Australia Expedition Day 2: UTS and Manly

Today the team woke up at 8am (or, more correctly, 2:30, 4:30, 6:45 and then again at 8am… jet lag) and made their way to Sydney’s CBD in preparation for meetings all day at the University of Technology, Sydney. UTS is one of the premiere marine microbiology institutions in Australia, and is where Justin Seymour has his lab (with Peter Ralph). Justin’s work encompasses a very wide range of marine microbiology, including microfluidics, chemotaxis, metagenomics, and bacterial community ecology. His postdoc, Nahshon Siboni, is currently investigating SSaDV presence in wasting sea stars from Victoria, about 500 km south of Sydney. At UTS, Ian gave a seminar on the sea star project, and had a chance to meet up with Nahshon, Justin, an old friend and colleague Mark Brown (UNSW), and other colleagues over lunch, before a one-on-one meeting with Nahshon to discuss the qPCR approach and to come up with a game plan for future collaborative metaviromic efforts.


Can’t beat that view: coming in on the ferry into Circular Quay


The UTS campus in Ultimo, just south of the Sydney CBD

Sea star wasting disease appears now to be geographically widespread event, including populations in China and southern Australia. The team is always on the lookout for new ways to collaborate with investigators overseas on these outbreaks. Current investigations focus on whether SSaDV, which is our best candidate for the disease’s cause, occurs elsewhere on the planet, but will be extended to look at all viruses inhabiting sea star tissues. It nicely dovetails with the purpose of this expedition: to map biogeography of viruses onto the phylogeny of echinoderms (and amphipods and copepods).

After the seminar and a scrumptious lunch, Ian, Kalia and Elliot traveled back to Manly to catch up on emails and work. The original plan had them snorkeling along Fairy Bower, but the weather was a bit rough so decided instead to focus on data analysis, synthesis and coming up with future plans for analysis of projects back home.

Tomorrow morning, the team travels to Brisbane, to meet with folks at the University of Queensland.




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