Microbiomes of Western Australian marine environments

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia


Royal Society of Western Australia


School of Science / Centre for Marine Ecosystems Research / Centre for Ecosystem Management




Phelps, C.M., Bernasconi, R., Danks, M., Gasol, J.M., Hopkins, A.J.M., Jones, J., Kavazos, C.R.J., Martin, C., Tarquinio, F., Huggett, M.J. (2018). Microbiomes of Western Australian marine environments. Journal of the Royal Society of Western Australia, 101, 17-43. Available here


Microbes are fundamentally important to the maintenance of all habitats, including those in the ocean: they govern biogeochemical cycles, contribute to resistance from disease and nutritional requirements of macroorganisms and provide enormous biological and genetic diversity. The oceanic environment of the west coast of Australia is dominated by the Leeuwin Current, a poleward flowing boundary current that brings warm water down the coastline from the north. Due to the influence of the current, tropical species exist further south than they would otherwise, and stretches of the coastline host unique assortments of tropical and temperate species. Seawater itself, as well as the benthic macroorganisms that inhabit ocean environments, form habitats such as extensive areas of seagrass beds, macroalgal forests, coral reefs, sponge gardens, benthic mats including stromatolites, continental slopes and canyons and abyssal plain enviroments. These environments, and the macroorganisms that inhabit them, are all intrinsically linked with highly abundant and diverse consortiums of microorganisms. To date, there has been little research aimed at understanding these critical organisms within Western Australia. Here we review the current literature from the dominant coastal types (seagrass, coral, temperate macroalgae, vertebrates and stromatolites) in Western Australia. The most well researched are pelagic habitats and those with stromatolites, whereas data on all the other environments are slowly beginning to emerge. We urge future research efforts to be directed toward understanding the diversity, function, resilience and connectivity of coastal microorganisms in Western Australia.

Access Rights



Article Location