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WFSJASC

The Australian Science Communicators are hosting the conference in collaboration with the World Federation of Science Journalists.

     

Australian Science

Venomous snakes and coneshells, the kangaroo genome, milking echidna's, giant marsupials, the bionic ear and now bionic nerves, a ringing star, a view to the heart of our galaxy and more. Here is a taste of some of the Australian science stories that have come out over the last year.

These stories have been provided by science organisations around Australia and we have provided edited summaries which can be downloaded.

We invite you to come out to Australia and find your own stories.

Short and sweet: summarising Australian science:

  • February 2007 - NEW!

  • November 2006

  • September 2006

  • July 2006

  • April 2006

  • Australian science - in Korean

  • These summaries were written by Science in Public, based on press releases from science organisations.

    Australian science stories February 2007 - NEW!: (click on the headline below to go to the story)

    The following stories have been provided by science organisations from around Australia. For more information, please contact the organisation directly.

    To download stories in brief click here

    Aussie yabbies survive by connecting to underwater broadband

    Like sharks, Australian yabbies have a 'sixth' sense, the ability to listen to electrical signals that alert them to prey or predators, according to University of Melbourne researchers.

    "We have provided the first evidence that yabbies 'listen' to electrical fields."

    Yabbies are small freshwater crayfish.
     

    A busy left hand causes crashes to the right

    Someone using their left hand is four times more likely to collide with an object on the right than on the left, a new study from the University of Melbourne has found.

    The published study has important implications for road, industrial and maritime safety.
     

    Women scientists produce higher quality work

    An international study led by the University of Melbourne reveals that, while female scientists produce better quality science, they are less productive early in their careers, and thus have to play catch-up to their male counterparts.
     

    Early cochlear implants get deaf toddlers talking

    Deaf babies and toddlers can develop normal language skills using cochlear implants according to a Melbourne study.

    "Prior to the introduction of early screening tests and cochlear implantation, profoundly deaf children experienced significant delays in language development."
     

    Satellites measures soil moisture

    Australian farmers will soon be able to measure soil moisture in paddocks from data collected by a NASA/ESA satellite.

    Farmers will be able to obtain predictions about soil moisture and crop yield out to three months. This will help them to make critical decisions about what to plant and when, their likely crop yield." Dr Walker said.
     

    Cold war gravity detector finds ore deposits

    BHP Billiton has developed an airborne gravity system for mapping mineral deposits, known as Falcon.

    Installed in a small aircraft, Falcon measures minute changes in the earth's gravity. Areas which once took years to cover by ground surveys are now done in days.
     

    CSIRO demonstrates world's fastest wireless link

    CSIRO researchers have demonstrated the fastest and most efficient wireless link ever achieved.

    The six gigabits per second over a point-to-point wireless connection. Shakespeare could be transmitted over this six gigabit link in under seven thousandths of a second or a full DVD movie in just over six seconds.
     

    Found - the red apple gene

    CSIRO researchers have located the gene that controls the colour of apples - a discovery that may lead to bright new apple varieties.
     

    Australia's venomous creatures not all bad news

    Australian biotechnology companies and researchers are discovering that Australia's venomous creatures might not be all bad news. They may in fact bring us the medical drugs of tomorrow.
     

    Virtual map of the sheep genome

    The 'virtual sheep genome' - a physical DNA map of more than 98 per cent of the sheep genome - has been made publicly available by CSIRO. It contains the 'best bet' about where the sheep's vast amount of hereditary information can be found on its 26 chromosomes.
     

    A real air guitar

    CSIRO has 'built' a shirt which could fulfil the fantasy of anyone who has, in the privacy of their homes, jammed along with one of rock 'n roll's great lead guitarists.

    The 'wearable instrument shirt' enables users to play an 'air guitar' simply by moving one arm to pick chords and the other to strum the imaginary instrument's strings.
     

    'Air shower' set to cut water use by 30 per cent

    As Australians become increasingly alert to the importance of using water wisely in the home, CSIRO researchers have found a way to use a third less water when you shower - by adding air.

    The scientists have developed a simple 'air shower' device which, when fitted into existing showerheads, fills the water droplets with a tiny bubble of air. The result is the shower feels just as wet and just as strong as before, but now uses much less water.
     

    Wine industry 'winners and losers' from climate change

    Climate change will dramatically alter the growing season for Australian grapes and affect the wine styles produced here, according to new University of Melbourne and CSIRO research.
     

    Australia, South Africa, short-listed for giant telescope

    Australia has been short-listed - along with South Africa - to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a giant next-generation radio telescope being developed by scientists in 17 countries.

    The proposed core site in Australia is Mileura station, 100km west of Meekathara in Western Australia. Other antennas would be distributed over the continent; still more might be placed in New Zealand.
     

    Parkes finds unexpected 'heartbeats' in star

    Astronomers using CSIRO's Parkes telescope in eastern Australia have found that a "magnetar" - a kind of star with the strongest magnetic fields known in the Universe - is giving off extraordinary radio pulses, which links this rare type of star with the much more common "radio pulsars".
     

    Research offers hope for alcoholics

    Scientists at Melbourne's Howard Florey Institute have discovered a system in the brain that stops an alcoholic's craving for alcohol.

    A group of cells in the hypothalamus produce Orexin, which was originally implicated in the regulation of feeding, but it soon became apparent that Orexin was also involved in the 'high' felt after drinking alcohol or taking illicit drugs.
     

    Is wildlife birth-control safe?

    Australian scientists are developing a contraceptive vaccine that aims to control populations of wild animals, such as rabbits and foxes.

    But UNSW genetics expert Professor Des Cooper warns that the immuno-contraception method is not fully effective and is manipulating natural reproduction in ways that can't be predicted or controlled.

    Proponents of the technique, which was first tested nearly 20 years ago, regard it as more humane than the conventional methods of controlling wildlife populations, such as shooting, trapping, poisoning or viral diseases.
     

    Soft-cell approach cuts animal tests

    A new way to test the safety of the air we breathe is proving faster, cheaper and more humane than exposing laboratory animals to airborne chemical hazards, say UNSW scientists.

    The new in-vitro technique directly exposes human cells to airborne toxicants and measures cytotoxic effects.
     

    Magnetic powder cleans oily penguins

    Victoria University researchers hope to clean penguins using tiny 'oil drinking' magnetic particles, consisting of a finely-divided iron powder that is non-toxic and non-irritating.
     

    Low GI sugar?

    Sugar cane could contribute to the fight against prostate and breast cancer. Queensland sugar researchers are finding high amounts of compounds that could be used to make products, such as antioxidants, foods with a low glycemic index (GI) and other dietary supplements.
     

    Biodegradable plastic from sugarcane?

    Queensland researchers are looking to turn sugarcane plants into highly productive plastic factories. Genes from bacteria - that naturally produce these biodegradable plastics - have been successfully incorporated into the sugar plant which then goes on to make plastic within their cells.
     

    Meningococcus and golden staph identified in hours rather than days
     

    Deadly bacteria can be accurately identified and tracked within hours rather than days and at a cost saving of up to 90% by using computer-based technology developed by the CRC for Diagnostics.

    Queensland scientists fine tune drugs for herpes

    A patient's ability to fight human cytomegalovirus, a type of herpes virus, can be tracked using new technology developed by the Co-operative Research Centre for Vaccine Technology.

    The new test measures the level of special immune cells (called CD8 T cells) in blood that protect against HCMV. By monitoring these cells, physicians can assess whether a patient needs expensive, and often, toxic treatments or is able to fight off the virus without them. Previously, patients were given these treatments regardless of their levels of immunity.
     

    Tobacco goes cold turkey

    The tobacco plant is giving up cigarettes to provide safer and cheaper pharmaceuticals.

    Tobacco is set to become a valuable source of human vitronectin - a protein used in pharmaceuticals for wound and tissue repair and in medical research to improve human health.
     

    Prostate cancer trial

    The Mater Medical Research Institute is trialling a prostate cancer vaccine using a new 'smart state' antibody developed and produced at MMRI.
     

    More sleep for newborns (and parents)

    Driving the baby around the block till he sleeps? A Queensland company has developed a cot that emulates the motion of a car, helping babies sleep soundly.
     

    Elderly sleep through alarm

    Research by Victoria University's Professor Dorothy Bruck has shown that the most common smoke alarm in Australian homes was the least effective at waking up older sleepers.
     

    Muscling up against Metabolic Syndrome

    Can strength training be used to treat Metabolic Syndrome? This is the question being asked in a new study by Victoria University PhD student, Mr Itamar Levinger.
     

    How much UV is too much?

    By collecting data on the ozone layer, Smart State Fellow Dr Michael Kimlin is helping assess the health risks and benefits associated with ultra violet (UV) radiation.
     

    Understanding tropical river systems

    Smart State Fellow, Dr Andrew Brooks is using remote sensing to help understand what drives the great tropical river systems of northern Australia - rivers that may have the potential to quench the thirst of southern Australia.
     

    Standardising blood specimen management with robots
     

    Ai Scientific's Pathfinder technology removes potential human error associated with manual sorting and splitting of blood specimens.

    Healthy avocadoes

    Research undertaken at the CRC for Tropical Plant Protection has identified a powerful weapon to fight disease which will provide enormous benefit to the avocado industry.
     

    Wireless technology to improve chronic disease monitoring

    Alive Technologies, based at Arundel on the Gold Coast, has developed wireless health monitoring systems to assist in the screening, diagnosis and management of chronic diseases, and for consumer health and fitness.
     

    Reducing greenhouse gases for magnesium industry

    The Brisbane based CAST CRC has developed AM-cover which is an invisible technology mixture that could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions from the magnesium industry by over 5 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent per year. This is comparable to eliminating the emissions from 1 million cars or planting 17 million trees.
     

    Managing grazing lands in a variable and changing climate

    A team of Queensland scientists have developed an information service that provides information on the condition of arid and semi-arid grazing land so that graziers and land managers are better prepared for good and bad times.
     

    What turns plants on?

    University of Melbourne researchers have isolated a genetic 'switch' that can be turned on or off to alter the development of pollen sex cells in plants.
     

    Harmonious couples pursue same goals

    If you want to have a successful relationship, you not only need to have the same goals as your partner, you also have to want them to the same extent, says research under way at the University of Melbourne.
     

    "Starbug" the submarine monitors underwater ecosystems
     

    An innovative robotic submarine from CSIRO is set to transform environmental monitoring by dramatically reducing the cost of data collection.

    Australia set for new metals industry

    Revolutionary technology emerging from the Light Metals Flagship could open the door to a competitive titanium industry in Australia
     

    Cataloguing Queensland's plants for cures

    Griffith University researchers have identified more than 40 plants and 1500 marine animals previously unknown to science that could hold the key to discovering life-saving medicines.
     

    A model of a heart
     

    Researchers are using CSIRO's laser diagnostic laboratory to test blood flow in an artificial heart as part of a collaborative project with Japan's Waseda University.
     
    Turning one man's trash into another's treasure Industrial seaweed processor Kelp Industries needed a practical, low-cost fuel source to dry its seaweed. Meanwhile the famous King Island Dairy had significant quantities of waste cardboard too expensive to ship back to the mainland for disposal.
     

    $22 million adult stem cell centre to be established at Griffith

    Adult stem cells have potential clinical applications in stem cell transplantation therapies and will be used to understand and ultimately develop treatments for brain diseases such as Parkinson's disease, motor neurone Disease and schizophrenia.
     

    Xenotransplantation without immunosuppression

    A product made from natural neonatal pig islet cells encased in capsules is to offer new hope to people with type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes.
     
     
    Climate change impacts on plants and animals (including native species, pest species, and agricultural species) Australian wildlife is responding to changes in climate and researchers are currently trying to build a database in order to gather as much historical and current information on species and their breeding/migrating/flowering etc.

    Changes in bushfires risk with climate change

    A new study funded by the Australian Government and some State and Territory governments provides important new information to help communities across south-east Australia prepare for possible increased bushfire risk which may follow from climate change in coming decades. A report released earlier this year found that should the average summer temperature increase, there will also be an increase in the frequency  of very high and extreme fire danger days, especially in inland areas.

    Tropical cyclones and climate change

    While no single, recent high-impact cyclone can be said to be a direct result of climate change, scientists agree that global warming may be impacting on series of cyclones over a season.

    Research into maximum precipitation, QLD

    New research from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology into the effect of changes in dew-point temperatures on estimates of Probable Maximum Precipitation

    Indian Ocean Climate Initiative (IOCI)

    A joint program to address climate change in Western Australia - a partnership between the WA state agencies, the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO.
    Australia-UK teams join to fight flu CSIRO and the University of Bath have combined their expertise to develop new drugs to better safeguard against flu viruses developing resistance.

    Is There True Authenticity in the Practice of Evidence-based Health Sciences?

    The healthcare discipline and evidence-based discourse has been producing numerous specialised journals and best practice guidelines in the recent years, with health science scholars eagerly jumping on the bandwagon, mimicking this trend with their contributions to this discourse.

    Addressing the Realities of Climate Change

    A review of observed and potential impacts of climatic changes on Australian species and natural ecosystems.

    Genetic Basis for Premature Ovarian Failure Identified

    Researchers have successfully identified several genes associated with Premature Ovarian Failure (POF) or premature menopause, enabling carriers to make informed choices with regards to family planning.

    Body Mass Index (BMI) measurements of Australian Children often inaccurate

    A new study has found many GP's do not regularly calculate Body Mass Index (BMI) in children, and when they do measure height and weight often the equipment is imprecise and therefore their assessment is inaccurate.

    Australian science stories November 2006: (click on the headline below to go to the story)

  • Aussie team makes landmark insulin discovery
  • Pick up your crying baby
  • Help babies breathe easier
  • Bionic nerves
  • Predicting Schizophrenia
  • New fertility research
  • Australian synchrotron scientists reveal food-poisoning toxin
  • Synchrotron discriminates arsenic in Phar Lap's hair
  • Eyes in the sky to monitor climate change
  • Whining about climate change
  • Green roofs for fresh food
  • Scientists copy the brilliance of a leaf
  • Making coal cleaner
  • Gardening the reef
  • Carp virus
  • Wheat greenhouse
  • Marathon jellyfish
  • Live fast, die young
  • Sex for mums means heathier babies
  • Test-tube koalas
  • Busy bee brain food
  • Fishy sex changes
  • Dolphins secret life
  • Mystery solved by kangaroo and platypus
  • Reading genes
  • Fossil fish supports Aussie crawl theory
  • Ancient marine reptiles
  • Surfing in Alice Springs
  • Australian science stories September 2006 (click on the headline below to go to the story summary)
  • Aussie of the Year prevents cancer
  • Aussies revolutionise rocket science
  • We know why men are from Mars & women from Venus
  • UQ makes brain connection
  • UQ scientist junks DNA orthodoxy
  • Coral research unlocks threats of global warming
  • Deciphering whale love songs
  • UQ unearths prehistoric secrets
  • Secrets of the Ice-Age Cave - how did the Aborigines Survive?
  • Who Killed Australia's Giant Marsupials?
  • Bad News for Body-builders - the Myth About Creatine
  • Rewriting the Textbook on Muscle Fatigue
  • Economists Seek Answers on Heroin Abuse
  • Global Guidelines to Fight Violence
  • State-of- the-Art Spectrometer for Antarctic
  • Biocontrol delivers a $10billion result
  • Scientists develop a condom for weeds
  • 'Killing us softly' - the price of weeds
  • 'Artificial breeding for sharks - action taken to save grey nurse shark
  • Virtual sheep management a reality
  • Beef industry to save half a million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions
  • New technology targets pesticide-resistant insects
  • Salmonella alert for home fish tanks
  • Restoring agriculture to Aceh after the tsunami
  • Science Network's WA stories: Gecko Glue, Inventor profiles and more…
  • Imaging device focuses on preventing eye disease worldwide
  • Science Alert: plant stem cells, marathon jellyfish and koala genome virus
  • Plants an untapped resource for stem cell research
  • Koala genome virus
  • Australian Wins Highest International Honour in Mathematics
  • $12 million dollar team to flex their muscles
  • Mistletoe: good or bad for gum trees and biodiversity?
  • Australian science stories July 2006: (click on the headline below to go to the story)

  • Good chrome, bad chrome -- What happens down below?
  • Antifreeze grass
  • Stem cell hubs in north and south links Victoria and California
  • Material for pacemakers, stents and spinal discs to be made in Melbourne
  • Tender lamb 'meating' consumer needs
  • Biosecurity, pests and disease links Manitoba and Melbourne
  • What is climate change doing to Australian wildlife?
  • Little penguins spark curiosity in ecology.
  • New cosmic object found
  • Cheap Aussie telescope captures world's biggest solar flare
  • Star near the Southern Cross is 'ringing
  • Aussies explain why dying star sent mixed messages
  • More Australian science stories: (click on the headline below to go to the story)

  • New organs can be grown in body - key breakthrough
  • Secret sex lives of swans under scrutiny in new study
  • Cyber criminals targeted by smart Internet security software
  • Chemical Changes turn milk protein into Listeria killer
  • Dog DNA project provides clues to human illness
  • Genome discovery will help combat disease and lead to new drugs
  • Researcher proves eye show early signs of heart disease
  • Brain areas for focus and attention don't work in ADHD
  • Molecular miners find pain relief drugs from the sea
  • Goanna venom rocks the reptile world
  • Aussie yabbies survive by connecting to underwater broadband

    19 February 2007

    Like sharks, Australian yabbies have a 'sixth' sense, the ability to listen to electrical signals that alert them to prey or predators, according to University of Melbourne researchers.

