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Newsletter - June 2013

Our latest focus story, Farming green-lipped mussels, has just been published on the Hub. We also continue to publish weekly news stories that link the latest advances in biotech to our teaching resources.

Farming green-lipped mussels – Focus story

Mussel bed

This story looks at aquaculture of New Zealand’s endemic green-lipped mussel, including the biology of the mussel and its parasite, the New Zealand pea crab. Developed in association with scientists at Leigh Marine Laboratory (University of Auckland), it highlights recent research into how pea crabs affect the mussel farming industry and explores how biocontrol might minimise their impact in future.

Life of a green-lipped mussel – Information sheet
Green-lipped mussels make their home on rocks and solid surfaces around New Zealand’s shoreline. They feed on phytoplankton and provide a home for other marine organisms, including pea crabs.

Testing how pea crabs affect mussel farming – Information sheet
New Zealand pea crabs are known to damage the green-lipped mussels they live in, but what impact do they have on mussel farming in New Zealand? Oliver Trottier (Leigh Marine Laboratory) studied thousands of farmed mussels and found that those that contained pea crabs were about a third smaller than their crab-free neighbours.

Biocontrol of the New Zealand pea crab – Information sheet
Oliver Trottier and Jessica Feickert (Leigh Marine Laboratory) hope to develop biocontrol approaches to minimise pea crab infestation of mussel farms. They aim to use pheromones produced by the pea crab itself to change the crab’s reproductive strategies.

How mussels are farmed in New Zealand – Interactive
The video clips in this interactive describe the key steps in aquaculture of green-lipped mussels, from the collection of spat on Ninety Mile Beach to the highly mechanised harvesting process. They also highlight key challenges in mussel farming – toxins, parasites, spat supply, predators and more.

Teaching ideas in Farming green-lipped mussels

Investigating how pea crabs affect supermarket mussels – Experiment
In this experiment, students investigate farmed mussels and explore the impact of pea crabs on mussel growth. They use methods that have recently been employed in a large-scale study of pea crab impacts by Oliver Trottier and others at Leigh Marine Laboratory. Students collect data from a set of supermarket mussels and analyse results in small groups and as a class.

Similarities and differences: wild and farmed green-lipped mussels – Worksheet
In this activity, students use a paper-based Venn diagram to illustrate the key similarities and differences between how wild and farmed green-lipped mussels live. This activity will help students to explore the life cycle of green-lipped mussels and to research the methods by which they are farmed in New Zealand.

Making the most of social media

The Biotechnology Learning Hub is just getting started on Pinterest. This will allow us to display the Hub’s resources in a variety of ways to suit different needs and audiences. Our first boards include BLH Focus stories, BLH Themes and Start a discussion. We’ll update these boards and add more boards regularly. You don’t need a Pinterest account to use our boards – just follow the links.

We also continue to communicate our resources via Twitter. On Twitter, we let you know how our resources link to current news and events and highlight other quality resources for teaching science and technology. To follow us on Twitter, follow this link: https://twitter.com/NZBiotechLearn.

News and events

Keep up to date with the latest biotechnology news, events and radio broadcasts. The articles below are highlights from our weekly news feature.

The smoking gene: bad news for teens – News item
Your genes play an influencing role in whether you become a heavy smoker in adulthood – but only if you start smoking in the first place as a teenager – according to a team of researchers.

HIV cure? – News item
A baby in the United States born with HIV is reported to have been cured with a cocktail of antiretroviral drugs administered immediately after birth (at 30 hours) and treatment continuing for 18 months.

Cannibal blood cells ease gout – News item
Researchers from the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research have found that cannibalistic white blood cells, neutrophils, could be key to easing the symptoms of gout.

Contact us

We’d like to hear from you if you’re using Hub resources in the classroom or if you’re interested in helping us develop new resources. Please email enquiries@biotechlearn.org.nz, and we’ll be in touch.

Best wishes

The Biotechnology Learning Hub team


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