Three-minute thesis: a novel solution to a warty problem


Alice Russo, University of NSW

PhD title

A Novel Solution to a Warty Problem: Ancient Viruses Can Help Us Find a Cane Toad Killer


Cane toads ravage northern Australia and threaten native biodiversity. A deadly virus could be the solution but our knowledge of toad viruses is scarce. To find new viruses we looked in toad DNA for viral footprints. These form occasionally during infection and are passed through generations, revealing which viruses can infect toads and are potential biocontrol agents. We computationally searched for ancient viruses within the newly sequenced cane toad genome, revealing a new viral family in its DNA, the Circoviridae, which causes disease in other animals. We are now attempting to isolate this virus from wild toads for further study.

The finals of the 2017 Asia-Pacific Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, which challenges PhD students to communicate their research in a snappy three-minute presentation, were held on the 29 September at the University of Queensland, St Lucia Campus. Competitors came from 55 Universities from across Australia, New Zealand and North and South-East Asia. 

The presentations were judged by distinguished figures in Australian science including Cosmos editor-in-chief Elizabeth Finkel.

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