Thank you for taking part in the Darwin Tree of Life actvity!

It’s the final day of the Darwin Tree of Life activity! Thank you students for taking part, attending live Chats and engaging with the scientists working on the project! Alex Davey has this to say:   “Fascinating range of questions from the students – from the fundamentals of climate change to our favourite species to career options! I hope we were able to provide some interesting answers.”     Quiz Winner! We had over 200 submissions of the final quiz! The winner was……… Lucy  from Winstanley College 🥳 Congratulations Lucy. Your voucher is on it’s way to you! 🥳    Want to win £20? It’s your final chance to fill out the survey. Remember you could be in with a chance of winning a £20 voucher if you complete!   From everyone at the Darwin Tree of Life activity and I’m a Scientist thank you for taking part. We hope to … Continue reading

Posted on July 15, 2022 by modhannah in DToL, Update | Tagged | Leave a comment

Surfing the net for fish sustainability! 🐟🦈

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? 🌊🔍 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.  Why is this important?  Well, such research and insight provides the tools to better aid conservation efforts. A key species is the Atlantic horse mackeral (Trachurus trachurus).  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.  Why so vulnerable?  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 … Continue reading

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

Are you sett for this new discovery? 🦡

Research into the European Badger (Meles meles) and their extraordinary nocturnal behaviours is really rather exciting… have you heard the good news!?  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.  They then extracted DNA from the samples, to sequence and build a genome profile.  The best thing about this?  Well, the badger is an indictor species of climate change.  Because of its widespread habitat – across much of Eastern Europe, Asia and Japan – badgers are a good model species through which to assess … Continue reading

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

Are we lichen what we see? 🌿

Ever wondered what that scaly stuff is growing on gravestones on churchyards?  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.  They often grow in the most unremarkable and obscure places,  including in churchyards, on trees and even on the side of stone buildings.  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 by modchryssa in DToL, Update | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Darwin Tree of Life was on the news! 📰

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.  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. This project, to sequence over 70,000 species (yes, you heard that right, 70,000!) is ambitious for many reasons.  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.  He is set up in the lab, looking through a microscope at a single drop of water. In this single drop, there … Continue reading

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

Do Yew know your history? 🌳

How well do you know all the tree species in the UK? Could you identify ash, birch, oak leaves from all the others?  How about Yew? The European Yew (Taxus baccata) is one of Britain’s most mysterious trees.  They are tied up in local and national legend, everything from Robin Hood to symbols of resurrection.  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 here 

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

Discovery of a new bobtail squid 🦑

Did you know that cuttlefish have not just one but three hearts? That they move by pushing water at high speed through their gills and fins? That there are over 100 different species?  And they can change their colour and texture to match their environment?  No! Well, let Kesella Scott-Somme take you on a journey of discovery into the world of cephalopods. Kesella, along with Team Marine, have uncovered the secrets of a new species of squid: the bobtail squid. 🦑🌊 Read more about them here as well as a handful of other species that the scientists are excited to sequence.  

Posted on May 30, 2022 by modhannah in Update | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

🐝 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?   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 by modchryssa in DToL, Update | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

🍎🍏 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 by modchryssa in DToL, Update | Tagged , , | Leave a comment