Wednesday 11 March 2020

Wallace Coffee Talks - 17th March 2020

Wallace Coffee Talks - Spring 2020
17th March - 12pm - Zoology Museum

Fancy a cup of coffee or tea and learning more about the researchers at Swansea university? Come join us at the Wallace coffee talks: an informal seminar series where students, staff and others related to Swansea university speak about their research or personal interests.

Ellis Larcombe
Developing a cleaner fish sperm bank
Control of the parasitic salmon louse, Lepeophtheirus salmonis is perhaps the biggest issue in Atlantic salmon aquaculture. In recent years lumpfish, Cyclopterus lumpus, have been successfully used as cleaner fish to biologically control the costly salmon lice problem. However, production of lumpfish needs to upscale to reach the industry demand. The production cycle of lumpfish has not been fully closed and, therefore, relies on harvesting of sexually mature brood stock, and artificial insemination. This supply of broodstock is not always consistent, which can be problematic for production and harvested gametes can go to waste. Cryopreservation of the sperm can help solve these issues. This talk will present the current state of lumpfish sperm cryopreservation, along with my plans to optimise the methodology and make it more suitable for commercial lumpfish production. 

What is driving Swansea Bay? Learning from the past to prepare for the future   
Urbanised coastal environments like Swansea Bay have undergone dramatic change in the past centuries. There are two urban centres, Swansea and Port Talbot, the main wastewater outfall is located in the centre of the inner bay and shipping lanes are dredged to two docks and three rivers. A regularly dredged tidal harbour is located next to Port Talbot Steelworks. All dredge spoils are discarded at a disposal site in the outer Swansea Bay. The bay is designated a Heavily Modified Waterbody under the Water Framework Directive (WFD) because of coastal defence infrastructure dividing land and sea and in recent years it was proposed to build a tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay to convert the vast tidal range into electricity. Understanding vulnerabilities of coastal ecosystems facing anthropogenic use is precondition for management decisions and development planning. This can be challenging in areas with multiple activities affecting different faunal communities. In this talk I will discuss long and short-term ecological changes in Swansea Bay. What changed in the past centuries, what during the past decades? How do we assess these changes and what are the scientific challenges? What lessons can we learn for other urban area? And what does this mean for future research? The talk will give an overview of research carried out for a number of projects such as SEACAMS, KESS and Welsh Crucible, and will also highlight interdisciplinary work. 

Tuesday 3 March 2020

Biomath Colloquium 06/03/2020

BioMaths Colloquium Series - 2019/20

  06 March 2020 - 3pm Robert Recorde Room

(Computational Foundry, Bay Campus)

Modelling evolutionary adaptations of cancer cells to fluctuating oxygen levels

Ms Aleksandra Ardaseva

(Mathematical InstituteUniversity of Oxford) 

Our BioMaths Colloquium Series resumes for the winter term with a seminar by Aleksandra Ardaseva, from the Mathematical Institute at the University of Oxford.  Aleksandra is interested in understanding cancer evolution and identifying the processes that lead to incurable disease. In particular she is interested in the impact of temporal fluctuations in the tumoral microenvironment on its evolution.

A major challenge in malignant tumours is cell heterogeneity, which has been proposed to arise due to temporal variations in nutrient supply caused by highly irregular vasculature. Such variability requires cells to adapt to potentially lethal variations in environmental conditions. Risk spreading (“bet—hedging”) through spontaneous phenotypic variations is an evolutionary strategy that allows species to survive in temporally varying environments. Individuals within a species diversify their phenotypes ensuring that at least some of them can survive in the face of sudden environmental change. We aim to investigate whether cancer cells may adopt this strategy when dealing with rapidly changing levels of nutrient due to temporally -Varying blood flow.

Here, we present a system of nonlocal partial differential equations modelling the evolutionary dynamics of phenotype-structured cancer cell populations exposed to fluctuating oxygen levels. In this model, the phenotypic state of every cell is described by a continuous variable that provides a simple representation of its metabolic phenotype, ranging from fully oxidative to fully glycolytic. The cells are grouped into two competing populations that undergo hen'table, spontaneous, phenotypic variations at different rates. A combination of analysis and numerical simulations indicates that under certain conditions the cell-oxygen dynamics can lead to regions of chronic hypoxia (low oxygen level) and cycling hypoxia. Moreover, the model shows that under chronic—hypoxic conditions lower rates of phenotypic variation lead to a competitive advantage, whereas higher rates of phenotypic variation can confer a competitive advantage under cycling-hypoxic conditions. In the latter case, bet-hedging evolutionary strategies, whereby cells switch between oxidative and glycolytic phenotypes, can spontaneously emerge. These results shed light on the evolutionary processes that may underpin the emergence of phenotypic heterogeneity in vascularised tumours, and suggest potential therapeutic strategies.


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

For the list of forthcoming seminars, see here

Biosciences Seminar Speaker 05 March 2020

Biosciences Seminar Series - Winter 2020
05 March 2020 - 1pm - Zoology Museum

Unravelling the ecology of non-native species

Prof. Helen Roy

(Centre for Ecology and Hydrology at Wallingford, UK)

Harlequin ladybird (Harmonia axyridis). Photo by Ken Dolbear

Our Biosciences Seminar Series continues for the 2020 winter term with a talk by Professor Helen Roy from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology at Wallingford (UK), and also a visiting Professor in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of ReadingHelen is an ecologist and in her research she is broadly interested in the effects of environmental change on insect populations and communities, with a particular focus on the dynamics of invasive non-native ('alien') species and their biodiversity and ecosystem-level effects and on which she is a leader at UK and EU levels. A further strong focus of her research is on Biological Recording and on science communication and citizen science. 

The recently released Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) Global Assessment’s message is stark: biodiversity – the diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems – is declining faster than at any time in human history. Invasive non-native species introduced by humans into regions beyond their natural distribution, were identified as one of the five top direct causes of biodiversity loss. 

Biological invasions can threaten biodiversity and ecosystems, particularly through their interactions with other drivers of change such as climate warming. Species inventories are recognised as critical for the management of biological invasions, informing horizon scanning and surveillance, and underpinning prevention, control and elimination of invasive non-native species. There have been major developments in the availability of high quality data on invasive non-native species. Ensuring knowledge on invasive non-native species shared between countries, is essential to advance understanding and enable successful implementation of strategies to manage invasive non-native species. Here I provide an overview of the ways in which this information can be used to inform science, policy and ultimately conservation. I include insights into invasion ecology from broad patterns and processes to approaches in surveillance and monitoring, particularly involving citizens and highlighting the importance of collaborations including the forthcoming IPBES global thematic assessment on invasive non-native species. Networks established through these collaborative initiatives have benefits for people, science and nature.  


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

For the list of forthcoming seminars see here