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)

  • Guibert, I., Bonnard, I., Pochon, X., Zubia, M., Sidobre, C., Lecellier, G., & Berteaux-Lecellier, V. (2019). Differential effects of coral-giant clam assemblages on biofouling formation. Scientific reports, 9 (1)10.1038/s41598-019-39268-1
  • Meistertzheim, A. L., Pochon, X., Wood, S. A., Ghiglione, J. F., & Hédouin L (2019). Development of a quantitative PCR–high-resolution melting assay for absolute measurement of coral-Symbiodiniaceae associations and its application to investigating variability at three spatial scales. Marine Biology, 166 (2).10.1007/s00227-018-3458-0
  • Laroche, O., Hannah Mae, Jane E. Symonds, John P. Bowman, Jonathan C. Banks, Kirsty F. Smith, & Xavier Pochon (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
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/43674
  • Decelle, J., Carradec, Q., Pochon, X., Henry, N., Romac, S., Mahé F, ... Wincker, P. (2018). Worldwide Occurrence and Activity of the Reef-Building Coral Symbiont Symbiodinium in the Open Ocean. Current biology : CB, 28 (22), 3625-3633.e3. 10.1016/j.cub.2018.09.024
  • Ammon, U. V., Wood, S. A., Laroche, O., Zaiko, A., Tait, L., Lavery, S., ... Pochon, X. (2018). Combining morpho-taxonomy and metabarcoding enhances the detection of non-indigenous marine pests in biofouling communities. Scientific reports, 8 (1)10.1038/s41598-018-34541-1
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/45742
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Shane Lavery, Anastasija Zaiko
  • Laroche, O., Pochon, X., Tremblay, L. A., Ellis, J. I., Lear, G., & Wood, S. A. (2018). Incorporating molecular-based functional and co-occurrence network properties into benthic marine impact assessments. FEMS microbiology ecology, 94 (11).10.1093/femsec/fiy167
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/45858
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Gavin Lear, Louis Tremblay
  • Zaiko, A., Pochon, X., Garcia-Vazquez, E., Olenin, S., & Wood, S. A. (2018). Advantages and limitations of environmental DNA/RNA tools for marine biosecurity: Management and surveillance of non-indigenous species. Frontiers in Marine Science, 5 (SEP).10.3389/fmars.2018.00322
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/46067
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Anastasija Zaiko
  • Hawes, N. A., Fidler, A. E., Tremblay, L. A., Pochon, X., Dunphy, B. J., & Smith, K. F. (2018). Understanding the role of DNA methylation in successful biological invasions: a review. Biological Invasions, 20 (9), 2285-2300. 10.1007/s10530-018-1703-6
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Louis Tremblay, Brendon Dunphy

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