Author Archive

Introducing our members only area

Monday, July 4th, 2022

This space is dedicated for internal updates that relate to Bioprotection Aotearoa.  Viewing these updates is only possible when you are logged into the members only area.

While logged in, you will also been given access to

  • further contact information and social media links (if this has been supplied)
  • important files and information, such our powerpoint templates and brand assets
  • key policy information (these are currently being drafted)

Over time, we hope this space will grow with key information that with benefit you and the work you are doing.

Please email us if you have suggestions for information and key documents that you would like to see here.

 

Bringing the tūī back to town – how native birds are returning to NZ’s restored urban forests

Wednesday, May 18th, 2022

Postdoctoral Fellow Elizabeth Elliot Noe has always followed The Conversation.  Feeling brave, Elizabeth decided to pitch a story idea to them.  She submitted a 900-word article about planting more native trees in urban areas to encourage the return of native birds to urban forests.  Elizabeth says that these small actions in local neighbourhoods can make a big difference.

Elizabeth was surprised to learn that The Conversation chose to publish her article. “It was fun to see them add pictures and make it shiny and exciting.”  She was even more surprised to learn that media aggregate sites such as Stuff and the NZ Herald republished her article word for word, with no edits.

READ THE ARTICLE >

Conservation genomics in practice

Wednesday, May 11th, 2022

Director for Bioprotection Aotearoa, Professor Amanda Black was interviewed recently by Nature.  Amanda discusses how Māori deeply care for the environment and biodiversity of Aotearoa New Zealand, as this is how Māori define themselves and is culturally important.

“Different Māori tribes are kaitiaki, or guardians, of taonga, or treasured species. Conservation-biology- and biodiversity-oriented projects in New Zealand involve Māori. Respect for Indigenous peoples is integrated into scientific practices in fieldwork and sample handling and when using data to benchmark computational tools. Those tasks are part of conservation genomics, in which methods such as sequencing and sequence analysis are used to study the genomes of people, plants, animals and microbes.”

Amanda says it was an enjoyable experience chatting with the writer, “A journal like Nature is starting to recognise the value and experience of indigenous researchers.”  A mission for Nature, is to ensure that the results of science are rapidly disseminated to the public throughout the world, in a fashion that conveys their significance for knowledge, culture and daily life.

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How Māori stepped in to save a towering tree crucial to their identity.

Wednesday, May 11th, 2022

The New York Times talks to our very own Dr. Nick Waipara and other Māori researchers about Māori led interventions to save kauri from kauri dieback.  Nick discusses the competitive system for scientific funding being directed towards the priorities of non-Māori researchers, making work on the disease “problematic, underfunded, piecemeal and ad hoc”.

READ THE ARTICLE >

 

A network perspective for sustainable agroecosystems

Friday, April 29th, 2022

Highlights

  • Nature-based management uses biodiversity and targeted biotic introductions to improve sustainable agroecosystem production, but results have been variable.
  • A network perspective can drive research to improve the future design and efficacy of nature-based agroecosystem management.
  • Species interaction networks affect and explain ecosystem functioning and stability. Recent advances in network research provide tools for identifying the roles and interaction network structure of species based on their functional traits, integrating multiple types of species interaction, and predicting indirect effects across spatial and temporal scales.
  • Applying these tools can help to predict the impacts of intentional or accidental species additions and removals on ecosystem functioning and stability, and contribute to sustainable agroecosystem production through nature-based management in the face of global change.

Abstract

Nature-based management aims to improve sustainable agroecosystem production, but its efficacy has been variable. We argue that nature-based agroecosystem management could be significantly improved by explicitly considering and manipulating the underlying networks of species interactions. A network perspective can link species interactions to ecosystem functioning and stability, identify influential species and interactions, and suggest optimal management approaches. Recent advances in predicting the network roles of species from their functional traits could allow direct manipulation of network architecture through additions or removals of species with targeted traits. Combined with improved understanding of the structure and dynamics of networks across spatial and temporal scales and interaction types, including social-ecological, applying these tools to nature-based management can contribute to sustainable agroecosystems.

