Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Wallace Coffee Talks - 21 June 2018

Wallace Coffee Talks - Spring 2018
21 June 2018 - 1pm - Zoology Museum


David Gilljam (SwanseaUniversity, UK)

The colour of environmental fluctuations driving terrestrial animal population dynamics

I'm an ecologist with a background in computer engineering whose research focus lies on the effects of environmental variation and within and between species interactions on the dynamics, stability and functioning of ecological networks. As a NERC-funded postdoc here at Swansea University, one of my lines of research investigates the drivers of fluctuations and cycles in animal population dynamics. Fluctuations can be generated by many types of biotic factors, such as density-dependence, age-structure and predator-prey interactions. Abiotic factors, like the temporal structure (colour) of environmental variables such as temperature and precipitation are also considered to influence population dynamics. In this talk I will however propose that for short time-spans typical for ecological time-series, the colour of the environment is not as important as a driver of animal population fluctuations as previously thought. These findings will, in turn, improve our ability to incorporate appropriate environmental processes into predictive modelling frameworks of ecological dynamics.


Stream fragmentation in Great Britain: what, where and why?

The potential impact of river fragmentation caused by in-channel obstacles on river ecosystems is enormous and includes alteration of hydro-geomorphological processes, temperature regimes and sediment loading, that affect river connectivity. Owing to these impacts, EU member states are bound by the Water Framework Directive to maintain river continuity as a crucial component to achieving “good ecological status”. Despite this and plenty of other concern, the extent of river fragmentation in Great Britain is unknown. In this talk I will briefly describe how I got here and what I’ve been working on to address current knowledge gaps in river fragmentation in Great Britain.


Monday, 18 June 2018

Biosciences Seminar Speaker 20 June 2018

Biosciences Seminar Series - Spring 2018
20 June 2018 - 10am - Zoology Museum

(Note different day and time)

Genetic characterisation of mussel populations (Mytilus spp.) from the hybrid zone in southwestern England using SNP markers

Dr. Ángel Pérez Diz

from: http://www.mollusca.co.nz

The Biosciences Seminar Series terminates for the 2017/18 academic year with a talk by Dr. Ángel Pérez Diz from the Department of Biochemistry, Genetics and Immunology at the University of Vigo (Spain). Angel's research interests are mainly focussed on evolutionary biology, and specifically in understanding the functional consequences of genetic changes and the molecular mechanisms underlying adaptation and speciation in marine organisms. He uses proteogenomic and other omics approaches to examine the consequences of reproductive isolation.

The study of the mechanisms that lead to the formation of new species is of special interest in marine ecosystems due to the lack of obvious barriers to gene flow. Mussels of the genus Mytilus are marine organisms with external fertilization able to hybridize where the distribution of two species overlap, allowing the study of reproductive isolation and local adaptation mechanisms in a natural scenario. Because the formation of hybrids is so frequent between Mytilus spp., it is likely that different types of reproductive barriers might be playing a role to preserve the genome integrity of each species, though the relative contribution of each is far from clear. One of the best studied M. edulis x M. galloprovincialis hybrid zones is that extending along SW England coast. Most of genetic studies on samples from this hybrid zone were carried out during 80s and early 90s, with results and conclusions relying on variation analysis in a few allozyme, a single nuclear marker (Glu-5) or mtDNA RFLPs data. The last technological and methodological advances in genomic field is allowing to identify, characterise and analyse an unprecedented number of genetic markers that should contribute to fine tune or even expand the results reported in classical genetic studies. This is the case for a set of new 50 SNP markers with high FST values (diagnostic) between pure M. edulis and M. galloprovincialis reference populations that have been recently reported in the literature. We have analysed the genetic variation of different mussel populations collected along the SW England hybrid zone and parental species based on this new set of markers. Results will be shown and discussed in relation to those obtained in older studies and from an evolutionary viewpoint.


Hope to see many of you - everyone most welcome to attend!

For the list of forthcoming seminars see here

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Biomaths Colloquium - 15/06/2018

BioMaths Colloquium Series - 2017/18

  15 June 2018 - 3pm Maths Seminar Room

(room 224 Talbot Building 2nd floor)

Partial differential equation models of evolutionary and spatial dynamics of cancer cell populations

Dr Tommaso Lorenzi

(School of Mathematics and StatisticsUniversity of St Andrews, UK) 

from: Lorenzi et al. (2016)

Our BioMaths Colloquium Series continues with a seminar by Dr Tommaso Lorenzi, from the School of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of St Andrews (UK). Tommaso is a Research fellow in Applied Mathematics, broadly interested in Mathematical Biology, in particular using deterministic models (partial differential equations (PDEs), integro-differential equations (IDEs), and corresponding stochastic individual-based (IB) models). Tommaso collaborates widely with cell biologists, immunologists and evolutionary biologists, addressing questions about the growth and evolution of tumour cells, spatial evolutionary games, and the dynamics of structured populations.

