Technology

Event Date: 
Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - 15:15 - 15:45
Institution: 
CSIRO Tasmania
Title: 

Towards a biological Argo float.

Abstract: 

Humans have long known about the physical attributes of the ocean – waves, tides, currents and temperatures. Since the 1800’s, deliberate measurements of depth, temperature and velocity have helped to build a low- resolution picture of the dynamic ocean. Argo is an international, collaborative program started in 2000 in which 3000 depth-profiling floats are deployed worldwide. These floats surface routinely and transmit salinity, temperature and depth data via satellite to data handling stations from where it is available to the global research community within 24 hours. Argo data have revolutionised physical oceanography and climate science.

Marine microbial ecology, in particular, how microbial community composition interacts with biogeochemical function in the ocean, is at the low-resolution phase of its history. With deep sequencing, we have the ability to take individual high-resolution samples but we do not yet have the global coverage required to make the connections between the bio and the geochemical.

We have a long-term goal of developing the microbiological equivalent of the Argo float. This requires a lot of hardware and “software” development. Hardware that can automatically sample, filter and process seawater and “software”, the genomic-based assays of microbial community structure that can be automated and miniaturised to work within the hardware. I will describe the development and rationale behind some of our array-based assays that might satisfy these criteria.

Many scientific minds gathered together for a series of talks on a warm October evening at the Australian Museum.

The first presenter, Martin Ostrowski from Macquarie University continued from last month’s marine microbiology theme by presenting the genetics and ecology of Synechococcus. He demonstrated the distribution patterns of Synechococcus lineages are similar in different ocean systems with comparable environmental conditions. However, specific Synechococcus lineages show a distinct distribution pattern at a global scale. This finding may be useful to predict bacterial community structures in marine ecosystems.

It's true, the first "pilot" meeting of JAMS was almost a year ago on november 24th 2010.Not long before (to me it feels like yesterday), Andy, Ian, Mike and myself met at the Trinity bar and started tossing around ideas on getting it all started. We still had no clue of when, where, or how we were going to do it. We just knew it had to be done and we'd all benefit from it.We have come a long way from there. We've had 29 speakers, some from overseas, many from out of town giving great seminars. We've had talks ranging from viruses to mosquitoes, from tropical oceans to alpine soils. But above all, we've had lots of fun!So to celebrate JAMS's first year of success I think we should have some sort of a birthday celebration.

Event Date: 
Wednesday, October 26, 2011 - 19:15 - 20:00
Institution: 
University of Queensland
Title: 

Sizing up the symbiotic partnership: towards a single-cell view of nutrients uptake in cnidaria-dinoflagellate symbiosis

Abstract: 

Reefs based on scleractinian corals are among the most productive and biologically diverse ecosystems on Earth. At the heart of their success as the architects of coral reefs, is their symbiosis with dinoflagellate algae, which live within their tissues and provide corals with an enlarged metabolic repertoire. Thus corals are ‘polytrophic’, being able to acquire carbon-based nutrients from sunlight through their algal symbionts (‘autotrophic’), feeding on plankton (‘heterotrophic’), and absorbing dissolved nutrients from the surrounding water. These strategies increase the nutritional options of corals in an environment where planktonic food supplies and dissolved nutrients in seawater may be episodic.

The intertwined nature of coral-dinoflagellate endosymbiosis has made the relative quantification of host and symbiont contributions to metabolic activities extremely difficult so far. Consequently, whilst we now recognize the threats of human activity, future climate change and associated symptoms of stress on the reef, very little is known about the nutritional function of the cnidarian-dinoflagellate symbiosis that underpins and maintains reef health.

In this talk, I will explore how the development of new technologies combining isotopic labeling and high resolution imaging analysis opens a new interdisciplinary frontier in the study of such symbiotic interactions with direct implications for how these organisms will respond to environmental changes.

An enthusiastic crowd of around 50 gathered to see out the winter months on the last day of August at another great JAMS meeting at the Australian Museum. The JAMS series brings together research microbiologists, including post-docs, PhD students and senior researchers, working in non-clinical projects from institutes throughout the Sydney region. The JAMS organisers would like to thank the Australian Museum for providing the fantastic venue for the meetings, as well as the Australian Society for Microbiology for sponsoring the event to provide pizza and drinks.

Event Date: 
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 - 19:15 - 20:00
Institution: 
CSIRO, Marine and Atmospheric Research and Wealth from Oceans, National Research Flagship, Hobart Tasmania 7000 Australia
Title: 

Microarrays within the environmental microbiology toolbox.

Abstract: 

Microbial communities are large and complex, to an extent often challenging human apprehension. An intrinsic challenge of microbial ecology is to assay this complexity in a way that promotes understanding. Every molecular method applied in microbial ecology has advantages and disadvantages, and it is an important task to make the best compromise between these methods in light of the experimental questions raised. Microarrays enable a reasonably high throughput in terms of sample number while providing a fairly high resolution of detected taxa, genes or gene variants. This combination makes microarrays often an optimal compromise between throughput and resolution in microbial ecology. The talk will describe the development and validation of a novel amoA microarray, followed by selected tales from nitrifier and methanotroph ecology studies illustrating the potential and limitations of microarray technology in microbial ecology.

Event Date: 
Wednesday, July 27, 2011 - 19:15 - 20:00
Institution: 
University of Queensland
Title: 

The healthy human gut microbiota and how chemotherapy and antibiotics affect its composition.

Abstract: 

Recent science associates the gut microbiota composition with the development of complex diseases such as for example cardio-vascular diseases, diabetes and inflammatory bowel diseases. Now, the human gastro-intestinal microbiota must be understood as a microbial organ whose metabolism provides essential functions to the host rather than just supplementary nutrient acquisition.
The first aim of this talk is to discuss what makes a “healthy” gut microbiota together with results from analysing vegetarian and elderly gut microbiota.
The second aim will be to discuss results from analysing the gut microbiota of people undergoing chemotherapy and antibiotics.
Whether (and how) diet and age affect the gut microbiota composition is not only really interesting; knowing the diversity of healthy gut microbiotas may help us to decide which composition to restore a perturbed microbiota to, for example after chemotherapy and antibiotic treatment.

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