Simone Birrer
PhD Alumni
Field of Research: 
Microbial ecology, biogeochemistry, marine contamination
Contact details:




Member of the Subtidal Ecology and Ecotoxicology Research Group

Investigating the impact of storm water inputs on estuarine sediment microbial community structure and function

The seabed covers more than 75% of the Earth’s surface and is the largest and most influential habitat on Earth. Sediment microbial communities perform a vital role in the ecosystem through biodegradation, control of biological productivity and regulation of the global climate. Many contaminants reach the estuaries through storm water, often in high concentrations. Understanding how microorganisms cope with these contaminants is crucial to improve the ecological management of estuarine systems.

My research focuses on the structural and functional changes of sediment microbial communities upon storm water inputs. These nutrients potentially influence essential biogeochemical cycles (such as nitrogen cycle) in the sediment and thus have a potential impact on the remediation capability of the ecosystem, as well as on climate change. I am investigating this through biogeochemical flux measurements, targeted gene sequencing, metagenomics, metatranscriptomics and gene expression analyses.


Professor Emma Johnston

Dr Katherine Dafforn


Professor Peter Steinberg



Birrer, S. C., Reusch, T. B. H., & Roth, O. (2012). Salinity change impairs pipefish immune defence. Fish & shellfish immunology, 33(6), 1238–48.