Latest science blog posts from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Sep 142016
A phylogeny of Sphaerocarpos

In conjunction with Dr Daniela Schill’s monographic work on Sphaerocarpos, we’ve been building a molecular phylogeny for the genus. We have attempted to extract DNA from 66 accessions, including three S. cristatus, all from California, seven S. donnellii from the US, five S. drewei from California, two S. hians, 13 S. michelii from France, Great […]

Sep 122016
This tiny “animal-swallowing” liverwort is spreading rampantly through our forests (and that’s cool!)

Colura calyptrifolia (or to give it its appropriately creepy-sounding common name, the Fingered Cowlwort), is one of our most fascinating UK liverworts. Absolutely tiny (the leaves are about a millimetre long and whole plants often only 2-3 mm), it is heavily modified from the basic leafy-liverwort body plan, the leaves formed into inflated sacs like […]

Sep 092016
Sphaerocarpos, preview to a monograph

The Sphaerocarpales (or “Bottle Liverworts”) form a very distinct group in the complex thalloid liverworts, with ca. 30 species in five genera: originally the group just included Geothallus (monospecific), Sphaerocarpos (8-9 species) and Riella (ca. 20 species), with two more monospecific genera, Austroriella and Monocarpus, added within the last few years. All five genera have very unusual, […]

Sep 082016
A rapid phylogeny of Marchantia, from the RBGE collections. II. Illuminating our sampling

One of the main problems with sampling largely from herbarium specimens, rather than from material that has been specifically collected for DNA work (rapidly dried in silica gel then maintained at low humidity), is that the quality of the DNA is unpredictable and usually rather poor. Therefore, despite starting out with 169 accessions and about […]

Sep 062016
Student projects at RBGE: DNA barcoding of the leafy liverwort genus Herbertus Gray in Europe and a review of the taxonomic status of Herbertus borealis Crundw.

University of Edinburgh/RBGE student David Bell, studying for the Masters degree in the Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants; thesis submitted August 2009. Supervisors: Dr David Long and Dr Michelle Hart.   David used plastid DNA barcode markers rbcL (from 34 accessions) and psbA-trnH (from 36 accessions) to look at the four species of Herbertus in […]

Aug 252016
A Story Behind Every Plant

  Every wild collected plant in the huge living collection at RBGE comes with a story. Of course, some are more interesting than others… In 2014 Katherine Dixon contacted the Garden and enquired after collections made in the 1960s in Borneo; these collections were made by her grandfather, Cyril Giles, along with the late Keith […]

Aug 172016
Flora of Nepal: a 200-year connection

A celebratory exhibition of contemporary and historic plant portraits As Britain and Nepal mark 200 years of diplomatic relations, RBGE is celebrating its own unique relationship with Nepal. By the time the Treaty of Segauli was signed, in March 1816, RBGE’s scientific links were already well-established. They extended back to 1802 when Scottish surgeon-naturalist Dr […]

Aug 122016
Student projects at RBGE: Barcoding British Liverworts: Metzgeria

University of Edinburgh/RBGE student Kimberley Fackler, studying for the Masters degree in the Biodiversity and Taxonomy of Plants; thesis submitted August 2013. Supervisors: David Bell, Dr David Long and Dr Laura Forrest.   Kim sampled from the six species of Metzgeria generally recognised to occur in the UK. She used standard DNA barcode markers rbcL, […]