Biological Sciences - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Biology Newsletter

Newsletter 399

16 March 2017

Recent publications in the school

Bennett, J. R., Maloney, R.F., Steeves, T.E., Brazill-Boast, J., Possingham, H.P. and Seddon, P.J. (2017). Spending limited resources on de-extinction could lead to net biodiversity loss. Nature Ecology & Evolution 1(0053): doi:10.1038/s41559-41016-40053.

Carvell, G.E., Jackson, R.R. and Cross, F.R. (2017). Ontogenetic shift in plant-related cognitive specialization by a mosquito-eating predator. Behavioural Processes 138: 105-122.

Coray, D.S., Kurenbach, B. and Heinemann, J.A. (2017). Exploring the parameters of post-segregational killing using heterologous expression of secreted toxin barnase and antitoxin barstar in an Escherichia coli case study. Microbiology 163: 122-130.

Dimartino, S., Mather, A.V., Nowell-Usticke, J.S., Fischer, B. and Nock, V. (2017). Investigation of the adhesive from Hormosira banksii germlings and its performance over different material surfaces and topographies. International Journal of Adhesion and Adhesives 75: 114-123.

Kamali, M., Heydarnejad, J., Pouramini, N., Masumi, H., Farkas, K., Kraberger, S. and Varsani, A. (2017). Genome sequences of Beet curly top Iran virus, Oat dwarf virus, Turnip curly top virus, and Wheat dwarf virus identified in leafhoppers. Genome Announcements 5(8): e01674-01616.

Mesarich, C.H., Rees-George, J., Gardner, P.P., Ashari Ghomi, F., Gerth, M.L., Andersen, M.T., Rikkerink, E.H.A., Fineran, P.C. and Templeton, M.D. (2017). Transposon insertion libraries for the characterization of mutants from the kiwifruit pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae. PLoS ONE 12(3): e0172790.

Pearce, F.G., Hudson, A.O., Loomes, K. and Dobson, R.C.J. (2017). Dihydrodipicolinate synthase: Structure, dynamics, function, and evolution. In: Macromolecular Protein Complexes. J. R. Harris and J. Marles-Wright, eds. Switzerland, Springer International. 83: 271-289.

Sal Moyano, M.P., Luppi, T., Medesani, D.A., McLay, C.L. and Rodríguez, E.M. (2017). Hard-shell mating in Neohelice granulata: the role of ecdysone in female receptivity and mate attraction. Journal of Comparative Physiology A 203: 233-243.

Steeves, T.E., Johnson, J.A. and Hale, M.L. (2017). Maximising evolutionary potential in functional proxies for extinct species: a conservation genetic perspective on de-extinction. Functional Ecology doi:10.1111/1365-2435.12843.

Susi, H., Laine, A.-L., Filloux, D., Kraberger, S., Farkas, K., Bernardo, P., Frilander, M.J., Martin, D.P., Varsani, A. and Roumagnac, P. (2017). Genome sequences of a capulavirus infecting Plantago lanceolata in the Åland archipelago of Finland. Archives of Virology doi:10.1007/s00705-017-3298-0.

Walters, M., Bawuro, M., Christopher, A., Knight, A., Kraberger, S., Stainton, D., Chapman, H. and Varsani, A. (2017). Novel single-stranded DNA virus genomes recovered from chimpanzee feces sampled from the Mambilla Plateau in Nigeria. Genome Announcements 5(9): e01715-01716.

Recent PhD oral defence

Manuel Fernandes, had his PhD oral defence on Wednesday 15th March. His senior supervisor was Associate Professor Ximena Nelson. The title of his thesis is 'Acoustic analysis of slow click function and foraging in sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) off Kaikoura, New Zealand'. No doubt Manuel would have been relieved to have finally defended his thesis. Congratulations Manuel!

Pictured: Associate Professor Ximena Nelson (Senior Supervisor), Dr Todd Dennis (University of Auckland, Oral Examiner), Manuel and Professor Jim Briskie (Oral Organiser)

In the spotlight

Funding successes

Associate Professor David Leung, has been successful in obtaining funding through Callaghan Innovation to support a PhD student to work on a project entitled “Improving cold tolerance in winter-sown field peas”. (Total funding 2017-2019, $91,000).

Professor Jason Tylianakis, has been successful in obtaining an extension to his initial 2014-2016 0.2FTE role in a Landcare-hosted and MBIE-funded project entitled “BEST: Building biodiversity into an ecosystem service-based approach for resource management”. (Total new funding 2017-2019, $270,000).

Associate Professor Hazel Chapman, has been successful in obtaining a $21,000 1-year extension to her funding from North England Zoological Society for the project “Restoring the Forest to Ngel Nyaki Forest Reserve and Understanding it's Avian Pollinators”. (Total funding 2008-2017 of $200,000).

Phoebe Argyle, PhD candidate, has been successful in her application for a MFAT's Field Research Award to continue her research in Tonga. She will be using the funds ($3,800) to go to Tonga for four weeks to sample sites around Tongatapu, but also to go to Ha'apai and Vava'u island groups to survey for toxic microalgae relating to ciguatera.

Phoebe and her seagrass

Associate Professor Ren Dobson, has been successful in obtaining $47,000 from the Lottery Health Board to contribute significantly to the purchase of an AKTA Pure Fast protein liquid chromatography (FPLC) instrument for protein purification for the School and BIC.


Annual conference of the Genetics Society of Australasia

University of Otago, Dunedin
2 - 6 July 2017
Submit papers by: Monday 20th March

The 2017 Dunedin Conference will include sessions on ancient DNA, biochemistry, bioinformatics, evolution and development, genomics, law and ethics, microbial, model organisms (development and health) and genetics teaching and public outreach. Sessions will also focus on application in agriculture, ecology and conservation, heritage and medicine.

The Committee invites you to submit abstracts for consideration as an oral or poster presentation.  All submissions will be subject to a selection process by the Committee. The Committee will allocate abstracts to the program taking into account the quality of each abstract and the balance of the programme.

A limited number of poster presenters may have opportunities for short oral presentations during a poster session. There will be a question in the Abstract Submission Form where participation can be indicated.

Full details

Equity and diversity

UC recognises that a sense of 'belonging' is an integral part of University life and we are committed to developing a diverse, culture-rich, and cooperative environment for all. Our policies aim to ensure that all staff and students are given the opportunity and support to grow as individuals and as part of the wider community.

Have a look at the new CEDAC Equity and Diversity website: It has lots of resources to help everyone have a ‘sense of belonging’ at our university. Dr Pieter Pelser is one of the Diversity Champions.


New Seminar Coordinators

Daniel Stouffer and Renwick Dobson have stepped down from coordinating the SBS seminar series. They've both done some great work over the last few years on this, for which we are grateful. 

We're very happy to have Helen Warburton and Mitja Remus-Emsermann now joining the seminar coordinators. Please email them if you have potential speakers. It's really important that our visitors, graduates and colleagues have an opportunity to present their work to our department. Please also cc-Penny Moore to keep her up-to-date.

Please do keep the invites coming. Upcoming seminars are advertised here: and you can add the "School of Biological Sciences Seminar Series" to your own calendar too.


Open Access Fund

The UC Library has a small fund to pay for article processing charges (APCs) at Open Access journals.
Staff are invited to make a submission for funding via the Open Access Funding Application Form page ( Applications for this fund can be made at any time – the OAF committee meets four times a year to decide which submissions will be funded.
The OAF page contains information about author, journal and publisher eligibility for the fund. Author eligibility is as follows, with other categories of eligibility covered on the submissions page:

  • The applicant is the article’s corresponding author
  • The applicant has no access to grants or have insufficient funds which can be used for Article Processing Charges
  • Preference will be given to early career researchers (i.e. postgraduate students, and researchers who are within 8 years (at the date of application) of academic employment at UC or elsewhere (this includes postdoctoral research employment).)

Please direct any queries to

Royal Society of New Zealand

Do you know a year 12 or Year 13 Maori student who is passionate about science and confident in Te Reo Māori? If so, please share this amazing scholarship to attend the London International Youth Science Forum from the Royal Society of New Zealand.

Horticulture New Zealand Undergraduate Scholarships

Application closes: 20th March

Horticulture New Zealand (HortNZ) and the Horticentre Trust has a number of scholarships available for undergraduate students studying towards a degree in areas of interest to the Horticulture Industry. 

Application form (Word)

Postgraduate news

UC PGSA Postgrad Survey 2017

A quick note to say that you can now take part in the UC PGSA Postgrad Survey 2017.

If you fill it in you have the chance to win one of three cash prizes ($100, $50 or $25).

The link to the survey is here: .

The PGSA is trying to gauge postgrad diversity so they can tailor events more to the needs of the PG community, so your feedback is valued and encouraged.

Many thanks! - Tammy

PhD position in Freshwater Evolutionary Ecology

The position begins in July 2017

A PhD position in freshwater evolutionary ecology is available in the School of Environment at the University of Auckland. The position is associated with a project, funded by the Royal Society of New Zealand’s Marsden Fund, which examines contemporary evolution of consumers in response to thermal change. The project uses populations of mosquitofish that have independently invaded geothermal systems in New Zealand and California, USA as model systems.

Full details

Volunteer positions in Aldabra

UNESCO heritage site with the Seychelles Islands Foundations. One opening is for a monitoring and data processing volunteer and one for data analysis and management. Details can be found in and

Socio-ecological PhD research opportunity

We are looking for a PhD student to work within an urban research programme to explore knowledge, values and attitudes towards biodiversity by urban residents in general and to develop a better understanding of what motivates New Zealanders of different ethnicities to use local green spaces, and to support and engage in biodiversity management.

This would include investigating:

  1. characteristics of urban green spaces (structure, biodiversity value, etc) that promote wellbeing and are attractive to residents;
  2. extent of green space use by residents;
  3. perceptions and values regarding local green spaces;
  4. the relationship between green space use and well-being benefits to biodiversity values of green spaces;
  5. motivations of ethnically diverse study participants in biodiversity management.

If you are interested, please contact me at or 03 479 4107.
Assoc. Prof. Yolanda van Heezik, Zoology Department, University of Otago


Post-Doc: Community/Field Ecologist (Plant-soil interactions)

The post-doc will study with a team of researchers how plant-mediated changes in soil communities can influence plant growth, plant chemistry and aboveground plant-insect interactions. We study the impact of such soil-borne ‘legacy effects’ on plants and aboveground insects in the field in semi-natural grasslands. The post doc is expected to carry out field work related to two field experiments that have been set-up to study how (i) plant communities influence the soil and how other plant communities that grow later in the soil and the insects on those plants respond to these changes; and (ii) how soil inoculation influences plant community development and plant-insect interactions.

Full details

What book is that?

"Greed is a sin, 717." Sister Sage was beside her again. "Take care." 

398: "I've built something back here," he said. "Would you like to see'" "I'm sort of cold, Mr. Harvey," I said, "and my mom likes me home before dark."

Answer: The Lovely Bones by Sebold


Looking for part time/full time work

I am a University of Otago graduate who completed a BSc (Hons) with First class majoring in Anatomy. My degree also included papers physiology, neuroscience and microbiology. I am looking for positions available as a lab demonstrator, assistant research fellow or anything else - contact me at 0276340637 or

Part-time position wanted

Between February and August 2017
PhD in Biochemistry. Finishing thesis submission on 31st January 2017 in supervision of
Dr Renwick Dobson. Contact Deepti Mahapatra.

More details

Rooms for rent

150 for rent + expenses. We do some shared food. Cute house with lovely back garden near the Avon River just off Woodham Road on a quiet street- very close to city centre on one side and quality red-zone foraging on the other!  Current tenant is Swiss/Kiwi. Contact Ursula 021 159 9872

Experienced editor available

Experienced editor available online for essays, dissertations, theses and for postgraduate’s papers and publications. Specialist help for      students whose first language in not English (ESL).  
Virginia Gray, BSc (Canterbury), Dip.Edit.         027 419 1046  

Need a Research Assistant?

Forestry PhD graduate seeking research assistant job - Part-time, temporary, or long-term.. Extended experience in field work (forests, drylands, and wetlands), also interested in lab work, and data entry. References: Prof. David Norton and Prof. Matthew Turnbull. Ph. 0220897825,

Field experience in ecology

Hello! My name is Tarryn Wilson and I am a study abroad student from the US studying ecology. I am contemplating on staying at UC for another semester and am looking for opportunities outside of lectures to get field experience in anything ecology-related. At my home university in the northwest US, I specialize in Fish & Wildlife Management, but have found myself captivated by New Zealand and its flora and fauna. I am looking for any sort of volunteer opportunities. Please feel free to contact me at if you know of anyone seeking help with ecology-related research, etc. (Semester 1 of 2017). Thank you!

Proofreading and Editing Services

Let me help you produce writing that is clear, error-free and consistent.

Joan Gladwyn, BSc, MSc, CPhys, DipEdit (+64) 21 213 6511

and now for something completely different...

Here’s a shot of Nicole standing in the middle of what will be the new physiology lab (room 452) in RSIC1

View of the new BIOL111 lab (room 451)

6 Signs Your Cat Loves You - Simon's Cat

Recipes of the Week

Wondering what to do with all your courgettes
Baked courgettes

Spaghetti with chicken, feta, courgettes and mint

Thought for the Week

You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.
~ Unknown

Contact details

If you have items of news or interest that you would like included in this newsletter, contact the admin office before noon on Friday at or phone ext 6732.