Dr Charles K. Lee

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

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

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 (in progress): The global ecology of Deinococcaceae
  • Noble, Anya (in progress): The biogeography and functional roles of the Leptospermum scoparium (mānuka) phyllosphere microbiome
  • Cabria, Gamaliel Lysander (in progress): Intra-species genomic variation and gene flow in hydrogen-oxidizing bacteria
  • Brandt, Shelly (in progress - chief supervisor Craig Cary): The effects of ocean acidification on microbial nutrient cycling and productivity in coastal marine sediments
  • Monteiro, Maria (in progress - chief supervisor Craig Cary): Resolving functional resilience of microbial communities to climate-induced change in the McMurdo Dry Valleys of Antarctica
  • Wakerley, Georgia (in progress - chief supervisor Craig Cary): Human impact on the McMurdo Dry Valley soils of Antarctica: extending the limits of forensic DNA detection
  • Payyakkal Viswam, Jayadev (2016 - chief supervisor Ian McDonald): The role of the gut microbiome of the Huhu grub in lignocellulose breakdown

MSc (Research)

  • Challis, Jacinda (in progress): Effects of post-operative antibiotics in endoscopic sinus surgery
  • Ferris, Kelsey (in progress): eDNA-based monitoring of freshwater mussel populations
  • 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; Biology; Biotechnology; Ecology; Environmental Biochemistry; Environmental Science and Technology; Microbiology; Molecular Biology

Recent Publications

  • Lee, C. K., Laughlin, D. C., Bottos, E. M., Caruso, T., Joy, K., Barrett, J. E., . . . Cary, S. C. (2019). Biotic interactions are an unexpected yet critical control on the complexity of an abiotically driven polar ecosystem.. Communications Biology, 2, 62. doi:10.1038/s42003-018-0274-5 Open Access version:

  • Caruso, T., Hogg, I. D., Nielsen, U. N., Bottos, E. M., Lee, C. K., Hopkins, D. W., . . . Adams, B. J. (2019). Nematodes in a polar desert reveal the relative role of biotic interactions in the coexistence of soil animals. Communications Biology, 2(1). doi:10.1038/s42003-018-0260-y Open Access version:

  • Archer, S. D. J., Lee, K. C., Caruso, T., Maki, T., Lee, C. K., Cary, S. C., . . . Pointing, S. B. (2019). Airborne microbial transport limitation to isolated Antarctic soil habitats. Nature Microbiology. doi:10.1038/s41564-019-0370-4

  • MacIntyre, C., Risk, D., Lee, C. K., & Cary, S. C. (2019). Processes driving soil CO<inf>2</inf> temporal variability in Antarctic Dry Valleys. Geoderma, 337, 871-879. doi:10.1016/j.geoderma.2018.09.050

View All research publications by Charles Lee

Contact Details

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