    "We have provided the first evidence that yabbies 'listen' to electrical fields."

    Yabbies are small freshwater crayfish.

    Like sharks, Australian yabbies have a "sixth" sense, the ability to listen to electrical signals that alert them to prey or predators, new breaking research from the University of Melbourne has found.

    "We have provided the first evidence that yabbies "listen" to electrical fields for their survival, showing that a prey species is also listening."

    "It is as if they are tuning into the underwater broadband."

    The study was coordinated by Mr Patullo with a team of dedicated research fellows under the supervision of Professor David MacMillan from the University of Melbourne.

    Blair Patullo
    Department of Zoology
    University of Melbourne
    Ph: +61 3 8344 4349
    M: +61 402 061 049
    Email: blairp@unimelb.edu.au

    Rebecca Scott
    Media Officer
    University of Melbourne
    Ph: +61 3 8344 0181
    M: +61 417 164 791
    Email: rebeccas@unimelb.edu.au

    A busy left hand causes crashes to the right

    Someone using their left hand is four times more likely to collide with an object on the right than on the left, a new study from the University of Melbourne has found.

    The published study has important implications for road, industrial and maritime safety.

    Associate Professor Mike Nicholls, from the School of Behavioural Science said the research - published in this month's edition of the journal Neuropsychologia - had important implications for road, industrial and maritime safety.

    "The research shows that someone using their left hand is four times more likely to collide with an object on the right than on the left,'' he says.
    Associate Professor Nicholls said the collisions were caused by hand movements on one side of the body, which caused activity to increase in the opposite side of the brain.

    "For example, if you are using your left hand it stimulates the right side of your brain which draws your attention to your left, therefore causing you to bump into objects on your right,'' he says.

    Associate Professor Mike Nicholls
    Ph: +61 3 8344 4299
    mike.nicholls@unimelb.edu.au

    Janine Sim-Jones
    Media Officer
    janinesj@unimelb.edu.au
    Ph: +61 3 8344 7220'
    Cell: +61 400 893 378

    uninews.unimelb.edu.au/articleid_3975.html

    Women scientists produce higher quality work

    9 January 2007

    An international study led by the University of Melbourne reveals that, while female scientists produce better quality science, they are less productive early in their careers, and thus have to play catch-up to their male counterparts.

    The study, conducted by Dr Matthew Symonds from the Department of Zoology at the University of Melbourne with colleagues from Australia and New Zealand, showed that the men in the study published 40 percent more papers than women, but that women's work is cited relatively more often by other scientists, a key indicator of quality.
    The study also revealed that the differences in male and female productivity arise surprisingly early in their careers.
    "Why men publish more papers than women, known as the "Productivity Puzzle" has long been debated," said Dr Symonds.
    Dr Symonds said that a slow start to the women scientists' careers directly affects their subsequent success in job appointments, promotions and funding.

    Dr Matthew Symonds
    Department of Zoology
    University of Melbourne
    Ph: +61 3 8344 4845
    Mobile: +61 425 889 711

    Rebecca Scott
    Media Officer
    University of Melbourne
    Ph: +61 3 8344 0181
    Cell: +61 417 164 791

    uninews.unimelb.edu.au/articleid_3965.html

    Early cochlear implants get deaf toddlers talking

    7 December 2006

    Deaf babies and toddlers can develop normal language skills using cochlear implants according to a Melbourne study.

    "Prior to the introduction of early screening tests and cochlear implantation, profoundly deaf children experienced significant delays in language development."

    Deaf babies and toddlers can develop normal language skills when cochlear implants occur between six months and two years, according to new research released by the University of Melbourne.

    "This is the first study investigating the long term language progress of deaf babies and toddlers implanted with Cochlear implants," said Head of the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Melbourne, Professor Richard Dowell.

    "Results have shown that implantation in an infant under 12 months has a significant impact on their language skills, "said Dr Shani Dettman of the University of Melbourne, who coordinated the study.

    "It is wonderful to watch the children begin to respond to their hearing, and learn to communicate. These children can joke, lie, tease and use language in all its forms," she said.

    Professor Richard Dowell
    Head of Department of Otolaryngogly
    University of Melbourne
    M: +61 408 118 007

    Dr Shani Dettman
    Speech Pathologist and Coordinator of the Study
    University of Melbourne
    M: +61 439 326 509

    Rebecca Scott
    University of Melbourne
    Media Officer
    M: +61 417 164 791

    uninews.unimelb.edu.au/articleid_3922.html

    Satellites measures soil moisture

    Australian farmers will soon be able to measure soil moisture in paddocks from data collected by a NASA/ESA satellite.

    Farmers will be able to obtain predictions about soil moisture and crop yield out to three months. This will help them to make critical decisions about what to plant and when, their likely crop yield." Dr Walker said.

    Australian farmers will soon be able to measure soil moisture in paddocks from data collected by a space satellite under a University of Melbourne, NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) experiment.

    Dr Jeff Walker from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering of the University of Melbourne is leading an international experiment, (the National Airborne Field Experiment) to test and enhance satellite technology that will measure soil moisture levels in paddocks for Australian primary producers.

    "Our vision is that via the internet, farmers will be able to download key information about current and future soil moisture in their paddocks, which has been generated from a combination of model predictions and satellite observations."

    Dr Jeff Walker
    Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    University of Melbourne
    Ph: +61 3 8344 5590
    M: +61 413 023 915

    Rebecca Scott
    Media Officer
    University of Melbourne
    Ph: +61 3 8344 0181
    M: +61 417 176 791

    uninews.unimelb.edu.au/articleid_3866.html

    Images/vision available:

    Photographs of the aircraft and activities during the experiment
    Vision of thermal imaging of the terrain
    Image of ESA satellite available from www.esa.int/esaLP/ESAMBA2VMOC_LPsmos_1.html
    www.nafe.unimelb.edu.au

    Cold war gravity detector finds ore deposits

    18 February 2007

     
      Click here for high res.  

    BHP Billiton has developed an airborne gravity system for mapping mineral deposits, known as Falcon.

    Installed in a small aircraft, Falcon measures minute changes in the earth's gravity. Areas which once took years to cover by ground surveys are now done in days.

    Falcon™ is the world's first airborne gravity gradiometer (AGG) and measures minute changes in the earth's gravity. It allows fast and cost-effective access to prospective terrains, areas which once took years to cover by ground surveys are now done in days.

    This technological innovation, which has its roots in technology developed for the US Navy, has enormous benefits and gives BHP Billiton a unique competitive advantage in the search for mineral and hydrocarbon deposits. This is backed by our exclusivity on the technology coupled with our unique value-added processing and interpretation capabilities.

    Samantha Evans
    Media Relations
    Ph: +61 3 9609 2898
    M: +61 400 693 915
    Email: Samantha.Evans@bhpbilliton.com

    CSIRO demonstrates world's fastest wireless link

    CSIRO researchers have demonstrated the fastest and most efficient wireless link ever achieved.

    The six gigabits per second over a point-to-point wireless connection. Shakespeare could be transmitted over this six gigabit link in under seven thousandths of a second or a full DVD movie in just over six seconds.

    With 2.4bits/s/Hz - it is highest efficiency the ever achieved for such a system.

    Multi-gigabit links operate at speeds that leave current wireless networks far behind. For example the entire works of Shakespeare could be transmitted over this six gigabit link in under seven thousandths of a second or a full DVD movie in just over six seconds.

    www.csiro.au/csiro/content/standard/ps2kj.html
    www.csiro.au/csiro/content/file/pfot.html

    Found - the red apple gene

    CSIRO researchers have located the gene that controls the colour of apples - a discovery that may lead to bright new apple varieties.

    "The red colour in apple skin is the result of anthocyanins, the natural plant compounds responsible for blue and red colours in many flowers and fruits," says the leader of the CSIRO Plant Industry research team, Dr Mandy Walker.

    "If fruit doesn't look good, consumers are far less likely to buy it, no matter how good it might taste."

    www.csiro.au/csiro/content/standard/ps2j6.html
    www.csiro.au/csiro/content/file/pfo1.html

    Australia's venomous creatures not all bad news

    2007

    Australian biotechnology companies and researchers are discovering that Australia's venomous creatures might not be all bad news. They may in fact bring us the medical drugs of tomorrow.

    Queensland biotechnology companies and researchers are discovering that Australia's venomous creatures might not be all bad news. They may in fact bring us the medical drugs of tomorrow.

    Deadly cone shell snail

    Xenome Ltd is developing a therapy for severe pain derived from the venom of a deadly cone shell snail found on the Great Barrier Reef. Xen2174 is currently in Phase I/II clinical trials. Xenome is using its rare and diverse library of Australian venoms to develop other therapeutics for inflammation and cancer.

    www.xenome.com

    Taipan snake venom

    ElaCor Pty Ltd, is developing a therapeutic for congestive heart failure derived from Taipan snake venom.

    www.imbcom.com.au

    Australian Common Brown snake

    QRxPharma Pty Ltd is developing a pro-coagulant useful in situations to control bleeding and tissue sealing, such as following surgery. FactorX is derived from the venom of the Australian Common Brown snake.

    www.qrxpharma.com

    Spiders, Scorpions, and Centipedes

    If snakes aren't your thing then how about spiders? Australian Tarantulas Pty Ltd specialises in screening the venom of spiders, scorpions, and centipedes. The company even has its own Australian Venom Zoo located near Cairns.

    www.tarantulas.com.au

    Queensland's natural megabiodiversity provides the perfect platform to develop a thriving biodiscovery industry:

    Virtual map of the sheep genome

    The 'virtual sheep genome' - a physical DNA map of more than 98 per cent of the sheep genome - has been made publicly available by CSIRO. It contains the 'best bet' about where the sheep's vast amount of hereditary information can be found on its 26 chromosomes.

    In a world first, a team of international scientists led by CSIRO has constructed a virtual map of the genome of the sheep.

    www.csiro.au/csiro/content/standard/ps2ge.html

    A real air guitar

    CSIRO has 'built' a shirt which could fulfil the fantasy of anyone who has, in the privacy of their homes, jammed along with one of rock 'n roll's great lead guitarists.

    The 'wearable instrument shirt' enables users to play an 'air guitar' simply by moving one arm to pick chords and the other to strum the imaginary instrument's strings.

    Led by engineer Dr Richard Helmer a team of researchers at CSIRO Textiles and Fibre Technology in Geelong has created a 'wearable instrument shirt' (WIS).

    "The technology - which is adaptable to almost any kind of apparel - takes clothing beyond its traditional role of protection and fashion into the realms of entertainment and a wide range of other applications including the development of clothes which will be able to monitor physiological changes," Dr Helmer says says.

    www.csiro.au/csiro/content/standard/ps2gl.html
    www.csiro.au/csiro/content/file/pfn9.html

    'Air shower' set to cut water use by 30 per cent

    As Australians become increasingly alert to the importance of using water wisely in the home, CSIRO researchers have found a way to use a third less water when you shower - by adding air.

    The scientists have developed a simple 'air shower' device which, when fitted into existing showerheads, fills the water droplets with a tiny bubble of air. The result is the shower feels just as wet and just as strong as before, but now uses much less water.

    The researchers, from CSIRO Manufacturing Materials Technology in Melbourne, say the device increases the volume of the shower stream while reducing the amount of water used by about 30 per cent.

    www.csiro.au/csiro/content/standard/ps2g2.html
    www.csiro.au/csiro/content/file/pfn5.html

    Wine industry 'winners and losers' from climate change

    Climate change will dramatically alter the growing season for Australian grapes and affect the wine styles produced here, according to new University of Melbourne and CSIRO research.

    Working with senior University and CSIRO climate change scientists, PhD student Leanne Webb found that in future grape growers can expect to see rising temperatures which will cause a shift in budburst dates, shorter growing seasons and earlier harvest dates.

    www.csiro.au/csiro/content/standard/ps2ei.html
    www.csiro.au/csiro/content/file/pflw.html

    Australia, South Africa, short-listed for giant telescope

    Australia has been short-listed - along with South Africa - to host the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a giant next-generation radio telescope being developed by scientists in 17 countries.

    The proposed core site in Australia is Mileura station, 100km west of Meekathara in Western Australia. Other antennas would be distributed over the continent; still more might be placed in New Zealand.

    The SKA will be a set of thousands of antennas spread over 3000km, with half the antennas located in a 'core' site of 5km x 5km.

    www.csiro.au/csiro/content/standard/ps2br.html

    Parkes finds unexpected 'heartbeats' in star

    Astronomers using CSIRO's Parkes telescope in eastern Australia have found that a "magnetar" - a kind of star with the strongest magnetic fields known in the Universe - is giving off extraordinary radio pulses, which links this rare type of star with the much more common "radio pulsars".

    Astronomers using CSIRO's Parkes telescope in eastern Australia have detected radio "heartbeats" from a star that was not expected to have them.

    A US-Australian research team found that a "magnetar" - a kind of star with the strongest magnetic fields known in the Universe - is giving off extraordinary radio pulses, which links this rare type of star with the much more common "radio pulsars".

    The discovery observations were made on 17 March 2006 by CSIRO scientist John Sarkissian. Further observations at Parkes were made by the Observatory's officer-in-charge, John Reynolds.

    Dr Reynolds says the unexpected strength of the pulsar puts it in a category of its own.

    www.csiro.au/csiro/content/standard/ps25p.html
    www.csiro.au/csiro/content/file/pfii.html
    www.csiro.au/csiro/content/file/pfoa.html

    Research offers hope for alcoholics

    13 December 2006

    Scientists at Melbourne's Howard Florey Institute have discovered a system in the brain that stops an alcoholic's craving for alcohol.

    A group of cells in the hypothalamus produce Orexin, which was originally implicated in the regulation of feeding, but it soon became apparent that Orexin was also involved in the 'high' felt after drinking alcohol or taking illicit drugs.

    In studies conducted with rats, Dr Andrew Lawrence and his Florey colleagues used a drug that blocked Orexin's euphoric effects in the brain and the results were remarkable.

    "In one experiment, rats that had alcohol freely available to them stopped drinking it after receiving the Orexin blocker." Dr Lawrence said.

    "In another experiment, rats that had gone through a detox program and were then given the Orexin blocking drug, did not relapse into alcohol addiction when they were reintroduced to an environment in which they had been conditioned to associate with alcohol use.

    Merrin Rafferty
    Public Relations Manager
    Howard Florey Institute
    Ph: +61 3 8344 1658
    M: +61 400 829 601
    Email: m.rafferty@hfi.unimelb.edu.au

    www.hfi.unimelb.edu.au

    Is wildlife birth-control safe?

    12 February 2007

    Australian scientists are developing a contraceptive vaccine that aims to control populations of wild animals, such as rabbits and foxes.

    But UNSW genetics expert Professor Des Cooper warns that the immuno-contraception method is not fully effective and is manipulating natural reproduction in ways that can't be predicted or controlled.

    Proponents of the technique, which was first tested nearly 20 years ago, regard it as more humane than the conventional methods of controlling wildlife populations, such as shooting, trapping, poisoning or viral diseases.

    UNSW Media contacts:

    Professor Des Cooper
    Ph: +61 437 677 269

    Dan Gaffney
    UNSW Media Office
    Ph: +61 411 156 015

    Soft-cell approach cuts animal tests

    7 February 2007

    Click here for high res.

    A new way to test the safety of the air we breathe is proving faster, cheaper and more humane than exposing laboratory animals to airborne chemical hazards, say UNSW scientists.

    The new in-vitro technique directly exposes human cells to airborne toxicants and measures cytotoxic effects.

    The new in-vitro technique has been pioneered by Dr Hayes and her UNSW colleagues, Shahnaz Bakand and Chris Winder. The cells are grown on a porous polyester membrane inside a small diffusion chamber and then exposed to selected toxic air pollutants (see figure 1). After as little as one hour's exposure, they can study cell growth and metabolism, and a range of routine toxicological endpoints.

    Importantly, the toxic measurements obtained by the in vitro method, such as the amount of a contaminant needed to inhibit cell growth, mirror well-established lethal values obtained from animal studies - a long-established method in toxicological studies.

    Dr Amanda Hayes
    Ph: +61 2 9385 4200
    M: +61 403 028 747

    Dan Gaffney
    UNSW science media
    M:+61 411 156 015

    Magnetic powder cleans oily penguins

    Victoria University researchers hope to clean penguins using tiny 'oil drinking' magnetic particles, consisting of a finely-divided iron powder that is non-toxic and non-irritating.

    Victoria University's Professor John Orbell, has been awarded research funds totalling $60,000 by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and the Phillip Island Nature Park (PINP) to continue groundbreaking research into cleaning oiled birds.

