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Laura Wegener Parfrey Microbial Ecologist

Laura Wegener Parfrey studies the factors that govern the diversity of microbial eukaryotic communities across environments. This research focuses on the transition zones between freshwater and marine environments and the diversity of microbial eukaryotes in the human microbiome. Microbial community composition differs greatly between fresh and marine waters across all three domains of life. The Parfrey lab characterizes changes in community composition for both microbial eukaryotes and co-occurring bacteria across salinity gradients. This work aims to shed light on the relative importance of biotic interactions versus abiotic factors in structuring these communities. Her research on human microbes aims to determine the diversity and distribution of microbial eukaryotic communities that reside in the human gut. She focuses on non-Western populations, where people have a greater diversity of microbes. Determining the normal, or ancestral diversity of eukaryotic microbes in our gut will enable deeper insight into the consequences of altering these microbial communities on development and health. More broadly, Parfrey hopes to gain a better understanding of the ecological role eukaryotes play in our gut.


Canada Research Chair in Protist Ecology, 2014.

Relevant Publications

L.W. Parfrey et al, "Communities of microbial eukaryotes in the mammalian gut within the context of environmental eukaryotic diversity," Frontiers in Microbiology, vol. 5, pp. 298, 2014.



Associate Fellow Integrated Microbial Biodiversity


University of British ColumbiaDepartments of Botany and Zoology


PhD (Organismic and Evolutionary Biology) University of Massachusetts-Amherst

BS (Biology) State University of New York at Albany



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