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Health Sciences profile

Associate Professor Sergio Morales

PositionAssociate Professor
DepartmentDepartment of Microbiology and Immunology
QualificationsBSc, PhD
Research summaryEnvironmental microbiology, microbial biotechnology and microbial ecology, bacterial and viral genetics

Research

Our goal is to understand how microbes survive in the environment, and how their presence affects ecosystem processes like primary productivity and nutrient turnover.

By understanding how microorganisms adapt and respond to environmental cues we can harness some of their power, and predict how ecosystems will react to environmental changes.

Publications

Lockwood, S., Greening, C., Baltar, F., & Morales, S. E. (2022). Global and seasonal variation of marine phosphonate metabolism. ISME Journal. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1038/s41396-022-01266-z

Morales, S. E., Hulbe, C., Martínez-Pérez, C., & Baltar, F. (2022). In the dark, freezing ocean under Antarctica's largest ice shelf, we discovered a thriving microbial jungle. The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/in-the-dark-freezing-ocean-under-antarcticas-largest-ice-shelf-we-discovered-a-thriving-microbial-jungle-175735

Wang, X., Reilly, K., Heathcott, R., Biswas, A., Johnson, L. J., Teasdale, S., … Morales, S. E. (2022). Soil nitrogen treatment alters microbiome networks across farm niches. Frontiers in Microbiology, 12, 786156. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.786156

Martínez-Pérez, C., Greening, C., Bay, S. K., Lappan, R. J., Zhao, Z., De Corte, D., Hulbe, C., Ohneiser, C., … Thomson, B., … Morales, S. E., & Baltar, F. (2022). Phylogenetically and functionally diverse microorganisms reside under the Ross Ice Shelf. Nature Communications, 13, 117. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-27769-5

Highton, M. P., Bakken, L. R., Dörsch, P., Molstad, L., & Morales, S. E. (2022). Nitrite accumulation and impairment of N2O reduction explains contrasting soil denitrification phenotypes. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 166, 108529. doi: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2021.108529

Morales, S. E., & Holben, W. E. (2011). Empirical testing of 16S PCR primer pairs reveals variance in target specificity and efficacy not suggested by in silico analysis. In F. J. de Bruijn (Ed.), Handbook of molecular microbial ecology I: Metagenomics and complementary approaches. (pp. 135-141). Wiley-Blackwell.

Chapter in Book - Research

Morales, S. E., Cosart, T. F., Johnson, J. V., & Holben, W. E. (2011). Extensive phylogenetic analysis of a soil bacterial community illustrates extreme taxon evenness and the effects of amplicon length, degree of coverage, and DNA fractionation on classification and ecological parameters. In F. J. de Bruijn (Ed.), Handbook of molecular microbial ecology II: Metagenomics in different habitats. (pp. 151-164). Wiley-Blackwell.

Chapter in Book - Research

Highton, M. P., Bakken, L. R., Dörsch, P., Molstad, L., & Morales, S. E. (2022). Nitrite accumulation and impairment of N2O reduction explains contrasting soil denitrification phenotypes. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 166, 108529. doi: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2021.108529

Journal - Research Article

Lockwood, S., Greening, C., Baltar, F., & Morales, S. E. (2022). Global and seasonal variation of marine phosphonate metabolism. ISME Journal. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1038/s41396-022-01266-z

Journal - Research Article

Martínez-Pérez, C., Greening, C., Bay, S. K., Lappan, R. J., Zhao, Z., De Corte, D., Hulbe, C., Ohneiser, C., … Thomson, B., … Morales, S. E., & Baltar, F. (2022). Phylogenetically and functionally diverse microorganisms reside under the Ross Ice Shelf. Nature Communications, 13, 117. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-27769-5

Journal - Research Article

Wang, X., Reilly, K., Heathcott, R., Biswas, A., Johnson, L. J., Teasdale, S., … Morales, S. E. (2022). Soil nitrogen treatment alters microbiome networks across farm niches. Frontiers in Microbiology, 12, 786156. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.786156

Journal - Research Article

Espinel-Velasco, N., Tobias-Hünefeldt, S. P., Karelitz, S. E., Hoffmann, L. J., Morales, S. E., & Lamare, M. D. (2021). Reduced seawater pH alters marine biofilms with impacts for marine polychaete larval settlement. Marine Environmental Research, 167, 105291. doi: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2021.105291

