Dr Zahra Islam
Post doctoral researcher - Theme 3
Zahra Islam is a postdoctoral fellow under Dr Hangwei Hu, and works in close collaboration with the soil and environment research groups in the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences. Her project forms part of the aims of Theme 3, understanding plant-soil-microbiome interactions, where she will be focusing on developing high throughput methods to isolate beneficial microbes that can be used in biofertilisers to enhance plant growth. Additionally, she will work on increasing understanding the nuances of symbiotic as well as pathogenic interactions between soils, plants and their associated microbes, with a goal of developing stable synthetic microbial communities that can improve both plant and soil health within agricultural settings. She will also work closely with other Themes within the Hub to help inform biofertilizer development strategies as well as to try to develop methods for pathogen inhibition.
Zahra completed her PhD at Monash University in 2020 under A/Prof Chris Greening, working on characterising the determinants of atmospheric trace gas oxidation in bacteria. Her work here experimentally validated the capacity for three major bacterial phyla to utilise atmospheric concentrations of hydrogen as an energy source to fuel bacterial dormancy or during mixotrophic growth, using culture-dependent approaches. In addition, she also characterised the ability of two additional species to persist on atmospheric carbon monoxide. To date, she has published 7 journal articles spanning molecular characterisation of hydrogenases to ecosystem surveys on the prevalence of atmospheric trace gas oxidisers in extreme environments such as Antarctic deserts and oceans.