Latest science blog posts from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Apr 122017
Cleaning the Schistidium PCRs

Once we realised that most of our plate of Schistidium ITS2 amplifications had been successful, it was an easy decision to process them all for DNA sequencing. If a higher proportion had failed, we would have had to “cherry pick”, selecting and transferring the successful reactions into new tubes. Every sequencing reaction has a cost, and […]

Apr 112017
Gel electrophoresis of Schistidium ITS DNA

  Once the polymerase chain reaction is over, it’s time to Run The Gel; this is make-or-break time, when we find out if our PCR amplification has actually worked. The first step is to prepare and pour the gel. The gel is a 1-2% mix of agarose in a salt-containing buffer solution (for us, this is usually 1x […]

Apr 062017
Copying moss DNA in the molecular lab

After we extracted a plate’s worth (12 columns by 8 rows, or 96 samples) of Schistidium DNA, the next step in our process is to copy a preselected part of that DNA, using the Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR). For this study with Wolfgang, we are copying a region of nuclear DNA known as the Internal […]

Apr 052017
The trials and tribulations of a moss in the lab: DNA extraction

Just over a week into our current Synthesys-funded Schistidium project, and Wolfgang has picked through piles of packets of mosses, selecting the 96 that we would most like to get DNA sequences for, and putting tiny pieces of them into plastic tubes for DNA extraction. Down in the basement, we have a storeroom with racks […]

Mar 302017
Campylopus introflexus, an invasive alien on the glasshouse roof

The moss Campylopus introflexus, native to the southern hemisphere, is now considered an invasive plant in parts of Europe and North America. While it occurs on some natural sites within Edinburgh, notably on Arthur’s Seat, it is also no stranger to man-made habitats. At the Botanics, the species forms large tactile ball-like clumps between the […]

Mar 292017
Volunteering at the Botanics - bryophytes in our living landscape

There are very few bryophytes growing in the living collections of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh. What I mean by this is that there are very few bryophytes that we have carefully selected as wild plants, and have planted and nurtured as part of our curated collection, databased and in possession of accession numbers. On […]

Mar 292017
Building on building mosses, a return to Schistidium in the built environment

Monday 27th March was the start of a month-long visit to RBGE by the Fraunhofer Institute for Building Physics‘s Dr Wolfgang Hofbauer, funded by the EU Synthesys Access programme. This funding enables researchers from other institutes to get their hands on the natural history collections that they need to see and understand, but it is […]

Mar 212017
Devil's Advocate: Let Them Eat Potatoes

Thanks to the tireless work by Wikileaks an interesting letter has come to light addressed to the Devil himself from one of his advocates in our world. It reads: Your Most Gruesome Majesty, I write of a great triumph in spreading fear, mistrust and uncertainty in the world. I hope that this will contribute to […]

Feb 282017
Actionable, long-term stable and semantic web compatible identifiers for access to biological collection objects

Happy to see our paper on the use of internet technologies to mobilise specimen data finally in “print”. We are hoping this will add traction to the adoption of this approach to sharing data as the more institutions who adopt it the more useful it will become and the more kinds of research it will […]