• Uncovering Cryptic Parasitoid Diversity in Horismenus (Chalcidoidea, Eulophidae)

      Kenyon, SG; Buerki, S; Hansson, C; Alvarez, N; Benrey, B; Ballhorn, D (2015-09-09)
    • Uncovering the sub-lethal impacts of plastic ingestion by shearwaters using fatty acid analysis.

      Puskic, PS; Lavers, JL; Adams, LR; Grünenwald, M; Hutton, I; Bond, AL (Oxford Academic, 2019-05-16)
      Marine plastic pollution is increasing exponentially, impacting an expanding number of taxa each year across all trophic levels. Of all bird groups, seabirds display the highest plastic ingestion rates and are regarded as sentinels of pollution within their foraging regions. The consumption of plastic contributes to sub-lethal impacts (i.e. morbidity, starvation) in a handful of species. Additional data on these sub-lethal effects are needed urgently to better understand the scope and severity of the plastics issue. Here we explore the application of fatty acid (FA) analysis as a novel tool to investigate sub-lethal impacts of plastic ingestion on seabird body condition and health. Using gas chromatography-mass spectrometry, we identified 37 individual FAs within the adipose, breast muscle and liver of flesh-footed (Ardenna carneipes) and short-tailed (Ardenna tenuirostris) shearwaters. We found high amounts of FA 16:0, 18:0, 20:5n3 (eicosapentaenoic acid), 22:6n3 (docosahexaenoic acid) and 18:1n9 in both species; however, the overall FA composition of the two species differed significantly. In flesh-footed shearwaters, high amounts of saturated and mono-unsaturated FAs (needed for fast and slow release energy, respectively) in the adipose and muscle tissues were related to greater bird body mass. While total FAs were not related to the amount of plastic ingested in either species, these data are a valuable contribution to the limited literature on FAs in seabirds. We encourage studies to explore other analytical tools to detect these sub-lethal impacts of plastic.
    • UniEuk : Time to Speak a Common Language in Protistology!

      Berney, C; Ciuprina, A; Bender, S; Brodie, J; Edgcomb, V; Kim, E; Rajan, J; Parfrey, LW; Adl, S; Audic, S; et al. (Wiley, 2017-03-24)
      Universal taxonomic frameworks have been critical tools to structure the fields of botany, zoology, mycology, and bacteriology as well as their large research communities. Animals, plants, and fungi have relatively solid, stable morpho‐taxonomies built over the last three centuries, while bacteria have been classified for the last three decades under a coherent molecular taxonomic framework. By contrast, no such common language exists for microbial eukaryotes, even though environmental ‘‐omics’ surveys suggest that protists make up most of the organismal and genetic complexity of our planet's ecosystems! With the current deluge of eukaryotic meta‐omics data, we urgently need to build up a universal eukaryotic taxonomy bridging the protist ‐omics age to the fragile, centuries‐old body of classical knowledge that has effectively linked protist taxa to morphological, physiological, and ecological information. UniEuk is an open, inclusive, community‐based and expert‐driven international initiative to build a flexible, adaptive universal taxonomic framework for eukaryotes. It unites three complementary modules, EukRef, EukBank, and EukMap, which use phylogenetic markers, environmental metabarcoding surveys, and expert knowledge to inform the taxonomic framework. The UniEuk taxonomy is directly implemented in the European Nucleotide Archive at EMBL‐EBI, ensuring its broad use and long‐term preservation as a reference taxonomy for eukaryotes.
    • Unifying European Biodiversity Informatics (BioUnify)

      Koureas, D; Hardisty, A; Vos, R; Agosti, D; Arvanitidis, C; Bogatencov, P; Buttigieg, PL; de Jong, Y; Horvath, F; Gkoutos, G; et al. (2016-01-19)
    • The unknown planktonic foraminiferal pioneer Henry A. Buckley and his collection at The Natural History Museum, London

      Rillo, MC; Whittaker, J; Ezard, THG; Purvis, A; Henderson, AS; Stukins, S; Giles Miller, C
    • An updated checklist of the Culicidae (Diptera) of Morocco, with notes on species of historical and current medical importance

