Te Toki a Rata Building, Kelburn Parade, Post Code 6012 Wellington NZL
I am Dr Balam Jimenez, a multidisciplinary biologist. I am a Marine Biologist and hold a PhD in Conservation Biology. In 2019 I was awarded a 2-year funding to develop a biotechnology focused project: “Molecular biosensors to detect and monitor toxins from harmful algal blooms”. In this project we are designing short DNA sequences with high affinity and specificity to four toxins from Alexandrium sp., the algae responsible for paralytic-shellfish-poisoning (PSP). The bio-tool we are developing will provide accurate readings of toxin concentration in seawater in real-time with geo-positioning and network capability to make the data available within 10 min from in situ sampling. This tool will allow an early-warning system to avoid human exposure to PSP-toxins and prevent huge revenue losses for the aquaculture industry. The implementation of this tool could potentially revolutionize the monitoring of aquatic environments in New Zealand and the world. My partners are Maori (indigenous culture in New Zealand)-based aquaculture companies and the project has a strong Vision Mātauranga (Maori embodiment of knowledge) component. Furthermore, I have worked on community ecology of megafaunal assemblages in the deep sea, DNA barcoding of coral reef fish and population genetics/genomics of estuarine and coastal species. I have an ongoing collaboration with Mexican researchers in two projects: first, fish assemblages from minimum oxygen zones in the Mexican Pacific and second, exploring functional diversity, biogeochemical transformations, chemical imaging and physiological responses to extreme oligotrophy, psychrophily and xerophily from Antarctic prokaryotes and fungi.