    Professor Orbell and his team from the University's School of Molecular Sciences and the Institute of Sustainability and Innovation at the University's Werribee Campus, believe the answer is in tiny 'oil drinking' magnetic particles, consisting of a finely-divided iron powder that is non-toxic and non-irritating.

    The birds would be cleaned by dusting the oil-coated feathers with the magnetic powder and then using a magnetic probe to remove both the powder and the oil together - known as Magnetic Particle Technology (MPT).

    Andy Gash, Snr.
    Media Officer
    Marketing & Communications Department
    Victoria University
    Ph: + 61 3-9919 4950
    M: +61 411 255 900

    Low GI sugar?

    Sugar cane could contribute to the fight against prostate and breast cancer. Queensland sugar researchers are finding high amounts of compounds that could be used to make products, such as antioxidants, foods with a low glycemic index (GI) and other dietary supplements.

    Sugar cane, not only provides a sweetener, but has the potential to supply a myriad of valuable ingredients that can enhance our health and that have been identified as being potentially useful in the fight against prostate and breast cancer and promoting general health and well being.

    Ms Julie Lloyd
    Communication Officer
    CRC for Sugar Industry Innovation through Biotechnology
    Communication Office
    Indooroopilly, QLD 4068
    Ph: +61 7 3331 3309
    Fax: +61 7 3871 0383
    M: +61 415 799 890
    Email: Julie.lloyd@crcsugar.com

    www.crcsugar.com

    Biodegradable plastic from sugarcane?

    Queensland researchers are looking to turn sugarcane plants into highly productive plastic factories. Genes from bacteria - that naturally produce these biodegradable plastics - have been successfully incorporated into the sugar plant which then goes on to make plastic within their cells.

    Plastics grown within the plant are known as PHAs (polyhydroxyalkanoates). They can provide a diverse range of products from parts for cars, mobile phones and computers to disposable nappies, carpets and clothing. They can also be used for plastic food packaging, plastic bottles and bags and water resistant coatings for paper and cardboard.

    These plastics are environmentally friendly because they are renewable and biodegradable.

    Dr Peter Twine
    CEO
    CRC for Sugar Industry Innovation through Biotechnology
    University of Queensland
    Ph: +61 7 3365 7502
    Fax: +61 7 3365 4773
    Email: ptwine@uq.edu.au

    Stevens M. Brumbley
    Senior Research Scientist
    Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology
    University of Queensland
    Ph: +61 7 3331 3370
    Fax: +61 7 3871 0383
    Email: s.brumbley1@uq.edu.au

    www.cheque.uq.edu.au/research/bioengineering/

    Ms Julie Lloyd
    Communication Officer
    CRC for Sugar Industry Innovation through Biotechnology
    Ph: +61 7 3331 3309
    Fax: +61 7 3871 0383
    M: +61 415 799 890

    Email: Julie.lloyd@crcsugar.com

    www.crcsugar.com

    Meningococcus and golden staph identified in hours rather than days

    Deadly bacteria can be accurately identified and tracked within hours rather than days and at a cost saving of up to 90% by using computer-based technology developed by the CRC for Diagnostics.

    New technology that rapidly identifies dangerous bugs - such as meningococcus and golden staph - is set to save lives and help control outbreaks.

    Each strain of bacteria has a unique set of fingerprints or arrangement of genes. Now, rather than having to examine around 3000 pieces of genetic material for each strain of bacteria, the program has pinpointed just 7 key pieces of information for testing.

    In this way, bacteria can be accurately identified and tracked within hours rather than days and at a cost saving of up to 90% by using computer-based technology developed by the CRC for Diagnostics.

    Mr Paul Barrett
    CEO
    CRC for Diagnostics
    Institute for Health and Biomedical Innovation
    Queensland University of Technology (QUT)
    Ph: +61 7 3138 6143
    Fax: +61 7 3138 6447
    Email: pg.barrett@qut.edu.au

    Queensland scientists fine tune drugs for herpes

    A patient's ability to fight human cytomegalovirus, a type of herpes virus, can be tracked using new technology developed by the Co-operative Research Centre for Vaccine Technology.

    The new test measures the level of special immune cells (called CD8 T cells) in blood that protect against HCMV. By monitoring these cells, physicians can assess whether a patient needs expensive, and often, toxic treatments or is able to fight off the virus without them. Previously, patients were given these treatments regardless of their levels of immunity.

    Patients at risk of a lethal virus infection are less likely to need expensive, possibly toxic, treatments because of new technology.

    This universal virus infects about 50% of the adult population and is dormant in most people. When the immune system is suppressed, for example, in organ transplant patients or HIV sufferers, the virus often reactivates and can cause severe complications, or even be fatal.

    Associate Professor Rajiv Khanna
    Director of Australian Centre for Vaccine Development
    Queensland Institute of Medical Research
    Ph: +61 7 3362 0385
    Fax: +61 7 3845 3510
    Email: rajiv.khanna@qimr.edu.au

    Tobacco goes cold turkey

    The tobacco plant is giving up cigarettes to provide safer and cheaper pharmaceuticals.

    Tobacco is set to become a valuable source of human vitronectin - a protein used in pharmaceuticals for wound and tissue repair and in medical research to improve human health.

    Deriving vitronectin from tobacco is likely to be cheaper and safer than how it is currently produced. Vitronectin is commonly isolated and purified from human blood plasma. Because there is a risk of contamination from blood-borne pathogens, there are strict quality control measures needed to purify vitronectin from blood. This costly procedure makes the pharmaceutical expensive.

    Smart State Fellow, Dr Benjamin Dugdale, and his team have modified the genome - the set of genes - of the tobacco plant so that it can produce large quantities of this protein. They have successfully extracted and purified vitronectin from the plant and shown it is equivalent to vitronectin derived from blood.

    Collaborators: Professor James Dale, Dr Mark Harrison and Ms Maiko Kato.

    Professor James Dale
    Institute for Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI)
    Queensland University of Technology
    Ph: +61 7 3138 1676
    Email: j.dale@qut.edu.au

    Prostate cancer trial

    February 2007

    The Mater Medical Research Institute is trialling a prostate cancer vaccine using a new 'smart state' antibody developed and produced at MMRI.

    A world first trial into a prostate cancer vaccine - headed by MMRI Director Professor Derek Hart who discovered dendritic cells in 1979 - is being conducted at the Mater Medical Research Institute (MMRI), a world class facility.

    Cancer is very good at hiding from dendritic cells - specialized white blood cells produced in the bone marrow which initiate the body's immune response against foreign or infectious agents in the body - but this vaccine will effectively re-train the immune system to seek out and attack the cancer as it would launch an attack on a cold or flu.

    In phase one of MMRI Dendritic Cell Prostate Cancer Trial, which began in February 2006, five patients have been vaccinated with no adverse reactions.

    The next step is to launch a new phase one trial before the middle of the year which will build on the current trial using a new 'smart state' antibody developed and produced at MMRI.

    Contact for Professor Hart
    C/O Marnie Nichols
    Mater Medical Research Institute
    Ph: +61 7 3840 2433

    More sleep for newborns (and parents)

    Driving the baby around the block till he sleeps? A Queensland company has developed a cot that emulates the motion of a car, helping babies sleep soundly.

    Gold Coast company, Babyhugs Pty Ltd developed the 'Lullabub' cot rocker to emulate the motion of a car, which often helps babies to sleep soundly.

    The 'Lullabub' cot rocker gently rocks a cot automatically in a harmonic rhythm to naturally soothe and settle babies to sleep.

    It consists of four modules, which are placed under each leg of a cot. There is a choice of four motion settings which emulates the suspension of a car. It operates quietly and can also turn itself off automatically. The 'Lullabub' has won an Australian Design Award.

    Mr Christopher Mitchell
    Managing Director
    Ph: +61 7 5554 5150
    Email: christopher@babyhugs.com.au

    www.babyhugs.com.au

    Elderly sleep through alarm

    Research by Victoria University's Professor Dorothy Bruck has shown that the most common smoke alarm in Australian homes was the least effective at waking up older sleepers.

    Forty-five volunteers aged from 65 to 85, were subjected to four alarm signals - including the standard smoke alarm frequency of 3000 to 4000Hz. The other alarms included one with a lower frequency of 500Hz, a mixed frequency and a male voice. Each alarm was sounded at increased volumes in 30-second intervals until participants responded. Of the four signals, the standard fire alarm required the loudest volume before it woke elderly sleepers.

    Professor Dorothy Bruck
    Victoria University
    Ph: +61 3 9919 2158
    Email: dorothy.bruck@vu.edu.au

    Media release: www.vu.edu.au

    Muscling up against Metabolic Syndrome

    Can strength training be used to treat Metabolic Syndrome? This is the question being asked in a new study by Victoria University PhD student, Mr Itamar Levinger.

    "People who suffer from Metabolic Syndrome have a combination of obesity, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar levels", explained Itamar.

    "This novel form of training for people with Metabolic Syndrome is thought to improve fitness rather than fatness. Volunteers will not lose a lot of weight during the program, rather we expect they will build muscle mass making then feel stronger, fitter and healthier."

    Media Contact:

    Andy Gash, Snr.
    Media Officer
    Marketing & Communications Department
    Victoria University
    Ph: +61 3 9919 4950
    M: +61 411 255900

    How much UV is too much?

    By collecting data on the ozone layer, Smart State Fellow Dr Michael Kimlin is helping assess the health risks and benefits associated with ultra violet (UV) radiation.

    Dr Kimlin has developed methods using satellite data to accurately measure the levels of ground-level UV radiation experienced by Queenslanders.

    When holes in the ozone layer appear: skin cancers and cataracts have been known to increase the human immune system may be suppressed and food crops and marine life are damaged.

    Dr Michael Kimlin
    Senior Research Fellow and Smart State Research Fellow
    Faculty of Health
    Queensland University of Technology
    Brisbane, QLD 4059
    Ph: +61 7 3864 5802
    Fax: +61 7 3864 3369
    Email: m.kimlin@qut.edu.au

    Understanding tropical river systems

    Smart State Fellow, Dr Andrew Brooks is using remote sensing to help understand what drives the great tropical river systems of northern Australia - rivers that may have the potential to quench the thirst of southern Australia.

    Dr Brooks and his team are surveying and mapping vast monsoonal rivers of the Gulf of Carpentaria and Cape York and estuaries - that are often inaccessible - by using a range of airborne and satellite based remote sensing techniques. These rivers are under pressure to share their water with the south where water shortages and drought are becoming a fact of life.

    The team has surveyed 6 300 kilometres of river using aerial videography, an inexpensive and rapid way of recording images; airborne infra-red imagery; digital aerial photography and Lidar. Lidar can see through the vegetation and provide high resolution 3D maps of the ground surface that help the team understand erosion in the Gulf.

    Dr Andrew Brooks
    Australian Rivers Institute
    Griffith University
    Nathan, QLD
    Ph: +61 7 3735 6598
    Fax: +61 7 3735 7615
    Email: Andrew.Brooks@griffith.edu.au

    Standardising blood specimen management with robots

    Ai Scientific's Pathfinder technology removes potential human error associated with manual sorting and splitting of blood specimens.

    Queensland company, Ai Scientific, is developing automated sample handling processes for clinical and analytical laboratories worldwide.

    The Pathfinder system uses stand-alone software and five independent robots working simultaneously to manage the blood specimens taken for testing, thus eliminating any potential human error. All specimens are logged, identified, the volume calculated, and sorted into workstation racks.

    Stephen Pronk
    CEO
    Ph: +61 7 3105 5000
    Email: aimail@aiscientific.com

    www.aiscientific.com

    Healthy avocadoes

    Research undertaken at the CRC for Tropical Plant Protection has identified a powerful weapon to fight disease which will provide enormous benefit to the avocado industry.

    Anthracnose, caused by Colletotrichum gloeosporioides is the most serious post harvest disease of avocados. The disease produces lesions on the skin and flesh of ripening avocados, resulting in produce which is not able to be sold. The disease results in losses in the order of 20-25% at retail level.

    CRC researchers used the avocado's own defences and fertilising regime to prevent anthracnose disease. The Guatemalan rootstock was used with the 'Hass' avocados which resulted in a considerable reduction in the incidence and severity of the lesions associated with the disease. Fertilisers were also found to play an important role in managing the fungal disease.

    The avocado industry has adopted the CRC research outcomes by making major changes to its management practices. Growers can halve the incidence of anthracnose disease and enjoy an 80% decrease in infection severity.

    Professor John Irwin
    CEO
    Ph: +61 7 3365 2790
    Email: ceo@tpp.uq.edu.au

    www.tpp.uq.edu.au/

    Wireless technology to improve chronic disease monitoring

    Alive Technologies, based at Arundel on the Gold Coast, has developed wireless health monitoring systems to assist in the screening, diagnosis and management of chronic diseases, and for consumer health and fitness.

    The Alive Monitor captures electrical impulses from the surface of the skin as the heart beats and can transmit heart rate information as well as producing an ECG trace. The Alive Monitor can be applied by a doctor or the patient themselves for screening and constant monitoring of their condition.

    The Alive Monitor uses wireless Bluetooth and mobile phone networks to immediately transmit the medical information to a computer, pocket PC, wrist-watch, or central monitoring centre.

    The Alive Monitor is being used in Australia, Europe and the USA.

    Contact:

    Bruce Satchwell
    CEO
    Ph: +61 7 5563 2871
    Email: info@alivetec.com

    www.alivetec.com

    Reducing greenhouse gases for magnesium industry

    The Brisbane based CAST CRC has developed AM-cover which is an invisible technology mixture that could reduce global greenhouse gas emissions from the magnesium industry by over 5 million tonnes of CO2-equivalent per year. This is comparable to eliminating the emissions from 1 million cars or planting 17 million trees.

    AM-cover is a simple, cost-effective replacement for the potent greenhouse gas sulphur hexafluoride (SF6), which is used globally as a protective cover gas to prevent molten magnesium from oxidising. AM-cover is also non-toxic, non-corrosive, non-flammable and does not contribute to ozone depletion.

    Dr Nigel Ricketts
    CSIRO
    Ph: +61 7 3327 4638
    Email: nigel.ricketts@csiro.au

    www.cast.org.au

    Managing grazing lands in a variable and changing climate

    A team of Queensland scientists have developed an information service that provides information on the condition of arid and semi-arid grazing land so that graziers and land managers are better prepared for good and bad times.

    AussieGRASS (Australian Grassland & Rangeland Assessment by Spatial Simulation) is a program that models grazing systems on a 5 km grid over the whole Australian continent to produce maps and data on rainfall, pasture growth, fire risk and other important features of the pastures and water balance in a grazing system. Many of these map products are freely available on the Queensland Government's LongPaddock website.

    AussieGRASS has proven a valuable tool for analysing the severity of drought for submissions by Queensland and other states for Exceptional Circumstances funding from the Commonwealth for land holders in severe drought. AussieGRASS also provides valuable information for the Bureau of Rural Sciences' National Agricultural Monitoring System.

    Dr Bev Henry
    Manager
    Ph: +61 7 3896 9612
    M: +61 409 343 388
    Email: beverley.henry@nrm.qld.gov.au

    www.nrm.qld.gov.au

    What turns plants on?

    University of Melbourne researchers have isolated a genetic 'switch' that can be turned on or off to alter the development of pollen sex cells in plants.

    Professors Mohan Singh and Prem Bhalla, who head the University's Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Laboratory in the Faculty of Land and Food Resources, analysed the genetic makeup of white lillies and other flowering plants to identify a germline-restrictive silencing factor (GRSF).

    The GRSF, which is present in all plants during plant growth, can be manipulated to effectively block the development of sex cells in plants, and can be turned on or off depending on the situation.

    Plants that produce pollen causing hayfever may be able to have their sex cell development - and therefore pollen production - turned off.

    Professor Prem Bhalla
    Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Laboratory
    Faculty of Land and Food Resources
    University of Melbourne
    Ph: +61 3 8344 9651

    Dr Nerissa Hannink
    Marketing and Communications
    University of Melbourne
    Ph: +61 3 8344 8151
    M: +61 430 588 055

    Harmonious couples pursue same goals

    If you want to have a successful relationship, you not only need to have the same goals as your partner, you also have to want them to the same extent, says research under way at the University of Melbourne.

    Warwick Hosking, who is completing a PhD under Associate Professor Jennifer Boldero in the School of Behavioral Science, has surveyed about 600 people, aged 18 to 52, for his research into relationship conflict.
    He found that the greatest source of conflicts between romantic partners, family and friends, was not over differing goals but wanting the same goal with different levels of intensity.

    Warwick Hosking
    PhD candidate
    School of Behavioural Science
    M: +61 438 092 357
    Email: w.hosking@pgrad.unimelb.edu.au

    Janine Sim-Jones
    Media Officer
    Ph: +61 3 8344 7220
    M: +61 400 893 378
    Email: janinesj@unimelb.edu.au

    uninews.unimelb.edu.au/articleid_4002.html

    "Starbug" the submarine monitors underwater ecosystems

    An innovative robotic submarine from CSIRO is set to transform environmental monitoring by dramatically reducing the cost of data collection.

    CSIRO's Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV), Starbug, was developed by the CSIRO ICT Centre at its Queensland laboratory. Starbug is an autonomous, miniature submarine for underwater monitoring and surveying of ecosystems such as the Great Barrier Reef.

    www.csiro.au/csiro/content/standard/ps2j5.html

    Australia set for new metals industry

    Revolutionary technology emerging from the Light Metals Flagship could open the door to a competitive titanium industry in Australia

    Australia is on the brink of developing a new metals industry through locally developed technology that will make titanium - one of the most versatile light metals known - far more accessible to manufacturers.

    Over the past few years CSIRO researchers have been developing a new processing technology that now looks able to halve titanium processing costs.

    www.solve.csiro.au/0806/article12.htm

    Cataloguing Queensland's plants for cures

    Griffith University researchers have identified more than 40 plants and 1500 marine animals previously unknown to science that could hold the key to discovering life-saving medicines.

    The research is part of a massive international field study launched in 1993 to create a 'library' of every naturally-occurring plant in Queensland, as well as from biodiversity hot-spots such as Great Barrier Reef, China, and Papua New Guinea.

    We are also developing collaborations with US-based partners, including the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute, the University of California at San Francisco and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill."

    It is jointly funded by the Queensland Government, Australian Research Council, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and Medicines for Malaria Venture.

    www.griffith.edu.au/centre/eskitis/

    A model of a heart

    Researchers are using CSIRO's laser diagnostic laboratory to test blood flow in an artificial heart as part of a collaborative project with Japan's Waseda University.

    Analysis of a laser light beamed through the heart helps show where the blood is flowing smoothly, and to identify potential problem areas. The laser testing will help the researchers optimise the heart's design to reduce turbulence and shear stress, and minimise thrombus formation and damage to blood cells.

    The laser lab (which was originally built to assist with validating computer models of flow processes within the minerals industry) is also being used in a project with RMIT University modelling the distribution of drugs ingested from devices such as nasal sprays.

    www.solve.csiro.au/0805/article6.htm

    Turning one man's trash into another's treasure

    Industrial seaweed processor Kelp Industries needed a practical, low-cost fuel source to dry its seaweed. Meanwhile the famous King Island Dairy had significant quantities of waste cardboard too expensive to ship back to the mainland for disposal.

    CSIRO has developed an innovative solution to two very different problems confronting two industries in the remote community of King Island in the Bass Strait.

    The companies approached CSIRO to determine whether it might be scientifically practical to recycle King Island's excess cardboard packaging into briquettes to help fuel the kelp furnaces and drying kilns.

    After assessing various ratios of cardboard to wood, conducting ash analysis and determining the correct briquette density, CSIRO found that solid briquettes - the size of a housebrick - made from shredded cardboard waste work well in the furnace as a 30 to 50 per cent component of the total fuel mix.

    www.csiro.au/csiro/content/standard/ps2hj.html
    www.solve.csiro.au/1106/article5.htm

    $22 million adult stem cell centre to be established at Griffith

    Adult stem cells have potential clinical applications in stem cell transplantation therapies and will be used to understand and ultimately develop treatments for brain diseases such as Parkinson's disease, motor neurone Disease and schizophrenia.

    Brisbane, Queensland - Griffith University Vice Chancellor Professor Ian O'Connor has welcomed the announcement by Federal Minister for Health and Ageing, the Honorable Tony Abbott MP, of $22 million to establish the Adult Stem Cell Research Centre.

    The new centre will position Griffith University and Australia as world leaders in adult stem cell research and develop collaborative links throughout the country with leading adult stem cell researchers.

    www.griffith.edu.au/centre/eskitis/

    Australian company to run world's first xenotransplantation trial in diabetes without immunosuppression

     

    Click here for high res.

     

    A product made from natural neonatal pig islet cells encased in capsules is to offer new hope to people with Type 1 (insulin-dependent) diabetes.

    In a world first, New Zealand-based, Australian company, Living Cell Technologies (LCT), is poised to start a Phase I/IIa trial for patients with Type 1 diabetes using its porcine pancreatic cell product, DiabeCellŪ, without using toxic immunosuppression drugs.

    "This is the only human clinical trial of its kind approved anywhere in the world. It recognises LCT's thorough pre-clinical testing of the product in animal models, which showed no adverse safety effects and a significant reduction in insulin requirements," said Dr John Court, scientific advisor to LCT and expert on adolescent diabetes.

    Paris Brooke
    General Manager
    Living Cell Technologies Ltd

    Living Cell Technologies Ltd
    Pacific Tower
    Suite 2.11, 737 Burwood Rd
    Hawthorn VIC 3122
    Ph: +61 3 9813 5501
    F: +61 3 9813 5502
    lct@lctglobal.com

    lctglobal.com

    Climate change impacts on plants and animals (including native species, pest species, and agricultural species)

    Australian wildlife is responding to changes in climate and researchers are currently trying to build a database in order to gather as much historical and current information on species and their breeding/migrating/flowering etc.

    Link to media release:
    http://www.bom.gov.au/announcements/media_releases/ho/20051107.shtml

    Contact details:
    Dr Lynda Chambers
    Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre
    GPO Box 1289 MELBOURNE VIC 3001 AUSTRALIA
    Ph: +61 3 9669 4784
    Fax: +61 3 9669 4660
    Email: L.Chambers@bom.gov.au

    http://www.bom.gov.au/bmrc/clfor/cfstaff/lynda_chambers.htm

    Changes in bushfires risk with climate change

    A new study funded by the Australian Government and some State and Territory governments provides important new information to help communities across
    south-east Australia prepare for possible increased bushfire risk which may follow from climate change in coming decades. A report released earlier this year
    found that should the average summer temperature increase, there will also be an increase in the frequency  of very high and extreme fire danger days,
    especially in inland areas.

    Link to media release:
    http://www.deh.gov.au/minister/env/2006/mr14feb06.html

    Contact details:
    Chris Lucas
    Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre
    GPO Box 1289 MELBOURNE VIC 3001 AUSTRALIA
    Ph: +61 3 9669 4783
    Email: C.Lucas@bom.gov.au

    Tropical cyclones and climate change

    While no single, recent high-impact cyclone can be said to be a direct result of climate change, scientists agree that global warming may be impacting on series
    of cyclones over a season.

    Link to media release:
    http://www.bom.gov.au/bmrc/clfor/cfstaff/jmb/tc_climate_change.shtml

    Link to statement:
    http://www.bom.gov.au/info/CAS-statement.pdf

    Contact details:
    Dr John L McBride
    Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre
    GPO Box1289
    Melbourne, Australia 3001
    Ph: +61 3 9669 4421
    Fax: +61 3 9669 4660
    Email: J.Mcbride@bom.gov.au

    http://www.bom.gov.au/bmrc/clfor/cfstaff/john_mcbride.htm

    Research into maximum precipitation, QLD

    The effect of changes in dew-point temperatures on estimates of Probable Maximum Precipitation

    Download: the SmalleyJakob poster (ppt, 403KB)

    Contact details:
    Robert Smalley
    Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre
    GPO Box 1289 MELBOURNE VIC 3001 AUSTRALIA
    Ph: +61 3 9669 4099
    Email: R.Smalley@bom.gov.au

    Indian Ocean Climate Initiative (IOCI)

    This program addresses climate change in Western Australia and is a partnership between the WA state agencies, the Bureau of Meteorology and CSIRO.

    "The program is strategic in nature and design. It aims to scientifically under-pin the wide range of specific application activities which may be needed and undertaken by various climate affected sectors in this region of Australia.

    "In particular IOCI is geared to translating national and international climate science and overlaying this with specific research and interpretation programs of its own. It pursues this mission through partnered and collaborative activities."

    While this project focuses specifically on the Western Australian region, an anticipated new initiative will support the same program for SE Australia (South-East Australia Climate Initiative, SEACI).

    The IOCI website is at: http://www.ioci.org.au and the 'Climate Note 1' series under http://www.ioci.org.au/publications/bulletins.html includes publications, including images, of research into how climate, temperature, sea-temperature, rainfall is changing.

    Contact details:
    Dr John L McBride
    Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre
    GPO Box1289
    Melbourne, Australia 3001
    Ph: +61 3 9669 4421
    Fax: +61 3 9669 4660
    Email: J.Mcbride@bom.gov.au

    http://www.bom.gov.au/bmrc/clfor/cfstaff/john_mcbride.htm

    Australia-UK teams join to fight flu

    CSIRO and the University of Bath have combined their expertise to develop new drugs to better safeguard against flu viruses developing resistance.

    See www.csiro.au/news for more detail.

    Background on development of Relenza.

    Is There True Authenticity in the Practice of Evidence-based Health Sciences?

    August 2006

    The healthcare discipline and evidence-based discourse has been producing numerous specialized journals and best practice guidelines in the recent years, with health science scholars eagerly jumping on the bandwagon, mimicking this trend with their contributions to this discourse.

    Published by Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the Joanna Briggs Institute - in the September 2006 issue of the International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare - the paper aims to demonstrate that the evidence-based movement in the health sciences is outrageously exclusionary and dangerously normative with regards to scientific knowledge.

    This study is published in International Journal of Evidence-Based Healthcare (2006; 4:180-186). Media wishing to receive a PDF or to interview the authors, please contact alina.boey@asia.blackwellpublishing.com

    Contact:
    Alina Boey
    Public Relations, Asia
    Blackwell Publishing
    550 Swanston Street
    Carlton,  Victoria 3053, Australia
    Ph: +61 3 8359 1046
    Fax: +61 3 8359 1122
    Mobile : +61 401 333 162
    Email: alina.boey@asia.blackwellpublishing.com

    www.blackwellpublishing.com
    Online journals: www.blackwell-synergy.com

    Addressing the Realities of Climate Change

    July 2006

    The impacts of climate change will be felt globally over the next century. In order to mitigate its consequences, we need to understand the cumulative effects of its actions and the environmental repercussions thus far.

    Associate Professor Lesley Hughes from the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University, Sydney, has addressed this by conducting a review of observed and potential impacts of climatic changes on Australian species and natural ecosystems. The paper is a synthesis of the available literature on the issue of climate change, as well as an endeavor to identify critical knowledge gaps.

    Published by Blackwell Publishing in the August 2003 issue of Austral Ecology - for the Ecological Society of Australia - the findings in this paper still resonate widely in today's world.

    This study is published in Austral Ecology (2003) 28, 423-443. Media wishing to receive a PDF or to interview the author, please contact alina.boey@asia.blackwellpublishing.com.

    Contact:
    Alina Boey
    Public Relations, Asia
    Blackwell Publishing
    550 Swanston Street
    Carlton,  Victoria 3053, Australia
    Ph: +61 3 8359 1046
    Fax: +61 3 8359 1122
    Mobile : +61 401 333 162
    Email: alina.boey@asia.blackwellpublishing.com

    www.blackwellpublishing.com
    Online journals: www.blackwell-synergy.com

    Genetic Basis for Premature Ovarian Failure Identified

    May 2006

    Researchers have successfully identified several genes associated with Premature Ovarian Failure (POF) or premature menopause, enabling carriers to make informed choices with regards to family planning.

    The study by Dr Kathryn Woad, Wendy Watkins, Deborah Prendergast and Associate Professor Andrew Shelling - all from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences from University of Auckland - is published by Blackwell Publishing in the June issue of the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, for the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

    This study is published in the June 2006 issue of The Australia and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (Vol. 46, No. 3). Media wishing to receive a PDF, please contact alina.boey@asia.blackwellpublishing.com

    Contact:
    Alina Boey
    Public Relations, Asia
    Blackwell Publishing
    550 Swanston Street
    Carlton,  Victoria 3053, Australia
    Ph: +61 3 8359 1046
    Fax: +61 3 8359 1122
    Mobile : +61 401 333 162
    Email: alina.boey@asia.blackwellpublishing.com

    www.blackwellpublishing.com
    Online journals: www.blackwell-synergy.com

    Body Mass Index (BMI) measurements of Australian Children often inaccurate

    April 2006

    A new study has found many GP's do not regularly calculate Body Mass Index (BMI) in children, and when they do measure height and weight often the equipment is imprecise and therefore their assessment is inaccurate. The study by researcher Ms Bibi Gerner and colleagues from the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute's Centre for Community Child Health, at Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital, is in the latest edition of the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health (JPCH), the peer reviewed journal of the Paediatrics Division of The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP).

    This study is published in the April issue of the Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health (Vol. 42, Issue 4). Media wishing to receive a PDF, please contact alina.boey@asia.blackwellpublishing.com

    Contact:
    Alina Boey
    Public Relations, Asia
    Blackwell Publishing
    550 Swanston Street
    Carlton,  Victoria 3053, Australia
    Ph: +61 3 8359 1046
    Fax: +61 3 8359 1122
    Mobile : +61 401 333 162
    Email: alina.boey@asia.blackwellpublishing.com

    www.blackwellpublishing.com
    Online journals: www.blackwell-synergy.com

    Aussie team makes landmark insulin discovery

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    *

    Click here for high res. Click here for high res.

    A team of CSIRO scientists has determined the molecular structure of the insulin receptor, the protein on the surface of cells that mediates the effects of insulin. This advance builds on many years of international research to understand how insulin functions in the body.

    14 September 2006

    Dr Colin Ward of CSIRO Molecular and Health Technologies and his team have been working on this problem since the early 1990s. The prestigious international journal Nature reports today on the discovery which is sure to lead to further important developments in the ongoing quest to understand the complexities of insulin's actions.

    Polypeptide fold for the human insulin receptor dimer with the attached pairs of monoclonal antibody fragments (Fabs). This is firstly a great scientific achievement as the challenge of solving this structure has thwarted many laboratories world-wide over the last two decades. Secondly this discovery will facilitate future research that ultimately might lead to investigations into new therapies for diabetes or cancer.

    Dr Ward says: "This is a landmark achievement, a bit like running the four minute mile. It follows on from the discovery of insulin in 1922, the determination of its amino acid sequence in the early 1950s and the determination of the 3D structure of insulin in 1969, each of which involved Nobel Prize winners.

    "The receptor was discovered in 1969 and its amino acid sequence determined in 1985 but attempts to solve its 3D structure have been unsuccessful until now. It's very exciting that our team has finally established what the receptor looks like."

    "The challenge for the future is to understand how insulin or IGF binding to their receptors triggers off cellular events that regulate the body's uptake and utilisation of sugar or stimulate unregulated cell growth."

    Warrick Glynn
    Communication and Marketing Manager
    CSIRO Molecular and Health Technologies
    Ph: +61 3 9662 7344
    Fax: +61 3 9662 7223
    Mobile: +61 408 117 846

    Pick up your crying baby

    Friday, 27 October 2006

    Queensland University of Technology

    Parents should listen to their instincts and pick up their newborn babies when they cry, Queensland University of Technology researcher Professor Karen Thorpe said.

    A joint study with QUT and the Riverton Early Parenting Centre has found many parents of infants up to 12 weeks, were uncertain about how best to settle their crying baby and whether or not it was "right" to pick them up.

    "A lot of parents are unsure if they should pick up their baby when their baby cries," Professor Thorpe from QUT's Faculty of Education said.

    "The answer is: you should. Babies in the first 12 weeks of their life need highly responsive parents. They want and need a parent that is responsive to their cries."

    Sandra Hutchinson
    Media Officer
    Ph: +61 7 3864 2130
    s3.hutchinson@qut.edu.au

    Help babies breathe easier

    18 October 2006

    Monash University Newslink

    Studies of the lung function of newborn rabbits by Monash University researchers have revealed it can take more than two hours for the lungs to fully fill with air, a finding that could lead to better ways to treat premature babies who may have to be artificially ventilated because their lungs are not fully developed.

    Professor Rob Lewis, director of the Monash Centre for Synchrotron Science, will discuss this research and other medical uses of synchrotrons when he addresses the Australasian High Energy Physics and Medical Physics conference in Christchurch today.

    In the first experiment of its kind using live animals, the Monash team has studied how fluid is cleared from the lungs after birth by taking X-ray images of the rabbits' lungs immediately after they are delivered by caesarean section.

    Penny Fannin
    Media Communications
    Ph: +61 3 9905 5828
    Mobile: +61 417 125 700
    media@adm.monash.edu.au

    Bionic nerves

    22 September 2006

    University of Wollongong

    A woven plastic tube infused with chemicals that encourage new nerve growth may allow patients with severed nerves in their arms and legs to regain the full use of their limbs.

    The thin tubular scaffold is being developed by Bionic Technologies Australia which was opened at Melbourne's St Vincent's Hospital on 20 September by the Hon John Brumby, the Victorian Treasurer and Minister for Innovation.

    The new device has the potential to help people hurt in accidents, or patients who lose nerves and tissue during cancer surgery.

    University of Wollongong

    Ph: +61 2 4221 3555

    Predicting Schizophrenia

    11 September 2006

    The University of Melbourne

    University of Melbourne researchers have become the first in the world to show that brain scans can be used to predict how well young people will recover from early psychotic episodes that occur in mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.