      Trari, B; Dakki, M; Harbach, RE (Society for Vector Ecology, 2017-06)
      An updated checklist of the mosquito species (Diptera: Culicidae) recorded in Morocco from 1916 to 2016 is provided, including synonyms and synonymous usage for each species. Forty‐three species belonging to seven genera are recorded so far: Anopheles (9), Aedes (12) Coquillettidia (2), Culex (12), Culiseta (5), Orthopodomyia (1) and Uranotaenia (2). Traditional and equivalent names in the polyphyletic concept of Aedes are provided for the aedine species. The historical importance and current potential threat of mosquitoes to human health in Morocco is reviewed.
    • Urogenital schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) in Cameroon: An epidemiological update at Barombi Mbo and Barombi Kotto crater lakes assessing prospects for intensified control interventions

      Campbell, SJ; Stothard, JR; O’Halloran, F; Sankey, D; Durant, T; Ombede, DE; Chuinteu, GD; Webster, BL; Cunningham, L; LaCourse, EJ; et al. (2017-02-27)
    • Urogenital schistosomiasis transmission on Unguja Island, Zanzibar: characterisation of persistent hot-spots

      Pennance, T; Person, B; Muhsin, MA; Khamis, AN; Muhsin, J; Khamis, IS; Mohammed, KA; Kabole, F; Rollinson, D; Knopp, S (2016-12)
    • The use of anthropogenic marine debris as a nesting material by brown boobies (Sula leucogaster)

      Grant, ML; Lavers, JL; Stuckenbrock, S; Sharp, PB; Bond, AL (Elsevier, 2018-10-11)
      Marine debris is pervasive worldwide, and affects biota negatively. We compared the characteristics of debris incorporated within brown booby (Sula leucogaster) nests throughout their pantropical distribution by assessing the type, colour and mass of debris items within nests and in beach transects at 18 sites, to determine if nests are indicators of the amount of debris in local marine environments. Debris was present in 14.4% of nests surveyed, with the proportion of nests with debris varying among sites (range: 0–100%). There was minimal overlap between the type or colour of debris found in nests and on adjacent beaches at individual sites. This suggests that brown boobies do not select debris uniformly across their distribution. We propose that the nests of brown boobies can be used as a sentinel of marine debris pollution of their local environment.
    • Using the “Natural History Large Hadron Collider” to tell us about plant diversity

      Knapp, S (BioMed Central, 2017-03-07)
      A study published today in BMC Biology uses the RAINBIO dataset, a database of herbarium specimens, to analyze African plant diversity. In this blog we invited Sandra Knapp, a plant taxonomist at the Natural History Museum in London, to talk about the study and the importance of herbaria, which she regards as the “CERN of natural history”.
    • The utility of micro-computed tomography for the non-destructive study of eye microstructure in snails

      Sumner-Rooney, L; Kenny, Nathan; Ahmed, F; Williams, ST (Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2019-10-28)
      Molluscan eyes exhibit an enormous range of morphological variation, ranging from tiny pigment-cup eyes in limpets, compound eyes in ark clams and pinhole eyes in Nautilus, through to concave mirror eyes in scallops and the large camera-type eyes of the more derived cephalopods. Here we assess the potential of non-destructive micro-computed tomography (µ-CT) for investigating the anatomy of molluscan eyes in three species of the family Solariellidae, a group of small, deep-sea gastropods. We compare our results directly with those from traditional histological methods applied to the same specimens, and show not only that eye microstructure can be visualised in sufficient detail for meaningful comparison even in very small animals, but also that μ-CT can provide additional insight into gross neuroanatomy without damaging rare and precious specimens. Data from μ-CT scans also show that neurological innervation of eyes is reduced in dark-adapted snails when compared with the innervation of cephalic tentacles, which are involved in mechanoreception and possibly chemoreception. Molecular tests also show that the use of µ-CT and phosphotungstic acid stain do not prevent successful downstream DNA extraction, PCR amplification or sequencing. The use of µ-CT methods is therefore highly recommended for the investigation of difficult-to-collect or unique specimens.
    • Various Gallus varius hybrids: variation in junglefowl hybrids and Darwin's interest in them

