Abalone sampling at Southern Ocean Mariculture

Jan and Phoebe visited Southern Ocean Mariculture (SOM) in Port Fairy, Victoria at the start of July to collect samples for Phoebe’s honours project. Phoebes project, supported by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and the Australian Abalone Growers Association, seeks to test established methods of early prediction of genetic merit in abalone broodstock. It was freezing in Port Fairy in comparison to sunny Townsville, but great to see the abalone growth and the impressive technology and set up at SOM! Thanks for hosting us!

Abalone = Yum!

8th International Barcode of Life Conference

Jan gave a plenary lecture at the 8th International Barcode of Life Conference in Trondheim, Norway on June 19. Jan spoke about “Dating the West Antarctic ice sheet collapse using molecular sequence data.” The conference was great – loads of metabarcoding presentations including monitoring freshwater and marine environments and also using barcoding to ascertain the ingredients in foods. Great to catch up with old friends and make new ones and see a little bit of beautiful Norway!

Jan delivering her lecture in Trondheim

Exciting genetics and glaciology collaboration underway!

Last week Sally and Jan, together with Nerida Wilson from Western Australian Museum, visited our collaborators Prof Tim Naish and A/Prof Nick Golledge at the Antarctic Research Centre, Victoria University of Wellington, in New Zealand to discuss about how the past Antarctic Ice Sheet configurations influenced population genetics in the Southern Ocean. We aim to combine genetics and glaciology to reconstruct the past collapses of West Antarctic Ice sheet. Watch this space!

At the Antarctic Research Centre, from Left to Right, Nick Golledge, Nerida Wilson, Sally Lau, Tim Naish and Jan Strugnell

During our trip to New Zealand we also took the opportunity to visit the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) in Wellington to sample benthic critters for our Southern Ocean genetics projects. With a wealth of Antarctic biodiversity preserved, this collection is like a treasure box to us! Thank you Sadie Smith for hosting us!  

Jan at the NIWA collections. (Check out the size of that lobster!)

Distribution of Palinuridae and Scyllaridae phyllosoma larvae within the East Australian Current: a climate change hot spot

Laura Woodings, Nick Murphy, Andrew Jeffs, Iain Suthers, Geoff Liggins and Jan M. Strugnell

Laura sequenced the barcoding gene, Cytochrome oxidase I (COI), from palinurid and scyllarid lobster larvae (phyllosoma) caught off the east coast of Australia.  She detected two tropical and one subtropical palinurid species ~75–1800 km to the south or southwest of their known species distribution. These results indicate tropical lobster species are reaching temperate regions, providing these species the opportunity to establish in temperate regions if or when environmental conditions become amenable to settlement.

Published in Marine and Freshwater Research

Featured image is a Phyllosoma by Ernst Haekel

SEMINAR “Antarctica and its evolution: rising sea levels”

Jan's talk
Jan in front of S.E.A aquarium

Last night (Sat 2nd March 2019), Jan gave a seminar at the spectacular S.E.A. Aquarium in Singapore.  The title of the seminar was “Antarctica and its evolution: rising sea levels”.  The stage of the seminar was at the front of the biggest aquarium in the complex containing loads of fish and manta rays – a really wonderful backdrop!

Click here to read a detailed report from S.E.A Aquarium:)

The evolution and origin of tetrodotoxin acquisition in the blue-ringed octopus (genus Hapalochlaena)

Brooke L. Whitelaw, Ira R. Cooke, Julian Finn, Kyall Zenger, J.M. Strugnell

Blue ringed octopus make use of a deadly neurotoxin, TTX (tetrodotoxin) which is also found a wide variety of other animals. In order to do this they must be able to tolerate the toxin themselves, as well as acquire it from the environment or produce it. This paper reviews what we know about the evolution of ttx acquisition in blue ringed octopuses.

Featured image is by Flickr user Rickard Ling (CC 2.0)

Comparative Proteomic Analysis of Slime from the Striped Pyjama Squid, Sepioloidea lineolata, and the Southern Bottletail Squid, Sepiadarium austrinum (Cephalopoda: Sepiadariidae)

Nikeisha J. Caruana , Jan M. Strugnell, Pierre Faou, Julian Finn, and Ira R. Cooke

Nikeisha compared the slime from two bobtail squids and found that their proteomic composition was very similar. She also found several highly abundant, short secreted proteins in the slime, for which a function is unknown.

Published in the Journal of Proteome Research

Featured image is of Sepioloidea lineolata. Photograph by Richard Ling <wikipedia@rling.com> [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Shotgun Proteomics Analysis of Saliva and Salivary Gland Tissue from the Common Octopus Octopus vulgaris

Legana C. H. W. Fingerhut, Jan M. Strugnell, Pierre Faou, Álvaro Roura Labiaga, Jia Zhang, and Ira R. Cooke

Phylogenetic tree of molluscan serine proteases. Shaded clade is exclusive to Cephalopods and expressed in the venom gland

A wide variety of octopus and cuttlefish species use venom to disable and kill their prey.   Although this has been known for over a hundred years the molecules responsible for this toxicity remain relatively unknown.  In this paper we found that a particular family of proteins (serine proteases) are extremely diverse and abundant in the venom glands of octopus.  Although serine proteases are common in all animals (and not always toxins) we found that they are extraordinarily diverse in octopus and cuttlefish, and that this diversity is almost entirely due to molecules that are found in the venom glands.

Most of the work for this paper was done by Legana as part of her honours year. Well done Legana on your first paper.

Featured image is of Felicinda the octopus who was the mother of octopuses featured in this study. Photograph by Álvaro Roura

 Published in the Journal of Proteome Research