Materials Science

Materials Science Experts

Xochitl Morgan

Microbiology & Immunology
Otago University


My research uses sequencing and computational biology approaches to understand the composition and metabolism of microbial communities, both in the context of human health and in other environments, such as the rare biosphere. High-throughput sequencing lets us study the microbial communities of many environments in high resolution, as well as understanding how these communities change and interact with their environments over time. However, only by applying appropriate quantitative methods to microbial community analysis can we both understand basic biology and translational potential. In the context of human health, the genetic potential of the 1-2 kg of microbiota resident in the gut is vastly greater than that of their human hosts; it is critical to understand both how these microbiota interact with their hosts over time and in response to stimuli, and the translational potential of these discoveries. From studying the rare biosphere, we will continue to learn novel microbial biochemistry, strategies for environmental adaptation, and potentially novel therapeutics.

Research Interest

Environmental microbiology, host-microbe interactions, inflammatory bowel disease, human microbiome


  • Yassour M, Lim MY, Yun HS, Tickle TL, Sung J, Song YM, Lee K, Franzosa EA, Morgan XC, Gevers D, Lander ES, Xavier RJ, Birren BW, Ko G, Huttenhower C. Sub-clinical detection of gut microbial biomarkers of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Genome Med. 2016 Feb 17;8(1):17. doi: 10.1186/s13073-016-0271-6.

  • Hsu T, Joice R, Vallarino J, Abu-Ali G, Hartmann EM, Shafquat A, DuLong C, Baranowski C, Gevers D, Green JL, Morgan XC, Spengler JD, Huttenhower C. Urban Transit System Microbial Communities Differ by Surface Type and Interaction with Humans and the Environment. mSystems Jun 2016, 1 (3) e00018-16.

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