Biological Sciences - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Biology Newsletter

Newsletter 401

8 May 2017

Recent publications in the school

Cross, F.R. and Jackson , R.R. (2017). Representation of different exact numbers of prey by a spider-eating predator. Interface Focus 7: 20160035.

Heydarnejad, J., Kamali, M., Massumi, H., Kvarnheden, A., Male, M.F., Kraberger, S., Stainton, D., Martin, D.P. and Varsani, A. (2017). Identification of a nanovirus-alphasatellite complex in Sophora alopecuroides. Virus Research 235: 24-32.

Rowland, L., Zaragoza-Castells, J., Bloomfield, K.J., Turnbull, M.H., Bonal, D., Burban, B., Salinas, N., Cosio, E., Metcalfe, D.J., Ford, A., Phillips, O.L.. Atkin, O.K. and Meir, P. (2017). Scaling leaf respiration with nitrogen and phosphorus in tropical forests across two continents. New Phytologist 214(3): 1064-1077.

Schimanski, K.B., Goldstien, S.J., Hopkins, G.A., Atalah, J. and Floerl, O. (2017). Life history stage and vessel voyage profile can influence shipping-mediated propagule pressure of non-indigenous biofouling species. Biological Invasions doi:10.1007/s10530-017-1420-6.

This is Anastasia's first publication at first author. Anastasia conferred her PhD in 2013 and Associate Professor Steven Gieseg was her Senior Supervisor. Congratuations Anastasia!
Shchepetkina, A.A., Hock, B.D., Miller, A., Kennedy, M.A. and Gieseg, S.P. (2017). Effect of 7,8-dihydroneopterin mediated CD36 down regulation and oxidant scavening on oxidised low-density lipoprotein induced cell death in human macrophages. International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology 87: 27-33.

Thomas, J. and Collings, D.A. (2017). Detection and mapping of resin canals by image analysis in transverse sections of mechanically perturbed, young Pinus radiata trees. IAWA Journal 38(2): 170-181.

Wiltshire, E.J., Eady, C.C. and Collings, D.A. (2017). Induction of anthocyanin in the inner epidermis of red onion leaves by environmental stimuli and transient expression of transcription factors. Plant Cell Reports doi:10.1007/s00299-017-2132-1.

PhD oral exam completed

Marine Aubert's PhD oral was on Wednesday 26th April and she was successfully approved for the PhD, subject to a number of revisions of some parts of the thesis. Well done Marine! She'll be back in the department for some weeks from 27 May working on the revisions.

Pictured: (from left, top row) NZ examiner David Pattemore of Plant & Food Research, and Marine (in Noumea).
Bottom row is Dave Kelly (senior supervisor), Jim Briskie (chair of the oral, taking the photo) and Ecki Brockerhoff (Scion, associate supervisor).

Qianqian Guo had her PhD oral exam on Thursday 6th April. Her senior supervisors were Professors Matthew Turnbull and Paula Jamesonr. The title of her thesis is 'Carbon and root system architecture: key regulators of nitrate uptake'. Congratulations Qianqian!

Pictured: Professor Matthew Turnbull, Qianqian, Professor Rainer Hofmann (Oral Examiner, Lincoln University) and Professor Paula Jameson. Pictured in distance Associate Professor Hazel Chapman (Oral Organiser)

In the spotlight

BIOL 212 Field trip: Kaikoura


Read about the recent successful 212 field trip. Thanks to Sharyn Goldstien for text/photos.

Science Exposed at the Biodesign Institute at ASU

A new experiment at ASU. Communicating science through art. You'll notice that Simona Kraberger (PhD graduate, 2015) is back in the Arvind Varsani group in the video. She stated as a senior research scientist in Arvind's group in March.

Check out “Science Exposed at the Biodesign Institute” from ASU Now on Vimeo. The video is available for your viewing pleasure at Vimeo is filled with lots of amazing videos. See more at

Funding success

Colleagues in SBS have been successful in the latest round of the Brian Mason Trust Fund:
Dorian Coray and Mitja Remus-Emsermann - $15,000 – Visualizing RNA and protein dynamics across microbial populations.
Bill Davison - $10,300 – Floundering in a changing lake.

Autistic man graduates with master's degree after 10 years of 'grit and tenacity'

When he was a boy Robert Perry used to draw pictures of his future self in a lab coat holding a test tube.

He had wanted to be a scientist for as long as he could remember but, as someone with autism spectrum disorder, he struggled with education despite his intelligence.

"I have never been much of a student, or maybe I have just never had a school that was meant for me," the 30-year-old said.

Read the full article at Stuff. Including a very warming video of our very favourite Texan/Kiwi.

E-Spatial appoints Christchurch-based consultant Dr Kathryn Salm

e-Spatial, the independent spatial consultancy firm, today announced that they are extending their presence in Christchurch with the appointment of a locally based consultant Dr Kathryn Salm.

Kathryn completed her PhD in 2009 with Professor Robert Jackson. Read the full article at Voxy.

