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Beyond the Bale : March 2017
Research into the genetic variation within the sheep blowfly Lucilia cuprina in Australia will soon be under way, thanks to an AWI-supported grant that aims to provide ammunition for the wool industry in its battle to protect the nation’s sheep flock from flystrike. The research will be undertaken by 30-year-old Dr Clare Anstead, a lecturer in parasitology in the Faculty of Veterinary & Agricultural Sciences at the University of Melbourne, who was presented with a Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Agriculture earlier this month. Dr Anstead was the lead researcher on the project that in 2015 completed the identification of all 14,554 genes that make up the sheep blowfly. That project, co-funded by AWI, to decode the sheep blowfly genome discovered around 2,000 genes not seen before in any other organism. Some of these ‘orphan’ genes FLYSTRIKE CONTROL USING NEXT GENERATION TECHNOLOGIES New research aims to provide critical genetic insights into sheep blowfly biology, and act as a crucial foundation for the potential development of new drugs and vaccine for effective and sustainable flystrike control. hold the key to the parasitic relationship between the blowfly and the sheep, and could be targeted to develop a completely new method of flystrike control. The new project supported by the AWI- funded Science and Innovation Award aims to build on this previous research by using genomic and related information to investigate genetic variation within the Australian sheep blowfly. Approximately 100 adult blowflies (50 females and 50 males) will be collected for analysis from infected sheep and their surrounding environment, from each of ten disparate locations across Australia. Dr Anstead says insights into the population genetics of the blowfly are critically important to provide a basis for the identification of key target genes that could be used in the design of new ways to combat the parasite. “The ability to study and establish genetic diversity within and among blowfly populations on a genome-wide scale, and to associate variation to genes or proteins linked to important biological characteristics, could have important implications for the control of flystrike,” Dr Anstead said. “The fundamental outcomes from this project will contribute significantly to the advancement of knowledge about blowfly biology, and provide a crucial foundation for the potential development of radically novel intervention methods such as new insecticides and vaccines.” Dr Anstead said the project also aims to enhance collaboration among researchers in this and complementary disciplines to improve data collection/analysis and drive the development of frontier molecular technologies in livestock and parasitic disease research. “I have already developed numerous strong collaborations with scientists in this and related fields, including Prof Phil Batterham of the University of Melbourne and Stephen Richards of the Baylor College of Medicine (Houston, Texas) who both worked on the previous genome mapping project and with whom I will work closely during this new project. “The project will be a perfect platform for further cross-departmental collaborations in this area as well as inter-institutional collaborations in both the national and international scientific arenas. Communications with industry partners will also ensure that findings with commercial potential can be translated into biotechnological outcomes.” The Science and Innovation Awards for Young People in Agriculture are coordinated by ABARES and are open to young people aged 18-35 years working or studying in rural industries. The annual awards aim to encourage the uptake of science, innovation and technology in rural industries. MORE INFORMATION firstname.lastname@example.org Dr Clare Anstead from the University of Melbourne is the recipient of an AWI-sponsored Science and Innovation Award for Young People in Agriculture. 38 ON FARM
In the Shops - March 2017