Category Archives: DToL

Surfing the net for fish sustainability! ๐ŸŸ๐Ÿฆˆ

We walk, sit and read books by it but how much do we actually know about our seas and the creatures that live in them? ๐ŸŒŠ๐Ÿ”

Luke Lythgoe has been reporting about his colleagues who are building genomic notes and tracers to provide a more detailed picture of what happens in the deep blue of our seas.ย  Why is this important?ย  Well, such research and insight provides the tools to better aid conservation efforts.

A key species is the Atlantic horse mackeral (Trachurus trachurus).ย  Once widespread in seas around Europe and Africa, it is now classified as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List – this document, formed of seven categories, assesses the conservation status of species at a global level.ย  Why so vulnerable?ย  Much of its decline is traced to overfishing as it is caught in huge numbers and used in everything from sushi to fish meal.

The future of the Atlantic horse mackeral, along with many other marine species, is dependent on the researchers untangling the net around their lifecycle.ย  Because the more we know, the more we can protect!

๐ŸŸ Read more about this fishy discovery ๐ŸŸ

Posted on July 5, 2022 modchryssa in DToL, News, Update | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are you sett for this new discovery? ๐Ÿฆก

Research into the European Badger (Meles meles) and their extraordinary nocturnal behaviours is really rather exciting… have you heard the good news!?ย  The University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (Wild CRU) and Wellcome Sanger Institute have been looking into how badger biology and behaviour are giving us insights into the impacts of disease and climate change on the UK landscape.

They collected some blood samples from an individual badger plus both of its parents (don’t worry, they are all happy and healthy) in Wytham Woods – a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in Oxford.ย  They then extracted DNA from the samples, to sequence and build a genome profile.ย  The best thing about this?ย  Well, the badger is an indictor species of climate change.ย  Because of its widespread habitat – across much of Eastern Europe, Asia and Japan – badgers are a good model species through which to assess the impacts and the way that ecosystems are affected by rising temperatures, more volatile weather patterns and changing land use.

๐Ÿฆก๐Ÿ“ฐ Read more about the discovery here ๐Ÿ“ฐ๐Ÿฆก

And don’t forget you can follow this species too via your dashboard!

Posted on June 27, 2022 modchryssa in DToL, News, Update | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Are we lichen what we see? ๐ŸŒฟ

Ever wondered what that scaly stuff is growing on gravestones on churchyards?ย  Maybe you have noticed it and been amazed at the array of colours and textures but never could quite identify them. Sound familiar?

Lichens are remarkable in being very difficult to identify.ย  They often grow in the most unremarkable and obscure places,ย  including in churchyards, on trees and even on the side of stone buildings.ย  Did you know that they are also a good indicator of clean air – as many hate pollution!

This week, Rebecca Yahr from the Plant Power team, attempts to uncover fact from fiction. In the process, she explains how the Darwin project is helping scientists discover more about lichens and educate us all about their importance. Read more here



Posted on June 23, 2022 modchryssa in DToL, News, Update | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Darwin Tree of Life was on the news! ๐Ÿ“ฐ

Rebecca Morelle, a science editor for the BBC, picked up on the fantastic work being conducted by the scientists as part of the Darwin Tree of Life project.ย  How fantastic is that! We are delighted that the project is being recognised for its ambition and the ground-breaking research that it is hoping to produce.

Credit: David Levene

This project, to sequence over 70,000 species (yes, you heard that right, 70,000!) is ambitious for many reasons.ย  Not least because the goal is to make history by 2030! 8 years from now. Do you think they can do it? What is the species you would like to see sequenced next? Let us know in the comments.

Jamie McGowan, who is part of the Perfect Protists team, has been busy with some pond water.ย  He is set up in the lab, looking through a microscope at a single drop of water. In this single drop, there are numerous single-celled organisms called protists. These organisms are some of the smallest to be sequenced.ย  The job is not an easy one. As Jamie admits: “They’re really hard to identify, because some of them look really similar. And they’re hard to sequence too because they’re starting off with really, really tiny amounts of DNA”.