    Research leader Dr Stephen Wood said that until now no-one had been able to successfully use brain scanning to predict whether a patient's first psychotic episode was an isolated experience or the start of a lifelong illness.

    A team from the University's Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre (MNC) and ORYGEN Research Centre has made the breakthrough.

    Their research shows that levels of a certain chemical in the brain can predict how a young person experiencing their first psychotic episode is likely to be affected over the next few years.

    Dr Stephen Wood
    Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre
    Mobile: +61 408 756 139
    sjwood@unimelb.edu.au

    Janine Sim-Jones
    Media Officer
    Ph: +61 3 8344 7220
    Mobile: +61 400 893 378
    janinesj@unimelb.edu.au

    New fertility research

    14 August 2006

    Prince Henry's Institute

    A young Melbourne researcher has discovered that a compound which attracts white blood cells to areas of inflammation also plays an important role in attracting human embryos to the womb, supporting the establishment of a healthy pregnancy.

    Approximately 1 in 6 Australian couples will experience infertility. A large part of this may be due to faulty coordination and guidance of the embryo to the mother's womb.

    Natalie Hannan, of Prince Henry's Institute, has found that the compound fractalkine is also produced by the uterus. To ensure a healthy pregnancy, the lining of the uterus must produce factors that attract the embryo to implant and begin to grow. Fractalkine may help the placenta to form and tap into the mother's blood supply, by guiding the cells from which it develops to their right destination.

    "In short, fractalkine plays an important role in the establishment of a healthy pregnancy," Hannan of the Uterine Biology Group at Prince Henry's whose work led to the unravelling of the compound's role," says Hannan.

    Natalie Hannan
    Uterine Biology, Prince Henry's Institute of Medical Research
    Mobile: +61 402 296 660
    Natalie.Hannan@princehenrys.org

    Alison Noonan
    Media officer
    Ph: +61 3 9594 4391
    Mobile: +61 438 501 381

    Australian synchrotron scientists reveal food-poisoning toxin

    Scientists from the University Adelaide, Monash University and the United States have revealed important new information to advance understanding of how bacterial toxins cause severe gastrointestinal diseases.

    The scientists, led by Dr Adrienne Paton from the University of Adelaide's School of Molecular and Biomedical Science, have discovered that a highly potent bacterial toxin kills cells by inactivating an essential component in the endoplasmic reticulum, part of the cell that is essential for packaging newly-synthesised proteins.

    The toxin, called subtilase cytotoxin, is produced by certain strains of E.coli bacteria responsible for severe intestinal disease in humans. Dr Paton discovered the toxin in 2003 in a bacterium responsible for an outbreak of severe food poisoning in South Australia. Subtilase cytotoxin is so potent that it is a potential bio-terrorism agent.

    Stefanie Pearce
    Communications Manager
    Australian Synchrotron Project
    Dept Innovation, Industry & Regional Development
    Ph: +61 3 9655 6676
    Mobile: +61 414 891 416
    stefanie.pearce@iird.vic.gov.au
    www.synchrotron.vic.gov.au

    Source:

    Synchrotron discriminates arsenic in Phar Lap's hair

    Forensic analyst Dr Ivan Kempson from the University of South Australia's Ian Wark Research Institute and Museum Victoria's Senior Collection Manager (Sciences) Dermot Henry announced preliminary results of synchrotron x-ray fluorescence and x-ray absorption near-edge spectroscopy studies of six hairs taken from the preserved hide of Australasian horse-racing icon, the race-horse Phar Lap.

    The New Zealand-born horse won 32 of his last 35 races, including the prestigious Melbourne Cup in 1930, but died suddenly in California in 1932 after winning the wealthy Agua Caliente Handicap in Mexico in record time. His hide was mounted and is a favourite display at Melbourne Museum. The skeleton is at Te Papa Tongawera, the National Museum of New Zealand in Wellington.

    The aim was to test Phar Lap's hair for signs of ingested arsenic, as hair incorporates products from the blood supply and, as it grows, can present a historical time-line of exposure to toxins. The possibility that arsenic had been used as a preservation agent in the preparation of Phar Lap's hide in New York was expected to complicate the characterisation.

    Preliminary results from several tests at the Advanced Photon Source synchrotron in Chicago in 2005 and 2006 indicate that it is possible to distinguish arsenic that has been ingested from arsenic used in tanning skins.

    The results show a distribution of arsenic within Phar Lap's hair that is consistent with ingesting a single, large dose of arsenic within 30–40 hours of death.

    Michelle Britton
    Publicist
    Australian Museum
    Ph: +61 3 9320 6181
    Fax: +61 3 9320 6068
    Mobile: +61 421 617 019
    www.amonline.net.au

    Stefanie Pearce
    Communications Manager
    Australian Synchrotron Project
    Dept Innovation, Industry & Regional Development
    Ph: +61 3 9655 6676
    Mobile: +61 414 891 416
    stefanie.pearce@iird.vic.gov.au
    www.synchrotron.vic.gov.au

    Eyes in the sky to monitor climate change

    Wednesday, 01 November 2006

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    Click for high res.

    CSIRO and the Chinese Academy of Surveying and Mapping (CASM) will sign a research agreement in Beijing today to collaborate on China's resource mapping satellite program.

    The advanced satellite program will gather land and marine observation data which will be used for monitoring climate change impacts in both countries. The program will also advance China's progress in space technology.

    "Droughts and flooding rains aren't unique to Australia," Dr Murray Cameron from CSIRO Mathematical and Information Sciences, said.

    "China and Australia have many environmental problems in common, such as highly variable rainfall.

    "One of the projects we'll be working on over the next five years is putting our heads and our data together to work out in detail what's happening with climate change and how best to deal with it".

    Dr Murray Cameron
    CSIRO Mathematical and Information Sciences
    Mobile: +61 419 217 324
    murray.cameron@csiro.au

    Prof Jixian Zhang, President
    Chinese Academy of Surveying and Mapping (CASM)
    Ph: +86 1 68 237 459
    english.casm.ac.cn/

    Whining about climate change

    22 October 2006

    University of Melbourne

    Climate change will dramatically alter the growing season for Australian grapes and affect the wine styles produced here, according to new University of Melbourne and CSIRO research.

    The research, conducted by PhD student Leanne Webb in the University's Faculty of Land and Food Resources and supervised by climate experts at the University of Melbourne and CSIRO, found that in future years grape growers can expect to see rising temperatures which will cause:

  • a shift in budburst dates

  • a shorter growing season

  • earlier harvest dates

  • "Climate change will impact on the Australian wine industry and there will be winners and losers," Ms Webb says.

    "Grape growers will need to adapt; without adaptation the overall impact of changes will be decreased grape quality and consequently lower grape crop gross returns," says former viticulturist Ms Webb.

    Matt Johnston
    University of Melbourne
    Ph: +61 3 8344 0561
    Mobile: +61 437 367 490

    Craig Macaulay
    CSIRO
    Ph: +61 3 6232 5219
    Mobile: +61 419 966 465

    Matthew Johnston
    Media Officer
    Ph: +61 3 8344 0561
    Mobile: +61 437 367 490
    matthewj@unimelb.edu.au

    Green roofs for fresh food

    23 October 2006

    Central Queensland University

    Australia's future green roofs will soon be producing healthy fresh food from recycled organic wastes.

    This is the aim of a unique and innovative urban organic waste management pilot project led by Central Queensland University (CQU). It starts this month and will continue over three years.

    The pilot project will develop most strongly in the Brisbane-Ipswich urban corridor, and include up to two year's research at Rockhampton. A $210,000 grant from the Commonwealth Government's Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) provides the main source of funding.

    Professor David Midmore
    Foundation Professor of Plant Sciences
    School of Biological and Environmental Sciences
    Central Queensland University
    Ph: +61 7 4930 9770
    d.midmore@cqu.edu.au

    Scientists copy the brilliance of a leaf

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    28 September 2006

    University of Sydney

    A University research team has created synthetic copies of the light-harvesting molecules found in plants - a development that could change the face of solar power.

    "We've created one of the key systems plants use in photosynthesis. A leaf is a cheap and efficient solar cell. The best leaves can harvest up to 40 per cent of the light falling on them," said Deanna D'Alessandro, a post-doctoral fellow in the molecular electronics group, led by Professor Max Crossley in the School of Chemistry.

    Dr D'Alessandro, a laboratory researcher and team member on the project, has just been announced as the winner of Fresh Science 2006, a national competition promoting the work of early-career scientists. Her prize involves a study tour of the UK sponsored by the British Council Australia and the opportunity to present her work at the Royal Institution in London.

    Jake O'Shaughnessy
    Ph: +61 2 9351 4312
    jacob@media.usyd.edu.au

    Making coal cleaner

    *

    20 September 2006

    University of Queensland

    University of Queensland researchers are working on a process that could make the theory of clean coal a reality.

    Dr Joe da Costa's research group, from the Division of Chemical Engineering in the School of Engineering, has developed unique hollow fibre technology that can separate oxygen from air, making the process of capturing carbon dioxide (CO2), a greenhouse gas, in coal-fired power stations much easier.

    Dr da Costa said a lot of current research was focusing on separating the CO2 at the end of the cycle, which is expensive at the moment.

    "Our process happens at the start, before the coal is even burnt, which reduces the cost of removing oxygen as well as making the capture of CO2 easier," Dr da Costa said.

    The secret of the process rested in the technology of producing ceramic hollow fibres that were exceptional at removing oxygen from the air.

    Dr Joe da Costa
    Ph: +61 7 3365 6960

    Andrew Dunne
    UQ Communications
    Ph: +61 7 3365 2802
    Mobile: +61 433 364 181

    Gardening the reef

    05 September 2006

    ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

    Australians may have to resort to 'underwater gardening' if they are to protect their priceless coral reefs through the stresses of climate change.

    Researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies say that the if the coral bleaching events of 2002 and this year are anything to go by, climate change holds some major adverse impacts for systems such as the Great Barrier Reef and Ningaloo in Western Australia.

    A recent study for the Australian Business Round Table by CSIRO found that: "the Great Barrier Reef, a UNESCO World Heritage area, has experienced unprecedented rates of bleaching over the past two decades, and additional warming of only 1°C is anticipated to cause considerable losses or contractions of species associated with coral communities."

    Up to half the reef could be bleached every year with only a 1 degree warming, the report said. Two degrees' warming would result in bleaching of up to 80 per cent of the reef area.

    "In such circumstances, we'd see a role for limited activity to physically protect or even re-seed damaged reefs, especially in areas of particular economic or environmental significance," says Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of CoECRS and the University of Queensland.

    Ove Hoegh-Guldberg
    CoECRS and The University of Queensland
    Ph: +61 7 3365 1156
    Mobile: +61 401 106 604
    oveh@uq.edu.au

    Jan King
    UQ Communications Manager
    Ph: +61 7 3365 1120

    Jenny Lappin
    CoECRS
    Ph: +61 7 4781 4222

    Images of coral bleaching in 2006 at marine.uq.edu.au/ohg/jan27

    Carp virus

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    06 September 2006

    CSIRO

    Researchers at CSIRO Livestock Industries' Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) in Geelong - with the Department of Primary Industries Victoria - are investigating Koi herpesvirus as a means of controlling the introduced fish.

    Project leader Dr Mark Crane says the virus, which first emerged in Israel in 1998*, caused mass mortalities in carp in the US, the UK, Israel, the Netherlands, Japan and Indonesia. So far the virus does not appear to have reached Australia.

    Supported with $355,000 from the newly formed Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre and the Murray-Darling Basin Commission, the two-year project will investigate the effectiveness of Koi herpesvirus in controlling strains of carp present in Australia and will examine whether the virus will have any impact on certain native fauna.

    Ms Lisa Palu
    Manager Public Affairs & Communication
    CSIRO Livestock Industries
    Ph: +61 7 3214 2960 
    Fax: +61 7 3214 2900 
    Lisa.Palu@csiro.au

    Wheat greenhouse

    03 October 2006

    Polymer Cooperative Research Centre

    Early results from field trials on wheat crops show that a special plastic film that goes over crops during planting accelerates plant growth and encourages vigorous, high-quality crops despite dry field conditions. The discovery was announced at the launch of a new Polymer Cooperative Research Centre.

    Other projects for the Centre include: technology to manufacture blood products from cells; polymer-based materials that, on exposure to fire, transform into ceramic fire barriers; low-cost transformable polymer solar cells; and computer modelling software that allows better design of moulded components.

    The low-cost plastic covering, applied to rows of crops using a fully automated system, provides a temporary greenhouse environment that warms the soil and retains the moisture present during planting. The plastic eventually degrades in the sunlight.

    The field trials were conducted in conjunction with the Birchip Cropping Group in Birchip, Victoria, a dry area with marginal rainfall. The trials have shown that, compared to the control crop, wheat that germinated under the film had higher protein content and lower moisture content in seeds. Wheat with these two key qualities commands premium prices in the market.

    Dr Ian Dagley
    Ph: +61 3 9518 0400
    Mobile: +61 418 360 495
    dagley@crcp.com.au

    Emilia Tagaza
    Mobile: +61 431 974 011
    etagaza@businessoutlook.com.au

    Marathon jellyfish

    Research conducted in waters off Weipa has taken scientists a step closer to understanding the secret lives of deadly box jellyfish.

    James Cook University Cairns researcher Matt Gordon will present the findings on Monday (10 July) at the Catchments to Coast conference at the Cairns Convention Centre.

    "Unlike most jellyfish, box jellies are able to move independent of water currents and wave action," Mr Gordon said. "But until now we've had little information on where they go within a day."

    During the last stinger season (2005 to 2006) Mr Gordon tracked jellyfish in waters around Weipa, and confirmed that some were very capable long- distance swimmers.

    "One individual covered more than seven kilometres over a 17-hour period of constant movement," he said.

    "That's a marathon effort from an animal that only measured around 100mm across the bell."

    Linden Woodward
    linden.woodward@jcu.edu.au

    Live fast, die young

    *

    07 September 2006

    ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

    Australia has just notched up a new world record - for the fastest-living fish on the planet.
    The Australian coral reef pygmy goby (Eviota sigillata), which frequents the Great Barrier Reef as well as others in the Pacific and Indian oceans, enjoys barely three weeks' adult life before it meets its maker.

    Researchers at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and James Cook University (CoECRS) have received official notification from Guiness World Records Ltd that the little fish officially has the shortest lifespan of any creature with a backbone known to science.

    "In total it lives for a maximum of 59 days," explains CoECRS Professor Dave Bellwood.

    "Coral reef pygmy gobies spend their first three weeks as larvae in the open ocean before undergoing metamorphosis and returning to settle on the reef, where they mature within 1–2 weeks and have a maximum adult lifespan of just three and a half weeks."

    Prof. Bellwood and colleague Martial Depczynski announced their discovery in a recent issue of the journal Current Biology, and have just received a certificate from Guinness World Records confirming the goby has the shortest life of any vertebrate.

    Prof. David Bellwood
    CoECRS and James Cook University
    Ph: +61 7 4781 4447
    David.Bellwood@jcu.edu.au

    Jim O'Brien
    James Cook University Media Office
    Ph: +61 7 4781 4822

    Jenny Lappin
    CoECRS
    Ph: +61 7 4781 4222

    Sex for mums means heathier babies

    02 November 2006

    Australian National University

    Promiscuous females are more likely to give birth to healthier offspring, researchers at The Australian National University have found.

    The team based at the School of Botany and Zoology (BoZo) at ANU has for the first time proven that promiscuity increases the survival rate of offspring in an animal species. The findings were published in the latest edition of Nature.

    "Scientists have developed many theories to explain why some female animals have multiple sex partners: whether it's trading sex for food and protection, dealing with infertile males, or avoiding the negative effects of inbreeding in species that can't recognise their relatives," team leader Dr Diana Fisher said.

    "Another theory is that mating with multiple males would result in sperm competition. This means that males with the strongest sperm are more likely to become sires and father better quality offspring. Until now, this theory hasn't been demonstrated convincingly."

    Simon Couper
    ANU Media Office
    Ph: + 61 2 6125 4171
    Mobile: +61 416 249 241

    Test-tube koalas

    * *

    30 October 2006

    University of Queensland

    Koala joeys produced by artificial insemination

    UQ scientists today unveiled koala joeys produced by artificial insemination (AI) as part of the development of the world's first koala sperm bank.

    Three of the eight joeys, all born on the Gold Coast, made their first public appearance this morning.

    They were conceived using new breeding technology, which uses sperm mixed with a special solution that prolongs the sperm's shelf-life.

    The research is a joint project for UQ advanced reproductive technology scientists, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Dreamworld, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, David Fleay's Wildlife Park and the Zoological Society of London.

    Dr Johnston
    Mobile: +61 408 280 963

    Miguel Holland
    UQ Communications
    Ph: +61 7 3365 2619
    m.holland@uq.edu.au

    Busy bee brain food

    26 October 2006

    Australian National University

    The sticky, nutritious bee secretion given to future queen bees, royal jelly, is related to ancient bacteria genes which developed a new role in the honey bee, scientists from The Australian National University have discovered.

