Anita Perkins

Portait of Anita Perkins

For many years I have been fascinated with Fungi, as Fungi can kill you or heal you. Growing gourmet and medicinal mushrooms has been a hobby of mine for years. Interestingly, during my environmental science degree we were taught little about fungi, yet they comprise around 25% of the total biomass on Earth.

For these reasons, I have dedicated my career to understanding the role fungi has on carbon cycling processes within our environment.

Through my Honours at SCU I have researched the role of groundwater’s influence on carbon cycling processes in a coastal lake settings, at Lake Ainsworth. I have then expanded this research through a Masters of Research, which was completed through a collaboration between Macquarie University and the Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries (IGB-Berlin), where I have investigated the role of fungi in groundwater on carbon cycling processes near lakes with differing tropic statuses. This research confirmed that fungi is a key organism in groundwater and were able to degrade a range of polymeric compounds.

As a PhD candidate at the Centre for Coastal Biogeochemistry, I intend to expand on this research involving the abundant kelp wracks that are deposited along the Australian coast. I plan to ‘close the gap’ regarding how the terrestrial and marine carbon cycles interact, and how fungi contribute to this interaction. I will achieve this by measuring kelp carbon degradation via multiple pathways and quantifying the role of the different microbes, including fungi, in carbon processing.