Stephen B. Pointing

Research Professor

Research results »

【2020.1.30 update】


Environmental Microbiology

Microbial Ecology

Research content

My research addresses fundamental questions in microbial biogeography: the science of understanding spatial and temporal distributions for microbial life. Major research projects have addressed patterns of microbial diversity in response to extreme environmental stress and airborne dispersal of microorganisms over intercontinental distances.


Selected Publications

  1. Archer SDJ and Pointing SB (2020) Anthropogenic impact on the atmospheric microbiome. Nature Microbiologydoi:10.1038/s41564-019-0650-z
  2. Archer SDJ, Lee KC, King-Miaow K, Harvey M, Pointing SB (2020) Air mass source determines airborne microbial diversity at the ocean-atmosphere interface of the Great Barrier Reef marine ecosystem. TheISME Journal doi:10.1038/s41396-019-0555-0.
  3. Archer SDJ, Lee KC, Maki T, Lee CK, Cary SC, Cowan DA, Maestre FT, Pointing SB (2019) Airborne microbial transport limitation to isolated Antarctic soil habitats. Nature Microbiology 4, 925-932.
  4. Warren-Rhodes KA, Lee K, Archer SDJ, Cabrol N, Ng-Boyle L, Wettergreen D, Zacny K, Pointing SB (2019) Soil microbial habitats in an extreme desert Mars-analogue environment Frontiers in Microbiology10, 00069. 
  5. Pointing SB, Fierer N, Smith GJD, Steinberg PD, Wiedmann M (2016) Quantifying human impact on Earth’s microbiome. Nature Microbiology1, 16145. 
  6. Chan Y, van Nostrand J, Zhou J, Pointing SB, Farrell RL (2013) Functional ecology of an Antarctic dry valley. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA110, 8990-8995.
  7. Pointing SB and Belnap J (2012) Microbial colonization and controls in dryland systems. Nature Reviews Microbiology10, 551-562.
  8. Bahl J, Lau MCY, Smith GJD, Dhanasekeran V, Cary SC, Lacap DC, Lee CK, Papke RT, Warren-Rhodes KA, Wong FKY, McKay CP, Pointing SB (2011) Ancient origins determine global biogeography of hot and cold desert cyanobacteria. Nature Communications 2, 163.
  9. Caruso T, Chan Y, Lacap DC, McKay CP, Pointing SB (2011) Stochastic and deterministic processes interact to determine global biogeography of arid soil bacteria. The ISME Journal5, 1406-1413.
  10. Pointing SB, Chan Y, Lacap DC, Lau MCY, Jurgens J, Farrell RL (2009) Highly specialized microbial diversity in hyper-arid polar desert. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA106, 19964-19969.


  1. Research Professor, Institute of Nature and Environmental Technology, Kanazawa University, Japan
  2. Professor and Director, Division of Science, Yale-Nus College, Singapore
  3. Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore