Monday 28 July 2014

College of Science Postgraduate Seminar Series 29th July 2014

College of Science Postgraduate Seminar Series - Summer 2014 

28th July 2014 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace)

Speaker 1: Brenda Tysse

Seeing the Unseen: Accelerometry revealing human biology secrets

Abstract- pending

Speaker 2: Carly Manuel

How stress influences aggression in the insect pathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae 


Fungal growth under stress conditions have been known to influence both fungal virulence and phenotypic traits. Conidia of the entomopathogenic fungi metarhizium anisopliae were exposed to a number of stress conditions and then examined for germination speed, virulence to insect host (Galleria mellonella, Greater wax moth larvae) and enzymatic activity as a response to stress. Fungal conidia were produced on a nutritive medium, under non-stress conditions (Sabouraud dextrose agar (SDA)) or under stress conditions: Osmotic, SDA supplemented with potassium chloride, Oxidative: UV stress, heat shock (heat treatment of conidia on SDA at 40°C, 1hr) and nutritive (minimal media with no carbon source). Conidia were most virulent on day 4, with the starvation stress medium having the fastest germination rates. In addition, conidia exposed to UV stress, had an improved stress management than other stress conditions, which could indicate enzymes involved in stress management may become impaired when exposed to other stress conditions.

Monday 21 July 2014

College of Science Postgraduate Seminar Series 22nd July 2014

College of Science Postgraduate Seminar Series - Summer 2014 

22nd July 2014 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace)

Chemical Ecology, Olfaction and Bio-rational Insect Pest Management

Dr. Zayed Saud Abdullah

(PhD student, Swansea University, UK)

Zayed has just graduated from his PhD at Swansea University under the supervision of Dr. Tariq Butt. He has a background in Genetics, undertaking a BSc at Swansea before beginning his PhD and he is also an entrepreneur. Zayed's insect trap, the Biofeeder™, earned a place in the finals of the 2014 Innovact Awards. The Biofeeder™ exterminates flying insects, including ones that transmit or vector diseases of both humans and animals and uses these insects as supplementary protein rich fish food. The project aims to reduce disease and increase fish stocks in some of the world’s most economically deprived regions.

Insects utilize olfactory cues for many essential processes. Behavioural responses that result from these cues are either innate or learnt. Understanding an insect’s chemical ecology allows for the design and implementation of bio-rational pest management strategies as well as more efficient monitoring tools. Using prior research on thrips as a case study, the various steps involved in elucidating olfactory cues and relevant considerations are discussed. Various thysanopteran species from divergent families show a similar feeding response to pollen, a highly nutritious but non-essential food source. Furthermore, ancient fossilized thrips have been found with intact Mesozoic gymnosperm pollen suggesting that gymnosperm host utilization in the order evolved long before the radiation of angiosperms, plants which most extant thrips species utilize as hosts. Roles of specific olfactory cues have been implicated in pollen locating within the few gymnosperm specialists, but not in angiosperm utilizing thrips that are known to perceive gymnosperm pollen odour. The study demonstrates how fossil record analysis can aid in explaining responses of extant species to chemicals that would otherwise seem peculiar to their ecology, giving better insight into the evolutionary forces that shape insect olfactory systems.

Thursday 17 July 2014

Science Club Series - 17 July 2014

Biosciences Science ClubSeries - Summer 2014
17 July 2014 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace 129)

Ancient DNA sequencing of 5,000 year old seeds from Armenia - investigating the agricultural plant biology in the fertile crescent

Dr. Jimmy Breen

Ever heard of the Fertile Crescent? That's a region in the Middle East, where the civilizations of the Middle East and the Mediterranean basin began! And today we will have a visitor from Australia, Dr. Jimmy Breen from the University of Adelaide, who will present us some fascinating new insights obtained from applying novel DNA techniques to ancient seeds from a rather unique archeological site. 

The fertile crescent region of the near east is an important region in ancient plant and animal cultivation and domestication. In this talk I introduce a uniquely preserved archaeological site in Armenia and present recent next-generation sequencing data from late chalcolithic seed material.

Everyone most welcome, students included!

Thursday 10 July 2014

College of Science Postgraduate Seminar Series 15th July 2014

College of Science Postgraduate Seminar Series - Spring 2014 

15th July 2014 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace)

Scaling Biodiversity - Ecosystem Function Relationships

Talk 1

Tom Fairchild

(PhD student, Swansea University, UK)

Tom is a first year PhD student at Swansea University under the supervision of Dr. John Griffin and Dr. Mike Fowler. He undertook a 4 year masters degree at Bangor University in Oceanography,  with a 1 year research project focusing on how physical seabed features, sediment types and how current profiles can be used as a predictor of epibenthic species communities. 
Tom opted to take an MSc in Marine Environmental Protection at Bangor where he also undertook free-lance work on the eradication of the invasive sea squirt Didemnum vexillum on behalf of the (then) Countryside Council for Wales. After this, Tom was offered a position with the Welsh Government, employed as the scientific officer for South Wales in the Marine and Fisheries department, leaving only to pursue his PhD here at Swansea. 

Biodiversity, in many different forms, is recognised as being the driving force behind ecosystem functions,  however there is a great deal of debate on how different aspects of biodiversity, physical heterogeneity and "scale" affect the biodiversity  - ecosystem function relationship (BEF). There are growing bodies of work on both the differences in the way we consider "biodiversity" and also as to how heterogeneity affects BEF relationships, but whilst scale is expected to be an important manipulator of BEF relationships it is rarely explicitly examined.

Tuesday 1 July 2014

College of Science Postgraduate Seminar Series 8th July 2014

College of Science Postgraduate Seminar Series - Spring 2014 

8th July 2014 - 1pm - Zoology Museum (Wallace)

Effects of artificial infection of juvenile edible crabs, Cancer pagurus with the parasitic dinoflagellate, Hematodinium sp.

Amanda Smith

(PhD student, Swansea University, UK)

Amanda is a third year PhD student under the supervision of Prof. Andrew Rowley and Dr. Dan Eastwood. Amanda studied Marine Biology here at Swansea for her undergraduate dregree before completing an MRes in Aquaculture and Fisheries, which ultimately lead to this PhD. 

Parasitic dinoflagellates of the genus, Hematodinium, are thought to be significant pathogens of a wide range of crustaceans.  Much is known of the ecology and effects of this disease on the sustainability of crustacean populations but significantly less is known about the mode of transmission and fate of infected animals. Attempts have been made to transmit the disease under aquarium conditions to several species of crabs resulting in a great deal of variation in mortality levels and the timescale of disease progression. To determine if Hematodinium infections are significant drivers of mortality in juvenile edible crabs (Cancer pagurus), crabs were injected with either 1 x 105 Hematodinium trophonts from an infected animal or sterile saline. Crabs were bled every four weeks to determine the progression of infection and its effects on the numbers of circulating haemocytes. Thirty three percent of the Hematodinium-injected crabs became infected and mortality occurred between 93 and 378 days post-challenge. Infected crabs appeared to moult less frequently than their uninfected counterparts but mortality did not appear to be directly caused by Hematodinium, as there was no significant difference in the mean time to death between infected and uninfected crabs. Both Hematodiunium-infected and uninfected crabs exhibited infections by a number of other disease causing agents including haplosporidium-like parasites, fungi and bacteria. These appeared to be key drivers of the mortality observed. These studies, albeit carried out on small cohorts of edible crabs, imply that Hematodinium is not a driver of host mortality at least under aquarium conditions.