Issue 19
Monday, 06 November 2017
Charles Darwin University
CDU student Abhi Panicker is working with melioidosis researchers
CDU student Abhi Panicker is working with melioidosis researchers

Student investigates animal-soil bacteria link

By Melody Song

A CDU student has joined researchers from Menzies School of Health Research to investigate potential links between melioidosis-causing bacteria in animals and the soil where they live.

Third-year Bachelor of Science (Biomedicine) student Abhirami Panicker will be based at a Royal Darwin Hospital laboratory, completing a research unit in her studies, until the end of November.

Abhi said she helped the melioidosis team find out if bacterial strains from animals, collected by Northern Territory veterinarians, matched those collected from soil samples where the animals lived.

“The researchers use molecular typing techniques to establish a link between isolates of the melioidosis-causing bacteria Burkholderia pseudomallei in animals and soil samples collected from areas the animals live,” she said. 

“This could help determine if a source of infection is nearby. 

“I am interested in epidemiology and hope to continue my studies with a Master of Public Health with Menzies.”

Menzies research assistant Barbara MacHunter said the collaboration with CDU students was mutually beneficial.

“The students test their skills and see if this is their preferred career pathway, while we get useful data and help to train the next generation of scientists,” she said.