Latest science blog posts from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Oct 082015
Hidden diversity in unexpected places - moss growth on modern building surfaces

Back in 2014, staff in the molecular lab and herbarium at RBGE greatly enjoyed a three-week visit from Austrian Dr Wolfgang Hofbauer. With funding from the EU SYNTHESYS programme, Wolfgang, employed by the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics, was here to investigate mosses of modern building surfaces. He brought with him interesting chocolate, a taste […]

Sep 292015
Carex on Herbaria@Home

RBGE has recently started to explore the use of Citizen Science platforms by providing images and data to Herbaria@Home, a long standing and successful platform for transcribing herbarium specimen labels. The primary focus of this platform is British and Irish specimens, and with the help of their volunteers over 160,000 British and Irish specimens from […]

Sep 252015
First Audio Leaflet: Dawyck Scottish Trees Trail

Apps Apps Apps For several years now we have been looking for a way to make appropriate use of mobile phones to deliver interpretation material. Smart phones really kicked off with the launch of the first iPhone in 2007 and  the market has now matured with very capable handsets available for little over £100. They […]

Sep 222015
Capturing Genes from Herbaria. IX. Hybrid capture

By mid-May 2015, we had 32 separate Inga umbellifera libraries, 15 generated using the Illumina Tru-Seq Nano library preparation kits, and 17 with the NEBNext Ultra library preparation kit for Illumina. Each of these libraries had DNA index sequence incorporated that would allow the final reads to be bioinformatically separated. A single-index protocol was used; […]

Sep 182015
Finding Monocarpus, in the field

Sadly, although not surprisingly, I was not able to amplify the regions of Monocarpus DNA needed to compare it to other complex thalloid liverworts from a 1950s collection that we had been sent by our Australian colleagues. However, this was not the end of the story. Just over a year later, in September 2009, we received another email from […]

Sep 152015
Where the Tropics meet the Arctic - Scotland

Some of the most remote and beautiful wilderness landscapes in Scotland are in the extreme north-west, in Sutherland, so-called from the Vikings who regarded it as the south of their territory, and their influence lives on here in many of the Norse place names. What is less well-known is the remarkably rich flora of bryophytes, […]

Sep 152015
The Teaching Practices of John Hutton Balfour

In the 1873 Guide to Edinburgh Botanic Garden the classroom is described as follows: “The large room is seated for about 300 students, with arrangements for showing living specimens in pots, dried specimens from the herbarium, large drawings, and minute structures under microscopes. A class Herbarium, illustrating genera and species arranged according to the natural […]

Sep 152015
John Hutton Balfour Excursions

“Excursions may be truly said to be the life of the botanist. They enable him to study the science practically, by the examination of plants in their living state, and in their native localities; they impress upon his mind the structural and physiological lessons he has received; they exhibit to him the geographical range of species, both as […]

Sep 152015
Biography of John Hutton Balfour

John Hutton Balfour Born: 15 September 1808 Place of Birth: Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh Died: 11 February 1884 Place of Death: Inverleith House, Edinburgh Occupation: Botanist and Teacher The eldest son of Andrew Balfour, an army surgeon who became a printer and publisher in Edinburgh and Magdalene Goldie, daughter of Reverend George Goldie, John Hutton Balfour […]

Sep 112015
Finding Monocarpus, in the herbarium

At the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh we’ve been working on the phylogeny of the complex thalloid liverworts for rather a while now. David Long presented a poster on it in 2004 at the International Botanical Congress in Vienna, with data that were included in a collaborative study published in 2006 (Forrest et al., see below). […]