Dr Xavier Pochon

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Senior Lecturer


Trained as a marine phylogeneticist, my Ph.D. thesis investigated co-evolutionary traits and ecological adaptation of a group of large tropical foraminifera (soritids) and their symbiotic dinoflagellates (zooxanthellae; genus Symbiodinium). Over the last 15 years, I took part in various research projects in the Caribbean and Indo-Pacific regions,  looking at the diversity and ecological adaptation of host communities (foraminifera and corals) from shallow to mesophotic reef environments. My postdoctoral research at the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology included the design of novel genetic markers and tools able to specifically detect free-living Symbiodinium from environmental DNA (eDNA).

Capitalising on this previous experience, my current research at the Cawthron Institute (Nelson, New Zealand) focuses on developing multi-species detection tools using high-throughput eDNA sequencing to identify the taxa present in various marine ecosystems.


Research | Current

My research at the Cawthron Institute is highly applied to marine industries and focuses on the developement of metabarcoding tools for bio-monitoring diversity changes around operation sites (e.g., aquaculture farms, deep-sea mining, and biosecurity in NZ marinas and ports). I particularly enjoy interacting with regulators and industry partners to find better ways of protecting our marine environment.

At the University of Auckland, I combine 'real-world' and 'blue-sky' research applications. The 'blue-sky' projects are varied and include; i) metabarcoding Symbiodinium dinoflagellates in tropical forams, corals and giant clams, ii) characterizing the functional role of microbiomes in aquaculture settings (e.g. oysters, salmon), iii) conducting phylogenetic analyses on tropical and temperate cyanobacteria, and iv) unvealing the diversity and dynamics of open-ocean plankton communities.

Postgraduate supervision

Postgraduate research opportunities

  • Developing multi-trophic metabarcoding tools for environmental monitoring of marine industries
  • Investigating the functional underpinnings of symbiotic dinoflagellate communities in tropical soritid foraminifera, corals and giant clams
  • Unravelling the eDNA secrets of 10% (380) of NZ lakes (www.lakes380.com
  • Exploring the diversity and dynamics of open-ocean plankton communities in the South-West Pacific (www.planktonplanet.org)

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Aylagas, E., Borja, A., Pochon, X., Zaiko, A., Keeley, N., Bruce, K., ... Theroux, S. (2020). Translational Molecular Ecology in practice: Linking DNA-based methods to actionable marine environmental management. Science of the Total Environment, 744.10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.140780
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Anastasija Zaiko
  • Darling, J. A., Pochon, X., Abbott, C. L., Inglis, G. J., & Zaiko, A. (2020). The risks of using molecular biodiversity data for incidental detection of species of concern. Diversity and Distributions, 26 (9), 1116-1121. 10.1111/ddi.13108
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Anastasija Zaiko
  • Hédouin L, Rouzé H, Berthe, C., Perez-Rosales, G., Martinez, E., Chancerelle, Y., ... Pochon, X. (2020). Contrasting patterns of mortality in Polynesian coral reefs following the third global coral bleaching event in 2016. Coral Reefs, 39 (4), 939-952. 10.1007/s00338-020-01914-w
  • Zaiko, A., Wood, S. A., Pochon, X., Biessy, L., Laroche, O., Croot, P., & Garcia-Vazquez, E. (2020). Elucidating Biodiversity Shifts in Ballast Water Tanks during a Cross-Latitudinal Transfer: Complementary Insights from Molecular Analyses. Environmental science & technology, 54 (13), 8443-8454. 10.1021/acs.est.0c01931
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Anastasija Zaiko
  • Guibert, I., Bourdreux, F., Bonnard, I., Pochon, X., Dubousquet, V., Raharivelomanana, P., ... Lecellier, G. (2020). Dimethylsulfoniopropionate concentration in coral reef invertebrates varies according to species assemblages. Scientific Reports, 10 (1)10.1038/s41598-020-66290-5
  • Borja, A., Andersen, J. H., Arvanitidis, C. D., Basset, A., Buhl-Mortensen, L., Carvalho, S., ... Grenz, C. (2020). Past and Future Grand Challenges in Marine Ecosystem Ecology. Frontiers in Marine Science, 7.10.3389/fmars.2020.00362
  • Pearman, J. K., Biessy, L., Thomson-Laing, G., Waters, S., Vandergoes, M. J., Howarth, J. D., ... Wood, S. A. (2020). Local factors drive bacterial and microeukaryotic community composition in lake surface sediment collected across an altitudinal gradient. FEMS microbiology ecology, 96 (6).10.1093/femsec/fiaa070
  • Guibert, I., Lecellier, G., Torda, G., Pochon, X., & Berteaux-Lecellier, V. (2020). Metabarcoding reveals distinct microbiotypes in the giant clam Tridacna maxima. Microbiome, 8 (1)10.1186/s40168-020-00835-8

Contact details

Alternative contact

Phone +64 3 548 2319 ext 285

Email xavier.pochon@cawthron.org.nz

Primary office location

Level G, Room G01
New Zealand