The University of Western Australia

UWA Staff Profile

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Deirdre Gleeson

Dr Deirdre Gleeson

Senior Research Fellow
Agriculture and Environment, School of

Contact details
School of Agriculture and Environment
The University of Western Australia (M087)
35 Stirling Highway
+61 8 6488 3593
+61 8 6488 1050
BSc PhD Dub.City
I have 10 years experience working in Australian ecosystems and my key research contributions to date focus on how the diversity and function of soil microorganisms are impacted by their surrounding habitat at both micro scale and at landscape scale (e.g. management practices and climate) with particular emphasis on the use of novel molecular biology technologies. I have secured in excess of $3M funding from the Department of Agriculture, the GRDC, CRC Program & the ARC and I am currently a project leader within the Department of Agriculture National Soil Carbon Program. My research has impacted both regionally, nationally & internationally & particularly noteworthy is work I am doing assessing biodiversity in Australian agricultural soils in relation to water dynamics with particular reference to climate change. My research is published in high impact journals such as Applied & Environmental Microbiology and Soil Biology & Biochemistry and Current Biology. I have shown commitment to Australian agriculture by raising the profile through presentations (invited) at both international and national conferences and by the transfer of knowledge to producers, growers & managers through reporting, newsletters and media releases. I am an Associate Editor for Fungal Biology and Frontiers in Terrestrial Microbiology.
Key research
Carbon – How can we address constraints to soil carbon storage?
Influence of soil matrix on microbial diversity and function with the following focus:
Water – How does it influence soil microbial diversity?
Habitat – Does mineral chemistry influence soil microbial populations?
Identity - In Australian ecosystems, are ammonia oxidising bacteria or archaea most dominant?
Understanding the mechanistic basis of rhizosphere strategies for enhancing phosphorus mobilisation in order to optimise phosphorus use
Application of next gen sequencing (Ion Torrent) and microarray technology to assess keystone soil microbial populations.
Integration of molecular technologies and multivariate statistical analysis.
Selected Publications:

Barton L, Gleeson DB, Maccarone LD, Zúñiga LP and Murphy DV (2013) Is liming soil a strategy for mitigating nitrous oxide emissions from semi-arid soils? Soil Biology and Biochemistry 62: 28-35.

Clipson N and Gleeson DB (2012). Fungal Biogeochemistry: A central role in the environmental fate of lead. Current Biology 22:R82-84.

Dempster DN, Gleeson DB, Solaiman ZM, Jones DL and Murphy DV (2012). Decreased soil microbial biomass and nitrogen mineralisation with Eucalyptus biochar addition to a coarse textured soil. Plant and Soil 354: 311-324.

Banning NC, Gleeson DB, Grant CD, Grigg A, Brodie EL, Andersen GL and Murphy DV (2011). Soil microbial community successional patterns during forest ecosystem restoration. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 77: 6158-6164.

Gleeson DB, Melville K, McDermott F, Clipson N and Gadd GM (2010) Molecular characterization of fungal communities in sandstone. Geomicrobiology Journal 27: 559-571.

Wacey D, Gleeson DB and Kilburn M (2010). Microbialite taphonomy and biogenicity: new insights from NanoSIMS. Geobiology 8: 403-416.

Gleeson D, Muller C, Ma W, Banjarree S, Sicilliano S and Murphy DV (2010) Influence of water on archaeal and bacterial ammonia oxidiser community dynamics and nitrogen cycle processes. Soil Biology & Biochemistry 42: 1888-1891.

Carson JK Gonzalez-Quiñones V, Murphy DV, Hinz C, Shaw JA and Gleeson DB (2010) Low pore connectivity increases bacterial diversity in soil. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 76: 3936-3942.

Carson JK, Gleeson DB, Clipson N and Murphy DV (2010) Afforestation alters community structure of soil fungi. Fungal Biology 114: 580-584.

Rooney DC, Kennedy N, Gleeson DB and Clipson N (2010) Responses of ammonia-oxidising bacterial communities to nitrogen, lime and plant species in upland grassland soil. Applied and Environmental Soil Science, Article ID 319721 (doi:10.1155/2010/319721).

Hutchens E, Gleeson D, McDermott F, Miranda-Caso Luengo R and Clipson N (2010). Meter-scale mineral induced selection of microbial communities on a weathered pegmatite granite outcrop in the Wicklow Mountains, Ireland. Geomicrobiology Journal 27: 1-14.

Carson J, Rooney DC, Clipson N and Gleeson DB (2009). Minerals in soil select distinct bacterial communities in their microhabitats. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 67: 381-388

Gleeson DB, Herrmann AM, Livesley S and Murphy DV (2008). Influence of water potential on nitrification and genetic structure of nitrifying bacterial communities in semi arid soils. Applied Soil Ecology 40: 189-194.

