JAMS July 2011 meeting report by Ivan Wong

JAMS celebrated July at the Australian Museum with a diverse series of talks and food and drinks, kindly supported by ASM.

Rita Rapa (UTS) started us off describing the integron/gene cassette system in the Vibrio genus. These gene cassettes add to the adaptive potential of Vibrio and are likely to be an important driver in the evolution of Vibrio in their respective niches. Through whole cell proteomic analysis, deletions in the gene cassette array exhibit altered surface associated structures. Her future work will focus on how these deletions impact Vibrio physiology.

Next up was Jan Slapeta from University of Sydney, introducing the audience to a parasitic disease called neosporosis. Neosporosis is caused by an apicomplexan parasite, Neospora caninum, and is a major protozoan reproductive disease in cattle and a recognised neurological disease in dogs. Current research on neosporosis is largely focused on cattle due to significant economic losses. Exisiting models have been documented to develop relatively few N. caninum tissue cysts. Jan’s group used Sminthopsis crassicaudata, the fat-tailed dunnart to show a new animal model in which active neosporosis is dominated by tissue cyst production.

We had a break before our final speaker, Jutta Zwielehner (UQ), explaining the complexities associated with gut microbiota composition. Jutta started off discussing gut microbiota compositions as a result of age and diet. The second part of the talk assessed the gut microbiota of patients undergoing chemotherapy and antibiotic treatments. Understanding the diversity of healthy gut microbiotas may help us decide which composition to restore a perturbed microbiota to after chemotherapy and antibiotic treatment.

Finally, we hope to see you again at the next JAMS to be held on Wednesday August 31st from 6- 9 pm at the Australian Museum.