Cawthron Institute

Nelson, New Zealand

Cawthron Institute

Nelson, New Zealand

The Cawthron Institute is New Zealand's largest independent science organisation, specialising in science that supports the environment and development within primary industries.Established in 1919 with a bequest from Thomas Cawthron, the organisation’s activities must benefit the Nelson Region and the nation. Governed by the Board of Trustees of the Thomas Cawthron Charitable Trust, Cawthron Institute employs almost 200 scientists, researchers,laboratory specialists and technical staff.Cawthron has its main facilities in Nelson. They work with regional councils, government departments, major industries, private companies, and other research organisations throughout New Zealand and around the world. Cawthron employs approximately 200 scientists, laboratory technicians, researchers and specialist staff from more than 20 countries. They have both chemistry and microbiology labs, and have a major focus on food related testing for food safety and export certification. Cawthorn holds IANZ accreditation for a wide range of tests. Their scientists include experts in aquaculture, marine and freshwater resources, food safety and quality, algal technologies, biosecurity and analytical testing. Wikipedia.

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News Article | May 22, 2017

Nearly 200 biology students were given an introduction to mussel culture at New Zealand’s Cawthron Aquaculture Park this month. The students were engaged in mussel biology workshops, which provide access to state-of-the-art Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) laboratory facilities where they can conduct self-led experiments with mussels. The initiative, now in its sixth year, is the result of a collaboration between NMIT, SpatNZ, University of Otago, and Cawthron Institute. For the first time since the workshops began, Nelson College is participating and students are thrilled. Nelson College science teacher Johnnie Fraser advocated for his school’s involvement after he spent six months with Cawthron under a Royal Society placement. Mr Fraser recognised the value students gained from the workshops and wanted his students to take up the opportunity. "It’s so great for senior biology students to meet scientists in an informal situation to discuss their investigations, and to hear from the scientists the pathways that led them to their work. "Connecting the Cawthron science and scientists, with local industry, and the courses available at NMIT and Otago University is a precious thing for high school science students," said Mr Fraser. One of Mr Fraser’s students Gardhav Mehratra was enjoying the workshop and said: "My experiment is off to a sensational start. I’m looking at how a change in the pH of the water affects mussel feeding rate." These workshops are part of Cawthron’s activities aimed at disseminating science and knowledge in the broad environmental field. Cawthron community educator Cristina Armstrong explains how the programme teaches problem solving skills. "The workshops are a valuable learning tool. Students lead their own experiments and for many it’s the first time they have to overcome real science challenges. We survey the students before and after they complete the workshop and the positive results demonstrate the research-teaching nexus. "During their time at the Cawthron Aquaculture Park, students have a special visit to SpatNZ’s premises where they discover how the mussel breeding programme works, and learn how New Zealand’s aquaculture value has increased through research and innovation," said Ms Armstrong. SpatNZ also supply students with the mussel spat needed to conduct their experiments. Operations manager Dan McCall said, "We support the year 13 workshops because we see human capability as a key component of our business. Through the tour of our facilities, students see first-hand that there are cool jobs in the aquaculture industry." The programme has real world results. Hannah Coote participated in the workshop as a year 13 student and became inspired to study aquaculture at NMIT; having completed her diploma, Hannah is now a SpatNZ employee. University of Otago’s Nelson educator Richard de Hamel has been instrumental in the programme’s success. He believes in the positive impact laboratory time has on young people and said: "It’s great for students who are making decisions around their careers to spend time in a working lab environment. This is real science in context."

Sawant P.M.,University of Otago | Mountfort D.O.,Cawthron Institute | Kerr D.S.,University of Otago
Hippocampus | Year: 2010

