Dr Ferrari's major interest is in microbial diversity of soil bacteria and the development of novel culturing approaches for the hitherto uncultured majority. Her development of a novel cultivation method for previously undescribed soil bacteria was recognised in Nature with an invitation to submit her protocol for publication. By combining microcultivation with single-cell technologies including flow cytometry or advanced micromanipulation, the growth of uncharacterised soil bacteria from both extreme and temporate soils is now possible. This high impact research is leading to a systems biology approach for understanding the function of these unknown bacteria in the environment by several groups worldwide. By applying microcultivation with next generation sequencing, and a collaboration with the Australian Antarctic Division, we are now beginning to understand the diversity of bacteria and fungi in polar regions, particularly with repect to the effects of diesel fuel contamination on population dynamics.
Ferrari has also made significant contributions to the development of fluorescence-based detection strategies for pathogens, particularly Cryptosporidium and Giardia. Since 2004, her involvement in the Environmental Biotechnology CRC Pathogen team at Macquarie University and UNSW has led to publication of over 12 refereed articles, 30 conference proceedings and 3 patent applications in the area of pathogen concentration and detection. The Pathogen team are developing a suite of online field systems to rapidly and accurately identify potential disease causing micro-organisms including Cryptosporidium, Giardia and E. coli. These new tools are currently under validation for rapid screening of pathogenic species by Health and Water authorities in the UK, USA and Australia.
Dr Ferrari's research is multidisciplinary, spanning the biomolecular sciences, particularly microbiology, biotechnology, genomics, flow cytometry and cell biology. Her greatest contribution has surrounded the use of emerging technologies for real world applications in microbiology and cell biology. This includes the development of an innovative method for cultivation of the 'yet to be cultured' bacterial majority and the development of biosensors and novel fluorescence strategies for monitoring microorganisms of interest to public health.
Belinda's page @ BABS: http://www.babs.unsw.edu.au/staff_academic/dr-belinda-ferrari
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