Flowering trees in Mount Kanla-on Last of two parts

The lovely flowering trees at the administration center of the Mount Kanla-on Natural Park in Sitio Calapnagan, Barangay Biak-na-Bato, La Castellana, are known as Antsoan, or Cassia javanica ssp. javanica, which many thought are Palawan cherry blossoms. Botanists Pat Malabrigo and Pieter Pelser of the University of the Philippines Los Baños and University of Canterbury, respectively, have confirmed the identification of the species after photos of these trees have spread online because they look like Cherry blossoms of Japan. The species is a non-native to the Philippines, or an exotic one.

Read the full article at The Visayan Daily Star.

Ground-breaking project to boost Christchurch whitebait

A large-scale initiative to help identify and improve īnaka (whitebait) spawning areas on Ōtautahi Christchurch waterways in the post-earthquake environment has attracted considerable community support.

Whaka Īnaka, which means “causing whitebait”, began in 2016 with the twin objectives of boosting seasonal spawning success in Christchurch rivers and pinpointing areas where īnaka prefer to spawn. Dr Mike Hickford of the UC School of Biological Sciences, who has been studying īnaka for many years, says the ground-breaking project began as “pure science” to determine where new spawning habitats had formed post-earthquake. Read the full article at UC Communications.

UC Roper Scholarship

The Post-Graduate Scholarship Committee has met and based on academic merit have allocated the 10 most Prestigious PhD UC Scholarships. One of our very own postgraduate scored a very remarkable one indeed:

Roper Scholarship: Michael Currie, Biological Sciences


Pink Ribbon morning tea

This will be held on Thursday 18th May. Bring along something yummy to eat or bring a contribution. Tearoom, 10.30 am


International Society for Subsurface Microbiology conference (ISSM)

6-10 November 2017, Rotorua


Conference flyer

April graduation - 13th April

Doctor of Philosophy

Associate Professor David Leung (Senior Supervisor) and Georgina

Georgina Boamponsem in Biotechnology
In vitro selection and characterisation of iron-efficient potato cell lines

Rachel North in Biochemistry
Bacterial sialic acid degradation: membrane transport and enzymology

Very proud Rishi Pandey
His Senior Supervisor was Professor Juliet Gerrard

Rishi Pandey in Biochemistry
Self-assembly of protein derived peptides

Richard White with Professor Angus McIntosh (Senior Supervisor)

Richard White in Ecology
The influence of drought on Neochanna apoda metapopulation persistence under global warming and land-use change

Council Ceremony

Alyssa Cirtwill in Ecology
Species roles and link roles: a richer perspective on network ecology

Chan Deng in Ecology
Predatory and plant-use specialization by Evarcha culicivora, an East African salticid spider

Manuel Fernandes in Zoology
Acoustic analysis of slow click function and foraging in sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) off Kaikoura, New Zealand 

Arvind Ravichandran in Biochemistry
Structural, dynamic and interaction studies of autophagy-related proteins

Jessica Roche in Cellular & Molecular Biology
The effect of nitrogen status and carbon remobilisation on nitrate assimilation and associated cytokinin signalling in shoots and roots of Lolium perenne.

Master of Science

UC Māori Graduation ceremony, 12th April
Channell Thoms and her Associate Supervisor, Professor Jon Harding

Laura A.A. Grundy Biological Sciences First Class Honours
Anna M. Henderson Ecology Distinction
Amy M. Hill Cellular & Molecular Biology First Class Honours
Juliet N. Kim Biological Sciences Distinction
Isis H. Metcalfe Biological Sciences First Class Honours
Robert W. Perry Cellular & Molecular Biology Distinction
Channell L. Thoms Environmental Sciences Second Class Honours (Division One)
Richard S.A. White Zoology First Class Honours

Robert Perry with his proud Mum & Step-Dad

In absentia
Malyon D. Bilmer Ecology Distinction
Arohi Dhaneshwar Environmental Sciences Second Class Honours (Division Two)


Bachelor of Science with Honours

Professor Dave Kelly (Senior Supervisor) and Juanita Miln

Juanita V. Miln Biological Sciences First Class Honours
Olivia J. Ogilvie Biochemistry First Class Honours


Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences / Biochemistry

Coleman, Aidan J. Collier-Robinson, Levi F.M. Cox, Simon D.
Crean, Penny G. Darshika, Darshana Devine, Danielle B.
Fulton, Cade D. Gillam, Samuel B. Godman, Kelly D.
Green, Joshua J. Inglis, Leighton K. Kerr, David C.
Keys, Bridget K. Khan, Anjum Kovacs Wilks, Kimberley I.
Leach, Jessica A.D. Liu, Regan Manser, Jessica R.E.
Masters, Rebecca C. North, Rachel A. Ogilvie, Olivia J.
Pepperell, Danielle C.E. Perry, Robert W. Pointon, Olivia F.
Rafyee, Ziagul Shamy, Sophia B.A. Singh, Melanie G.
Springer, Reuben J. Taylor, Samantha M. Tse, Patrick N.
Wehner, Brianna F. White, Richard S.A.  

