The Centre for Cyanobacteria and Astrobiology, housed at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, was founded by Dr. Brett Neilan (as the Blue-Green-Groove-Machine) in the mid 1990s. It has since established itself as a leader in cyanobacterial research, astrobiology and other aspects of environmental microbiology.
Brett received his PhD from UNSW in 1997 and completed two post-doctoral positions, at NASA and Humboldt University in Berlin. He returned to Australia to take up an ARC Post-Doctoral Fellowship whereupon he established his own research group at UNSW. He has since received Research and Professorial ARC Fellowships.
Landmark achievements include discovery of the molecular biology of the production of toxins such as saxitoxin, microcystin, cylindrospermopsin and nodularin that are found in cyanobacterial and other harmful algal blooms. The lab has published the phylogenetic descriptions of a number of cyanobacterial genera and the genetic diversity of several environmental niches. A strengthening field of research within the group is that of the stromatolites from Shark Bay in Western Australia as models of developing life on earth.
The mission of this laboratory is to foster excellence in research and education in Australia while maintaining a global focus and network of collaborators and past and present students.