You are here

VanBUG Seminar: Microbial community assembly on seaweeds and seagrasses

VanBUG logo


Speaker Info:

Laura Parfrey
Assistant Professor, Bontany, Zoology, Faculty of Science
University of British Columbia


Laura Parfrey's lab studies communities of microbial eukaryotes (protists) with the goal of understanding their diversity and distribution across environments. Eukaryotes, which include the familiar plants, animals, and fungi, are incredibly diverse and consist of many microbial lineages of amoebae, flagellates, ciliates, algae, and parasites. They use high-throughput sequencing to characterize microbial communities.

Attend in person or online:

If you are in Vancouver, you can attend the session in person at:
Gordon and Leslie Diamond Family Theatre
BC Cancer Research Centre
675 West 10th Avenue

Or, you can tune into the live webstream by clicking the link below: 
(This technology is brought to you by WestGrid and Compute Canada with support from PHSA Telehelath)

Talk Abstract:

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.

Introductory Speaker:

  • Jasleen Grewal (PhD Student, Dr. Steven Jones’ lab, BC Cancer Agency’s Genome Sciences Centre)
    “Using machine learning to identify the site of origin of metastatic cancers”

Trainees are invited to meet with the VanBUG speaker from 5:00-5:45pm for open discussion of both science and career paths. Following the presentation, guests are invited to stay for networking over pizza and refreshments.

About VanBUG 

VanBUG (Vancouver Bioinformatics Users Group) is an association of researchers, other professionals and students in the BC Lower Mainland who have an interest in the field of bioinformatics. VanBUG meets on the second Thursday of every month from September through April. Research presentations by bioinformatics leaders, students and industry representatives are followed by networking over pizza and refreshments.