Previously we have shown that low-dose domoic acid (DA) preconditioning produces tolerance to the behavioral effects of high-dose DA. In this study, we used electrocorticography (ECoG) to monitor subtle CNS changes during and after preconditioning. Young adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were implanted with a left cortical electrode, and acute recordings were obtained during preconditioning by contralateral intrahippocampal administration of either low-dose DA (15 pmoles) or saline, followed by a high-dose DA (100 pmoles) challenge. ECoG data were analyzed by fast Fourier transformation to obtain the percentage of baseline power spectral density (PSD) for delta to gamma frequencies (range: 1.25-100 Hz). Consistent with previous results, behavioral analysis confirmed that low-dose DA preconditioning 60 min before a high-dose DA challenge produced significant reductions in cumulative seizure scores and high level seizure behaviors. ECoG analysis revealed significant reductions in power spectral density across all frequency bands, and high-frequency/high-amplitude spiking in DA preconditioned animals, relative to saline controls. Significant correlations between seizure scores and ECoG power confirmed that behavioral analysis is a reliable marker for seizure analysis. The reduction of power in delta to gamma frequency bands in contralateral cortex does not allow a clear distinction between seizure initiation and seizure propagation, but does provide objective confirmation that pharmacological preconditioning by DA reduces network seizure activity. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

MacKenzie L.A.,Cawthron Institute | Selwood A.I.,Cawthron Institute | Marshall C.,University of Otago
Toxicon | Year: 2012

An enzyme capable of hydrolysing pectenotoxins (PTXs) and okadaic acid (OA) esters within the hepatopancreas of the Greenshell™ mussel Perna canaliculus was isolated and characterized. The enzyme was purified by sequential polyethylene glycol fractionation, anion exchange, hydrophobic interaction, gel filtration and hydroxyapatite chromatography. The enzyme was an acidic (pI ∼ 4.8), monomeric, 67 kDa, serine esterase with optimum activity at pH 8.0 and 25 °C. PTX2 and PTX1 were hydrolysed but the enzyme was inactive against PTX11, PTX6 and acid isomerised PTX2 and PTX11. PTX11 and PTX2b competitively inhibited PTX2 hydrolysis. The enzyme also hydrolysed short and medium chain length (C2-C10) 4-nitrophenyl-esters, okadaic acid C8-C10 diol esters and DTX1 7- O-palmitoyl ester (DTX3). MALDI-Tof MS/MS analysis showed that the enzyme had some homology with a juvenile hormone esterase from the Red Flour Beetle Tribolium castaneum, although BLAST searches of several data bases using de novo amino acid sequences failed to identify any homology with known proteins. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Rhodes L.,Cawthron Institute
Toxicon | Year: 2011

The dinoflagellate genus, Ostreopsis Schmidt, has an increasingly global distribution. It blooms in temperate to tropical coastal waters, and toxic species are present in all regions in which the genus has been recorded. The distribution has increased markedly in the last decade and associated illnesses have also increased. These trends are likely to continue. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

Vessel traffic is the primary pathway for non-indigenous marine species introductions to New Zealand, with hull fouling recognised as being an important mechanism. This article describes hull fouling on seven slow-moving commercial vessels sampled over a 1 year period. Sampling involved the collection of images and fouling specimens from different hull locations using a standardised protocol developed to assess vessel biofouling in New Zealand. A total of 29 taxa was identified by expert taxonomists, of which 24% were indigenous to New Zealand and 17% non-indigenous. No first records to New Zealand were reported, however 59% of species were classified as 'unknown' due to insufficient taxonomic resolution. The extent of fouling was low compared to that described for other slow-movers. Fouling cover, biomass and richness were on average 17.1% (SE = 1.8%), 5.2 g (SE = 1.1 g) and 0.8 (SE = 0.07) per photoquadrat (200 x 200 mm), respectively. The fouling extent was lowest on the main hull areas where the antifouling paint was in good condition. In contrast, highest levels of fouling were associated with dry-docking support strips and other niche areas of the hull where the paint condition was poor. Future studies should target vessels from a broader range of bioregions, including vessels that remain idle for extended periods (ie months) between voyages, to increase understanding of the biosecurity risks posed by international commercial slow-movers.

This study used a specially designed MAGPLATE system to quantify the en route survivorship and post-voyage recovery of biofouling assemblages subjected to short voyages (< 12 h) across a range of vessel speeds (slow, medium, fast; in the range 4.0-21.5 knots). The effect of hull location (bow, amidships and stern) was also examined. While no significant differences were evident in en route survivorship of biofouling organisms amongst hull locations, biofouling cover and richness were markedly reduced on faster vessels relative to slower craft. Therefore, the potential inoculum size of non-indigenous marine species and richness is likely to be reduced for vessels that travel at faster speeds (> 14 knots), which is likely to also reduce the chances of successful introductions. Despite this, the magnitude of introductions from biofouling on fast vessels can be considered minor, especially for species richness where 90% of source-port species were recorded at destinations.

