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 deep-sea hydrothermal vents, terrestrial geothermal habitats, and the Antarctic Dry Valleys, using molecular genetic and bioinformatic tools.

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


  • Brandt, Shelly (in progress): How does increased CO2 and reduced pH affect microbial nutrient cycling and productivity in coastal marine sediments? (chief supervisor Craig Cary).
  • 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:

  • 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

  • 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:

View All research publications by Charles Lee

Contact Details

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