Journal - Research Article

Ganasamurthy, S., Rex, D., Samad, M. S., Richards, K. G., Lanigan, G. J., Grelet, G.-Ä., … Morales, S. E. (2021). Competition and community succession link N transformation and greenhouse gas emissions in urine patches. Science of the Total Environment, 779, 146318. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.146318

Journal - Research Article

Samad, M. S., Ganasamurthy, S., Highton, M. P., Bakken, L. R., Clough, T. J., de Klein, C. A. M., … Morales, S. E. (2021). Urea treatment decouples intrinsic pH control over N2O emissions in soils. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 163, 108461. doi: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2021.108461

Journal - Research Article

Tobias-Hünefeldt, S. P., Wenley, J., Baltar, F., & Morales, S. E. (2021). Ecological drivers switch from bottom-up to top-down during model microbial community successions. ISME Journal, 15, 1085-1097. doi: 10.1038/s41396-020-00833-6

Journal - Research Article

Tobias-Hünefeldt, S. P., Wing, S. R., Baltar, F., & Morales, S. E. (2021). Changes in microbial community phylogeny and metabolic activity along the water column uncouple at near sediment aphotic layers in fjords. Scientific Reports, 11, 19303. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-98519-2

Journal - Research Article

van der Weerden, T. J., Rutherford, A. J., de Klein, C. A. M., Ganasamurthy, S., & Morales, S. E. (2021). Elevating soil pH does not reduce N2O emissions from urine deposited onto pastoral soils. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research. doi: 10.1080/00288233.2021.1935280

Journal - Research Article

Wenley, J., Currie, K., Lockwood, S., Thomson, B., Baltar, F., & Morales, S. E. (2021). Seasonal prokaryotic community linkages between surface and deep ocean water. Frontiers in Marine Science, 8, 659641. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2021.659641

Journal - Research Article

Bagnaro, A., Baltar, F., Brownstein, G., Lee, W. G., Morales, S. E., Pritchard, D. W., & Hepburn, C. D. (2020). Reducing the arbitrary: Fuzzy detection of microbial ecotones and ecosystems: Focus on the pelagic environment. Environmental Microbiome, 15, 16. doi: 10.1186/s40793-020-00363-w

Journal - Research Article

Highton, M. P., Bakken, L. R., Dörsch, P., Wakelin, S., de Klein, C. A. M., Molstad, L., & Morales, S. E. (2020). Soil N2O emission potential falls along a denitrification phenotype gradient linked to differences in microbiome, rainfall and carbon availability. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 150, 108004. doi: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2020.108004

Journal - Research Article

Nelson, K. S., Baltar, F., Lamare, M. D., & Morales, S. E. (2020). Ocean acidification affects microbial community and invertebrate settlement on biofilms. Scientific Reports, 10, 3274. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-60023-4

Journal - Research Article

Gardner, P. P., Watson, R. J., Morgan, X. C., Draper, J. L., Finn, R. D., Morales, S. E., & Stott, M. B. (2019). Identifying accurate metagenome and amplicon software via a meta-analysis of sequence to taxonomy benchmarking studies. PeerJ, 7, e6160 . doi: 10.7717/peerj.6160

Journal - Research Article

Greening, C., Geier, R., Wang, C., Woods, L. C., Morales, S. E., McDonald, M. J., Rushton-Green, R., Morgan, X. C., … Cook, G. M., & Mackie, R. I. (2019). Diverse hydrogen production and consumption pathways influence methane production in ruminants. ISME Journal, 13, 2617-2632. doi: 10.1038/s41396-019-0464-2

Journal - Research Article

Morales, S. E., Biswas, A., Herndl, G. J., & Baltar, F. (2019). Global structuring of phylogenetic and functional diversity of pelagic fungi by depth and temperature. Frontiers in Marine Science, 6, 131. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00131

Journal - Research Article

Rex, D., Clough, T. J., Richards, K. G., Condron, L. M., de Klein, C. A. M., Morales, S. E., & Lanigan, G. J. (2019). Impact of nitrogen compounds on fungal and bacterial contributions to codenitrification in a pasture soil. Scientific Reports, 9, 13371. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-49989-y

Journal - Research Article

Tobias-Hünefeldt, S. P., Wing, S. R., Espinel-Velasco, N., Baltar, F., & Morales, S. E. (2019). Depth and location influence prokaryotic and eukaryotic microbial community structure in New Zealand fjords. Science of the Total Environment, 693, 133507. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.07.313

