This morning, the local Dunedin newspaper, the ODT, featured a story on Joanne and Neil's latest publication, on the discovery of a new species of sunfish! Their collaboration in a study leaded by PhD student Marianne Nyegaard, who's based at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, had an unusual and very casual beginning. Marianne's PhD focuses on the population genetics of ocean sunfish in the Indo-pacific region. While analysing her data, she noticed genetic differences in sunfish samples from the Australian and New Zealand longline fishery.
She was able to coordinate sampling from stranded, bycatch and museum specimens from New Zealand, but it was too complicated to import the New Zealand tissue samples back to Australia for DNA extraction and sequencing.
She contacted a couple of people at Otago University for help, and they directed her to the GAS (Genetic Analysis Services) website. Joanne received a query from Marianne, asking for help receiving the samples, extract DNA, PCR with three different sets of primers, and then sequence the amplicons.
Despite this being beyond the scope of services GAS offers to its customers, Joanne and Neil offered their help to Marianne.
The end result has now been published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.
Well done Joanne and Neil, for seizing a casual coincidence and turning it into great research work!!!