Plant Day success

On Thursday 21st July, some 30 researchers from IIB whose research focuses on the biology of plants and photosynthetic organisms gathered for a day of scientific presentations and discussions. Fourteen postdoc and PhD student speakers presented their latest results, ranging all the way from the orchid mycorrhizal symbiosis, cyanobacterial carboxysomes and photosynthetic assemblies, and the functional genomics of desert-adapted plants, to advanced wheat breeding via GWAS, QTLs and epigenomics, standardised synthetic biology “parts” for plant circadian biology, plant metabolomics, and UK cyberinfrastructure for plant bioinformatics.

The day was wrapped up by external speaker Dr. Geraint Parry who spoke about the UK Arabidopsis network and various large, UK-wide endeavours to develop tools and facilities to underpin future advances in the plant sciences. There were excellent question and answer sessions and a very productive final discussion that provided whole-hearted support for future group activities. More plant-focussed meetings will follow soon.

‘Jumping gene’ took peppered moths to the dark side

IIB researchers have identified and dated the genetic mutation that gave rise to the black form of the peppered moth, which spread rapidly during Britain's Industrial Revolution.

The new findings solve a crucial missing piece of the puzzle in this iconic textbook example of evolution by natural selection.


'Stay at home' males fuelled menopause evolution

The evolution of the menopause was ‘kick-started’ by a fluke of nature, but then boosted by the tendency for sons and grandsons to remain living close to home, a new study by Liverpool scientists suggests.

Menopause is an evolutionary puzzle, as an early end to reproduction seems contrary to the laws of natural selection, where passing on genes to the next generation is the main purpose of life. Yet female humans, and some other mammals, spend up to a third of their lives unable to reproduce.


Postcard: Genomics (and margaritas) in San Diego

Dr Laura Gardiner recently visited the Plant and Animal Genome XXIV Conference (PAG), held in San Diego, California, with her colleagues Professor Anthony Hall, Professor Neil Hall, Dr Alistair DarbyProf Christiane Hertz-Fowler and Dr Ryan Joynson.

“I recently visited the Plant and Animal Genome XXIV Conference (PAG), held in San Diego, California, with my colleagues Professor Anthony Hall, Professor Neil Hall, Dr Alistair Darby, Dr Christiane Hertz-Fowler and Dr Ryan Joynson. This conference is well known for a diverse and plentiful selection of seminars and workshops that are delivered from 8am-8pm over the course of five days. With over 3000 attendees, PAG also attracts a large number of companies that attend to exhibit their latest technologies."


New model predicts climate change risk for mammals 

IIB researchers have helped to develop a new modelling approach to predict the proportion of land mammals that may not be able to keep up with climate change.

They wanted to discover why some mammal species are more able to move to new areas in a bid to avoid the effects of climate change, but others are failing to do so and, as a result, are facing substantial reductions in abundance, and even higher risk of extinction.


£1.8m to explore how species cope with climate change  

The Institute has been awarded £1.8 million to help discover how well species can adapt to environmental change caused by human disturbance. The work has been funded as part of the Natural Environment Research Council’s (NERC) Highlights programme, and aligns with their strategic vision of putting environmental science at the heart of sustainable management of the planet.


Climate change puts endangered African antelopes in 'double jeopardy'

Climate change will cause a disproportionate decline in African antelopes within the smallest geographic ranges, placing the most-threatened in ‘double jeopardy,' according to new University of Liverpool research.

The findings are the first to suggest that animals already living in the most-restricted areas will be hardest hit as the climate shifts in the coming decades, and show that several antelope species are in need of urgent conservation action to avoid extinction.


Liverpool scientist awarded Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Award

An enterprising University of Liverpool scientist has received the prestigious Duke of York Young Entrepreneur Award.

Dr Paul Myers co-founded Farm Urban, an eco start-up company that aims to link leading scientific research with local food production, while studying for his PhD in epigenetics two years ago.


Postcard: Fish farming in Harbin, China

Harbin is a city of 5 million people in the northeast of China, having grown in the last 100 years from a population of just a few thousand mainly white Russian emigres. It is perhaps best known for its ice sculpture displays during the bitterly cold winters, but its explosive economic development marks this out as a major centre of economic activity.

Prof Andy Cossins was invited by the Chinese Academy of Fisheries Science to visit their Harbin branch to explore closer collaborative links in aquaculture research. Their scientists have made great strides recently in decoding the genomes of freshwater fish used in Chinese aquaculture. China dominates the production worldwide with a focus on several species of carp that together comprise over 14 million tonnes annually, worth several billion US$, and which contribute much to the Chinese diet.