Postgraduate news

PhD position on landscape biodiversity research

Application closes: 31 May

We are seeking a PhD student with a background (MSc degree) in ecology, biology, environmental sciences, or a closely related discipline. The successful applicant will be based at the Department of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies of the University of Zurich, Switzerland.

Full details

PhD-student position: Weed seed predation: management of an overlooked ecosystem service delivered by biodiversity

Application deadline: 10 May

Are you looking for a PhD project where you can explore the benefits of biodiversity and how it can best be managed in agricultural landscapes? Would you like to collaborate internationally and communicate with stakeholders? Then this PhD position at the Department of Ecology, SLU should be of interest to you. Our PhD-education aims to develop your creative and analytical thinking and to strengthen your research, communication, and outreach skills. The successful applicant will enter a dynamic and internationally distinguished research environment with an extensive collaborative network, and will actively develop the project and design the studies.

Full details/Application form


Marsden Funded PhD Scholarship

Testing for Fishing-Induced Evolution using Genotyping-by-Sequencing of Ancient and Modern Snapper
The ideal starting date is 1 July 2017

Project Description
We are seeking a highly-motivated PhD student for a project that aims to test for fishing-induced evolution in New Zealand Snapper (Chrysophrys auratus) using Genotyping-by-Sequencing (GBS) of modern and ancient DNA.  

Project Supervisors  
Dr. Peter Ritchie, Victoria University of Wellington (VUW), New Zealand  
Dr. Nic Rawlence, Department of Zoology, University of Otago, New Zealand  
Dr. Maren Wellenreuther, Plant and Food Research (PFR), Nelson, New Zealand  

Fishing typically targets larger individuals and thus has the potential to increase the reproductive success of small fish that mature early. Numerous studies have reported a decrease in the average size of heavily fished species and the age of maturation, but there is uncertainty about whether this is caused by directional selection on allele frequencies (evolutionary change). The overall goal of this PhD project is to test for fishing-induced evolution in New Zealand snapper by comparing DNA isolated from contemporary populations, to the DNA isolated from bones of pre-industrial fish samples. New Zealand has a unique record of snapper bones that have been preserved in prehistoric New Zealand middens (i.e. places where food remains were dumped or buried). The successful candidate for this project will be responsible for collecting a GBS dataset of genome-wide SNPs using DNA extracted from contemporary samples. This position will be based at Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand). The data set collected from contemporary samples will be combined with a comparable dataset recovered from snapper ancient DNA that will be obtained by researchers at the Otago Palaeogenetics Laboratory. The complete physical isolation of the ancient and modern part of the project will ensure there is minimal risk of cross-contamination. This ambitious and innovative approach will provide the level of resolution needed to identify genomic regions that have experienced selection and make precise population genetic and demographic inferences possible.

PhD Project Aims  
1. To test whether size-selective industrial fishing is associated with a signature of genetic selection,  
2. Determine levels of genetic diversity and differentiation,  
3. Test for loci under selection and adaptive genetic variation.  

This project will provide an excellent opportunity to develop skills in the areas of genomics, bioinformatics and population genetics, and how they can be used to support sustainable harvesting. The PhD student will gain experience working with collaborators in New Zealand (Professor Hamish Spencer), Australia (Professor Mike Bunce), and Norway (Dr. Bastiaan Star). The PhD student will be a member of a highly active and collaborative group of researchers, and help develop population genomics and an understanding of how human activity is changing the environment.  

The successful candidate will be a highly-motivated researcher, with a strong background and interest in genomics and molecular evolution. Experience with a coding and/or scripting languages will be an advantage. This position will be based at Victoria University of Wellington and comes with a three-year scholarship that provides a stipend (NZ$27,500 pa) and university tuition fees. This project is supported by the New Zealand Marsden Fund.  

Applicants should send a CV, contact details of two academic referees and a cover letter that states why you are interested in the position and how your qualifications and experience make you a good fit for the proposed research. Send these to Peter Ritchie (E-mail: Candidate selection will begin May, but applications will be considered until the position is filled. International applicants with strong academic record are encouraged to apply. For more information about studying at VUW and the entry requirements for the PhD program please see

Also see

What book is that?

“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.”

400: “Fair is foul, and foul is fair. Hover through the fog and filthy air.”

Answer: Macbeth


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...

Marine ecologists discover and name the first endemic tree-climbing crab

Dinosaur footprint may be largest ever discovered

A university is eliminating its science collection — to expand a running track

Knowledge is not always power when it comes to bumblebees

Sachin's Cricket Wali Beat

'Me Time' As A Cat Owner: Simon's Cat

Thought for the Week

Half of all long-term smokers will die from a smoking-related disease.

Around 5000 people die each year in New Zealand because of smoking or second-hand smoke exposure. That’s 13 people a day. It is not too late to quit.

Your body begins to repair itself as soon as you quit smoking.

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.