Hopkins G.A.,Cawthron Institute
Biofouling | Year: 2010

The present study tested two diver-operated rotating brush systems, coupled with suction and collection capabilities, to determine their efficacy in the management of vessel biofouling. Both rotating brush systems proved effective (> 80%) in removing low-to-moderate levels of fouling from flat and curved experimental surfaces (Perspex plates). However, performance was generally poorer at removing more advanced levels of fouling. In particular, mature calcareous organisms were relatively resistant to the rotating brushes, with a high proportion (up to 50%) remaining on plates following treatment. On average, > 95% of defouled material was collected and retained by both systems. The amount of lost material generally increased when treating curved plates with increasing biomass, whereas the material lost from flat plates was typically less and remained relatively constant throughout the trials. The majority (> 80%) of fouling not captured by the systems was crushed by the brushes (ie non-viable). However, a diverse range of viable organisms (eg barnacles and hydroids) was lost to the environment during the defouling trials. When defouling a vessel, unintentional detachment of fouling organisms is likely to be high through physical disturbance by divers operating the devices and by associated equipment (eg hoses). Furthermore, residual biosecurity risks are also likely to remain due to diver error, persistent fouling remaining on treated surfaces and the inaccessibility of niche areas to the brush systems. To address these limitations, further research into alternative treatment methods is required.

Mackenzie A.L.,Cawthron Institute
New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research | Year: 2014

New Zealand's reputation as a supplier of high quality food products is vital to the national economy; international consumers are acutely aware of food safety issues and markets are increasingly demanding higher standards. Filter feeding bivalves are particularly sensitive to the nature of the environment in which they are grown, and quality assurance is a major preoccupation of the shellfish aquaculture industry. With the exception of a couple of incidents, most notably the Gymnodinium catenatum blooms in 2000-2003, paralytic shellfish toxin (PST) contamination has, to date, not had an important effect on the economics and sustainability of the industry. However, the dinoflagellate species responsible for producing these toxins are not uncommon in New Zealand coastal phytoplankton communities, and it is important that awareness of the potential risk is maintained. This review summarises what we know about the causes and incidence of PST contamination from research and monitoring over the last 20 years, since it was first identified in New Zealand. It describes the dynamics of major events and their consequences, and evaluates what is likely to happen in the future as aquaculture expands into new areas with known histories of this problem. © 2014 © 2014 Cawthron Institute, New Zealand.

The natural chemical compounds radicicol, polygodial and ubiquinone-10 (Q10) have previously been identified as inhibitors of metamorphosis in ascidian larvae. Accordingly, they have potential as a specific remedy for the costly problem of fouling ascidians in bivalve aquaculture. In this study, these compounds were screened for their effects on the physiological health of an aquaculture species, the green-lipped mussel, Perna canaliculus Gmelin, at or above the 99% effective dose (IC(99)) in ascidians. Three physiological biomarkers of mussel health were screened: growth (increases in shell height and wet weight), condition (condition index) and mitochondrial respirational function (Complex I-mediated respiration, Complex II-mediated respiration, maximum uncoupled respiration, leak respiration, respiratory control ratios and phosphorylation system control ratios). While polygodial and Q10 had no effect on mussel growth or the condition index, radicicol retarded growth and decreased the condition index. Mitochondrial respirational function was unaffected by radicicol and polygodial. Conversely, Q10 enhanced Complex I-mediated respiration, highlighting the fundamental role of this compound in the electron transport system. The present study suggests that polygodial and Q10 do not negatively affect the physiological health of P. canaliculus at the IC(99) in ascidians, while radicicol is toxic. Moreover, Q10 is of benefit in biomedical settings as a cellular antioxidant and therefore may also benefit P. canaliculus. Accordingly, polygodial and Q10 should be progressed to the next stage of testing where possible negative effects on bivalves will be further explored, followed by development of application techniques and testing in a laboratory and aquaculture setting.

Cawthron Institute | Date: 2014-01-27

A relesably submersible float assembly comprising a float body and a retainer is disclosed. In one application the assembly is for use in conjunction with a mooring line to releasably submerse support lines for growing ropes used in aquaculture.

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