    Dr Ryszard Maleszka and his team from the Research School of Biological Sciences at ANU found that crucial proteins in royal jelly related to the ancient genes are both "nature and nurture" in bee society - they are catalysts for queen bees to sexually mature, as well as playing a developmental role in bee brains.

    "Royal jelly in bees has context-dependent functions," Dr Maleszka said. "The royal jelly proteins used in the honey bee brain have different implications than those consumed by queen bees as nutrients in royal jelly."

    The comprehensive analysis of the genomic organisation and function of the royal jelly protein family - MRJP - found the royal food source evolved by duplications of an ancient bacterial gene, and gained new functions in honey bees.

    They are used for both nutritional control of the queen's reproductive development and also for brain development and function. "So in honey bees, nature and nurture converge to create complex behaviour," Dr Maleszka said.

    The discovery is a further piece in the puzzle explaining the complex biological structure and social society of the honey bee, which has fascinated scientists for centuries.

    Amanda Morgan
    ANU Media Office
    Ph: + 61 2 6125 5575
    Mobile: +61 416 249 245

    Fishy sex changes

    11 September 2006

    ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies

    Changing sex is common among coral reef fish - but the cause can depend on who's around, according to a recent study by a team of Australian and American scientists.

    Dr Philip Munday, of the Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies and the School of Marine and Tropical Biology at James Cook University, has found that juvenile bluehead wrasse choose their sex according to the crowd they grow up with.

    Dr Munday and colleagues from the University of California Santa Barbara reported on this remarkable occurrence in a study published in a leading journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

    "It turns out that social effects are really important to whether a bluehead wrasse becomes a male or a female when it is young," says Dr Munday. "These fish are very sensitive to their social surroundings which ultimately determine whether they will become male or female," he says.

    This unusual strategy has developed so that each young fish can increase its chances of breeding within a complex social structure.

    Australia:
    Dr Philip Munday
    Chief Investigator
    CoECRS
    Ph: +61 7 4781 5341
    Mobile: +61 419 422 815

    Professor Terry Hughes
    Director
    CoECRS
    Ph: +61 7 4781 4000

    Jenny Lappin
    CoECRS
    Ph: +61 7 4781 4222

    Jim O'Brien,
    James Cook University Media Office
    Ph: +61 7 4781 4822

    America:
    Professor Robert Warner
    Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology UCSB
    Ph: +1 805 8932941
    Ph: +1 805 2844524

    Dolphins secret life

    18 August 2006

    University of Queensland

    University of Queensland researchers are using behavioural observations together with the latest molecular techniques to provide insights into the life of Australia's rarest coastal dolphins.

    Dr Guido Parra, from UQ's School of Veterinary Science, is using innovative genetic techniques together with photo-identification of individual animals to understand the ecology and genetic health of the Australian snubfin and the Indo-pacific humpback dolphin.

    Australian snubfin and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins are found in coastal waters of Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia.

    "Despite their apparent wide distribution we know very little about their ecology, behaviour and genetics," Dr Parra said.

    Dr Guido Parra
    Ph: +61 7 3365 3066

    Andrew Dunne
    UQ Communications
    Ph: +61 7 3365 2802

    Mystery solved by kangaroo and platypus

    31 October 2006

    Australian National University

    Australian scientists have unravelled a mystery of the origins of two debilitating human genetic diseases by studying the kangaroo and platypus genome.

    The ANU researchers studied the genes that are abnormal in Prader-Willi Syndrome (PWS), which causes abnormal feeding behaviour leading to an initial failure to suck, followed by voracious eating; and Angelman Syndrome (AS), which is marked by severe mental retardation and inappropriate laughter.

    Both of these diseases are caused by an error in 'imprinted' genes. Imprinted genes are peculiar, because some work only if they come from the father, and others only if they're from the mother. For nearly all of these genes, both mother's and father's copies work to make protein, providing good backup in case one gene is mutated or deleted.

    But for about 70 imprinted genes, only one copy works at least in some organs, tissues or stages of development. If this copy is mutated or deleted, it causes genetic disease. Prader-Willi Syndrome results if the gene copy from the father is mutated or deleted, because the copy from the mother cannot substitute. The opposite is true for Angelman Syndrome.

    The ANU student team of Rob Rapkins and Tim Hore, from Professor Jenny Graves' laboratory at the Research School of Biological Sciences, built on the work La Trobe University graduate Megan Smithwick to investigate the origin of these two human diseases in kangaroos and platypus. These two Aussie animals are good models for studying reproduction genetics because they both have very different reproduction systems - kangaroos bear very tiny live young without foetal development and platypus lay eggs.

    The team's research, funded by a 1999 ARC Discovery grant and the ARC Centre for Kangaroo Genomics, is published in the latest edition of the scientific journal PLoS Genetics and is available at: www.plos.org/ .

    Amanda Morgan
    ANU Media Office
    Ph: +61 2 6125 5575
    Mobile: +61 416 249 245 

    Reading genes

    20 September 2006

    University of Melbourne

    Being able to recognise words visually when learning to read is affected by different genes to those used to sound out words, according to new Australian research.

    The results are a breakthrough in understanding how reading is learned, and will bring further insight to the phonics debate.

    Researchers also found that reading and spelling have a common genetic basis, meaning that if a child is having difficulty spelling they will be likely to struggle to learn to read.

    The study results was launched at the University of Melbourne's Education Resource Centre library on Wednesday 20 September where young twins demonstrated their reading skills with their parents.

    Associate Professor Anne Castles, from the University of Melbourne's School of Behavioural Science, along with researchers at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research and Macquarie University, tested different genetic models for reading and spelling, the first study to look at the two together.

    Sets of identical twins were compared with non-identical twins to confirm that differences in reading ability are substantially due to genetic effects combined with personal experiences.

    Matthew Johnston
    Media Officer
    Ph: +61 3 8344 0561
    Mobile: +61 437 367 490
    matthewj@unimelb.edu.au

    Fossil fish supports Aussie crawl theory

    19 October 2006

    Australian National University

    The discovery of a perfectly preserved fish fossil by Australian researchers has added further weight to the theory that ancient four-legged animals (tetrapods) may have first moved onto the land in Australia, rather than in the Northern Hemisphere as previously assumed.

    In Nature today, researchers from Museum Victoria, The Australian National University, and Monash University, have revealed unprecedented details of a fossilised Gogonasus - a primitive fish that lived in a shallow coral reef environment in north-western Australia about 370 million years ago.

    "The transition from fishes to tetrapods was one of the most dramatic events in the evolution of vertebrates, but many pivotal fossils are incomplete, resulting in gaps in our understanding of how animals came to inhabit the land - but this find helps us fill in the gaps," Head of Sciences at Museum Victoria Dr John Long said.

    The new Gogonasus specimen will be on public display at Melbourne Museum until 19 November.

    Simon Couper
    ANU Media Office
    Ph: +61 2 6125 4171
    Mobile: +61 416 249 241

    Jessica Bendell
    Museum Victoria

    Ph: +61 3 8341 7726
    Mobile: +61 439 341 007

    Ancient marine reptiles

    26 July 2006

    The University of Adelaide

    A team led by University of Adelaide palaeontologist Dr Benjamin Kear has identified two new species of ancient marine reptiles that swam the shallow waters of an inland sea in Australia 115 million years ago.

    Umoonasaurus and Opallionectes belonged to a group of animals called plesiosaurs, long-necked marine reptiles resembling the popular image of the Loch Ness monster, that lived during the time of the dinosaurs.

    Dr Kear and his colleagues from the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and the South Australian Museum identified the new species based on opalised fossils of 30 individuals found in old collections and recent excavations.

    The team's findings were recently published in both the international journal Palaeontology, and the online edition of Biology Letters, a periodical published by the prestigious Royal Society of London.

    Dr Benjamin Kear
    ARC Postdoctoral Fellow
    School of Earth and Environmental Sciences
    University of Adelaide
    Ph: +61 8 8207 7452
    Mobile: +61 429 009 333

    Candace Gibson
    Media Officer
    Marketing & Strategic Communications
    Ph: +61 8 8303 3173
    Fax: +61 8 8303 4829
    Mobile: +61 414 559 773

    Surfing in Alice Springs

    16 August 2006

    University of Adelaide

    TWO BILLION years ago, the Australia we know today existed only in pieces. Northern, western and central Australia all belonged to different continents.

    New research in Adelaide is showing how these bits may have come together. And the information could be significant to the discovery of new mineral deposits.

    Kate Selway, a PhD student in the University of Adelaide's School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, has found evidence for a collision between northern and central Australia which happened 1.64 billion years ago.

    "If you looked south from Alice Springs before that time, you would have seen an ocean," Selway says. "The huge forces involved in this collision produced mountain ranges and actually helped create the crust of central Australia."

    Using a geophysical technique called magnetotellurics, which measures the electrical conductivity of the Earth to depths of hundreds of kilometres, Selway has been probing the Earth beneath central Australia. She found that northern Australia is more conductive than central Australia, and that the boundary between them extends to at least 150 km depth.

    Kate Selway
    Ph: +61 8 8303 4971
    Mobile: +61 448 867 889
    katherine.selway@adelaide.edu.au

    Candace Gibson
    University of Adelaide Media Office
    Ph: +61 8 8303 3173

    Aussie of the Year prevents cancer

    University of Queensland (UQ)'s

    Professor Ian Frazer and Dr Jian Zhou (now deceased) discovered a vaccine to tackle prevent cervical cancer, which kills approximately 270,000 women each year, worldwide. The vaccine is now available in Australia and the US. Professor Frazer was made 2006 Australian of the Year for his invention. Links to sample of media releases:

    Links to photos:

    Contact:

    Anton Sanker
    Ph: +61 412 057 512

    Aussies revolutionise rocket science

    A UQ team was the first in the world to successfully launch a scramjet (supersonic combustion jet) in 2002. Since then the "Hyshot" team at UQ has held 3 more experimental launches in the Australian desert, in conjunction with national and international partners.

    Link to media releases:

    Link to video and photos:

    Program description:

    Contact:

    Jan King
    Ph: +61 7 3365 1120

    We know why men are from Mars & women from Venus

    Scientists from UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience led a team that found why males produce sperm and females produce eggs - answering one of the great questions of biology.

    Link to media release:

    Contact:

    Bronwyn Allan
    Ph: +61 7 3346 2134
    Mobile: +61 418 575 247

    UQ makes brain connection

    UQ's Queensland Brain Institute-led team has identified a molecule that plays a key role in establishing the major nerve connections between each side of the adult brain.

    Contact:

    Ron Hohenhaus
    Ph: +61 7 3346 7543

    UQ scientist junks DNA orthodoxy

    Professor John Mattick, a co-founder of UQ's Institute for Molecular Bioscience, is challenging the dogma of so-called "junk DNA" (the 98.5 percent of our DNA that does not code for genes and until now has not been thought to do anything). Professor Mattick believes that it actually constitutes a hidden regulatory system that directs our development, and explains why humans are so much more complex than organisms such as worms, which have almost as many genes.

    Media release:

  • www.uq.edu.au/news/index.html?article=10298
  • Photos:

  • omc.uq.edu.au/images/4866b/
  • Contact:

    Bronwyn Allan
    Ph:+61 7 3346 2134
    Mobile: +61 418 575 247

    Coral research unlocks threats of global warming

    UQ's Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg is a world leader in coral reef research, including on threats to the world's most spectacular reefs from global warming. Ove heads a UQ research station on a Great Barrier Reef island.

    Media releases:

  • www.uq.edu.au/news/index.html?search=1&freetext=ove%20hoegh
  • Background:

  • www.marine.uq.edu.au/index.html
  • Photos:

  • omc.uq.edu.au/images/Heron/
  • omc.uq.edu.au/images/4870e/pages/4870-063.htm
  • Contact:

    Ove Hoegh-Guldberg
    Ph: +61 7 3365 1156
    oveh@uq.edu.au
     
    Photos:

  • omc.uq.edu.au/images/Heron/
  • Deciphering whale love songs

    UQ's Dr Mike Noad has spent years eavesdropping on and recording the haunting songs of humpback whales. He believes they are the soundtrack for a fascinating whale courting ritual.

  • www.uq.edu.au/news/index.html?article=8918
  • www.uq.edu.au/news/index.html?article=8483
  • Listen to a wooing whale:

  • omc.uq.edu.au/audio/news/whalesong.mp3
  • Contact:

    Miguel Holland
    Ph: +61 7 3365 2619
    m.holland@uq.edu.au

    UQ unearths prehistoric secrets

    Dr Steve Salisbury of UQ led a team that described the oldest ancestors of today's crocodiles, alligators and gharials.

    For story, background & photos:

  • www.uq.edu.au/dinosaurs/
  • Contact:

    Dr Steve Salisbury
    Ph:+61 7 336 58548
    Mobile: +61 407 788 660
    s.salisbury@uq.edu.au

    Andrew Dunne
    Ph: +61 7 3365 2802
    Mobile: +61 433 364 181

    Secrets of the Ice-Age Cave - how did the Aborigines Survive?

    Animal bones from the Kitikina Cave on the Franklin River, Tasmania, may hold the secret to the survival of Australia's Tasmanian Aboriginals during the last Great Ice Age 20,000 years ago. La Trobe University post-doctoral archaeology researcher Jillian Garvey is analysing animal bones and other material excavated from the cave to find out how human beings lived there at the height of the last Ice Age. This is a La Trobe University –Vassar College project initiated by La Trobe University archaeologist Dr Richard Cosgrove and Professor Anne-Pike Tay, an archaeologist at Vassar College, New York.

    Contact:

    Dr Richard Cosgrove
    Ph:+61 3 9479 1424

    See Secrets of Our Ice Age Hunters
    La Trobe University Bulletin
    January-February 2005

  • www.latrobe.edu.au/bulletin/archive/010205/research1.html
  • Who Killed Australia's Giant Marsupials?

    And here's a new Ice Age proposition, based on field excavations and expert archaeological dating of material found in a set of dunes at Lake Menindee, on the Darling River in NSW. This evidence suggests it may not have been prehistoric humans responsible for the extinction of Australia's giant marsupials 50,000 years ago, but that ageless culprit, the weather. Archaeological dating at Lake Menindee reveals that creatures like the diprotodon (weighing up to 2.5 tonnes), and the giant kangaroo (a metre taller than today's largest 'big reds') may actually have starved to death.

    Contact:

    Jacqui Duncan
    La Trobe Archaeology PhD Researcher
    Ph:+61 3 9479 1386.

    See Media Release Who Killed Australia's Giant Marsupials? 14 August 2006.

  • www.latrobe.edu.au/news/2006/mediarelease_2006-44.php
     
  • Bad News for Body-builders - the Myth About Creatine

    "Performance-enhancing" creatine does nothing at all to enhance performance. Scientists from the Muscle Cell Research Group at La Trobe's Department of Zoology discovered recently that the short-lived improvements athletes seem to achieve in muscle mass and performance after ingesting creatine is not a consequence of the substance itself - but of increased water drawn into the muscles to balance the creatine intake. The research is likely to generate significant interest in the US where creatine is reportedly the most commonly used performance enhancing drug.

    Contact:

    Professor Graham Lamb
    Ph: +61 3 9479 2249
    g.lamb@latrobe.edu.au

    Professor George Stephenson
    Ph: +61 3 9479 1775
    george.stephenson@latrobe.edu.au

    See Creatine Myth Exposed, La Trobe University Bulletin June 2005

    Rewriting the Textbook on Muscle Fatigue

    Scientists Professors Graham Lamb and his colleague Professor George Stephenson in the Muscle Cell Research Group at La Trobe University's Department of Zoology are promoting some page-turning revision in educational publishing houses. The latest edition of an Australian school biology text book (Heineman's Biology 1 for VCE students in Victoria) now carries a full page story about the link between muscle fatigue and acidity. The scientists have overturned the widely-held theory that acidity - caused by a build up of lactic acid - is a major cause of muscle fatigue. They discovered that the opposite is true - that acidity helps prevent muscle fatigue. Heinemann's are the first publishers to acknowledge this, and explain why it is so.

    Contacts:

    Professor Graham Lamb
    Ph: +61 3 9479 2249
    g.lamb@latrobe.edu.au

    Professor George Stephenson
    Ph: +61 3 9479 1775
    george.stephenson@latrobe.edu.au ·

    See Rewriting the Textbook,
    La Trobe University Bulletin,
    April 2006

  • www.latrobe.edu.au/bulletin/archive/0406/index.html
  • Economists Seek Answers on Heroin Abuse

    La Trobe University economist Professor Harry Clarke, and University of Melbourne economist Professor Peter Bardsley have embarked on a three-year research project seeking economic solutions to drug abuse. They are investigating the potential for combining harm- minimization programs and appropriate penalties for illegal drug use as an economically sensible control strategy.

