JAMS January 2012 meeting report by Ivan Wong

Despite miserable weather conditions, a sizeable crowd gathered at the Australian museum for the first JAMS meeting of 2012.

Dean Procter from the University of Sydney kicked off with our first virology talk of the year at JAMS. He introduced us to the live virus vaccine used to eradicate smallpox, Vaccinia virus. It encodes three BTB-Kelch protein orthologues in the Ubiquitin-Proteasome System, where host cell proteins are selectively degraded. This mechanism can prevent the establishment of an antiviral immune response enabling it to become a viral production factory enhancing viral spread. The identification of the substrates may indicate new mechanisms by which these viruses overcome cellular defenses to cause infection.

Next speaker, Josie van Dorst of the University of New South Wales, presented the impact of petroleum hydrocarbons on microbial diversity at Macquarie Island. She noted that while traditional bioremediation strategies are currently underway at Macquarie Island, there is a lack of petroleum hydrocarbon contamination guidelines specific to Antarctica or sub-Antarctica. To overcome this, the microbial populations were assessed at the contaminated sites. Shifts in dominant organisms are measured and may be indicative of contaminated samples or control samples. These results will provide the scientific understanding of bioremediation strategies at sub-Antarctic conditions.

We had an intermission of pizza and drinks (sponsored by ASM), and discussions between the audience members.

After the break, Iain Duggin from the University of Technology Sydney graced the crowd with a talk on the life and cell cycles of archaea. Archaea have proven to be successful at adapting to environments that pose chemical and physical challenges to life in so called "extreme" environments. Iain's research has focussed on the molecular cell biology of two model species of archaea. These are Crenarchaeota, Sulfolobus solfataricus and a Euryarchaeota, Haloferax volcanii.  The presence of multiple chromosomes, DNA replication origins and paralogs of cell-cycle genes are all related to the cell biology of archaea in its adaptation to extreme environments.

Finally, we hope to see you again at the inaugural JAMS Anniversary Dinner to be held on Wednesday 29th February at the Australian Museum.