reef organisms we therefore need to assess the stress response in both the host and its associated microbiota (holobiont). Within this research area we deliver stakeholders with knowledge of how temperature, ocean acidification, nutrient enrichment and increased sedimentation
Expert Committees and Boards
Board Member International Society of Microbial Ecology
Member of the United Nations Pool of Experts for Global Reporting and Assessment of the Marine Environmment
Chief Editor for Frontiers in Microbial Symbiosis
Editorial Board of Environmental Microbiology
Editor PLoS One
Editor mSystems
Reviewer for >20 international journals (Nat Comm, Proc Nat Acad Sci, ISME J, Glob Change Biol etc) and major funding agencies (ARC, NSF, DRC, ABRS, FRC, NOAA).
Over 90 scientific publications with over 3700 citations (

2016 Publications:

Thomas T, Moitinho-Silva L, Lurgi M, Björk JR, Easson C, Astudillo C, Olson JB, Erwin PM, López-Legentil S, Luter H, Chaves-Fonnegra A, Costa R, Schupp P, Steindler L, Erpenbeck D, Gilbert J, Knight R, Ackerman G, Victor Lopez J, Taylor MW, Thacker RW, Montoya JM, Hentschel U, Webster NS (2016) Global Sponge Microbiome: Diversity, structure and convergent evolution of symbiont communities across the phylum Porifera. Nature Communications (In Press).

Laffy PW, Wood-Charlson EM, Turaev D, Weynberg K, Botte E, van Oppen M, Webster NS, Rattei T (2016) HoloVir: A workflow for investigating the diversity and function of viruses in invertebrate holobionts. Frontiers in Microbiology (online)

Webster NS, Thomas T (2016) The Sponge Hologenome. mBio 7(2): e00135-16. Doi: 10.1128/mBio.00135-16.

Webster NS, Negri AP, Botté ES, Laffy P, Flores F, Noonan S, Schmidt C, Uthicke S (2016) Host-associated coral reef microbes respond to the cumulative pressures of ocean warming and ocean acidification. Scientific Reports 6:19324. Doi: 10.1038/srep19324

Negri AP, Brinkman DL, Flores F, Botté E, Jones RJ, Webster NS (2016) Acute ecotoxicology of natural oil and gas condensate to coral reef larvae. Scientific Reports 6:21153. Doi: 10.1038/srep21153

Wilkinson C, Salvat B, Brathwaite A, Francini-Filho R, Webster NS, Padovani Ferreira B, Harris P (2016) Tropical and Sub-Tropical Coral Reefs. First Global Integrated Marine Assessment (First World Ocean Assessment), United Nations, Division for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea, p. 1-42.

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