Symposium 2013: Biology for Today - Biotechnology for Life

Submitted by admin on Thu, 01/03/2013 - 21:29
Start Date
End Date
University Concert Hall, University of Limerick, Limerick

The IBIOLI and NCE-MSTL presents a symposium for second level biology students, on Biology for Today: Biotechnology for Life, on the 8th February, 2013, at the University Concert Hall, Limerick.

The aim of the symposium is to enrich students’ experience of Biology and Agricultural Science topics. It will also provide them with additional insights into Biotechnology for life. It offers an opportunity to students to appreciate the outcomes of the most up-to-date research in the various biological topics. 


Professor John Breen  Department of Life Science, University of Limerick  The Ecology of Ants and Bees

Dr John Morrissey  Department of Microbiology, University College Cork.  Yeasts in Biotechnology: Small Beer or Big Business?

Professor Sean Arkins  Department of Life Science, University of Limerick Antibodies: Universal Defense Proteins

Dr Eibhlis O Connor  Department of Life Sciences, University of Limerick  Healthy Diet, Healthy Life


Fee: €5 per student

Tel: Helen Fitzgerald on 061-234786, or Alison Cullinane on 061-234916  email: or

Further details can be found at

About the Content:

Prof John Breen - UL: The Ecology of Ants and Bees Ecology is a very important part of the Leaving Cert Syllabus. This talk will give an insight into the ecological principles and practical ecology using examples from ants and bees. Ants show some nice examples of symbiosis. How do we estimate the population size of colonies? How do we compare the bee populations in different habitats? If there is a decline in bee biodiversity, should we be worried? And, how do we know if a species is native to Ireland?

Dr John Morrissey - UCC: Yeasts in Biotechnology: Small Beer or Big Business? Biotechnology is one of the most important industries in modern society. It includes diverse topics – ranging from vaccines and pharmaceuticals to food and drinks. Micro-organisms are especially important for biotechnology and have been used for this purpose by society for thousands of years. This talk will focus on one such microbe, yeast. We will review how yeast was first domesticated by ancient societies and continues to be used today in multiple industrial sectors. The importance of genetics, evolution and genetic engineering will also be discussed.

Prof Sean Arkins - UL: Antibodies: Universal Defense Proteins Substances foreign to the body, such as bacteria and viruses and other infectious agents are recognized by the body's immune system as invaders. Our natural defences against these infectious agents include antibodies.  Antibodies are large proteins, found predominantly in the blood. They have some very important functions. Antibodies identify dangerous ‘foreign objects’ in the blood, such as bacteria and viruses. Antibodies are extremely specific; that is, each antibody binds to and attacks one particular foreign antigen. They are central to the immune systems of humans and animals. This presentation will discuss how antibodies are made, how they recognize foreign from self and how they help the body to maintain the integrity of the body.

Dr Eibhlis O Connor - UL: Healthy Diet, Healthy Life!  Global trends in nutrition are shaping public health both nationally and internationally. This presentation will overview the main nutritional public health concerns relating specifically to adolescent health, focusing on the obesity epidemic and its impact on chronic disease incidence including type 2 diabetes and longer term associated risks including cancer.