JAMS Meeting Report July 2012

Prepared by Valentina Wong (UNSW PhD student)
On a cold Tuesday night, Adrian Low from University of New South Wales warmed the JAMS audience with his passion on bioremediation of organochlorine contaminated groundwater. Adrian described the discovery of Australia’s first 1,2-dichloroethane (DCA) degrading consortium, AusDCA. His work in the field demonstrated the efficacy and sustainability of using organochlorine respiring bacteria to remediate organochlorine contaminants in situ. He plans to isolate the bacterial species responsible for performing this unique task.
Following on from the informative talk by Adrian Low, our knowledge in bioremediation was further expanded by Joanna Koenig also based at the University of New South Wales. A mix of organochlorines including chloroethenes and chloromethanes usually contaminates groundwater around the world. In her talk, Joanna illustrated the ability to manipulate two biogeochemical processes to aid bioremediation of mixed chlorinated solvents. She further verified the employment of iron oxide and cyanocobalamin to enhance the rate of dechlorination by organochlorine respiring bacteria. Joanna raised the audiences’ awareness of the complexity and intricacy of implementing this technology in the environment.
We then devoured pizza and drinks while sharing scientific ideas in a warm and friendly atmosphere. Mick Follows from MIT ended the July JAMS session with his mind puzzling yet incredible combination of numerical models and ecological theory that will enable scientists to interpret the relationship of nitrogen fixation and nutrient resources in the global open ocean. His studies show the ability to accurately predict the biogeography of nitrogen fixers using information such as the ratio of the supply rates of iron and fixed nitrogen. We look forward to hearing more exciting development by his team on this versatile model.
After all the remarkable and interesting talks, we left the July JAMS session with new questions and ideas and buzzing with excitement for what is installed in the coming August session of JAMS.