A team of Scientists led by Dr. Louise Allcock, NUI Galway set sail onboard the RV Celtic Explorer on the 13th April 2012 to investigate biodiversity on the Whittard Canyon System.
Whittard Canyon is a huge canyon system that spans Irish, UK and French waters along the Atlantic margin. This survey will take place in the Irish territory where the Continental shelf drops down to depths beyond 3000 m. The Marine Institute’s Holland 1 Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) will be deployed to explore the steep canyon walls where biodiversity is greatest because of the fast currents there. Whittard has been explored before, but the system is so vast that some areas are still unsurveyed.
Follow their progress through their blog at http://scientistsatsea.blogspot.com/
At the 24th European Conference on Biomaterials held in Dublin from 4th-8th September 2011, a Special Session, "Inspiration from the sea for biomaterials" was chaired by Prof. Fraser Buchanan (QUB) and Prof. Phillip Messersmith (Northwestern University, USA). The session was co-sponsored by Marine Biotechnology Ireland and ShareBiotech, an Interreg programme and was an opportunity for Irish researchers to showcase their marine-themed research alongside some of the leading names in the field. The plenary speakers were Prof Russell Stewart (Univerisity of Utah), Prof Suzy Jarvis (University College Dublin), both discussing marine invertebrate-inspired bioadhesives, and Dr Amir Sagi (Ben Gurion University, Israel) describing amorphous calcium carbonate deposits found in crayfish and their potential application. Other speakers included Dr Thomas Hanke (Technische Universität Dresden), Dr Susan Clarke (Beaufort PD, QUB) and Yvonne Lang (Network of Excellence in Functional Biomaterials, NUIG). The session was widely agreed to be a great success and with cross-pollination of ideas, contributions to current projects and potential collaborations between the speakers, is already proving fruitful.
Margaret Rae continued to promote Beaufort based research in Stromstad, Sweden in August with a poster on Marine Bioactivity in Irish Waters presented at the 7th ECMNP.
On the 12th August 2011, Beaufort postdoc, Dr Margaret Rae visited leading Norwegian bioprospectors, Dr Steinar Paulsen and Dr Jeannette Hammer Andersen, in Tromso, Norway. Dr Rae was awarded a travel grant from the "Networking and Travel Awards Scheme" of the Marine Institute to facilitate this visit and her subsequent attendance at the 7th ECMNP in Sweden.
Christine Morrow, a Beaufort-funded PhD student, has been busy this summer. She participated in the Porifera Tree of Life (PorTol) workshop at Harbour Branch Oceanographic Institute in Florida which included giving a presentation on her own PhD work. Christine made several useful contacts during her time at Harbour Branch and it has resulted in invitations to speak at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology Symposium (January 3-7, 2013 in San Francisco, California) as one of ten PorTol-funded participants and next year's PorTol workshop at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute at Colon Island in Panama 's Bocas del Toro region in the Caribbean.
Prof Fraser Buchanan (QUB) will make a presentation on "Marine biomaterials and medical devices" in a session on novel marine materials” at the Critical Markers of Disease conference in Dublin Castle in June 2011. To view information on this event, please click here.
Beaufort Marine Biodiscovery PhD student Lekha Margassery (UCC) presented a poster- Margassery, L.M., Kennedy, J., O’Gara, F., Dobson, A.D.W. and Morrissey, J. "Development and validation of a high-throughput assay to screen for calcineurin inhibitors in yeast from marine sponge-associated microbes” at the1st Irish Fungal Society Meeting, in Trinity College Dublin, 16th-17th June 2011.
At the annual meeting of the European Chapter of the Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society, TERMIS held in Granada, Spain, Dr Susan Clarke (Beaufort PD, QUB) and two other QUB speakers will made oral presentations in the session: "Biomimetic scaffolds for in vitro studies and regenerative therapies".
Beaufort postdoc, Margaret Rae, presented two posters at the NatPharma: Nature Aided Drug Discovery in Napoli, Italy, 5th-9th June. The posters were entitled Marine Bioactives from Irish Waters and Bioactives from Algae Epibioanthic on Sponges.
Beaufort Marine Biodiscovery PhD student Robert Phelan (UCC) presented a poster – “Phelan, R.W., Morrissey, J.P., Dobson, A.D.W., O’Gara, F. and Barbosa, T. Characterisation of the antimicrobial activity associated with Bacillus subtilis strain MM7 isolated from marine sponge Haliclona simulans” at the SGM Irish Division Meeting, “Microbial Viruses: Genomics, Evolution and Applications in Ecology, Biotechnology and Medicine”, at Queen’s University Belfast in April 2011.
PhD student Jaimie Jonker, associated with the Beaufort Marine Biodiscovery group at NUIG was one of five PhD students nationally to be shortlisted for the 'Making an Impact' competition sponsored by the Higher Education Authority. Jaimie presented her work on barnacle bioadhesives.
The first International Symposium on Sponge Microbiology was held in March 2011 in Wurzburg, Germany. The following oral and poster presentations were given from representatives from the Beaufort Marine Biodiscovery:
Prof. Alan Dobson (UCC) presented a talk entitled “Functional metagenomic based approaches to exploit the metabolic potential of marine sponges.”
Dr Jonathan Kennedy (UCC) presented a poster: Kennedy, J., Edrada-Ebel, R., Flemer, B., Morrissey, J., O’Gara, F. and Dobson, A.D.W. “Chemical and genomic based approaches to identify genes encoding novel bioactive metabolites from sponge associated microorganisms.”
Dr John Morrissey (UCC) presented a poster: Margassery, L.M., Kennedy, J., O’Gara, F., Dobson, A.D.W. and Morrissey, J. “Development and validation of a high-throughput assay to screen for calcineurin inhibitors in yeast from marine sponge-associated microbes.”
Beaufort Marine Biodiscovery PhD student Stephen Jackson (UCC) presented a poster: Jackson, S.A., Kennedy, J., Morrissey, J., O’Gara, F. and Dobson, A.D.W. "Pyrosequencing reveals diverse and distinct sponge-specific microbial communities in sponges from a single geographical location in Irish waters.”
Congratulations to Kathryn Fee, Beaufort PhD student who was awarded a Student Bursary in order to attend and present at the 17th Bioengineering in Ireland Conference in Jan 2011. To add to this success, Kathryn was also the recipient of the Emily Sarah Montgomery Travel Scholarship which allowed her to attend the 4th Annual World congress of Industrial Biotechnology in China in April 2011.
Kathryn Fee, Beaufort PhD student, was awarded 3rd Place in the IOM3 Young Persons Lecture Competition – All-Ireland Final with her presentation entitled Hydrothermal Synthesis of Coccolith Rich Chalk to Hydroxyapatite. Kathryn was also runner-up in the poster presentation section of the Sir Bernard Crossland Symposium at QUB this month, with her poster entitled Optimisation of Hydroxyapatite Synthesis from Coccolith Rich Chalk. Kathryn will now be invited to attend the All Ireland Final of the Symposium at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown in February 2011. We wish her every success.