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Microbial Communities

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Gavin Collins
National University of Ireland Galway
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Science Lab


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About our research

We are interested in the assembly, nature and utility of complex microbial communities in Nature and in the built environment. We combine engineering, molecular biology, analytical chemistry and some mathematical modelling to leverage the power of microbiomes.

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The M2ex project will provide training for 15 early-stage researchers, six of whom will graduate with a PhD from NUI Galway in exploiting metal-microbe interactions to expand the bio economy.

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Sewage Sludge Treatment



ESRC GCRF 'Brown Gold'

A Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) project supported by the Economic and Social Research Council from the call 'Rethinking the off-grid city: Human-infrastructure interactions in the context of urban crises and urban change'

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MRC GCRF 'GastroPak'

 Supported by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and the UKRI GCRF, we are working with our project partners in the UK and Pakistan to study transmission mechanisms of non-viral gastroenteritis in low- and middle-income countries.

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Gill Microbiomes and 'AGD'

We are exploring the utility of the gill microbiome in developing diagnostics and achieving early detection of amoebic gill disease (AGD) in Atlantic Salmon in fish farms along the west coast of Ireland. Supported by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine, and industrial partners.

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Antimicrobial Resistance

The relevance of horizontal antimicrobial resistance gene transfer on free extracellular DNA over ecosystem boundaries relative to bacterial conjugation will be evaluated. This One Health EJP project focuses on the role of free exDNA in dissemination of antimicrobial resistance over ecosystem boundaries along the food/feed chain. 



We have vacancies! Click here to see new opportunities!

Coming soon also: our Lab ResearchGate page
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Gavin Collins

Principal Investigator

NUI Galway profile page. CV coming soon.

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We're hiring a lab manager

Lab Manager

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Postoc on the GastroPak Project

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Biotechnological interventions in gastroenteritis transmission in low-and-middle-income countries. Working on the 'GastroPak' project. Post vacant - see here!.

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PDRA #1 on our SFI project

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Microbial ecology. Coming soon. Post vacant - see here!.

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PDRA #2 on our SFI project

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Bioinformatics. Coming soon. Post vacant - see here!.



PhD Candidate

Microbial community assembly, biofilm formation mechanisms, and selenium respiration in methanogenic granules.

I graduated from the National University of Ireland Galway in 2014 with a first class honours BSc in Environmental Science. Following graduation, I held various positions in wastewater treatment and environmental consultancy before beginning my PhD in January 2017. More info.



PhD Candidate

Microbiome-based diagnostics in Amoebic Gill Disease in Atlantic Salmon.

My project is on the characterisation of the microbial community on gills of Atlantic salmon, to determine whether there is a relationship between the microbiome and the development of Ameboic Gill Disease (AGD). My project is co-supervised by Cindy Smith (The University of Glasgow), Grace McCormack (Zoology, NUI Galway) and colleagues at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, and funded by the Irish Department of Agriculture. I graduated with an Honours degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Alicante (Spain) in 2014 and a Masters degree in Marine Biology from University of Santiago de Compostela (Spain) in 2016. I play table tennis and practice latin dance. More info.



PhD Candidate

Ecophysiology of trace metals (TM) in methanogenic granules.

After obtaining a B.Sc. in Biotechnology from the University of Padua (Italy) and an M.Sc. in Microbiology from the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), I embarked on a PhD in Microbiology at the National University of Ireland Galway. Under the supervision of Dr. Gavin Collins, I like scraping my head about the impact of transition metals (also known as trace metals or trace elements) on microbial interactions in anaerobic granular sludge. During my free time, I enjoy hiking around the natural wonders of Ireland and baking bread. More info...

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MSc Candidate

I will graduate with an Honours BSc in Environmental Science, from NUI Galway later this year. After spending part of my final undergrad year in Dr Collins' laboratory researching the topic of anaerobic digestion and the bio-methanation potential of distillery wastewater, I was intrigued to continue with this research. For my masters, I will continue with this research topic to more fully explore the potential of generating biogas from distillery waste streams.

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M2EX 1

Phd Candidate

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M2EX 2

Phd Candidate

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M2EX 3

Phd Candidate

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M2EX 4

Phd Candidate

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M2EX 5

Phd Candidate

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M2EX 6

Phd Candidate



Year Established


PhD Theses Completed


Papers Published


 Funding won (€)

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Trego, A.C., Mills, S., Collins, G. (2020). Granular biofilms: Function, application, and new trends as model microbial communities. Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology. In Press.

Birlanga, V.B., McCormack, G., Ijaz, U.Z., McCarthy, E., Smith, C., Collins, G. (2020). Dynamic Gill and Mucous Microbiomes Track an Amoebic Gill Disease Episode in Farmed Atlantic Salmon. Europe PMC (Pre-print). 

Trego, A.C., Galvin, E., Sweeney, C., Dunning, S., Murphy, C., Mills, S., Nzeteu, C., Quince, C., Collins, G. (2020). Growth and break-up of methanogenic granules suggests mechanisms for biofilm and community development. Frontiers in Microbiology.

Dessi, P., Chatterjee, P., Mills, S., Kokko, M., Lakaniemi, A.M., Collins, G., Lens, P.N.L. (2019). Power production and microbial community composition in thermophilic acetate-fed up-flow and flow-through microbial fuel cells. Bioresource Technology 294, 1221152019

Singh, S., Rinta-Kanto, J.M., Kettunen, R., Tolvanen, H., Lens, P.N.L., Collins, G., O'Flaherty, V. (2019). Anaerobic treatment of LCFA-containing synthetic dairy wastewater at 20°C: Process performance and microbial community dynamics. Science of The Total Environment 691, 960-96812019

Čanković, M., Žučko, J., Radić, I.D., Janeković, I., Petrić, I., Ciglenečki, I., Collins, G. (2019). Microbial diversity and long-term geochemical trends in the euxinic zone of a marine, meromictic lake. Systematic and Applied Microbiology 42 (6), 12601612019.

Song, Y., Glidle, A., Quince, C., Collins, G., Sloan, W., Yin, H. (2019). Single-Cell Microfluidic Platform to Study Anaerobic Bacteria.

Some of our recent papers and pre-prints


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At the National University of Ireland Galway.

I teach to undergrads in all years, and to postgraduate students. 


Learn about our degree courses:

Current students can go to Blackboard. 

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Some of my modules:


I teach Environmental Microbiology on the University's 1st year Biology module 

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Evolution & the Tree of Life

The origin of life and the first cells on Earth. Prokaryotic diversity.

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Embryonic Stem Cells
Environmental Microbiology

My 3rd-yr undergrad module. Microbial metabolism, elemental cycling, microbial ecology, environmental biotech. Labs: microbial genomics.  More info.

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Environmental Biotechnology

My final-yr undergrad module. Waste conversion processes, sustainable sanitation, bioremediation, biomining and microbial genomics.  More info.

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