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Otago Medical School staff profiles

Dr Sergio Morales

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

Research

Our research is focused on the general areas of microbial ecology and environmental microbiology. Currently our focus is on understanding how microbial biodiversity and functional patterns are linked to themselves and to ecosystem level processes. Specifically we are working on the link between microbial populations and greenhouse gas emissions.

Publications

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. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.07.313

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

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

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. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1038/s41396-019-0464-2

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

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.

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.

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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. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.07.313

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

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. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1038/s41396-019-0464-2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1111/1755-0998.12907

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

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