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)

  • Laroche, O., Symonds, J. E., Smith, K. F., Banks, J. C., Mae, H., Bowman, J. P., & Pochon, X. (2018). Understanding bacterial communities for informed biosecurity and improved larval survival in Pacific oysters. Aquaculture, 497, 164-173. 10.1016/j.aquaculture.2018.07.052
  • von Ammon, U., Wood, S. A., Laroche, O., Zaiko, A., Tait, L., Lavery, S., ... Pochon, X. (2018). The impact of artificial surfaces on marine bacterial and eukaryotic biofouling assemblages: A high-throughput sequencing analysis. Marine Environmental Research, 133, 57-66. 10.1016/j.marenvres.2017.12.003
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Shane Lavery, Anastasija Zaiko
  • Keeley, N., Wood, S. A., & Pochon, X. (2018). Development and preliminary validation of a multi-trophic metabarcoding biotic index for monitoring benthic organic enrichment. Ecological Indicators, 85, 1044-1057. 10.1016/j.ecolind.2017.11.014
  • Laroche, O., Wood, S. A., Tremblay, L. A., Ellis, J. I., Lear, G., & Pochon, X. (2018). A cross-taxa study using environmental DNA/RNA metabarcoding to measure biological impacts of offshore oil and gas drilling and production operations. Marine pollution bulletin, 127, 97-107. 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.11.042
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Gavin Lear, Louis Tremblay
  • Hawes, N. A., Tremblay, L. A., Pochon, X., Dunphy, B., Fidler, A. E., & Smith, K. F. (2018). Effects of temperature and salinity stress on DNA methylation in a highly invasive marine invertebrate, the colonial ascidian Didemnum vexillum. PeerJ, 610.7717/peerj.5003
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Louis Tremblay
  • Hume, B. C. C., Ziegler, M., Poulain, J., Pochon, X., Romac, S., Boissin, E., ... Voolstra, C. R. (2018). An improved primer set and amplification protocol with increased specificity and sensitivity targeting the Symbiodinium ITS2 region. PeerJ, 6, e4816-e4816. 10.7717/peerj.4816
  • Fletcher, L. M., Zaiko, A., Atalah, J., Richter, I., Dufour, C. M., Pochon, X., ... Hopkins, G. A. (2017). Bilge water as a vector for the spread of marine pests: a morphological, metabarcoding and experimental assessment. Biological Invasions, 19 (10), 2851-2867. 10.1007/s10530-017-1489-y
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/35730
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Anastasija Zaiko
  • Wood, S. A., Zaiko, A., Richter, I., Inglis, G. J., & Pochon, X. (2017). Development of a real-time polymerase chain reaction assay for the detection of the invasive Mediterranean fanworm, Sabella spallanzanii, in environmental samples. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 24 (21), 17373-17382. 10.1007/s11356-017-9357-y
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/35729
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Anastasija Zaiko

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