Gleeson DB, McDermott PF and Clipson N (2007). Understanding Microbially Active Biogeochemical Environments. Advances in Applied Microbiology 62: 81-104 (Invited review)

Carson J, Rooney DR, Gleeson DB and Clipson N (2007). Altering the mineral composition of soil results in a shift in the microbial community structure. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 61: 414-423.

Media outputs (2010-2012)
•Water the key to a dirty mystery, Profile Magazine (Australian Society of Soil Science, Dec 2011 (Circulation: 800).
•Soil microbes still off the radar, Australian Organic Producer, Dec 2011. (Circulation: 6,000).
•Climate change may help soils, Rural Weekly NSW, Jan 2011. (Circulation 17,500).
•Water and Soil, Blue’s Country Magazine, Jan 2011. (Circulation: 44,300).
•Soil bacteria benefits from lower rainfall, Farm Weekly Dec 5 2010. (Circulation: 13,700).
•Water may be a key controller of soil’s vast biodiversity, UWA Institute of Agriculture Newsletter, Dec 2010. (Circulation: 12,200).
•Climate change soil surprise, Central Midlands and Coastal Advocate, Dec 2 2010. (Circulation: 15,000).
•Australia’s soil biodiversity studied, Avon Valley Advocate Dec 1 2010. (Circulation: 2,400).
•Climate Change Soil Surprise, Farm Business Online Magazine Nov 2010.
•Lack of rain may have positive effect, Esperance Express, Nov 26 2010. (Circulation: 3,500).
Roles, responsibilities and expertise
Molecular Biology - including DNA/RNA extraction; community profiling (TRFLP/ARISA); DNA sequencing (Sanger and Next Gen using Ion Torrent) and quantitative PCR.

Statistics - in particular multivariate analysis of complex community profiling data using Primer.

Analytical – microscopy (SEM,CSLM, TEM); gas chromatography and techniques for the analysis of chemical, enzymatic and nutrient status of soils.
Future research
UWA‐Critical Zone Observatory (UWA‐CZO)
Understanding the interactions between soil, rock, water air and living organisms within a
heterogeneous ancient weathering landscape is a necessary precondition to improve
productivity and sustainability of state of the art land use management (e.g. cropping,
pasture, revegetation). The UWA‐CZO, Australia’s first Critical Zone Observatory addresses
the above interactions and is part of a global network.
Funding received
Managing Biological Physical & Chemical Constraints to Soil Carbon Storage
Department of Agriculture $1.2million (2013-16)

Polymers for Improving Soil Moisture Management & Cropping Productivity
CRC for Polymers $886K (2010-2014)

Management of Microorganisms to Unlock the Phosphorus Bank in Soil
Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) $120K (2010-2014)

Harnessing the Nitrogen Cycle Through Novel Solutions
Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) $600K (2010-2014)

High resolution liquid chromatography mass spectrometry (Orbitrap) for analyses of polar compounds in biomass, petroleum, potable and reclaimed water
Australian Research Council LIEF Grant with Prof. K. Grice (Curtin University of Technology) $300K (2010).

The connectivity of pore theory – does it influence microbial community composition and function?
Australian Research Council Discovery (ARC) $360K (2009-2012)
Australian Society for Microbiology (the ASM)
International Society for Subsurface Microbiology (ISSM)
Honours and awards
UWA ‘Start-up-initiative’ Grant, AUS$10,000 (2006)
UWA Travel Grant, $2,000 (2006).
SGM Research Visits Award, AUS$5,000 (2004).
SFAM Presidents Fund Award, AUS$2,500 (2004).
Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship in Science, Engineering and Technology (Embark Initiative, IRCSET, 2003), AUS$134,000 (2001).
Enterprise Ireland Postgraduate Research Scholarship, AUD$16,000 (1996-1999).
Dublin City University Postgraduate Research Scholarship, AUS$27,000 (1996-1999).
Dublin City University Research Council Award, AUS$3,000 (2000).
Royal Irish Academy Grant, AUS$2,000 (2000).
Coford (Irish Forestry Agency) Travel Grant, AUS$2,000 (2000).
Previous positions
2004-2005 Visiting Research Fellow
School of Earth and Geographical Sciences, University of Western Australia (UWA).
Research investigating microbe-mineral interactions using microscopy.

2003-2005Postdoctoral Fellow
School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University College Dublin (UC Dublin), Ireland.
Government of Ireland Fellowship in Science, Engineering and Technology.
Research investigating microbial activity as a key component in formation of soils from underlying geological substrata.

2001-2003 Enterprise Ireland Postdoctoral Fellow
School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, UC Dublin, Ireland.
Researching the geomicrobiology of feldspar weathering in a cool temperate climate, and examining biogeochemical controls on mineral weathering by microbial communities.
EART3360 Soil-Plant Interactions
ENVT5510 Soil Dynamics
New and noteworthy
PhD enquiries welcome related to the following:

Microbial Community Diversity and Function
Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Soils
Soil N, C and P cycling

Stromatolites and Links to Early Life on Earth
Research profile
Research profile and publications

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Last updated:
Tuesday, 3 November, 2015 2:39 PM