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ASE student Regine Tiong Hui Yi wins best poster award at the URECA poster competition for seaweed-microbe study

18 Mar 2019

Our warmest congratulations to ASE student Ms Regine Tiong Hui Yi for winning the best poster award at NTU's URECA program poster competition in the category Natural and Environmental Science with her poster “What happens after the Neptune’s pearls are lost". The URECA (Undergraduate Research Experience on CAmpus) program offers outstanding second and third-year students the opportunity to conduct their own first-hand research. Ms Tiong Hui Yi conducted the study that would result in her winning poster during an exchange semester at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

Underwater seaweed forests play a very important role underpinning coastal ecosystem goods and services, such as biodiversity and carbon storage. However, they are declining in many places around the world due to multiple human disturbances. Neptune’s pearls (Hormosira banksii), a key forest-forming seaweed that is endemic to Australia. In her study, Regine explored how a decline in Neptune’s pearls affected the diversity and composition of benthic microbial communities. She found that when the seaweed forests are disturbed, changes in the benthic community follows. These changes could prevent re-colonization of seaweed, leading to a shift from highly productive seaweed forest to barren areas.

The study involved a complex experimental setup with manipulations of H. banksii coverage to mimicing different levels of disturbance on this type of habitat along the Sydney coastline. Plots where then sampled twice, after 2 weeks and one month, and the microbial communities were analysed using DNA metabarcoding to assess treatment effects on microbial diversity.

Ms Tiong Hui Yi’s research was performed under the supervision of A/Prof. Federico Lauro and in collaboration with Dr Ziggy Marzinelli (University of Sydney and SCELSE) who supervised her while in Sydney.



The awardee during fieldwork in Australia.