With financial assistance from the “International Research Coordination Network for Biodiversity of Ciliates” (IRCN-BC) through Dr John Clamp, I visited WHOI in August 2017 and spent time in the Edgecomb Laboratory. Dr Virginia Edgecomb hosted me and gave me a desk, microscopes and a lab to work in. Additionally Dr Edgecomb set up meetings with a number of research scientists from WHOI and the Uni Rhode Island. We also did some field work in shallow coastal ponds near WHOI.

Most importantly Dr Susan Mills presented me with a small rock that the ALVIN Submersible had recovered from -2,500 metres on the East Pacific Rim in May 2017. On inspection I saw Folliculinid lorica from at least one species. The scientist on board was Ileana Pe’rez-Rodriguez.

On my return SEM imaging and DNA tests will be carried out.

My thanks to Dr Virginia Edgecomb for her most gererous hospitality and support.

Meetings were held with:

  • Dr Lauren Mullineaux Head of Biological Science at WHOI.
  • Assist Prof Roxanne Lynn – University of Rhode Island
  • Dr Judith O’Neil
  • Dr Susan Mills
  • Assist Prof Ileana Perez-Rodriguez
  • Dr Carolyn Tepolt

And many more students.


VISIT to James Cook University ARC Centre of Excellence on Coral – Feb 13 -17th 2017.

I wish to thank Dr Tracy Ainsworth for hosting my visit and being amazing. Without Tracy I would have achieved little, she organized all my meetings, set me up with a desk, microscopes, a laboratory and visits to “The Great Barrier Reef Authority Marine Park Authority” (GBRMPA) Aquarium HQ. Dr Bill Leggett gave me insight into symbiotic dinoflagellates, acquired fixatives, introduced me to PAM and organized my samples back to The University of Adelaide, School of Animal and Vet Science.

At Aquarium HQ with the assistance of Dr Ashley Frisch, I found folliculinids on diseased coral in small holding aquaria on the HQ roof. These coral samples were returned to the ARC CEC where I examined and imaged them using a Leica stereo-microscope. I found folliculinids on both branching (Acropora) and tabular (Turbinaria) coral. Folliculinids were not found on either filamentous or coralline algae, I suspect that I found new species, until further examined I have called them type 1, 2 and 3 (see images below)

Gus Fordyce, a masters student on Heron Island, collected and sent me a number of samples, both live and fixed in PFA. The live specimens unfortunately arrived in a state of decay and were not of use. The samples fixed in PFA have been forwarded to the School of Animal and Vet Science Roseworthy Campus in SA for subsequent examination on my return.

During my stay I had meetings with a number of research staff, including: Dr David Bourne – microbiologist, Dr Nicole Webster AIMS and Dr David Miller – Genomics.

I also had the privilege of having a desk in a room with a group of smart and hard working PhD students from all over this globe. Special thanks to Sarah Gierz who helped me understand some of the biochemical facts about symbiodinium, and where things are in the labs and, Alejandra Hernandez for discussions about micro-biomes in deep coral and Natalia Andrade Rodriguez about ciliates on soft coral.

At my desk.

Aquaria at HQ with diseased coral with living folliculinids

Samples from HQ aquaria, note bleached areas of coral disease on the large plate like coral (possibly a Podabacia) and branching Acropora with brown areas of living hydroids. No folliculinids were found on the coralline algae or the filamentous algae.

Folliculinid  “type 1” on bleached Acropora coral – Stereo-micrograph.This type has large thick peristomal wings and is heavily pigmented and has symbiotes.

Folliculinids of “type 2” on bleached Acropora coral – Stereo-micrograph.

Back to Adelaide and work on all the fixed samples collected at HQ and Heron Island, using both light and electron microscopy.

February 12 – 25th 2017 – Visit to Jame Cook University for meetings with Dr Tracy Ainsworth and staff regarding folliculinids on coral and coral disease.(see post on Coral Disease).

November 28th 2016 – First HDR Seminar at Vet School. Topic was my research on folliculinids, the seminal also included a proposed aetiology between folliculinids and vibrio. See Dec 31st post on this site. 

July 2016PhD at The Adelaide University. Commencing a  PhD on the Taxonomy and Biogeography of the Family Folliculinidae (Protista, Ciliophora), with emphasis on occurrence and diversity in Australia.

Folliculinid ciliates are a distinctive type of unicellular organism that have been associated with coral disease. There have been two prior studies of folliculinids in Australia (Whitelegge, 1889 and Andrews, 1950). As part of a multi-phase project, this study will develop taxonomy capacity with folliculinid ciliates. It will result in the publication of little known and new species from Australia, an inventory of all species encountered, an on-line open-access compilation of all literature that includes taxonomic acts relating to folliculinids world-wide, and the entry of nomenclatural acts in ZooBank.

May 2016 – Arkaroola “Science boot camp” for 40 Urrbrae High School year ten students, May 22nd – 27th at Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary.

April 2016  RESEARCH GRANT: I have been awarded an Australian Biological Resources Study Grant for 2016-17. The grant is to study the “Folliculinid ciliates of Coobowie Marine Park Sanctuary” under the Australian Government’s National Taxonomy Research Research Grant Program (NTRGP). The grant is for sample collection, travel and training and time on the electron microscopes and other facilities at the Centre for Microscopy at the University of Adelaide. This research will commence in July 2016.