A growing body of research indicates that mathematical modelling can complement experimental cancer research by offering alternative means of interpreting experimental data and by enabling extrapolation beyond empirical observation. This talk deals with mathematical models formulated in terms of nonlinear partial differential equations which can be used to study evolutionary and spatial dynamics of cancer cell populations. I will present a number of results which illustrate how analysis and numerical simulation of these equations can help to uncover fresh insights into the critical mechanisms underpinning tumour progression and the emergence of resistance to cytotoxic therapy.


The discussions will continue over biscuits and tea/coffee after the seminar. 
Hope to see many of you!

For the list of forthcoming seminars, see here

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Biosciences Seminar Speaker 14 June 2018

Biosciences Seminar Series - Spring 2018
14 June 2018 - 1pm - Zoology Museum

Insect chemical communication: a nexus between behaviour and pest control

Dr Almudena Ortiz-Urquiza

Image by Dr Ray Wilson

The Biosciences Seminar Series continues for the Spring Term with a talk by Dr Almudena Ortiz-Urquiza from the Department of Biosciences at the University of Swansea (UK). Almudena is broadly interested in insect pathology and insect sensory ecology,with both fundamental and applied research interests. To do so Almudena uses comparative and evolutionary genomics and a combination of molecular and biochemical tools.

My research combines insect pathology with the study of arthropod olfaction. I use comparative and evolutionary genomics and a combination of molecular and biochemical tools to i) address fundamental questions concerning the molecular basis of pathogenesis versus beneficial symbiosis, and ii) understand the process of chemoreception, and chemical ligand binding and transport in important vectors of disease-causing agents including the tsetse fly, Glossina morsitans, and the tick Ixodes ricinus

Beauveria bassiana is a broad-host-range insect pathogen able to infect more than 700 species of insects and other arthropods. Despite this, some insects, i.e. Tenebrionid beetles, remain recalcitrant to infection. Our analyses showed that these beetles have evolved cuticular chemical defenses against B. bassiana that include the production of antimicrobial quinones. In response, the fungus has the potential to develop mechanisms to detoxify the quinones via the action of quinone reductases. Our results provide an example of an arms race between an insect pathogenic fungus and a beetle, with beetle (antimicrobial) cuticular secretions and a fungal detoxifying enzyme as the competing components.

Perception of chemical signals is a critical component of the ability of arthropods to find food, locate mates, and avoid adverse conditions including predators and pathogens. Insect chemosensory proteins (CSPs) represent a class of soluble ligand carrier proteins some of which are found in the sensillar lymph of insect antennae and maxillary palps. Within the chemoreception organs, CSPs are considered to function in the capture and delivery of chemical ligands during olfactory signal transduction, shuttling odorants and other hydrophobic ligands to the chemosensory receptors. Subsets of CSPs are also found in other tissues, where they may mediate ligand sequestration and transport in various physiological processes, as well as mediating release of pheromones and other volatiles. We have characterized the ligand bind profiles of the five CSPs described in the tsetse fly Glossina morsitans. Each CSP displayed a unique ligand binding profiles, although extensive overlap was seen. Subsets of CSPs showed broader ligand recognition, whereas others were narrower in ligand binding preferences. These data reveal key aspects of the functionality of the tsetse fly CSPs by indicating the range of ligands that each protein can recognize.


Hope to see many of you - everyone most welcome to attend!

For the list of forthcoming seminars see here

Monday, 14 May 2018

Biosciences Seminar Speaker 17 May 2018

Biosciences Seminar Series - Spring 2018
17 May 2018 - 1pm - Zoology Museum

Coping with environmental stress in natural populations

Dr Marjo Saastamoinen

(University of Helsinki, Finland)

Photo by Peter Hunt

The Biosciences Seminar Series continues for the Spring Term with a talk by Dr Marjo Saastamoinen from the Department of Biosciences and the Research Centre for Ecological Change at the University of Helsinki (Finland). Marjo is broadly interested in understanding and predicting differences in how individuals in nature respond to, cope and adapt to environmental variation. To do so Marjo a broad range of techniques, from genetic and genomic methods to behavioural observations to mathematical approaches, applied to data from laboratory and long-term study systems in the wild.

Organisms are constantly challenged by environmental variation, for example in resource quality, which subsequently influences life history variation and evolution in natural populations. We are studying life-history responses and underlying coping mechanisms to environmental stress, namely changes in host plant quality induced by drought, in the Glanville fritillary (Melitaea cinxia) butterfly. Combining laboratory and field based studies, we show how developmental time as well as adult fitness-related traits are shaped by variation in food quality. We show that some of the responses are developmental stage-dependent, and that coping mechanisms include developmental switches as well as behavioural adjustments in both larvae and adults. These questions are assessed within an ecologically relevant context as environmental conditions from spring to late summer greatly impact the metapopulation dynamics of the butterfly. Working with the large metapopulation of the Glanville fritillary butterfly gives us a unique opportunity to assess the processes operating from genes within individuals all the way to metapopulation-level dynamics.

Hope to see many of you - everyone most welcome to attend!

For the list of forthcoming seminars see here