    Contact:

    Professor Harry Clarke
    Ph: +61 3 9479 1314
    h.clarke@latrobe.edu.au

    See Fighting Heroin With Economics
    La Trobe University Bulletin, April 2005

  • www.latrobe.edu.au/bulletin/archive/0405/index.html#02
  • Global Guidelines to Fight Violence

    General practitioners will be globally recruited into the front line of defence against domestic violence with the development of new guidelines to assist them to manage patients threatened by partner violence. Already endorsed by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the guidelines will also be adapted for use in the UK, Canada, the Netherlands and the United States, reflecting the collaborative research input of the 11 universities and research institutes involved in their development. The culmination of two years' international collaboration, the guidelines evolved from an initial focus group meeting of primary health care specialists at an international physicians' conference in Amsterdam in 2004.

    Contact:

    Dr Angela Taft
    La Trobe Mother and Child Health Research Centre
    Ph: +61 3 8341 8571
    Mobile: +61 413 486 213
    a.taft@latrobe.edu.au

    See Media Release GP Guidelines Target Family Violence Globally, 11 July 2006,

  • www.latrobe.edu.au/news/2006/mediarelease_2006-33.php
  • State-of- the-Art Spectrometer for Antarctic

    A state of the art imaging spectrometer being developed at La Trobe will be installed at the Mawson Antarctic Base in the summer of 2006-07 to provide better data about winds and temperatures 100 -300 kilometres above the earth's surface. The new spectrometer is being developed by La Trobe University scientists Dr Mark Conde, a senior lecturer in Physics, and Professor Peter Dyson, Head of the University's Department of Physics, in collaboration with UK scientist Dr Mike Kosch, a Reader in Experimental Space Science at Lancaster University. The instrument will result in better communications, navigation, surveillance and low-altitude satellite data . It will be a major improvement on the first generation of spectrometers which could only capture data across a very small patch of sky. The new instrument will map wind and temperature variations across 1,000 km of sky simultaneously. It will also support a sophisticated new radar network designed to monitor air and sea movements across 37,000 km of Australia's coastline and 9 million square kilometres of ocean.

    Contacts:

    Dr Mark Conde
    Ph: +61 3 9479 1485
    m.conde@latrobe.edu.au

    Professor Peter Dyson
    Ph: +61 3 9479 2735
    p.dyson@latrobe.edu.au

    See La Trobe Spectrometer for Antarctic Base
    La Trobe University Bulletin, April 2005

  • www.latrobe.edu.au/bulletin/archive/0405/index.html
  • Biocontrol delivers a $10billion result

    Biological control of weeds introduced into Australia has delivered a return of close to $10 billion, making it one of the most successful scientific programs in the nation's history. A summary of the Economic impact assessment of Australian weed biological control can be found at:

  • http://www.weeds.crc.org.au/publications/media_2006.html (Listed under August 2006)
  • Scientists develop a condom for weeds

    Australian scientists are working on a world-first method for achieving contraception in plants.

    'Killing us softly' - the price of weeds

    The cost to Australia's economy from weeds is an estimated $4 billion annually and the cost in the degradation of our native bushland environment is inestimable. Weeds are an increasing problem for asthma and hay-fever sufferers. Of the more than 28 000 plant species introduced into Australia, over 2 500 have become naturalised. Of those species 'gone bush' in recent decades, 65% came from urban gardens and parks.

  • www.weeds.crc.org.au/publications/books.html
  • More weed images Shoes, and laces in particular, can carry weed seeds into precious places without the wearer noticing. Credit: Kate Blood

  • www.weeds.crc.org.au/publications/images/mr_seeds_shoe_kate_blood.jpg
  • Another one for the road - tyres are good at picking up weed seeds as hitchhikers. Credit: Kate Blood

  • www.weeds.crc.org.au/publications/images/mr_tyre_seeds_kate_blood.jpg
  • Rubber vine (Cryptostegia grandiflora), one of Australia's worst 20 weeds, is found over 700,000 ha of Qld. Credit: Colin Wilson

  • www.weeds.crc.org.au/publications/images/mr_rubber_vine_colin_wilson.jpg
  • Contacts:

    Dr Rachel McFadyen
    CEO Weeds CRC
    Ph: +61 409 263 817

    Peter Martin
    Community Empowerment Program Leader Weeds CRC
    Ph: +61 429 830 366

    Artificial breeding for sharks - action taken to save grey nurse shark

    State of the Art technology has been developed by the NSW Government to help save the threatened grey nurse shark. In a world first the Government has helped develop an artificial shark uterus to help save this endangered species. The grey nurse shark suffers from a condition known as intra-uterine cannibalism, which basically means that when the pups hatch out of their eggs, they eat each other while still inside the mother's uterus.

    Contact:

    Dr Steve Kennelly
    Ph: +61 2 9527 8532
    steve.kennelly@dpi.nsw.gov.au

  • www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/aboutus/news/recent-news/fishing-and-aquaculture/save-grey-nurse-shark
  • Virtual sheep management a reality

    Farmers can manage sheep from an office hundreds of kilometres from the flock as a result of on-farm trials of off-the-shelf technology. The NSW Department of Primary Industries and the Australian Sheep Industry CRC (Sheep CRC) said e-sheep® will give the industry the power to boost production and cut costs through more efficient flock management. The sheep are fitted with electronic ear tags which register when the sheep move past a scanner fitted to drafting gates. ·

    Contact:

    Dr Kevin Atkins
    Ph:+61 2 6391 3816
    Kevin.atkins@dpi.nsw.gov.au

    Beef industry to save half a million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions

    The Australian beef herd is on track to produce about 3% or half a million tonnes less methane over the next 25 years, according to the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI). DPI Livestock researcher Andrew Alford says the reduction achieved in individual herds in this period could be as high as 16%, if individual cattle producers make a concerted effort to breed cattle with improved feed efficiency. "Previous research by the department has found that cattle with superior feed efficiency expel less methane."

  • www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/research/updates/environment/climate-change/beef-industry-save-greenhouse-gas
  • Contact:

    Dr Roger Hegarty
    Ph:+61 2 6770 1806
    roger.hegarty@dpi.nsw.gov.au

    Dr Hegarty has been instrumental in setting up collaborations between Australia, New Zealand and countries in the Asia/Pacific region. He is acting chairman of the International Scientific Committee for the 2007 'Greenhouse Gases in Animal Agriculture' in Japan.

    New technology targets pesticide-resistant insects

    Australian and UK scientists have developed a technique to effectively control the 'super pests' that are highly resistant to pesticides used on important food and fibre crops worldwide. The technique, patented by the NSW Department of Primary Industries and Rothamsted Research (UK), has proved effective against key insect pests that have evolved resistance to pesticides used in many agricultural industries, including horticulture and field crops. The research initially focused on overcoming resistance to insecticides in the cotton bollworm and silverleaf whitefly but is also expected to also control cockroaches, mosquitos and bedbugs more easily.

    Contact:

    Dr Robin Gunning
    Ph: +61 2 6763 1128
    robin.gunning@dpi.nsw.gov.au

    Salmonella alert for home fish tanks

    Aquaria may harbour dangerous bacteria responsible for causing gastroenteritis in children and adults, according to NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) researchers. Although rare, in some cases the gastroenteritis was severe enough to cause hospitalisation. A study led by DPI microbiologists Steven Djordjevic and Renee Levings found that ornamental fish and their tanks are a reservoir for a type of Salmonella bacteria which is resistant to seven antibiotics.

    Contact:

    Dr Steve Djordjevic
    Ph: +61 2 4640 6426
    steve.djordjevic@dpi.nsw.gov.au

    Restoring agriculture to Aceh after the tsunami

    Last December's tsunami swept saltwater across a 2,000 kilometre stretch of the Sumatran coastline, penetrating up to seven kilometres inland. A team from the NSW Department of Primary Industries working in Aceh, Indonesia, has found the success or failure of crops affected by last December's tsunami is directly related to the length of time fields were immersed in salt water.

    The DPI team took with them a piece of scientific equipment called an EM38, which can measure salinity in soil to a depth of 1 metre, and one of their first tasks was to train two local staff in its use. Team leader, DPI soils scientist Dr Peter Slavich said use of the EM38 is enabling the impacts of salinity on crop growth to be rapidly assessed. "For instance the EM38 will be used in the Sigli district, where the Australian aid organisation Austcare plans to provide seed for 25 hectares of red onions.

    Dr Slavich said the worst affected farming lands are those where the drainage and irrigation systems have been damaged and filled with sediment. Little cropping is possible in these areas. Dr Peter Slavich says rice crops in coastal areas where there was less damage to irrigation and drainage systems appear to have come through the last nine months relatively unscathed.

    "Farmers and agencies recognised that attempting to establish crops on highly saline soil was a waste of resources and that this could be avoided by conducting EM38 surveys prior to planting," Dr. Slavich said.

    The research effort has been funded by the Australian Council for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).

    Contact:

    Joanne Finlay
    Science Communicator
    NSW Department of Primary Industries
    Ph: +61 2 6391 3171
    Mobile: +61 428 491 813
    finlay.joanne@agric.nsw.gov.au

    Science Network's WA stories: Gecko Glue, Inventor profiles and more…

    Check out the website www.sciencewa.net.au for a whole lot of science stories coming out of Western Australia. ScienceNetwork is updated bi-weekly and also releases a monthly e-newsletter, with over 5,000 subscribers. Visit soon to see how Scitech has reinvented itself in 2006.

  • http://www.scitech.org.au
  • Imaging device focuses on preventing eye disease worldwide

    The small hand-held device that Professor Kanagasingam Yogesan and his research team developed doesn't have a name yet, but already it's helping detect and prevent eye disease. It's being used in regional hospitals and remote communities in Western Australia, and is even set to help screen patients from native Indian communities in the United States. By miniaturising the optical systems involved, Yogi and his team came up with a device that was compact and cheaper - as well as doing the work of two much larger pieces of equipment. "Because it's so simple to use, GPs and nurses can use the device and screen for diseases such as diabetic retinopathy which is one of the leading blinding eye diseases in the world. The multi-imaging device is one of seven inventions selected as finalists in the inaugural Western Australian Inventor of the Year awards.

    Contact:

    Yogi
    yogesan@cyllene.uwa.edu.au

    Science Alert: plant stem cells, marathon jellyfish and koala genome virus

    ScienceAlert carries topical news items and feature articles from leading scientific research organizations as an information service to science, industry, the media, government and the community. There is no charge for its use, reproduction or linking. No registration is required.

    Plants an untapped resource for stem cell research:

    Plants share many similar stem cell traits to humans and can be used to unlock secrets useful for human stem cell research, according to University of Melbourne biology experts.

    Contact:

    Professor Mohan Singh
    Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Laboratory
    Faculty of Land and Food Resources
    University of Melbourne
    Ph: +61 3 8344 5051

    Professor Prem Bhalla
    Plant Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Laboratory
    Faculty of Land and Food Resources
    University of Melbourne
    Ph: +61 3 8344 9651

    More information about this article:

    Matthew Johnston
    Media Officer
    Ph: +61 3 8344 0561
    Mobile: +61 437 367 490
    matthewj@unimelb.edu.au

    Koala genome virus:

    University of Queensland researchers have made a startling discovery that may explain why the koala is susceptible to certain infections and cancers.

    Researchers found the koala genome is currently being invaded by a virus called koala retrovirus (KoRV). Their findings have been published in this week`s issue of Nature.

    The work has important implications for the conservation of Australia`s koala populations as the research has also shown an association between this virus and a high incidence of cancer in both captive and wild koalas.

    Media enquiries:

    Associate Professor
    Paul Young
    Ph: +61 4 23 565 446

    Elizabeth Kerr
    UQ Communications
    Ph: +61 7 3365 2339
    e.kerr@uq.edu.au

    Australian wins highest international honour in mathematics

    The Fields Medal is the highest international scientific award for mathematicians. It is awarded every four years by the International Mathematical Union at the International Congress of Mathematicians to a candidate no older than 40. Professor Tao is 31 years old. He was presented with his medal by His Majesty, King Juan Carlos I of Spain at the Congress currently being held in Madrid, attended by some 4000 mathematicians from all over the world.

    Terry Tao has made spectacular breakthroughs in an extraordinarily wide variety of very difficult problems. His most famous recent discovery (in collaboration with Professor Ben Green of Cambridge University) concerns prime numbers. Prime numbers are familiar to all school children. Tao and Green proved that there are arbitrarily long strings of prime numbers that are a constant distance apart. They also gave ways of measuring how thickly spread such long strings are among the primes. Their work may have implications for possible new methods of encryption and security of information. He graduated from Flinders University in Adelaide with a BSc Hons at age 16 and an MSc at age 17, both supervised by Professor Garth Gaudry. At 21 he gained a Ph.D. from Princeton University. Prior to winning the Fields Medal, he had won virtually every top international research prize in mathematics.

    "I began teaching Terry Tao when he was only 12 years old," said Garth Gaudry." Even at that age, he exhibited stunning insight and creativity. Discovering new mathematics was such an enjoyable adventure for Terry. To be Terry's teacher was, for me, the privilege of a lifetime."

    Contact:

    Margot Gorsky
    cathy@sagewords.com.au

  • www.sagewords.com.au

  • $12 million dollar team to flex their muscles

    Wollongong University

    The science fiction of the 1970s TV show Six Million Dollar Man is just around the corner with the development of wearable muscles by Australian electrochemists, scientists at the major international conference Connect 2005 heard today.

    Professor Gordon Wallace of Wollongong University is a leader in the field of electronic textiles and the team he is part of has just won $12 million in funding from the Australian Research Council to establish a Centre of Excellence in Electromaterials Science.

    Professor Wallace's ground-breaking research has created the basis for new electronic textiles - that is, novel fibre made from flexible plastics that conduct and store electricity. The fibres also expand and contract in response to an electrical current. The fibres are embedded with carbon atoms for added strength, but are highly flexible and could be woven together into other materials.

    "At the biomolecular level we intend that such fibres will eventually find use as implants guiding nerve cell growth and assisting in spinal cord regeneration - a project being pursued in collaboration with Professor Graeme Clark's Bionic Ear Institute."

    For interviews with Professor Wallace, please contact:

    Sue Nelson
    Quick Thinking Communications
    Ph: +61 2 9907 8241
    Mobile: +61 403 343 275

    Mistletoe: good or bad for gum trees and biodiversity?

    Institute for Land, Water and Society, Charles Sturt University Mistletoe is a prominent component of woodlands throughout southeastern Australia. Unlike many woodland plants and animals that are becoming increasingly scarce, mistletoe has responded positively to habitat fragmentation and has become more abundant in many areas. All mistletoes have a positive influence on overall biodiversity. Yet, in high densities mistletoes can kill trees. To understand the role of mistletoe in remnant woodlands we have conducted a large-scale removal experiment in the upper Billabong Creek catchment in NSW. We've removed mistletoe from 20 woodland areas, with 20 controls. Over the next two decades we will compare the biodiversity

    Contact:

    Dr David M Watson
    Senior Lecturer
    Ecology and Ornithology
    Institute for Land, Water and Society
    School of Environmental and Information Sciences
    Charles Sturt University
    New South Wales
    Ph: +61 2 6051 9621
    Fax +61 2 6051 9897
    dwatson@csu.edu.au

    Good chrome, bad chrome -- What happens down below?

    A team of Australian and German scientists pursues the question what happens if toxic chromium is introduced into the soil below our feet. Chromium is widely used in industrial processes, such as chrome plating, wood preservation, and leather tanning. Chromium can exist in non-toxic forms and in toxic forms. Often the latter is industrially more important. Around the world, many sites are contaminated with chromium, posing environmental and health hazards. They aim to help develop efficient soil remediation strategies. Such strategies can then be used to create and sustain a cleaner environment. The team of scientists was formed as an international collaboration between 'Environmental Resources Management' (ERM Melbourne), La Trobe University (Melbourne), the Department for Innovation, Industry and Regional Development (DIIRD, Melbourne), and the Hamburg Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (HASYLAB, Hamburg). Team members came together at HASYLAB to simulate chromium spill accidents in controlled lab conditions. During the experiments the scientists measured how the chromium reacts on the soil, using a technique called X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy. These measurements were only made possible due to the unique properties of synchrotron light as available at HASYLAB. The results show in detail how the initially toxic chromium from the spill solution reacts to form other chromium compounds when the solution is interacting with the soil. For instance, some of the chromium converts to non-hazardous chromium-(III)-oxide, while some of the chromium remains in the original form. Paper being submitted soon. Images: images from the beamline used for the experiments. Also, a graphics/design studio took some photos at HASYLAB during one of the beamtimes on the project. Permission can be sought if required

    Contact:

    Peter Kappen
    Department of Physics
    La Trobe University
    Victoria 3086
    Ph: +61 3 9479 1329
    Fax: + 61 3 9479 1552
    p.kappen@latrobe.edu.au

    Antifreeze grass

    Victorian scientists have discovered antifreeze genes in a unique grass from Antarctica that could mean millions of extra dollars in farmers' pockets, Minister for Innovation John Brumby announced today at BIO2006 in Chicago. Department of Primary Industries (DPI) scientists based at the new state-of-the-art Victorian AgriBiosciences Centre have uncovered genes in Antarctic Hairgrass giving the plant the remarkable ability to inhibit ice crystal growth as a mechanism for freezing tolerance. Mr Brumby said the findings have major implications for improving frost tolerance in crop and pasture species that underpin the world's agriculture industries. "Over the next few years we should see the development and application of technologies for frost tolerance in crops based on the knowledge gained from the functional analysis of these antifreeze genes," said Mr Brumby. Globally five to 15 per cent of agricultural production is lost to frost each year and in the USA there are more economic losses to frost than any other weather related phenomenon. Victorian Minister for Agriculture, Bob Cameron, said on average frost caused production losses of just under $140 million a year in Victoria and South Australia's wheat and barley crops alone. He said Antarctic Hairgrass was one of only two vascular plants and the sole grass species to colonise the Antarctic Peninsula. "It survives temperatures as low as minus 30C and winters with little or no light," Mr Cameron said. "DPI scientists have been able to identify related genes in temperate grasses such as ryegrass, and by comparing them with the Antarctic grass's ice recrystallisation inhibition genes have established the technological basis for strategies to improve frost tolerance in some crop and pasture species." Initially funded as part of the Victorian Government Science and Technology Initiative, this research is now undertaken within the Australian Centre for Plant Functional Genomics funded by the Australian Research Council and the Grains Research and Development Corporation.

