Wide range of topics discussed at UoM Biology Symposium
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A number of research projects on a wide range of topics were featured during the Biology Symposium which was organised recently by the Department of Biology in collaboration with the Environment and Resources Authority at the University of Malta.
This annual event gives the opportunity to the year’s graduates to showcase the results of the often painstaking research work they had undertaken in order to fulfil the dissertation requirements of their degree course.
After an opening session in which the audience was addressed by Prof. Joseph A. Borg, Head of the Biology Department, by Prof. Charles Sammut, Dean of the Faculty of Science and by Prof. Saviour Zammit, Pro-Rector for Research and Knowledge Transfer, the first session, chaired by Dr. Sandro Lanfranco got under way.
This session included three presentations by B.Sc. Graduates. The first of these investigated little known crustaceans called ostracods in freshwater pools found in the Maltese countryside and provided an insight into life in this extreme habitat which dries up during the summer months. Another study involved preliminary investigations on Malta’s urban flora, during which no less than 180 species were recorded from towns in Gozo and Malta.
The effects of feeding frequency on the performance of the gilthead seabream (Malt. Awrata) in aquaculture was the subject of the third presentation, in which it was concluded that two meals a day are ideal for growth performance.
The second session was chaired by Prof. Patrick J. Schembri and included two B.Sc. and three M.Sc. presentations. Both B.Sc. projects dealt with the effect of sewage effluent on the fauna and flora of rocky shores.
The first showed that the biodiversity along the Xghira coast is slowly recovering following the decommissioning of the Wied Ghammieq raw sewage outfall while the second study focused on the effects of effluent from the Sewage Treatment Plant at Ras il-Hobz in Gozo.
The first of the postgraduate presentations investigated the effects of curry powder and turmeric on cancerous cells which were found to induce apoptosis (cellular suicide) in such cells. The potential culture of mussels and sea cucumbers under and near existing fish farms was assessed in the second study. Such culture, known as Integrated Multi-trophic Aquaculture (IMTA), has the beneficial effect of reducing the polluting effects of fish farms, so much in the news recently.
In the last presentation the effect of different levels of human activity on fouling by marine algae was assessed by the ingenious method of measuring the degree of fouling on plastic buoys in various bays.
As in previous years a booklet was published containing abstracts of all of this year’s dissertations, including those which could not be presented at the Symposium.
To purchase a copy, call the Department of Biology on 2340 2272. The symposium and the abstracts booklet were supported by Environment and Resources Authority.
Photographs: An ostracod found in temporary freshwater pools and marine growth fouling on a buoy