Rebecca then headed to some rockpools on the Plymouth coastline to meet up with Kes Scott-Somme and Team Marine.ย  Kes highlights the high diversity of species in marine environments and how the secrets of many of these species are still unknown.ย  “Marine environments are incredibly volatile, and so the animals that live here have to be even more adapted to their space than we are. And that means that they have very specific ways of coping with their environment,” says Kes.ย  She confirms that the more we learn about these species, the more it will help us to understand them – and it could also help us too.

๐ŸŽ‰ Read Rebecca’s article here ๐ŸŽ‰

Posted on June 17, 2022 modchryssa in DToL, News, Update | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

All Things Fungal!

Did you know that fungi are more closely related to animals than plants? That they make countless contributions to medical, industrial, agricultural and sustainable applications? That they also recycle nutrients, help plants absorb water and help tackle accelerated climate change?

Fungi are some of the least known and mysterious organisms on Earth and in this article, Richard Wright, Elena Arrigoni and Ester Gaya uncover more of the untold secrets about them.ย  Working with the Plant and Fungal Explorers team, these three scientists are helping to record and describe more and more of these incredible species – over 3.5 million still need to be recorded though, so lets wish them good luck!

Read more about the secret lives of fungi here

Posted on June 16, 2022 modchryssa in DToL, News, Update | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Do Yew know your history? ๐ŸŒณ

How well do you know all the tree species in the UK? Could you identify ash, birch, oak leaves from all the others?ย  How about Yew?

The European Yew (Taxus baccata) is one of Britain’s most mysterious trees.ย  They are tied up in local and national legend, everything from Robin Hood to symbols of resurrection.ย  And in amongst all these tales of old, there are some remarkable stories of the restoration of Yew at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh! Max Coleman, part of the Plant Power team, is a big fan.

Find out why and read more about this remarkable species of tree hereย 

Posted on June 9, 2022 modchryssa in DToL, News, Update | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

๐Ÿ Release of full bee genome sequences creates a buzz

Bumblebees play an important role in landscape… but how much do you really know about them?ย  ย Did you know that there are 24 different species in the UK, or that their venom could be used to make medicines, or that a healthy hive of bees can travel an equivalent distance from Earth to the moon everyday?

Liam Crowley, of the Woodland Wonders team, uncovers all of these fascinating facts and more and explains why, out of all the species he could work with, why bumblebees are so important to life on Earth and to the Darwin Tree of Life project. Read more about bumblebees here



Posted on May 24, 2022 modchryssa in DToL, Update | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ Blazing the apple trail in Edinburgh

Ever wondered where apples come from and how we get the DNA we need to grow the juicy, sweet varieties that we enjoy today? No. Well, you are missing out!

Max Coleman, of the Plant Power team, takes us on a journey back in time explaining the history of apples, why Scotland is so important and what the Romans taught us about cultivation. Read more about the secret history of apples here


Posted on May 10, 2022 modchryssa in DToL, Update | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pearl-bordered fritillary: At risk butterfly lays foundations for her speciesโ€™ recovery

Butterflies are marvellous.ย  A single female pearl-bordered fritillary (Boloria euphrosyne) is at the heart of a reintroduction project in the Malvern hills, looking to reintroduce this rare species back onto a site where the species has been extinct for the past 30 years. Read more about this incredible project here


Posted on May 3, 2022 modchryssa in DToL, Update | Tagged , | Leave a comment

๐Ÿธ Warts and all: The differences between frogs and toads

“Croak!” said the Toad, “I’m hungry, I think;
To-day I’ve had nothing to eat or to drink”

“Ho, ho!” quoth the Frog, “is that what you mean?
Then I’ll hop away to the next meadow stream

Ever wondered what the remarkable differences are between frogs and toads?ย  What does their skin look like, how do they walk and do their eggs form in clumps or strings?ย  How can the genomes that are collected help us understand more about these species?



๐Ÿธ๐Ÿงฌ Read more about the amphibian discoveries here ๐Ÿงฌ๐Ÿธ


Posted on April 6, 2022 modchryssa in DToL, Update | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment