June 2013

Event Date: 
Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - 18:00 - 18:15
Institution: 
UNSW
Title: 

Towards a hexachlorobenzene bioreactor

Abstract: 

Hexachlorobenzene (HCB) is highly persistent environmental pollutant due to its chemical stability. It has been used in the production of rubber, as wood preserving agent and as pesticide and it is considered a possible human carcinogen.  HCB is particularly relevant in Australia, since it holds the largest HCB stockpile in the world (Botany Bay Industrial Park, NSW). So far only physic-chemical technologies have been applied for the destruction of HCB; however, these methods do not ensure full destruction and may lead to the generation of more harmful compounds, such as dioxins.  On the other hand, it is well known that obligate anaerobic bacteria are able to reductively dechlorinate HCB to less chlorinated congeners.  Therefore, a biological approach seems to be a more suitable and environmental friendly solution.

In this study we present a microbial community, taken from a site contaminated with chlorinated solvents, capable of reductively dechlorinating HCB and 1,2,4,5- Tetrachlorobenzene (TeCB). Cultures were established using acetate and H2 or lactate as carbon source and electron donor, respectively. 1,3- and 1,4- dichlorobenzenes were the main breakdown products in the cultures supplied  with 1, 2, 4, 5- TeCB, monochlorobenzene was also observed in a lower extent. Cultures with HCB only showed  1, 3, 5-Trichlorobenzene as breakdown product. Quantitative PCR, targeting Dehalococcoides´ 16S (a well-known dechlorinating bacterium) showed high abundance of this species in the cultures. 

Event Date: 
Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - 18:15 - 18:30
Institution: 
UWS
Title: 

How to dismantle a “Trichy” parasite: Deciphering the role Tritrichomonas foetus membrane and secreted proteins play at the host-parasite interface.

Abstract: 

 
Tritrichomonas foetus is a potent veterinary pathogen, causing bovine and feline trichomoniasis. While T. foetus is well know as a venereal pathogen of cattle, it has only recently been discovered as a pathogen of cats in which it causes chronic diarrhea. T. foetus imposes significant economic losses on the beef and dairy industries worldwide. Nonetheless, despite its prevalence, T. foetus is neglected relative to other parasites of veterinary concern. There is currently no effective treatment or vaccine and prevention of infection in cattle and relies on culling infected animals. Chemotherapy in cats is limited and, depending on the country, is either not recommended or prohibited due to limited efficacy and toxicity. These extracellular parasites secrete a range of molecules that aid in tissue destruction, nutrient acquisition and immune-evasion. Proteins expressed at the host-parasite interface (i.e. secreted and membrane proteins) are critical to promoting parasite development and survival. Our central hypothesis is that these key molecules, which mediate infections caused by T. foetus, present a target for the rational design of future treatment and control strategies.

Event Date: 
Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - 19:00 - 19:45
Institution: 
UNSW and Macquarie University
Title: 

The Indigo V expedition: a prototype for citizen oceanography

Abstract: 

Oceanography has long been an extremely expensive discipline. Oceanographic vessels generally cost in excess of $100,000 a day to run. Specialised scientific equipment only adds to the costs.

Thousands of private ocean going vessels are cruising around the worlds oceans at any given time.  By equipping these vessels with small portable sampling devices, 'fool-proof' collection techniques and a 'pre-addressed-stamped-envelope' to send in the samples to analytical units, we can transform the way data is collected around the worlds oceans.  We aim to prove that 'bigger' is not necessarily 'better' and the key to greater understanding of the worlds oceans is to forge the way to easier and cheaper data sampling methods.  Cruisers have an inherent love for the worlds oceans. We plan on enlisting their help as we develop our blueprint.

The ultimate goal of the Indigo V Expedition is create a working blue-print for what we call 'citizen science'.  We will present the overview of the first leg of the Indigo V expedition, highlighting the challenges and opportunities of such an endeavour.