Latest science blog posts from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Jul 312015
Capturing Genes from Herbaria. V. Fragmenting the DNA

The mantra for many years for next generation sequencing has been, like “garbage in, garbage out”, that the optimal starting point is high quality, high molecular weight DNA. For many of my favourite plants, getting this DNA, and not the actual sequencing, is the hardest part of the project. It’s a bit upsetting, then, when […]

Jul 302015
Capturing Genes from Herbaria. IV. DNA

In March this year, having already chosen and obtained the plant material that we were going to use for our NBAF project on using a hybrid bait protocol to recover DNA sequences from herbarium material, Michelle Hollingsworth and I started on the DNA extractions. Although there were only seven accessions of Inga umbellifera, multiple DNA […]

Jul 302015
Capturing Genes from Herbaria. III. The Samples.

Having chosen Inga umbellifera as the study organism for our NBAF-funded project to test the use of hybrid baits for recovery of DNA sequences from herbarium material, we had to pick a set of herbarium specimens from which to extract DNA. The funding we had received would allow us to make and sequence about 30 […]

Jul 292015
Capturing Genes from Herbaria. II. Inga.

About 300 species of Inga (Leguminosae: Mimosoideae: Ingeae) grow in lowland and montane rain forest throughout the humid tropical zone, from Mexico to Uruguay. Most species diversity is in the Andean foothills of Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and southern Central America, where it occupies a variety of habitats up to 3000m. The genus was monographed in […]

Jul 292015
Capturing Genes from Herbaria. I. What it's all about.

In February this year, Dr Catherine Kidner, Dr Michelle Hollingsworth, Dr James Nicholls and I were awarded an NBAF pilot grant by NERC to explore the use of DNA from plant herbarium samples for next-generation DNA sequencing, using a hybrid-capture approach. Herbaria contain a wealth of information about plant diversity and distributions; however, assessing the […]

Jul 172015
Biology, genomics and evolution of the complex thalloids

Twenty-five participants from 13 countries have just attended a symposium on complex thalloid liverworts in Edinburgh #Marchantia2015. The meeting also included two teleconferences (from Australia, John Bowman, Monash University, and from the USA, Stuart McDaniel, University of Florida) and one recorded presentation (Péter Szövényi, University of Zurich). Seated (left to right): Robbert Gradstein (MNHN Paris), […]

Jun 172015
Clematis argentilucida from SW China

Tucked away on a boundary wall near the glasshouses, but not on public display, is one of the oldest living Clematis specimens in our collection. This plant was collected in SW China by the Chinese botantist Te-Tsun Yü (1908 – 1986) during the joint Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh & Arnold Arboretum sponsored expedition in 1937. […]

Jun 162015
Out in the sticks

A train and bus ride see me heading out west to a air pollution monitoring station out on the edge of a small town.  My bus stop is the last before open countryside…I’m helpfully informed by a local resident that the area  – Coneypark comes from ‘coney’ the old Scottish name for rabbit.  I don’t […]

Jun 162015
On the Bobby's watch

Surveying in Alloa as part of my project Lichens as Air Quality Indicators led me to a local police station. This is not my first encounter with the police whilst surveying (See blog from Linlithgow  – coming soon) The air pollution monitoring station is situated on the Alloa Ring Road, and according to Scottish Air […]