Study level

  • Honours


Topic status

We're looking for students to study this topic.


Dr Simon McIlroy
ARC Future Fellow
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Health
Professor Gene Tyson
Professor of Microbial Genomics
Division / Faculty
Faculty of Health


The removal of nutrients like carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus from wastewater is critical to the prevention of eutrophication in receiving water systems and is carried out by complex microbial communities.

Eutrophication can have devastating consequences on aquatic life and natural ecosystems, with toxic algal blooms also posing a risk to human health.

Understanding the microbiology of phosphorus (P) removal from wastewater is considered essential to knowledge-based optimisation of enhanced biological P removal (EBPR) systems.

Most of the species in these systems are novel and have never been cultured in a laboratory.

In the proposed project you will develop and apply novel cutting edge flow cytometric methods for the identification, visualisation and metabolic characterisation of the microorganisms responsible for phosphorus removal from wastewater in Australia.

Research activities

You will be trained in:

  • the use of fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS)
  • fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH)
  • metagenomics and single cell genomics techniques.


Development of novel methods for the identification of polyphosphate accumulating microorganisms in wastewater systems.

A comprehensive understanding of the microorganisms responsible for nutrient removal in Australian wastewater systems.



Contact the supervisor for more information.