2001: September - October

From the Head

It has been a good month or two for the School. In no special order :

Firstly, congratulations to Biological Sciences for gaining the most funding in the Faculty from Paul Ramsden for the Scholarship Index. This is given in recognition of scholarship in teaching, based on research publications and presentations in this area and on the number of staff with teaching qualifications. The claims made by departments were audited, and for Science we were one of only two departments in the Faculty whose claim withstood the audit. The funds will be used to further strengthen our teaching.

Secondly, congratulations to Michael Joseph, who recently received the Peter Dunlop Memorial Award for Occupational Health and Safety for his exceptional efforts on our behalf and on the Zone 1 Safety Committee.

Thirdly we have done well in the Sesqui scheme - one major equipment item, one new Sesqui post-doctoral fellow (Jonathon Webb) and 9 Sesqui grants for existing staff.

Fourthly the RIBET team have just received funding for two new projects in 2002: $5000 SCIFER grant for the computer-based learning project across Life Sciences (to May, Quinnell, Franklin and Lloyd [Pharmacology])and $2000 SCIFER grant to a collaborative project between Physics and Biology (Quinnell) for a study into student acquisition of data analysis skills.

And, most recently, we have been awarded a $90,000 Teaching Improvement Grant (with the Faculty of Agriculture) to develop joint teaching of plant science, mycology and entomology between the School and the Faculty. My thanks to Peter McGee, who put this together, and to Bill Allaway and many others who contributed. Mary Peat and Sue Franklin also won a TIF grant to
work on innovative materials for use in discussions in first year lab classes.

Well done to everyone - and to all others who have got grants, been promoted, published lots, enhanced our teaching and in many other ways helped the School to have an excellent year in difficult times.

Head of School's Report

October 2001


Lectureship in Marine Biology
7 applicants have been shortlisted for interview on the basis of referees' reports, and seminars and interviews will be held between 17 & 19 October. The University Selection Committee will meet on 25 October.

Grants received

ARC Discovery 2002
Professor R Shine: "Evolutionary ecology of snakes and lizards", 2002: $198,000; 2003: $182,000; 2004, 2005, 2006: $184,000 each (these figures include an Australian Professorial Fellowship, for 5 years).

ARC Linkage 2002
Dr J Sved et al: "Fruit fly pests in northwestern Australia : invasion, hybridisation or evolution?" 2002: $100,000; 2003: $90,000; 2004: $90,000 (includes an APA(I) )



  • Patterson, DJ. & MA. Burford. (2001). A guide to the protozoa of marine aquaculture ponds. CSIRO. Collingwood, VIC.
  • Rouse, GW. & F. Pleijel. (2001). Polychaetes. Oxford University Press. New York

Book Chapters

  • Dickman, CR. (2001). Rodents. The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Macdonald, DW. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford. 578 - 587
  • Dickman, CR. (2001). Old World Rats and Mice. The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Macdonald, DW. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford. 636 - 643
  • Dickman, CR. (2001). Sloths. The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Macdonald, DW. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford. 792 - 795
  • Dickman, CR. (2001). Edentates. The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Macdonald, DW. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford. 786 - 787
  • Dickman, CR. (2001). Pangolins. The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Macdonald, DW. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford. 800 - 801
  • Dickman, CR. (2001). Marsupials. The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Macdonald, DW. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford. 802 - 807
  • Dickman, CR. (2001). Small Marsupial Carnivores. The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Macdonald, DW. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford. 818 - 821
  • Dickman, CR. (2001). Cuscuses and Brushtail Possums. The New Encyclopedia of Mammals. Macdonald, DW. Oxford Univ. Press, Oxford. 828 - 833


