Dr Gaofeng Ni

Postdoc Res Fellow/AdvQldRes Fellow

Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology
Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology


Gaofeng holds appointments at both Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology (ACWEB) at the University of Queensland and Centre for Microbiome Research (CMR) at Queesnland University of Technology.

He has been appointed as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow at ACWEB since April 2019. Between 2014 and 2018, he was a PhD candidate at the Department of Biology and Environmental Science at the Linnaeus University, Sweden. Between 2011 and 2013, he undertook a master’s study at the Sub-department of Environmental Technology at Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands.

Research Impacts

The key focus of my PhD was to exploit microbial sulfur metabolism within a novel biotechnology named bioelectrochemical systems (BESs). BESs sit at the interface of biology, chemistry, and physics, they use electrodes to harvest electrons that are generated from microbial metabolism as electricity. Previously, BESs were mainly operated at neutrophilic conditions e.g., pH 7, room temperature, and low levels of salinity. Furthermore, the electron source for BESs was predominantly organic carbon. The originality of my PhD was to demonstrate the possibility to use extremophilic microorganisms under harsh conditions to generate electricity through metabolising inorganic sulfur compounds. This was achieved by applying molecular microbiological tools (e.g., metagenomics and metatranscriptomics) to investigate BES systems.

During my time as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Australian Centre for Water and Environmental Biotechnology (ACWEB) at the University of Queensland (UQ), I have taken the leadership role in microbial ecological research using bioinformatic analysis for multiple microbial nitrogen and carbon transformations that are significant for industrial implications. I also applied fundamental microbiological science to address societal issues. Municipal wastewater contains information to infer the prevalence of diseases, e.g., the SARS-CoV-2 virus causing the COVID-19 pandemic. A technical challenge is to quantify the concentration of the virus from wastewater, while recovering genomic sequences. I used a multiplexed amplicon-based sequencing method coupled with droplet digital polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR) to achieve genome recovery and viral quantification at the same time. All these works show novel and original integrations of multiple methods that have either deepened our understanding in microbial diversity and physiology or have contributed to addressing real-world issues. During my role as Advance Queensland Industry Research Fellow (AQIRF), I have lead the development of a Rapid Sequencing platform, which is the first of its kind in the Australian water industry, and will strengthen the leadership position of in technological innovation for the industry partner.


  • Doctor of Philosophy, LNU
  • Master of Science, Wageningen University


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Journal Article

Grants (Administered at UQ)

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

Completed Supervision