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Issue 82




Fishing for answers to marine depletion
The CSIRO and Queensland's Department of Primary Industries are examining the effects that closures in the northern section of the Great Barrier Reef have on bottom-dwelling plant and animal communities. The project will determine the time needed for recovery of disturbed or depleted species and associations between fish and habitat, both of which have strong implications for fisheries outside closed reserves.
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Tags reveal life and times of tuna
Preliminary results from two field experiments using the new archival or 'smart' tag to track the southern bluefin tuna in the wild, and in a cage, have given new insight into the tuna's behaviour.
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Cyprinus carpio: victim or villain?
A three-year project on European carp (Cyprinus carpio) aims to provide a balanced review of the carp's history and environmental significance in Australia, and to investigate potential management strategies.
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From WA comes the 'good oil' on trees
Researchers in Western Australia believe they have found a way to make trees on farms a profitable crop. In drier areas of the Western Australian wheatbelt a wide range of potential species and products has been evaluated. The crop judged to have the best chances of success is the mallee eucalypt, and the product for which great potential is seen is eucalyptus oil.
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Green genes join war against insects
Growers will benefit from a new approach to insect control as scientists develop crops with viruses and bacteria to replace chemicals. Projects involving development of transgenic plants at CSIRO include: a weevil-proof pea; lupins containing albumin; cotton plants containing modified genes for the bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis; and potatoes containing a gene which gives resistance to the potato leaf-roll virus.
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'Turbo-charged' viruses speed insect kill
Researchers at CSIRO are experimenting with specialised insect-killing viruses that could substitute for chemical spray. Early experiments have focused on increasing the potency of a baculovirus, nuclear polyhedrosis virus (NPV). NPV only infects insects in the genus Helicoverpa and Heliothis, many of which are among the world's most damaging insect pests, and includes the cotton boll worm. Another virus being studied is the Helicoverpa armigera stunt virus (HaSV).
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New greens beat the browning blues
The browning reaction of fruit and vegetables results from the oxidation of phenolic compounds under the action of the enzyme called polyphenol oxidase (PPO). CSIRO scientists have used the genetic code of the PPO gene to construct an anti-sense PPO gene, whose DNA code countermands the PPO gene's instructions to make the enzyme. Another project is attempting to genetically alter mandarins and other citrus fruit to eliminate seeds.
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Becoming beautopia
An optimistic view of the future, by CSIRO scientists Dr Dean Graetz and Dr John Williams, presented at the 63rd ANZAAS Conference in September 1994, is outlined.
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Landcare - who owns the revolution?
The Landcare movement sprang from a desire to do things better and from frustration with government tardiness. There is a very strong feeling among rural people that they do own Landcare. However, there is also a degree of frustration that this sense of ownership may be plundered by government agencies seeking political accolades.
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Hope on the range
A new recipe for resolving land use conflict in the rangelands challenges the view that conservation and pastoralism do not mix.
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Sharing our savanna
Increasing competition for the use of Australia's tropical savanna has led to urgent calls for cooperation between graziers, miners, conservationists, tourism operators, Aboriginal people, and the military. Cooperative research is seen as a vital step towards resolving perceived conflicts between savanna users.
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Transecting the Top End
The North Australia Tropical Transect (NATT) is a broadscale ecological study which stretches the length of Australia's savanna country, transecting all its ecosystems. The project is assessing the ecology and land condition of the different land types.
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Diagnosing deadly equine virus
In September 1994 a virus brought Queensland's horse-racing industry to a standstill. The testing and identification by the CSIRO Animal Health Laboratory of the new virus is outlined.
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Nature's deadly agents unlocked
Epidemiologists believe 20th Century technological and social advances are helping spread new viruses. However, new viruses have always emerged since the beginning of recorded time.
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Rice shortfall spells trouble for rodents
CSIRO's Rodent Research Group is seeking ways of protecting crops from rodents. The Management of Rodent Pests in South-East Asia project will study the factors affecting rodent population growth and investigate potential management techniques, including biological control. In Australia, the group is studying the prevention of crop losses by mice.
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