[ASC-list] Kimberley corals true Aussie battlers; what smart dogs can teach us; the appendix – not so useless after all

Niall Byrne niall at scienceinpublic.com.au
Wed Dec 2 02:25:50 UTC 2015


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Kimberley corals true Aussie battlers; what smart dogs can teach us; the appendix – not so useless after all




Dear ASCers,

Today:

Some obscure Kimberley reefs are true Aussie battlers – able to cope with conditions that would knock most corals for six.

While coral reefs around the world are feeling the heat, these remote reefs in Australia’s Kimberley region are prospering, despite living in some of the toughest conditions—and scientists aren’t yet sure why.

It’s a discovery with particular significance this summer, with fears of a severe coral bleaching event to hit our northern waters—the result of steadily rising sea temperatures and a strong seasonal El Niño.

More below – the first of our stories from this year’s Fresh Science.

Also this week:

  *   How can Australia make the most of its young innovators and entrepreneurs?
  *   Breeding smarter dogs and what smart dogs can teach us.
  *   Living with farm animals may boost our immune systems as children, and help protect us from asthma.
  *   Melbourne researchers burst the appendix myth – it really is important.
And then over the next few weeks:

We’ll be bringing you more stories from our Fresh Scientists around the country.

Kind regards,

Niall






Kimberley corals are true Aussie battlers

While coral reefs around the world are feeling the heat, little-known reefs in Australia’s Kimberley region are prospering, despite living in some of the toughest conditions—and scientists aren’t yet sure why.

It’s a discovery with particular significance this summer, with fears of a severe coral bleaching event to hit our northern waters—the result of steadily rising sea temperatures and a strong seasonal El Niño.

WA researchers have found that while coral reefs all around the world are feeling the heat of rising temperatures, some inshore reefs in the Kimberley region’s Bonaparte Archipelago are prospering, despite living in some of the toughest conditions.

“Widespread coral bleaching is predicted to occur in the Kimberley region over the coming summer,” said Dr Zoe Richards of the Western Australian Museum. “So we will be able to study whether the corals living in these very changeable inshore areas have an inherent capacity to resist bleaching when compared with corals living further out to sea.

“The most outstanding feature of these Kimberley corals is their health,” Zoe says.

“Despite repetitive low-tide exposure to extreme air temperatures, light, rainfall, high sea-surface temperatures, the Kimberley corals are exceptionally healthy and showing few signs of stress such as coral bleaching or disease.”

In an area with “huge tides, bad water visibility, strong currents, and of course crocodiles,” Zoe has exposed a biological treasure trove, which she will explore further with the help of a Research Fellowship from Curtin University.

Zoe discovered several species of coral that had never been recorded in Australia, and has so far documented more than 225 species living in the Bonaparte intertidal zone (the region that is covered at high tide but exposed during low tide).

This was far more than the dozen or so species Zoe says might have been expected to survive there.

The Bonaparte study was conducted in collaboration with colleagues from Curtin University, the Museum of Tropical Queensland, and the University of Western Australia.

Finding out how these corals are coping, while many elsewhere are dying, may shed light on the resilience of different species to climate change. It may also provide options for coral relocation, which is one of the chief conservation methods considered for restoring damaged reefs.

More details, images and contacts at http://freshscience.org.au/2015/kimberley-corals-aussie-battlers<http://scienceinpublic.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=d83751047dc5a93e0049c04bf&id=e9c1f57663&e=a93b5a4da4>






Making the most of Australian innovation

Next week Malcolm Turnbull is expected to roll out his new innovation strategy.

This week is Australia’s first Innovation Week. How can Australia make the most of its young innovators and entrepreneurs? What can we do to improve commercialisation of our science?

Highlights of the week include:

Thursday - VESKI Inspiring Women Fellowship Announcement.
The Governor of Victoria will make the official announcement of Victoria's inaugural Inspiring Women Fellowships, at Government House, Victoria.

Finding Strategic Partners: Who Says Australia Cannot Commercialise? Join us for a biomed/medtech panel discussion on finding strategic partners in health and medical innovation. Panelists include Tony Eglozos (Starpharma), John Sharman (Medical Developments Int) and Dr Kerry Hegarty (University of Melbourne). It will be chaired by Victorian Lead Scientist, Leonie Walsh. Held at the Royal Society of Victoria.

Friday - announcement of the 2015 Innovators of Influence Finalists by Australia's new Chief Scientist, President of ATSE Dr Alan Finkel AO FTSE, and A/Prof Jan Tennent, CEO of Biomedical Research Victoria. Held at Deakin Edge, Federation Square.

The Week is supported by the Office of the Lead Scientist of Victoria, and led by the Australian Science & Innovation Forum (ASIF) in partnership with the Academy of Technological Sciences & Engineering (ATSE).

Find out more at www.innovationweek2015.org<http://scienceinpublic.us1.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=d83751047dc5a93e0049c04bf&id=65c67c91cc&e=a93b5a4da4>






What smart dogs can teach us

Efforts to breed a smarter dog could help researchers understand which genes influence human behavior. Working kelpies have specific behavioural traits that combine to make them indispensable on a farm, and now researchers are matching these traits with specific stretches of the dogs’ DNA. It may help solve the mysterious link between complex human behaviour and DNA.

The health benefits of farm animals

Studies have shown that rural living almost halves the asthma risk in children. Living with farm animals may boost our immune systems as children, and help protect us from asthma. As well as encouraging the European trend of farm-based crèches, it could point toward a future vaccine.

Both stories in the December/January edition of Cosmos<http://scienceinpublic.us1.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=d83751047dc5a93e0049c04bf&id=9aceeb0e15&e=a93b5a4da4>. Elizabeth Finkel, the editor of Cosmos, is available to talk about both stories on ella.finkel at cosmosmedia.com<mailto:ella.finkel at cosmosmedia.com> or 03 9572 4444.






Melbourne researchers burst the appendix myth

I enjoyed seeing good Melbourne science celebrated in the Herald Sun, with researchers from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute demystifying the role of the appendix in the human immune system’s response to illness.

The organ serves as a natural reservoir for ‘good’ bacteria, and works with a group of immune cells to protect the gut of those with compromised immune systems, helping to protect against bacterial infection.

The research, which was in collaboration with the Centre d’Immunologie de Marseille-Luminy in France, was published in Nature Immunology.

Read more about the findings at the on the Institute's website<http://scienceinpublic.us1.list-manage1.com/track/click?u=d83751047dc5a93e0049c04bf&id=c2f08767a2&e=a93b5a4da4> and in the Herald Sun: http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/melbourne-researchers-prove-appendix-crucial-to-digestive-health/news-story/b549c26da4e53f4d1c92180dbb2e3b32<http://scienceinpublic.us1.list-manage.com/track/click?u=d83751047dc5a93e0049c04bf&id=edbafda324&e=a93b5a4da4>






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If you're looking for ideas or people for features we know hundreds of science prize winners past, present, and future and are always happy to chew the fat about the developing themes in Australian science.
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________

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