Journal - Research Article

Baltar, F., Gutiérrez-Rodriguez, A., Meyer, M., Skudelny, I., Sanders, S., Thomson, B., … Morales, S. E. (2018). Specific effect of trace metals on marine heterotrophic microbial activity and diversity: Key role of iron and zinc and hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria. Frontiers in Microbiology, 9, 3190. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.03190

Journal - Research Article

Kaminsky, R., & Morales, S. E. (2018). Conditionally rare taxa contribute but do not account for changes in soil prokaryotic community structure. Frontiers in Microbiology, 9, 809. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.00809

Journal - Research Article

Lear, G., Dickie, I., Banks, J., Boyer, S., Buckley, H. L., Buckley, T. R., … Morales, S. E., Orlovich, D. A., … Holdaway, R. (2018). Methods for the extraction, storage, amplification and sequencing of DNA from environmental samples. New Zealand Journal of Ecology, 42(1), 10. doi: 10.20417/nzjecol.42.9

Journal - Research Article

Morales, S. E., Meyer, M., Currie, K., & Baltar, F. (2018). Are oceanic fronts ecotones? Seasonal changes along the subtropical front show fronts as bacterioplankton transition zones but not diversity hotspots. Environmental Microbiology Reports, 10(2), 184-189. doi: 10.1111/1758-2229.12618

Journal - Research Article

Morales, S. E., Trouche, B., Wakelin, S., Banabas, M., & Nelson, P. N. (2018). Shifts in prokaryotic communities under forest and grassland within a tropical mosaic landscape. Applied Soil Ecology, 125, 156-161. doi: 10.1016/j.apsoil.2017.11.028

Journal - Research Article

Peura, S., Buck, M., Aalto, S. L., Morales, S. E., Nykänen, H., & Eller, A. (2018). Novel Autotrophic Organisms Contribute Significantly to the Internal Carbon Cycling Potential of a Boreal Lake. mBio, 9(4), 00916-18. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00916-18

Journal - Research Article

Rex, D., Clough, T. J., Richards, K. G., de Klein, C., Morales, S. E., Samad, M. S., … Lanigan, G. J. (2018). Fungal and bacterial contributions to codenitrification emissions of N2O and N2 following urea deposition to soil. Nutrient Cycling in Agroecosystems, 110(1), 135-149. doi: 10.1007/s10705-017-9901-7

Journal - Research Article

Clough, T. J., Lanigan, G. J., de Klein, C. A. M., Samad, M. S., Morales, S. E., Rex, D., … Richards, K. G. (2017). Influence of soil moisture on codenitrification fluxes from a urea-affected pasture soil. Scientific Reports, 7, 2185. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-02278-y

Journal - Research Article

Kaminsky, R., Trouche, B., & Morales, S. E. (2017). Soil classification predicts differences in prokaryotic communities across a range of geographically distant soils once pH is accounted for. Scientific Reports, 7, 45369. doi: 10.1038/srep45369

Journal - Research Article

Ney, B., Ahmed, F. H., Carere, C. R., Biswas, A., Warden, A. C., Morales, S. E., … Greening, C. (2017). The methanogenic redox cofactor F420 is widely synthesized by aerobic soil bacteria. ISME Journal, 11, 125-137. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2016.100

Journal - Research Article

Samad, M. S., Johns, C., Richards, K. G., Lanigan, G. J., de Klein, C. A. M., Clough, T. J., & Morales, S. E. (2017). Response to nitrogen addition reveals metabolic and ecological strategies of soil bacteria. Molecular Ecology, 26(20), 5500-5514. doi: 10.1111/mec.14275

Journal - Research Article

Baltar, F., Currie, K., Stuck, E., Roosa, S., & Morales, S. E. (2016). Oceanic fronts: Transition zones for bacterioplankton community composition. Environmental Microbiology Reports, 8(1), 132-138. doi: 10.1111/1758-2229.12362

Journal - Research Article

Biswas, A., Staals, R. H. J., Morales, S. E., Fineran, P. C., & Brown, C. M. (2016). CRISPRDetect: A flexible algorithm to define CRISPR arrays. BMC Genomics, 17, 356. doi: 10.1186/s12864-016-2627-0