      van Grouw, Hein; Dekkers, W (British Ornithologists' Club, 2019-12-16)
      Hybrids between Green Junglefowl Gallus varius and domestic fowl G. gallus domesticus confused several 19th-century ornithologists. The plumage of these hybrids is so unlike the colours and patterns of either of the parent species that they were considered to be distinct species: G. aeneusTemminck, 1825; G. temminckiiGray, 1849; and G. violaceusKelsall, 1891. Darwin wanted to understand if G. aeneus and G. temminckii were hybrids or species, as part of his research on the origin of the domestic chicken. His view was that all domesticated fowl have a single wild ancestor, Red Junglefowl G. gallus (formerly G. bankiva). A hybrid specimen now present in the bird collection of the Natural History Museum at Tring played an important role in Darwin's reasoning and, although the conclusions he drew from this specimen were incorrect, his single-ancestor origin theory for domesticated fowl stands. ‘These hybrids were at one time thought to be specifically distinct, and were named G. aeneus. Mr. Blyth and others believe that the G. Temminckii is a similar hybrid' (Darwin 1868a: 234–235).
    • Vertebral column deformities in white-beaked dolphins from the eastern North Atlantic

      Bertulli, CG; Galatius, A; Kinze, CC; Rasmussen, MH; Deaville, R; Jepson, P; Vedder, EJ; Sánchez Contreras, GJ; Sabin, RC; Watson, A (2015-09-17)
    • Vertical transmission of Tetracapsuloides bryosalmonae (Myxozoa), the causative agent of salmonid proliferative kidney disease

      Abd-Elfattah, Ahmed; Fontes, I; Kumar, Gokhlesh; Soliman, Hatem; Hartikainen, H; Okamura, B; El-Matbouli, Mansour (2014-04)
    • Warm Temperatures, Cool Sponges: The Effect of Increased Temperatures on the Antarctic Sponge Isodictya sp

      González-Aravena, M.; Kenny, N.J.; Osorio, M.; Font, A.; Riesgo, A.; Cárdenas, C.A. (bioRxiv, 2019-08-06)
      Although the cellular and molecular responses to exposure to relatively high temperatures (acute thermal stress or heat shock) have been studied previously, only sparse empirical evidence of how it affects cold-water species is available. As climate change becomes more pronounced in areas such as the Western Antarctic Peninsula, it has become crucial to understand the capacity of these species to respond to thermal stress. Here we use the Antarctic sponge Isodictya sp. to investigate how sessile organisms (particularly Porifera) can adjust to acute short-term heat stress, by exposing this species to 3 and 5 °C for 4 hours, corresponding to predicted temperatures under high-end 2080 IPCC-SRES scenarios. Assembling a de novo reference transcriptome (90,188 contigs, >93.7% metazoan BUSCO genes) we have begun to discern the molecular response employed by Isodictya to adjust to environmental insult. Our initial analyses suggest that TGF-β, ubiquitin and hedgehog cascades are involved, alongside other genes. However, the degree and type of response changed little from 3 to 5 °C, suggesting that even moderate rises in temperature could cause stress at the limits of this organism’s capacity. Given the importance of sponges to Antarctic ecosystems, our findings are vital for discerning the consequences of increases in Antarctic ocean temperature on these and other species.
    • Whipworms in humans and pigs: origins and demography

      Hawash, MBF; Betson, M; Al-Jubury, A; Ketzis, J; LeeWillingham, A; Bertelsen, MF; Cooper, PJ; Zhu, X-Q; Nejsum, P; Littlewood, T (2016-12)
    • Whole genome amplification and exome sequencing of archived schistosome miracidia

      Le Clec'h, W; Chevalier, FD; McDew-White, M; Allan, F; Webster, BL; Gouvras, AN; Kinunghi, S; Tchuem Tchuenté, L-A; Garba, A; Mohammed, KA; et al. (Cambridge University Press, 2018-05-28)
      Adult schistosomes live in the blood vessels and cannot easily be sampled from humans, so archived miracidia larvae hatched from eggs expelled in feces or urine are commonly used for population genetic studies. Large collections of archived miracidia on FTA cards are now available through the Schistosomiasis Collection at the Natural History Museum (SCAN). Here we describe protocols for whole genome amplification of Schistosoma mansoni and Schistosome haematobium miracidia from these cards, as well as real time PCR quantification of amplified schistosome DNA. We used microgram quantities of DNA obtained for exome capture and sequencing of single miracidia, generating dense polymorphism data across the exome. These methods will facilitate the transition from population genetics, using limited numbers of markers to population genomics using genome-wide marker information, maximising the value of collections such as SCAN.