  • Bannigan, A., Baskin, T.I. & R.L. Overall. (2001). Cell-cell communication and microtubule alignment in Arabidopsis thaliana. Plasmodesma 2001 - 4th intenational Conference,
  • Bannigan, A., Baskin, TI. & RL. Overall. (2001). Symplastic pathways in rice anthers. J Combo 2001,
  • Blackman, LM., Faulkner, C., Lyon, BR. & R.L. Overall. (2001). The pursuit of the molecular components of plasmodesmata. Plasmodesma 2001 - 4th intenational Conference,
  • Blackman, LM., Harper, JDI., Marc, J. & RL. Overall. (2001). Analysis of centrin isoforms in tobacco by-2 culture cells by 2D-electrophoresis. J Combo 2001,
  • Blackman, LM., Lyon, BR. & RL. Overall. (2001). A tyrosine phosphatase from Chara corallina identified during a library screen for plasmodesmata-assiciated proteins. J Combo 2001,
  • Breckcnock, S., Dibbayawan, T. & R.L. Overall. (2001). High resolution scanning electron microscopy of plasmodesmata in Chara corallina. Plasmodesma 2001 - 4th intenational Conference,
  • Cantrill, L., Collings, D., Blackman, L., Brecknock, S. Goodwin, P. & RL. Overall. (2001). Intercellular transport via the endoplasmic reticulum? Plasmodesma 2001 - 4th intenational Conference,
  • Cantrill, LC., Mamun, MEA., Overall, RL. & BG. Sutton. (2001). Symplastic pathways in rice anthers. J Combo 2001,
  • Cantrill, LC., Mamun, MEA., Overall, RL. & BG Sutton. (2001). Symplastic pathways of assimilate transport in rice anthers. Plasmodesma 2001 - 4th intenational Conference,
  • Collings, DA., Cantrill, LC. & RL. Overall. (2001). Intercellular transport in plants via the endoplasmic reticulum. J Combo 2001,
  • Faulkner, CR., Blackman, LM., Lyon, BR. & RL. Overall. (2001). Proteomics - a novel approach to the identification and characterisation of plasmodesmatal proteins. J Combo 2001,
  • Faulkner, CR., Blackman, LM., Lyon, BR. & RL. Overall. (2001). Proteomics - a novel approach for the identification of plasmodesmatal proteins. Plasmodesma 2001 - 4th intenational Conference,
  • Franklin, S., Lewis, A. & M. Peat. (2001). A large scale evaluation of the effectiveness of computer based resources: a research methodology. Proceedings of Research & development into University science teaching and learning workshop. Research & development into University science teaching and learning workshop. Uniserve Science, University of Sydney,
  • Franklin, S., Peat, M., Lewis, A & R Sims. (2001). Technology at the cutting edge: a large scale evaluation of the effectiveness of educational resources. Proceedings of ED-MEDIA 2001. ED-MEDIA 2001, AACE. Norfolk, VA. USA. 1473 - 1474
  • Harper, JDI., Weerakoon, ND., Blackman, LM., Parker, K. Jubb, I., Marc, J. & RL. Overall. (2001). Localisation of centrin in living and fixed plant cells using GFP and immunoelectron microscopy. J Combo 2001,
  • RL. Overall. (2001). Plasmodesmata. J Combo 2001,
  • Whiffen, LK., Dibbayawan, TP. & RL. Overall. (2001). High resolution microscopy of cell wall formation in Mougeotia protoplasts. J Combo 2001,