Journal - Research Article

Greening, C., Biswas, A., Carere, C. R., Jackson, C. J., Taylor, M. C., Stott, M. B., Cook, G. M., & Morales, S. E. (2016). Genomic and metagenomic surveys of hydrogenase distribution indicate H2 is a widely utilised energy source for microbial growth and survival. ISME Journal, 10, 761-777. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2015.153

Journal - Research Article

Highton, M. P., Roosa, S., Crawshaw, J., Schallenberg, M., & Morales, S. E. (2016). Physical factors correlate to microbial community structure and nitrogen cycling gene abundance in a nitrate fed eutrophic lagoon. Frontiers in Microbiology, 7, 1691. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.01691

Journal - Research Article

Samad, M. S., Bakken, L. R., Nadeem, S., Clough, T. J., de Klein, C. A. M., Richards, K. G., … Morales, S. E. (2016). High-resolution denitrification kinetics in pasture soils link N2O emissions to pH, and denitrification to C mineralization. PLoS ONE, 11(3), e0151713. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0151713

Journal - Research Article

Samad, M. S., Biswas, A., Bakken, L. R., Clough, T. J., de Klein, C. A. M., Richards, K. G., … Morales, S. E. (2016). Phylogenetic and functional potential links pH and N2O emissions in pasture soils. Scientific Reports, 6, 35990. doi: 10.1038/srep35990

Journal - Research Article

Wolf, P. G., Biswas, A., Morales, S. E., Greening, C., & Gaskins, H. R. (2016). H2 metabolism is widespread and diverse among human colonic microbes. Gut Microbes, 7(3), 235-245. doi: 10.1080/19490976.2016.1182288

Journal - Research Article

Baltar, F., Stuck, E., Morales, S., & Currie, K. (2015). Bacterioplankton carbon cycling along the Subtropical Frontal Zone off New Zealand. Progress in Oceanography, 135, 168-175. doi: 10.1016/j.pocean.2015.05.019

Journal - Research Article

Greening, C., Carere, C. R., Rushton-Green, R., Harold, L. K., Hards, K., Taylor, M. C., Morales, S. E., … Cook, G. M. (2015). Persistence of the dominant soil phylum Acidobacteria by trace gas scavenging. PNAS, 112(33), 10497-10502. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1508385112

Journal - Research Article

Greening, C., Constant, P., Hards, K., Morales, S. E., Oakeshott, J. G., Russell, R. J., … Cook, G. M. (2015). Atmospheric hydrogen scavenging: From enzymes to ecosystems. Applied & Environmental Microbiology, 81(4), 1190-1199. doi: 10.1128/aem.03364-14

Journal - Research Article

Morales, S. E., Jha, N., & Saggar, S. (2015). Biogeography and biophysicochemical traits link N2O emissions, N2O emission potential and microbial communities across New Zealand pasture soils. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 82, 87-98. doi: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2014.12.018

Journal - Research Article

Morales, S. E., Jha, N., & Saggar, S. (2015). Impact of urine and the application of the nitrification inhibitor DCD on microbial communities in dairy-grazed pasture soils. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 88(0), 344-353. doi: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2015.06.009

Journal - Research Article

Morales, S. E., & Holben, W. E. (2014). Simulated geologic carbon storage leak reduces bacterial richness and alters bacterial community composition in surface soil. Soil Biology & Biochemistry, 76, 286-296. doi: 10.1016/j.soilbio.2014.05.018

Journal - Research Article

Morales, S. E., & Holben, W. E. (2013). Functional response of a near-surface soil microbial community to a simulated underground CO2 storage leak. PLoS ONE, 8(11), e81742. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081742

Journal - Research Article

Gibbons, S. M., Feris, K., McGuirl, M. A., Morales, S. E., Hynninen, A., Ramsey, P. W., & Gannon, J. E. (2011). Use of microcalorimetry to determine the costs and benefits to Pseudomonas putida strain KT2440 of harboring cadmium efflux genes. Applied & Environmental Microbiology, 77(1), 108-113. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01187-10

Journal - Research Article

Morales, S. E., Cosart, T., & Holben, W. E. (2010). Bacterial gene abundances as indicators of greenhouse gas emission in soils. ISME Journal, 4, 799-808. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2010.8

Journal - Research Article

Mouser, P. J., Rizzo, D. M., Druschel, G. K., Morales, S. E., Hayden, N., O'Grady, P., & Stevens, L. (2010). Enhanced detection of groundwater contamination from a leaking waste disposal site by microbial community profiles. Water Resources Research, 46, W12506. doi: 10.1029/2010WR009459

Journal - Research Article

Morales, S. E., & Holben, W. E. (2009). Empirical testing of 16S rRNA gene PCR primer pairs reveals variance in target specificity and efficacy not suggested by in silico analysis. Applied & Environmental Microbiology, 75(9), 2677-2683. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02166-08

Journal - Research Article

Morales, S. E., Cosart, T. F., Johnson, J. V., & Holben, W. E. (2009). Extensive phylogenetic analysis of a soil bacterial community illustrates extreme taxon evenness and the effects of amplicon length, degree of coverage, and DNA fractionation on classification and ecological parameters. Applied & Environmental Microbiology, 75(3), 668-675. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01757-08

Journal - Research Article

Gotelli, N. J., Mouser, P. J., Hudman, S. P., Morales, S. E., Ross, D. S., & Ellison, A. M. (2008). Geographic variation in nutrient avalibility, stoichiometry, and metal concentrations of plants and pore-water in ombrotrophic bogs in New England, USA. Wetlands, 28(3), 827-840. doi: 10.1672/07-165.1

Journal - Research Article

Morales, S. E., Cosart, T., Johnson, J. V., & Holben, W. E. (2008). Supplemental programs for enhanced recovery of data from the DOTUR application. Journal of Microbiological Methods, 75(3), 572-575. doi: 10.1016/j.mimet.2008.07.017

Journal - Research Article

Morales, S. E., & Lewis, T. A. (2006). Transcriptional regulation of the pdt gene cluster of Pseudomonas stutzeri KC involves an AraC/XylS family transcriptional activator (PdtC) and the cognate siderophore pyridine-2,6-Bis(thiocarboxylic acid). Applied & Environmental Microbiology, 72(11), 6994-7002. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01518-06

Journal - Research Article

Morales, S. E., Mouser, P. J., Ward, N., Hudman, S. P., Gotelli, N. J., Ross, D. S., & Lewis, T. A. (2006). Comparison of bacterial communities in New England Sphagnum bogs using terminal restriction fragment length polymorphism (T-RFLP). Microbial Ecology, 52(1), 34-44. doi: 10.1007/s00248-005-0264-2

Journal - Research Article

Meaden, S., Biswas, A., Arkhipova, K., Morales, S. E., Dutilh, B. E., . . ., & Fineran, P. C. (2022). High viral abundance and low diversity are associated with increased CRISPR-Cas prevalence across microbial ecosystems. Current Biology, 32, 220-227. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.10.038

Journal - Research Other

Morales, S. E., Hulbe, C., Martínez-Pérez, C., & Baltar, F. (2022). In the dark, freezing ocean under Antarctica's largest ice shelf, we discovered a thriving microbial jungle. The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/in-the-dark-freezing-ocean-under-antarcticas-largest-ice-shelf-we-discovered-a-thriving-microbial-jungle-175735

Journal - Research Other

Hassanzadeh, B., Thomson, B., Deans, F., Wenley, J., Lockwood, S., Currie, K., Morales, S. E., … Gómez-Consarnau, L. (2021). Microbial rhodopsins are increasingly favoured over chlorophyll in High Nutrient Low Chlorophyll waters. Environmental Microbiology Reports, 13(3), 401-406. doi: 10.1111/1758-2229.12948

Journal - Research Other

Kaminsky, R. A., Wakelin, S. A., Highton, M. P., Samad, M. S., & Morales, S. E. (2021). Resolving broad patterns of prokaryotic community structure in New Zealand pasture soils. New Zealand Journal of Agricultural Research, 64(2), 143-161. doi: 10.1080/00288233.2019.1678491

Journal - Research Other

Dickie, I. A., Boyer, S., Buckley, H., Duncan, R. P., Gardner, P., Hogg, I. D., … Morales, S. E., … Weaver, L. (2018). Towards robust and repeatable sampling methods in eDNA based studies. Molecular Ecology Resources, 18(5), 940-952. doi: 10.1111/1755-0998.12907

Journal - Research Other

Morales, S. E., & Holben, W. E. (2011). Linking bacterial identities and ecosystem processes: Can 'omic' analyses be more than the sum of their parts? FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 75(1), 2-16. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2010.00938.x

Journal - Research Other

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