Vera Onana

Vera Onana, PhD student

Biology Department, Concordia University


I am passionate about freshwater quality. My research interest is based on a curiosity to understand global freshwater stressors and their impact on lake ecosystems, specifically the microbial community. Using methods from aquatic microbial ecology, metagenomics and epidemiology, I will be investigating the link between anthropogenic impact and bacterial communities in lakes across Canada.

LakePulse survey sampling 680 lakes across Canada

Summer 2018: Sampling lakes in July and August with a field team!

Research project: A comparative metagenomic study of diversity and metabolism of microbial communities across Canadian lakes

Canadian lakes have been used as ‘watchmen’ or ‘guards’ of environmental change. Recently, anthropogenic activities have increased contamination of Canadian lakes and are subjecting Canada’s freshwater to increased stress. Since freshwater microbial communities are highly diverse and thus able to respond rapidly to environmental changes, the species and their functional traits can be useful indicators of anthropogenic impacts in lake ecosystems. Therefore, I will investigate the distribution and biodiversity of microbial communities in lakes using genomic approaches. I will also evaluate the functional potential of lake microbial communities located in different ecozones and across gradients of anthropogenic impact. Findings from my investigation will help us to predict how lake ecosystems function and how human impact may be disrupting lake health and functionality nationwide.

The aim of my study is to investigate microbial community, diversity and function across ecozones and gradients of human impact in order to make significant inferences about the health status of Canadian lakes.

Project start to finish dates: January 2018 to December 2022 (approximately)

Supervisors: David Walsh (Concordia) and Beatrix Beisner (UQAM)