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Friday, 23 September 2016 17:33

Mel, Joh and Rhys explain their PhD research

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Last week Melinda Waterman and Johanna Turnbull both gave their final PhD seminars.  Years of work on Antarctic mosses condensed into an hour.  Now that their theses are submitted they have completed all the requirements for their PhDs and are both just waiting for the examiners comments to come back.  November is also when we hold the postgraduate retreat and all the PhD students give their annual seminars, so Rhys Wyber also had to give one. Last year he won the prize for best introductory seminar and this year he was runner up, so he is keeping up the lab tradition of excellent seminars. Well done Rhys, Melinda and Johanna.  

Melinda talked about the compounds she has extracted from one of the Antarctic mosses, Ceratodon purpureus. These compounds are ultraviolet (UV) sunscreen compounds and have high antioxidant activity, so they protect the moss from the damaging effects of UV light.

Johanna told us how tolerant Ceratodon was, especially when it is dried out (desiccated). When it is dry you can put it under a sunbed lamp for hours without it getting damaged.  Not something mosses normaly do but useful as a comparsion to measure how truly tough they can be. Ceratodon was far more tolerant than the other two species we study, Bryum and Schistidium. You can ready more about Johanna's work in these papers in Global Change Biology and Functional Plant Biology.

Rhys is doing something completely different, using a new laser induced fluoresence transient (LIFT) instrument to measure canopy photosynthesis.  We do want to use it on mosses soon but at the moment he is working with plants with big leaves like avocado. He had some very funky drone footage of his experiments which we found entertaining.

Read 1361 times Last modified on Tuesday, 12 February 2019 18:35
Sharon Robinson

Senior Professor at University of Wollongong