Student Poster Prizes

1.  Domenic LaRosa

On Dec 1-2, The University of Western Australia hosted the Australian and New Zealand Society of Comparative Physiology and Biochemistry (ANZSCPB) conference.  Domenic LaRosa took the prize for the best student poster at this meeting.  Domenic is an undergraduate student and the work he presented was some of the work completed for SBS311 (research project).  Domenic is planning on completing his honours at Deakin University in Dr Jan West’s lab in 2008.  The abstract of the poster is below.  Domenic had some video footage of the unique walking movements of his stick insect muscles playing on a digital picture frame next to his poster - this was a novel approach and illustrated the movement of these insects beautifully.

Walk like an Egyptian: The arrangement and structure of the muscle fibres in the legs of female Spiny Leaf Insects

Domenic LaRosa1*, Bruce Abaloz2 and Jan West1
1 School of Life and Environmental Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, Victoria 3125
2 Department of Zoology, The University of Melbourne, Victoria 3010
The Spiny Leaf Insect, Extatosoma tiaratum, is native to Australia and has many adaptations in its life cycle.  The eggs resemble Casuarina seeds that are collected by Harvester ants.  Ants mistake the eggs for seeds and store them in their nests.  The hatchling insects resemble the ants so leave the nest unnoticed. After a series of moults the female insects resemble dead leaves and move along with movements very different to those of the hatchling i.e. resembling dead leaves blowing in the breeze.
Invertebrate muscles show a great structural diversity but are adapted to the functions they perform.  The aim of this study was to investigate the muscle arrangement in walking limbs of hatchling and adult stick insects, to determine the muscle fibre types present.
The femur of the adults contained two muscles; one large pennate muscle and a smaller longitudinal muscle.  The average sarcomere length (SL) µm of the muscle fibres in the femur was 4.82 (range 3.05ˆ7.31 µm, n=135) and the two muscles did not differ in SL.  The average SL of the muscle fibres from the femur of the hatchlings was 4.9µm which was not significantly different from the adult despite their different style of movement. 

Several other Deakin Students also gave talks at this conference - David Cannata, Gemma Williams, Rachel Blake, Jillian Healy and Aaron Schultz.  The talks were excellent.  These students should also be proud of their achievements.  Emily Cornwell is completing her honours year with Dr Tes Toop.  Emily is on an exchange program from the US and whilst only started honours mid year presented a poster with some really interesting results.

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