  • Barron, AB., Oldroyd, BP. & FLW. Ratnieks. (2001). Worker reproduction in honey-bees (Apis) and the anarchic syndrome: a review. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 50:199 - 208,
  • Beekman, M. (2001). The evolution of social behavior in microorganisms. TREE. 16:606 - 607,
  • Blackman, L.M. & R.L. Overall. (2001). Structure and function of plasmodesmata. Aust. J. Plant Physiol. 28:709 - 727,
  • Board, PG., Coggan, M., Chelvanayagam, G., Easteal, S., Jermiin, LS., Schulte, GK., Danley, DE., Hoth, LR., Griffor, MC., Kamath, AV., Rosner, MH., CHrunyk, BA., Perregaux, DE., Gabel, CA., Geoghegan, KF. & J. Pandit. (2001). Characterisation of the omega class glutathione transferases. Chemico-Biological Interactions. 133:204 - 206,
  • Brugerolle, G. & D.J. Patterson. (2001). Ultrastructure of Joenina pulchella Grassi, 1917 (Protista, Parabasalia), a reassessment of evolutionary trends in the parabasalids, and a new order Cristamonadida for devescovinid, calonymphid and lophomonad flagellates. Org. Divers. Evol. 1:147 - 160,
  • Downs, SH., Mitakakis, TZ., Marks, G., Car, NG., Belousova, EG., Leuppi, JD., Xuan, W., Downie, SR., Tobias, A. & JK. Peat. (2001). Clinical importance of Alternaria exposure in children. Am. J. Respir. Crit. Care Med. 164:455 - 459,
  • Franck, P., Garnery, L., Loiseau, A., Oldroyd, BP., Hepburn, HR., Solignac. (2001). Genetic diversity of the honeybee in Africa: microsatellite and mitochondrial data. Heredity. 86:420 - 430,
  • Gardiner, JC., Harper, JDI., Weerakoon, ND., Collings, DA., Ritchie, S., Gilroy, S., Cyr, RJ. & J. Marc. . (2001). A 90-kD phospholipase D from tobacco binds to microtubules and the plasma membrane. Plant Cell. 13:2143 - 2158,
  • Green, CL., Franck, P. & BP. Oldroyd. (2001). Characterisation of microsatellite loci for Trigona carbonaria, a stingless bee endemic to Australia. Mol. Ecol. Notes. 1:89 - 92,
  • Guillemin, GJ., Kerr, SJ., Smythe, GA., Smith, DG., Kapoor, V., Armati, PJ., Croitoru, J. & BJ. Brew. (2001). Kynurenine pathway metabolism in human astrocytes: a paradox for neuronal protection. J. Neurochem. 78:842 - 853,
  • Henwood, MJ. & JM. Hart. (2001). Towards an understanding of the phylogenetic relationships of Australian Hydrocotyloideae (Apiaceae). Edinb. J. Bot. 58:269 - 289,
  • Hochuli, D.F. (2001). Insect herbivory and ontology: How do growth and development influence feeding behaviour, morphology and host use? Austral Ecol. 26:563 - 570,
  • Lahoud, MH., Ristevski, S., Venter, DJ., Jermiin, LS., Bertoncello, I., Zavarsek, S., Hasthorpe, S., Drago, J., de Kretser, D., Hertzog, PJ. & I. Kola. (2001). Gene targeting of Desrt, a novel ARID class DNA-binding protein, causes growth retardation and abnormal development of reproductive organs. Genome Res. 11:1327 - 1334,
  • Oldroyd, BP., Wossler, TC. & FLW. Ratnieks. (2001). Regulation of ovary action in worker honey-bees (Apis mellifera): larval signal production and adult response thresholds differ between anarchistic and wild-type bees. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol. 50:366 - 370,
  • Overall, R.L., Dibbayawan, T.P. & L.M. Blackman. (2001). Intercellular alignments of the plant cytoskeleton. J. Plant Growth Regul. 20:162 - 169,
  • Pei, Y-X., Wang, D-H. & I.D. Hume. (2001). Selective digesta retention and coprophagy in Brandt's vole (Microtus brandti). J. Comp. Physiol. B. 171:457 - 464,
  • Robert, KA. & MB. Thompson. (2001). Viviparous lizard selects sex of embryos. Nature. 412:698 - 699,
  • Seebacher, F. & CE. Franklin. (2001). Control of heart rate during thermoregulation in the heliothermic lizard Pogona barbata: importance of cholinergic and adrenergic mechanisms. J. Exp. Biol. 204: - ,
  • Simpson, AGB., Bernard, C. & DJ. Patterson. (2000). The ultrastructure of Trimastix marina Kent, 1880 (Eukaryota), an excavate flagellate. Europ. J. Protistol. 36:229 - 251,
  • Simpson, AGB. & DJ. Patterson. (2001). On core Jakobids and excavate taxa: The ultrastructure of Jakoba incarcerata. J. Eukaryot. Microbiol. 48:480 - 492,
  • Thompson, MB., Speake, BK., Russell, KJ., & RJ McCartney. (2001). Nutrient uptake by embryos of the Australian viviparous lizard Eulamprus tympanum. Physiol. Biochem Zool. 74:560 - 567,
  • Thompson, MB., Speake, BK., Russell, KJ., & RJ McCartney. (2001). Utilisation of lipids, proteins, ions and energy during embryonic development of Australian oviparous skinks in the genus Lampropholis. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. A. 129:313 - 326,
  • Thompson, MB., Stewart, JR. Speake, BK., Russell, KJ., & RJ McCartney. (2001). Utilisation of nutrients by embryos of the egnimatic Australian viviparous skink Niveoscincus coventryi. J. Exp. Zool. 290:291 - 298,
  • Yu, H., Frommer, M., Robson, MK., Meats, AW., Shearman, DCA. & JA. Sved. (2001). Microsatellite analysis of the Queensland fruit fly Bactrocera tryoni (Diptera: Tephritidae) indicates spatial structuring: implications for population control. Bull. Entomol. Res. 91:139 - 147,


Mary Peat was invited by Alison Young, the Head of the School of Information Systems and Computing (SISC) in the Faculty of Business, UNITEC, Auckland to visit to give seminars on online learning and to attend the November 2001 Organising Committee meeting for ASCILITE 2002. The visit included a half day session with Science Faculty members at Auckland University, a half day session with Nursing Studies at UNITEC and half day session with SISC.

