Dr Charles K. Lee

Senior Lecturer (Biological Sciences)
Director (DNA Sequencing)
Associate Director (ICTAR)

Qualifications: BSc (Life Science) Tsing-Hua Taiwan, PhD Waikato

Personal Website:

Research Interests

I study the microbial ecology and microbial genomics of a wide range of unusual ecosystems, including terrestrial geothermal habitats and the Antarctic Dry Valleys, using molecular genetic and bioinformatic tools. I also have active research projects on the microbial ecology of plant-, animal-, and human-associated habitats.

I'm interested in the development and validation of novel molecular techniques and bioinformatic analyses, and I use them in conjunction with geochemistry to examine the interactions between microbial communities and their environments.

View my Google Scholar profile here.

Research Supervised


  • Abbaszadeh, Jaber (pending): Geomorphologic Drivers of Microbial Ecology in Terrestrial Antarctica.
  • Cabria, Gamaliel Lysander (in progress): Understanding the Influence of Horizontal Gene Transfer on Intra-Species Genomic Variations in Natural Bacterial Communities.
  • Monteiro, Maria (in progress): Microbial nitrification in Antarctic Dry Valleys. (chief supervisor Craig Cary).
  • Wakerley, Georgia (in progress): Human impact on the McMurdo Dry Valley soils of Antarctica: extending the limits of forensic DNA detection. (chief supervisor Craig Cary).
  • Payyakkal Viswam, Jayadev (2016): The role of the gut microbiome of the Huhu grub in lignocellulose breakdown. (chief supervisor Ian McDonald).

MSc (Research)

  • Punjabi, Bhavna (in progress): TBC
  • Noble, Anya (2018): Environmental and biogeographical drivers of the Leptospermum scoparium (mānuka) phyllosphere microbiome.
  • Hu, Xiaoxue (2017): Genetic tool to detect three New Zealand freshwater mussels (Echyridella menziesii, Echyridella aucklandica, Echyridella onekaka) in environmental DNA.
  • Juwono, Joshua (2017): Enhancement of “flavours” through enzymatic release of glutamate.

Teaching Commitments


Antarctica; Biochemistry; Biotechnology; Environmental Biochemistry; Microbiology

Recent Publications

  • Viswam, J. P., Lee, C. K., Morgan, H. W., & McDonald, I. R. (2018). Laboratory rearing of huhu, Prionoplus reticularis (Cerambycidae): insights into the gut microbiome. New Zealand Journal of Zoology, 12 pages. doi:10.1080/03014223.2018.1461117

  • Lear, G., Dickie, I., Banks, J., Boyer, S., Buckley, H. L., Buckley, T. R., . . . Holdaway, R. (2018). Methods for the extraction, storage, amplification and sequencing of DNA from environmental samples. New Zealand Journal of Ecology, 42(1). doi:10.20417/nzjecol.42.9 Open Access version:

  • Lacap-Bugler, D. C., Lee, K. K., Archer, S., Gillman, L. N., Lau, M. C. Y., Leuzinger, S., . . . Pointing, S. B. (2017). Global diversity of desert hypolithic cyanobacteria. Frontiers in Microbiology, 8(May), 867. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2017.00867 Open Access version:

  • Fraser, C. I., Connell, L., Lee, C. K., & Cary, S. C. (2017). Evidence of plant and animal communities at exposed and subglacial (cave) geothermal sites in Antarctica. Polar Biology, 5 pages. doi:10.1007/s00300-017-2198-9

View All research publications by Charles Lee

Contact Details

Room: TRU.G.17
Phone: +64 7 838 4241