Current RESEARCHERS

Postdoctoral Research Fellows

Elena Colombi 

Elena completed her Bsc and Msc at the University of Florence and spent six months at the University of Reading. Her research in Paul Rainey's lab at Massey University was centred around the kiwifruit pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. actinidiae. During her PhD, she studied the evolution of this pathogen through the acquisition of mobile DNA elements, with particular interest in defining and characterising a novel family of these elements present in plant associated Pseudomonas. Her interest in horizontal gene transfer has brought her to the Ramsay Lab, where she now studies the diversity, structure and evolution of mobile DNA elements in Mesorhizobia.

Elena's ARC-funded Postdoctoral research “Harnessing horizontal gene transfer for sustainable agriculture” is in collaboration with the Centre of Rhizobium Studies GRDC-funded project "Increasing the effectiveness of nitrogen fixation in pulses through improved rhizobial strains in the GRDC western region". Mesorhizobium species can form a nitrogen-fixing symbiosis with legumes such as chickpea and biserrula. Non-native Australian legumes often lack the right symbiotic partner in Australian soils, thus farmers use foreign Mesorhizobium inocula for the cultivation of chickpea and biserrula. Since these inocula are isolated from overseas, they are not adapted to Australian soils and die over time. Genes coding for symbiosis are encoded on horizontally transmissible elements called ICEs that transfer from the foreign inocula to native mesorhizobia, producing new hybrid strains, often with inferior N-fixation capabilities. This collaboration aims to describe the ecology of the WA native mesorhizobia population and understand if all the Mesorhizobium spp. are able to acquire symbiosis ICEs and become symbionts of introduced legumes. We also want to understand to what extent these evolved symbionts can fix nitrogen in root nodules and what the molecular bases is for poor N-fixing symbionts.

Karina Yui Eto

Kari is currently an NHMRC-funded Postdoctoral Fellow cosupervised by Dr Josh Ramsay, Assoc. Prof. Neville Firth and Prof. Charles Bond. Karina carried out her PhD in the Bond laboratory under the same supervisors. Karina studies the structural biology of DNA-binding proteins involved in the transfer of antimicrobial-resistance genes in Staphylococcus aureus "Golden Staph" MRSA.

PhD candidates

Drew Hall 

Drew is a Curtin University PhD student supervised by Prof. Charles Bond, Dr Josh Ramsay and Prof. Clive Ronson from the University of Otago NZ. Drew studies the structural biology of a unique class of proteins called antiactivators. These antiactivators block cells from being able to respond to chemicals bacteria use to talk to each other.

Riley Murphy  

Riley is a Curtin University PhD student who uses modern genome sequencing approaches (Illumina and Pacbio) and linux-based bioinformatics tools to study pathogenic Staphylococcus aureus "Golden Staph" MRSA associated with humans and animals. People who work with animals can often contract S. aureus infections that are resistant to multiple antibiotics. Riley's work tries decipher where these strains are coming from and if they are being transmitted between humans and animals. Riley is cosupervised by Prof. Geoff Coombs and Dr Sam Abraham of Murdoch University.

Ratish Permala 

Ratish is supervised by Prof. Elizabeth Watkin, Dr Josh Ramsay and Director of the Curtin Water Quality Research Centre Prof. Jean-Philippe Croue. Ratish's work blends Microbiology and Chemistry to determine the effectiveness of next-generation water treatment technologies. Ratish's work also studies the persistence of antibiotic-resistant organisms and antibiotic-resistance genes after treatment. Ratish's work is cofunded by Water Corporation WA and Curtin University.

Tahlia Bastholm 

Tahlia is an ARC-funded PhD student who uses microbiology, chemistry and molecular genetics to dechiper new chemical communication molecules produced by bacteria. Bacteria produce chemical signals to talk to each other and control the switching of a variety of cooperative phenotypes including gene transfer, symbiosis, physical movement and even their colour! Tahlia is characterising newly identified molecules produced by agriculturally important rhizobia, supervised by Prof. Clive Ronson (University of Otago, NZ) and Dr Jason Terpolilli (Murdoch University). 

IMG_3710_edited.jpg

Callum Verdonk 

Callum is a University of Western Australia PhD student, cosupervised by Prof. Charles Bond and Dr Josh Ramsay. Callum is investigating the role of a DNA-binding protein, and uses surface plasmon resonance, structural biology and genetic manipulation to understand the molecular events leading to excision and transfer of mobile DNA in symbiotic bacteria.

IMG_1129_edited.jpg

Amy Davis 

Amy is a Curtin University PhD student supervised by Dr Josh Ramsay, Prof. Geoff Coombs (Murdoch University) and Prof. Neville Firth (University of Sydney). Amy is continuing work from her honours project, looking at how different conjugative plasmids in S. aureus can stimulate spread of other antimicrobial-resistance gene plasmids to produce multi-drug resistance strains.

Previous Staff and Students

Postdoctoral Fellows

2021

Karina Yui Eto

2018

Elena Colombi

2015

Dulantha Ulluwishewa

2014

Liang Wang

PhD
Karina Yui Eto (UWA) - completed 2021
Timothy Haskett (Murdoch) - completed 2018
Amanuel Bekuma (Murdoch) - completed 2017
Biomedical Science Honours

2021

Nicola Karakatsanis

Beatrice Panganiban

Jake Cummane

2020

Adrian Staltari

2018

Amy Davis

Jade Crow

2017

Tahlia Bastholm

Callum Verdonk

Jasmine Cahill Loring

2015

Ayeisha Milligan-Armstrong

Elizabeth Cain

Riley Murphy

2014

Drew Hall

Masters of Biomedical Sciences

2016

Ratish Permala

2015

Marcelina Krysiak

Hui Zhen Liaw

Lauren Olafson

Presana Nair Karunagaran

Berhanu Dessie Abebe

Deane Maria Dmello 

2013

Callen Pereira

Karina Yui Eto

Human Biology Research Project

2013

Jackson Patterson-House 

Ryan Clohessy 

Curtin Summer Studentship

2020-21

Nicola Karakatsanis

2019-20

Adrian Staltari

Catherine Ferraro

2014-15

Riley Murphy 

2013-14

Kieran Mulroney

ASM Summer Scholarship

2020-21

Beatrice Panganiban

Jake Cummane

2019-20

Coel Garrod

2015-16

Marcelina Krysiak