VIEW PUBLICATION >

Genome: Science of Life exhibition to launch

Friday, April 29th, 2022

This radio interview features Professor Peter Dearden, a Deputy Director for Bioprotection Aotearoa.  Peter is also the director of Genomics Aotearoa and discusses with Wallace Chapman from RNZ the launch of a new exhibition at Tūhura Otago Museum, called Genome: Science of Life.

Since COVID arrived on our shores, genomics has become a part of the public consciousness.

LISTEN TO BROADCAST >

Familiar reforms part of new Government plan to adapt to a hotter world

Wednesday, April 27th, 2022

This article features comments from Professor Anita Wreford, a researcher for Bioprotection Aotearoa, who welcomes public consultation following the release of the draft National Adaptation Plan.   Anita comments on how this is a good opportunity to discuss how conflicting viewpoints would be resolved, and “rightly” decide how costs can be shared.

“For example, the preferred position of one funding body – such as the council – could be different from the communities’ viewpoint. Solutions could create new problems, Wreford noted: one community might want to build a sea wall that would impact the safety or ecology of a neighbouring locale.”

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Sentinel Plants for Aotearoa’s unique viral ecosystems

Friday, April 1st, 2022

This summer studentship research outlines a method for the identification of sentinel plants for
Aotearoa New Zealand’s unique virus ecosystems. Eighteen species of candidate sentinel plants were
identified through searching published literature and online databases. This is the first time sentinel
plants have been selected for an Aotearoa New Zealand indigenous plant context and provides a step
towards a more user-friendly approach to virus ecology for Aotearoa New Zealand. The concept and
actual identification of sentinel plants selected for use in Aotearoa New Zealand will facilitate further
research studying the distribution of viruses in agricultural and ecological contexts in Aotearoa New
Zealand and internationally. Such virus ecological research is extremely important in a future
dominated by a warming planet.

VIEW RESEARCH >

A mobile restriction–modification system provides phage defence and resolves an epigenetic conflict with an antagonistic endonuclease

Monday, March 14th, 2022

Graphical Abstract:A mobile restriction–modification system provides phage defence and resolves an epigenetic conflict with an antagonistic endonuclease

Epigenetic DNA methylation plays an important role in bacteria by influencing gene expression and allowing discrimination between self-DNA and intruders such as phages and plasmids.

Restriction–modification (RM) systems use a methyltransferase (MTase) to modify a specific sequence motif, thus protecting host DNA from cleavage by a cognate restriction endonuclease (REase) while leaving invading DNA vulnerable.  Other REases occur solitarily and cleave methylated DNA. REases and RM systems are frequently mobile, influencing horizontal gene transfer by altering the compatibility of the host for foreign DNA uptake. However, whether mobile defence systems affect pre-existing host defences remains obscure.

Here, we reveal an epigenetic conflict between an RM system (PcaRCI) and a methylation-dependent REase (PcaRCII) in the plant pathogen Pectobacterium carotovorum RC5297. The PcaRCI RM system provides potent protection against unmethylated plasmids and phages, but its methylation motif is targeted by the methylation-dependent PcaRCII. This potentially lethal co-existence is enabled through epigenetic silencing of the PcaRCII-encoding gene via promoter methylation by the PcaRCI MTase. Comparative genome analyses suggest that the PcaRCII-encoding gene was already present and was silenced upon establishment of the PcaRCI system. These findings provide a striking example for selfishness of RM systems and intracellular competition between different defences.

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Fears wilding pine issue has been underestimated, expert says

Thursday, March 3rd, 2022

This article features Distinguished Professor Philip Hulme, who is a Deputy Director at Bioprotection Aotearoa.  Philip lends his expertise on an article about management efforts to eradicate wilding pines in Aotearoa.

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