The Science Faculty at Auckland University is using a home-grown WebCT equivalent which has all the attributes of WebCT and has excellent linkage to the rest of the admin systems. In Biology they are teaching about 2000 first year students across a number of units of study. The biologists in particular were looking at ways of creating active learning outcomes in large classes and were very interested in those activities SOBS has in place in first year to achieve this. In addition they were interested in the modules already developed and on the FYB CD ROM.

The Nursing group is interested in developing a "front end" for their units (all of which use the local web tool) and they are thinking of using the building metaphor and thus were very interested in first year biology's Virtual Learning Environment. This group is also looking for already developed modules suitable for nursing. Within their new curriculum is a technology theme that looks at both the technologies of practice as well as the technologies of information and communication. They have constructed a matrix that follows the cognitive changes in these skills through a three year program (a useful model for others).

The School of Information Systems and Computing has a range of units and courses, many of which use online technologies as well as face-to-face engagement. They are particularly involved in postgraduate courses for international students and much of their income is from this area. In addition they are actively researching the effectiveness of online learning - hence the link with the activities in first year biology and the educational research group (RIBET).

Mary's role in ASCILITE 2002 is to be involved in paper refereeing and production of the proceedings and in being the "off-shore" island's contact for the confer .

Sesqui Grants Awarded

  • Assoc Prof WG Allaway "Localisation and function of a differentially regulated vATPase in ectomycorrhizas." $25 000
    Assoc Prof R T Hinde "A novel inhibitor of photosynthesis from a symbiotic coral." $25 000
  • Prof ID Hume "Determination of bandicoot diet choice by stable isotope analysis." $37 000
  • Dr L Jermiin "Evolution of mitochondrial gene order in the articulta (Crinoidea; Echinodermata)." $25 000
  • Dr J Marc "Role of phospholipase D in microtubule organisation." $30 000
  • Assoc Prof R Overall "Intercellular alignment of plant microtubules". $25 000
  • Assoc Prof R Overall "Intercellular communication in plants." $40 000
  • Dr F Seebacher "Metabolic enzyme activity in reptiles; do turtles show seasonal acclimitisation?" $35 000
  • Dr F Seebcher "Evolutionary physiology: did nocturnal reptiles evolve a physiological mechanism for thermoregulation?" $22 000


The department of Bioinformatics has been increased by one with the birth of Neville and Sue Firth's baby, Kelly. The web site for some of the photos is

Rick Shine became the object of a media frenzy when his paper on cross-dressing snakes appeared in "Nature" on 15 November. He had camera crews in his office , several radio interviews for national and international services, and a horde of emails from reporters all asking the same silly questions. Rick was tempted to dress in drag for the TV interviews, but finally decided that it was not befitting for a Sydney University professor.

In the process, Rick learnt two things:
(1) the topic of cross-dressing snakes holds particular fascination for news outlets in Germany - at least six different German magazines wanted photographs;
(2) the "direct conversations by satellite" on TV aren't always what they appear to be. For example, the Discovery channel in Canada has an interview on their website at (please note that the download can be problematic)

But actually, the questions were fed to Rick via a mobile phone plus earpiece, and the same questions later taped being asked in Canada. Put the two video clips together and hey presto, instant "live" interview...

The photo shows a newly-emerged "she-male" garter snake (a male that produces female-like skin pheromones) deluged by a horde of amorous suitors. The she-male is white in colour, because he is covered in limestone dust.

Jenny Saleeba recently attended the 6th International Society for Root Research Symposium in Nagoya, Japan. She got sick of people asking her to say hello to Robyn Overall on their behalf but she didn't get sick of the delightful Japanese scenery or the elegant food. In keeping with the local custom for gift giving, Jenny was pleased to receive a beautiful cloisonne dish as an award for the best molecular biology and genetics poster. Malcolm Rickett's image of a half metre long Arabidopsis root system attracted considerable attention and discussion from the conference participants. One confused maize researcher had no idea Arabidopsis seedlings could grow so big.