Owl CSI—feathers and DNA reveal night secrets

Dr Fiona Hogan is DNA fingerprinting Australian owls with the help of feathers and a keen public.

Her work is transforming our understanding of the night life of owls, normally notoriously secretive.

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How lobsters create their colours

A team of Queensland researchers have discovered the genetics that underlies the one molecule that lobsters, prawns and other crustaceans use to make the complex coloured patterns appreciated by biologists and connoisseurs of seafood.

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Whiplash: who won’t get better?

Most people recover from whiplash injuries within the first few months. However, some people have long term pain—lasting months or years. Until now there has been no way of diagnosing these more severe cases.

New research suggests that fat deposits in the neck muscles are the key.

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Dinner for tuna

outhern bluefin tuna can’t even have a quiet snack without CSIRO researchers knowing. They’ve developed a way of tracking when the tuna feed and also where, at what depth, and the temperature of the surrounding water.

Dr Sophie Bestley and her colleagues at CSIRO’s Wealth from Oceans National Research Flagship surgically implant miniaturised electronic ’data-storage’ tags into juvenile fishes off the coast of southern Australia.

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Life beneath the sheets: 9000 years in the dark

Researchers at Geoscience Australia have unravelled the development of a unique seafloor community thriving in complete darkness below the giant ice sheets of Antarctica.The community beneath the Amery Ice Shelf in Antarctica is 100 kilometres from open water and hidden from view by ice half a kilometre thick. This ecosystem has developed very slowly over the past 9,000 years, since the end of the last glaciation.

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Strawberries that pack a flavour punch

Why does the same species of strawberry taste different in different countries? How is it that Californian strawberries are loved by locals but fail to impress Down Under?

RMIT University researchers, Assoc. Prof. Eddie Pang and Prof. Phil Marriott, are looking for answers to those questions to help Australian strawberry growers identify which breeds grow best in which region

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Vaccine hope for shellfish allergies

A new oral vaccine against shellfish allergies is being developed by researchers at RMIT University.

Assoc. Prof. Andreas Lopata and his team in RMIT’s School of Applied Sciences are working to help find a different method for vaccination against the potentially deadly allergy.

“We want to create a vaccine that people can eat or swallow, rather than inject.” he said.

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Yeast—the next wine frontier

Australia’s scientific approach to grape growing and winemaking means that you can be confident in what you’re buying when you drink Australian wines. And that’s helped Australian wine become the market leader in the UK and second behind Italy in the US market.

Now researchers at the Australian Wine Research Institute are tracking down the compounds that give wine its complexity. In 2007 they identified the compound responsible for the ‘black pepper’ aroma in Shiraz, and more recently they found the cause of the ‘minty eucalypt’ aroma of some Australian reds.

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Managing tropical fires for greenhouse gas abatement

The economic potential of carbon is the focus of a new fire project on the Tiwi Islands, 80 kilometres north of Darwin in the Northern Territory and home to 2,000 Aboriginal Australians. Nearly half of the Tiwi Islands are burnt every year, resulting in significant greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing the extent of fire may provide substantial financial benefits under the emerging carbon economy.

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Understanding Black Saturday

The devastating bushfires in Victoria, Australia on 7 February 2009 resulted in the loss of 173 lives and caused major property and asset damage. The fires are considered to be Australia’s worst peacetime disaster.

The questions and issues that quickly emerged will be the subject of major debate, in Australia and internationally, for years to come.

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