    Stem cell hubs in north and south link Victoria and California

    The Melbourne-based Australian Stem Cell Centre and Monash University has forged a historic agreement with the University of California San Diego (UCSD) in what is a major commitment towards stem cell research in the world. Speaking from BIO2006, the Premier, Steve Bracks, said the State of Victoria and the UCSD were creating a powerful new international collaboration in stem cell research.

    "This historic initiative will cement Victoria as a global leader in stem cell research and allow our leading stem cell researchers to work alongside their Californian counterparts," Mr Bracks said.

    "California is fast becoming the hub of stem cell research in the northern hemisphere and the memorandum of understanding between the UCSD and Australian Stem Cell Centre, based at Monash University will result in two of the world's leading centres working together on future projects and discoveries." Mr Bracks said under the agreement both centres will have access to research facilities and staff as well as undertake a regular exchange program to fast-track research and knowledge transfer.

    Material for pacemakers, stents and spinal discs to be made in Melbourne

    Melbourne will be home to a manufacturing facility producing material for medical equipment, the Victorian Premier, Steve Bracks, announced today. Speaking in Chicago today as part the BIO2006 conference, Mr Bracks said medical device company, Aortech Biomaterials has announced a major expansion to its Melbourne production facility. Aortech last month signed an exclusive licence and supply agreement with St Jude Medical for the use of its Elast-Eon™ bio-material for use in cardiac rhythm management leads.

    "Elast-Eon was invented by CSIRO scientist, Dr Pathiraja A. Bunatillake, specifically for use in long-term medical devices like pacemakers, stents and spinal discs," Mr Bracks said.

    "This agreement is for Aortech to supply its biostable polymer, Elast-Eon™ which will be used in long-term, life sustaining medical devices.

    "The Melbourne facility will begin operations in June and include a commercial-scale polymer synthesis manufacturing plant."

    Biosecurity, pests and disease links Manitoba and Melbourne

    Victorian scientists will be working more closely with their Canadian counterparts following the signing of an historic MOU with the Canadian province of Manitoba today. The Minister for Innovation, John Brumby, signed the MoU with Manitoba's Minister for Energy, Science and Technology, David Chomiak, during BIO2006 in Chicago. Mr Brumby said the focus of the MoU was to build strategic alliances between research institutions and businesses working in biosecurity research, diagnostics, and pest and disease management.

    "Victoria and Manitoba share similar environmental and climatic conditions making collaboration in the areas of agricultural biotechnology and the environment extremely valuable," Mr Brumby said.

    "We are both large agricultural producing states and major exporters of food and fibre products, and we recognise the need to protect our agricultural industries against the threat of disease.

    "Both states are well placed to take a leading role on global biosecurity issues and the three-year MoU will encourage collaboration on research projects and other business and government exchanges."

    Contact:

    Mark Pearce Media Manager
    Invest Victoria
    Ph: +61 3 9651 7663
    Mobile: +61 423 783 756
    mark.pearce@invest.vic.gov.au

  • www.investvictoria.com
  • What is climate change doing to Australian wildlife?

    The temperate June weather gave our heavy winter jackets and heating bills a welcome rest this year, but the change to a warmer lifestyle isn't as pleasant for some native Australian species. Dr Lynda Chambers at the bureau's research centre looks at phenology - the relationship between climate and periodic biological phenomena such as migration - and is now focussed on the impact of climate warming on animal behaviour and distribution.

    Lynda is investigating ways of documenting these effects, and she hopes the information might be used to mitigate the environmental pressures on native species.

    Lynda, who holds a PhD in zoology from the University of Melbourne and a Masters degree in statistics from La Trobe University and the Key Centre for Statistical Sciences, says Australian plants and animals have been changing their habits in recent years to accommodate rises in temperature. Over the past few decades alpine areas have contracted to higher altitudes due to the general increase in temperatures, producing a change in the population of tree and animal species.

    "Some of the gums that are usually found at lower altitudes are moving up into the higher altitudes, changing the habitat of these areas," Lynda says.

    Mangrove areas have also started to migrate landwards because of sea level rises, she says. Yet, relative to the northern hemisphere, very little has been recorded on how climate change has affected Australian plants and animals. Britain has phenology records that date as far back as the 1600s, but the earliest known accurate Australian records only go back to the 1940s.

    Lynda, who joined the bureau in 1993, is in the process of setting up the National Ecological Meta-Database in cooperation with Macquarie University and the University of Melbourne, with funding from the Australian Greenhouse Office. She says the project has the potential to increase our understanding of exactly how climate change is affecting natural systems, including animal breeding, migratory behaviour and population dynamics.

    What climate change is doing to Australian wildlife:

    1. The genetic make-up of the Drosophila (small fly) has changed. The change is equivalent to a latitude shift of four degrees.

    2. Pairings of the Sleepy Lizard are occurring earlier due to warmer, drier winters.

    3. The distribution of the Greyheaded and Black Flying Foxes has shifted polewards.

    4. Seven species of birds are migrating to the Snowy Mountains at least one month earlier than normal. These birds are the Crescent Honeyeater, Olive Whistler, Australian Kestrel, Fantail Cuckoo, Red Wattlebird, Richards Pipit and the Yellowfaced Honeyeater.

    www.bio-images.com

    Story:
    Melissa Lyne
    Bureau of Meteorology

    Wildlife pictures:
    Jason Edwards

    Cloud pictures:
    Gordon Tralaggan
    Ian Forrest
    Gary McArthur

    Little penguins spark curiosity in ecology

    Dr Lynda Chambers of the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre has been a volunteer at the Phillip Island Nature Park for the past 16 years, helping monitor Little Penguins.

    "It was my interest in these birds and why the timing of their breeding seemed to vary so much from year to year that first got me involved in looking for climate change signals in ecological data."

    Picture:

    Contact:

    Mark Jenkin Public Affairs
    Bureau of Meteorology
    Melbourne Victoria
    Ph: +61 3 9669 4552
    Fax: +61 3 9669 4113
    m.jenkin@bom.gov.au

  • www.bom.gov.au
  • New cosmic object found

    16 February 2006

    A team from the UK, USA, Australia, Italy and Canada found a new kind of cosmic object using the Parkes telescope.

  • www.atnf.csiro.au/news/press/rrats.html
  • Cheap Aussie telescope captures world's biggest solar flare

    16 September 2005 Australian scientists using a radio telescope kit costing just over A $200, have managed to accurately measure the size of the largest X- ray flare ever seen from our Sun - something that a sensitive US satellite was unable to do.

  • www.csiro.au/csiro/content/standard/psfg,,.html
  • Star near the Southern Cross is ringing

    22 December 2005 Australian and European astronomers used telescopes in Australia and Chile as a 'stellar stethoscope' to 'listen' to a star near the Southern Cross that is ringing like a bell.

  • www.aao.gov.au/press/cen_a_bedding_221205.html
  • Aussies explain why dying star sent mixed messages

    4 May 2006 Australian astronomers have explained why a dying star sent out mixed signals about its identity.

  • www.aao.gov.au/press/sn2001ig_040506.html
  • Contact:

    Helen Sim
    Public Relations and Media Liaison
    CSIRO Australia Telescope National Facility
    Ph: +61 2 9372 4251
    Mobile: +61 419 635 905
    Helen.Sim@csiro.au

    New organs can be grown in body - key breakthrough

    A novel technique enabling vital new organ tissue to be grown in a special bio-chamber in the body has been developed by scientists at the University of Melbourne and the Bernard O'Brien Institute of Microsurgery (BOBIM).

    The technique involves growing cells inside a 'non-reactive biocontainer' which, placed in rats, sees the cells mature into fully functional tissues and organs.

    Using this breakthrough technology, scientists at BOBIM have successfully produced sufficient tissue to replace a breast.

    Contact:

    Professor Wayne Morrison
    University of Melbourne
    Ph: +61 3 9288-2549
    wajm@unimelb.edu.au

    Sorel Old
    Public Relations Officer
    BOBIM
    Mobile: +61 431 962 875

    Secret sex lives of swans under scrutiny in new study

    The promiscuous mating habits of black swans have initiated a new study at Albert Park Lake by University of Melbourne researchers.

    "Swans have long been renowned as symbols of lifelong fidelity and devotion, but our recent work has shown that infidelity is rife among black swans," says Dr Raoul Mulder from the University of Melbourne's Department of Zoology.

    Previous DNA paternity analysis has revealed that about one in six baby swans are 'illegitimate', resulting from secretive matings between a female and a male other than her own partner.

    "What is unusual about these findings is that male swans are typically very protective of their female companions. How then can a female be promiscuous in this relationship? Is she sneaking off in the middle of the night to meet other swans? In addition, the male is also seeking bonus copulation with other females," says Dr Mulder.

    Dr Raoul Mulder
    Ph: +61 3 8344 6245 or
    Mobile: +61 410 412 825
    r.mulder@unimelb.edu.au

    Cyber criminals targeted by smart Internet security software

    Organised crime syndicates that crash Internet business sites will be thwarted by new security software developed by the University of Melbourne.

    Smart network security software that stops attacks of bogus traffic aimed at shutting down Internet businesses has been developed by experts from the University of Melbourne and start-up company IntelliGuard I.T. Pty Ltd.

    "This is a critical time for Internet security as more businesses prepare to migrate towards Voice Over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and video based systems in the next 12 months," said Professor Rao Kotagiri, Head of the University's Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering.

    He says that organised crime that targets Internet businesses is an emerging global problem causing major disruption and huge financial losses for Internet based services worldwide.

    For more information:

    Professor Rao Kotagiri
    Department of Computer Science and Software Engineering
    Ph: +61 3 8344 1301

    Philip Mulley
    IntelliGuard I.T.
    Ph: +61 3 8344 1416
    Mobile: +61 413 075 037

    Ivan Mellado
    Melbourne Ventures
    Ph: +61 3 8344 3192
    Mobile: +61 419 926 333 

    Rebecca Scott
    Media Officer
    Ph: +61 3 8344 0181
    Mobile: +61 417 164 791

    Chemical changes turn milk protein into a Listeria killer

    A University of Melbourne researcher has modified a key protein in cows' milk to make it a killer of bacteria which cause food poisoning and food spoilage.

    PhD research by Yu (Cindy) Pan has found that chemically modifying the protein lactoferrin substantially boosts its ability to fight off the food poisoning bug Listeria.

    Listeria can cause miscarriages in pregnant women and extremely serious illnesses in children, the elderly and those with suppressed immune systems.

    The protein modified by Ms Pan also fights off the bacteria Pseudomonas fluorescens, one of the most common causes of food spoilage.

    Media contact:

    Ms Cindy Pan
    Mobile: +61 402 285 951
    Yu.Pan@mgc.com.au

    Dr Hubert Roginski
    Ph: +61 3 9217 5251
    rhubert@unimelb.edu.au

    Dog DNA project provides clues to human illnesses

    Melbourne researchers are examining the DNA of dogs in a research project aiming at determining the genetic causes of common pet diseases - and to provide a model for combating diseases such as diabetes and multiple sclerosis in humans.

    The researchers, led by Dr Steven Holloway from the University of Melbourne Faculty of Veterinary Science, have taken DNA from 100 dogs in the quest to determine what in their genetic makeup causes diseases such as diabetes, granulomatous meningitis (similar to multiple sclerosis) and immune-mediated haemolytic anemia, a condition which causes the immune system to attack red blood cells.

    Dr Holloway said the research, backed by a grant from the Canine Research Foundation, would look at diseases of the immune system which could have a genetic cause.

    More information about this article:

    Steven Holloway
    Ph: +61 3 9731 2210
    stevenah@unimelb.edu.au

    Janine Sim-Jones
    Media Officer
    Tel: +61 3 8344 7220
    Mob:+61 0400 893 378
    janinesj@unimelb.edu.au

    Genome discovery will help combat disease and lead to new drugs

    An international consortium of researchers has cracked the gene code behind a key family of fungi, which includes a major laboratory organism, an essential ingredient of soy sauce and the leading cause of death in leukaemia and bone marrow transplant patients.

    The worldwide consortium, which includes Professor Michael Hynes from the University of Melbourne's Department of Genetics, has determined and analysed the 'genome sequences' or genetic maps for the fungi Aspergillus nidulans, Aspergillus fumigatus, and Aspergillus oryzae.

    The findings will be published in three different papers on 23 December in Nature magazine. They are the result of over six years of effort from more than 150 scientists across the globe, and are vital for future scientific advancements.

    Video footage and images to accompany this release are available. This site also contains further information about the fungi:

    For more information please contact:

    Professor Michael Hynes
    Department of Genetics
    University of Melbourne
    Ph: +61 3 8344 6239
    mjhynes@unimelb.edu.au

    Matthew Johnston
    Media Officer
    Ph: +61 3 8344 0561
    Mob: +61 437 367 490\n
    matthewj@unimelb.edu.au


    Researcher proves eyes show early signs of heart disease

    A scientist whose research could one day make a visit to the ophthalmologist or optometrist a routine part of screening for cardio-vascular disease is the winner of the University of Melbourne's Woodward Medal for Science and Technology.

    Associate Professor Tien Yin Wong is currently establishing a Retinal Vascular Imaging Centre at the University of Melbourne.

    The centre, which is a collaboration between several teams, includes the University's departments of Ophthalmology and Computer Science and Software Engineering.

    Media contact:

    Associate Professor Tien Yin Wong
    Ph: +61 3 9929 8429
    twong@unimelb.edu.au

    More information about this article

    Janine Sim-Jones
    Media Officer
    Tel: +61 3 8344 7220
    Mob: +61 401 735 116
    janinesj@unimelb.edu.au

    Matt Johnston
    Mob: +61 437 367 490

    Brain areas for focus and attention don't work in ADHD

    In the first study of its kind, Melbourne researchers have discovered that children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) have major dysfunction in brain regions known to help us ignore distractions and maintain focus.

    From the University of Melbourne's Department of Paediatrics, the Royal Children's Hospital and the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, Professor Alasdair Vance says the study is the first to compare activity in these specific brain areas in healthy adolescents and those with ADHD.

    When Professor Vance and his colleagues looked at MRI scans of the each of these groups while they were doing mental rotation tests, they found that two interconnected neural networks were activated less in those with ADHD.

    More information about this article:

    Alasdair Vance
    Department of Paediatrics
    Ph: +61 3 9345 4666.
    avance@unimelb.edu.au

    Molecular miners find pain relief drugs from the sea

    A cone snail toxin discovered by Melbourne researchers has proven to have great potential for easing pain and could provide an improved treatment for neuropathic pain associated with diabetes.

    Melbourne based company Metabolic Pharmaceuticals Limited recently announced successful results in preclinical trials of the toxin. The company will begin clinical trials in humans this month to firstly test the safety of the toxin in normal males, and later its effectiveness in treating the neuropathic pain associated with diabetes.

    From the University of Melbourne's Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the recently launched Bio21 Institute, Associate Professor Bruce Livett says the toxin - called ACV1 - also has potential for treating a range of other painful conditions, such as multiple sclerosis, shingles and sciatica.

    More information about this article:

    Bruce Livett
    Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
    Ph: +61 3 8344 2322
    Mobile: +61 403 010 477
    b.livett@unimelb.edu.au

    Chris Belyea
    Metabolic Pharmaceuticals Ltd
    www.metabolic.com.au

    See also Online Experts Guide

    Goanna venom rocks the reptile record

    Goannas and iguanas are venomous - sharing a common venomous ancestor with snakes - according to a University of Melbourne-led discovery which effectively rewrites the history of reptile evolution.

    The research describes for the first time the existence of oral venom glands in goannas and iguanas and proves that venom systems in snakes and lizards evolved before the two species went on different evolutionary pathways.

    Led by Dr Bryan Fry of the University's Australian Venom Research Unit, the research was published recently in the science journal Nature.

    Contact:

    Matt Johnston
    Ph: +61 3 8344 0561
    Mobile: +61 437 367 490