Dr Giles Yeo to deliver talk at School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln

Dr Giles Yeo, from the University of Cambridge, Horizon and the BBC’s “Trust me I’m a Doctor” will be providing an informed and entertaining seminar titled “The genetics of obesity: Can an old dog teach us new tricks?” on Friday 4th May 1-2 pm, in the School of Life Sciences seminar series at the Joseph Banks Laboratories (JBL3C01).

Dr Yeo is a geneticist with nearly 20 years’ experience studying obesity and the brain control of food intake. He obtained his PhD from the University of Cambridge in genetics in 1998 (studying the genetics of the fugu fish) and has been there ever since. He was in the initial vanguard that described a number of genes that when mutated, resulted in rare forms of severe obesity, thus uncovering key pathways in the brain that control food intake.

Dr Giles Yeo
Dr Giles Yeo

His current research focuses on understanding how these pathways differ between lean and obese people, and the influence of genes in our feeding behaviour. Giles also presents science documentaries for the BBC. His critically acclaimed investigative piece ‘Clean eating – The dirty truth’, for BBC Horizon, was screened in January 2017 and prompted an important national debate about dieting advice and evidence-based science. More recently he featured weekly on BBC2’s ‘Trust Me I’m a Doctor’ as one of the new ‘doctors’.

For more details contact Professor Jon Whitehead (jwhitehead@lincoln.ac.uk). (Please note, this talk is open to staff and students only).

Dogs Trust and University of Lincoln study to look at child-dog interactions

For many people their pet dog is an important member of their family – loved by young and old alike.

The University of Lincoln and Dogs Trust are exploring child-dog interactions to develop tools to help responsible parents protect the special child-dog relationship.

You are invited to take part in this study- researchers at the School of Life Sciences are looking for dog-owning parents of children, aged 3 – 16 years old, to take part in short survey.

The researchers involved in this project are keen to hear from families who have typically developing children and those with neuro-developmental disorders (e.g. autism, ADHD).

You can take part in the survey online. Please note, the survey will take approximately 20 minutes – participants will be entered into a prize draw to win a £50 Amazon voucher.

Follow the School of Life Sciences on Twitter and Facebook.

New Genetic Research Shows Extent of Cross-Breeding between Wild Wolves and Domestic Dogs across Europe and Asia

Original article can be found online.

Mating between domesticated dogs and wild wolves over hundreds of years has left a genetic mark on the wolf gene pool, new research has shown.

The international study showed that around 60 per cent of Eurasian grey wolf genomes carried small blocks of the DNA of domestic dogs, suggesting that wolves cross-bred with dogs in past generations.

The results suggest that wolf-dog hybridisation has been geographically widespread in Europe and Asia and has been occurring for centuries. The phenomenon is seen less frequently in wild wolf populations of North America.

Researchers examined DNA data from grey wolves – the ancestors of the domestic dog – to determine how much their gene pool was diluted with the DNA of domestic canines, and how widespread the process of hybridisation is.

Despite the evidence of hybridisation among Eurasian grey wolves, the wolf populations have remained genetically distinct from dogs, suggesting that such cross-breeding does not diminish distinctiveness of the wolf gene pool if it occurs at low levels.

The results could have important conservation implications for the grey wolf, which is a keystone species – meaning it is vital to the natural balance of the habitat it occupies. The legal status of hybrids is still uncertain and unregulated.

The study was led by researchers from the University of Lincoln, UK, the Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Dr Malgorzata Pilot, from the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln, said: “The fact that wild wolves can cross-breed with dogs is well-documented, but little was previously known about how widespread this phenomenon has been and how it has affected the genetic composition of wild wolf populations.

“We found that while hybridisation has not compromised the genetic distinctiveness of wolf populations, a large number of wild wolves in Eurasia carry a small proportion of gene variants derived from dogs, leading to the ambiguity of how we define genetically ‘pure wolves’.

“Our research highlighted that some individual wolves which had been identified as ‘pure wolves’ according to their physical characteristics were actually shown to be of mixed ancestry. On the other hand, two Italian wolves with an unusual, black coat colour did not show any genetic signatures of hybridisation, except for carrying a dog-derived variant of a gene linked to dark colouration. This suggests that the definition of genetically ‘pure’ wolves can be ambiguous and identifying admixed individuals can be difficult, implying that management strategies based on removal of suspected hybrids from wolf populations may be inefficient.

“Instead, our study has highlighted a need to reduce the factors which can cause hybridisation, such as abundance of free-ranging dogs, small wolf population sizes, and unregulated hunting.”

Studying a specific type of genetic variation in the DNA sequences of wolves and domestic dogs – called Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) – the scientists identified the transfer of dog gene variants into wolf genomes.

A single DNA sequence is formed from a chain of four nucleotide bases and if some individuals in a population do not carry the same nucleotide at a specific position in the sequence, the variation is classified as an SNP.

This study was funded by a Leverhulme Trust Research Fellowship, the University of Lincoln, the Polish Committee for Scientific Research, the Italian Ministry of Environment, the US National Science Foundation, the Intramural Program of the National Human Genome Research Institute, and the Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research.

In the US, research collaborators were from Princeton University, the National Human Genome Research Institute based at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, and UCLA.

The international team also included researchers from the Italian National Institute for Environmental Protection and Research, Aalborg University in Denmark, the Mammal Research Institute, and the Institute of Nature Conservation, both at the Polish Academy of Sciences, as well as the Institute of Zoology at the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus.

The findings have been published in the journal Evolutionary Applications, and the full study can be found here: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/eva.12595.

School of Life Sciences celebrates International Women’s Day 2018

Today is International Women’s Day. In celebration of this yearly event, we met with some of our female students to find out the projects they’re undertaking as part of their studies at the School of Life Sciences, University of Lincoln UK.

After being recognised for its commitment to advancing women’s careers in STEMM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Medicine), the University of Lincoln achieved a Bronze Award in 2014 as part of the Athena SWAN Charter.

In addition, the women in science, engineering and technology group (WiSE@Lincoln) was set up at the University in 2012 to coordinate and deliver sustained support, guidance, training and inspiration for the Lincoln women in science, engineering and technology. The WiSE group is headed up by the Eleanor Glanville Centre, an interdisciplinary centre for inclusion, diversity and equality at the University of Lincoln.

Below are a selection of our female students / staff members – you can find out more about their projects by clicking their photographs.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

International Women’s Day ​​(March 8th) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.​ ​International Women’s Day​ (IWD) has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD run by the Suffragettes in 1911.​ IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group or organisation specific.

www.internationalwomensday.com

Join in the discussion on Twitter using #IWD2018

Conflict Between Sexes Could Replace Evolution of New Species

New research shows that males and females of the same species can evolve to be so different that they prevent other species from evolving or colonising habitats, challenging long-held theories on the way natural selection drives the evolution of biodiversity.

According to Darwin’s theory of natural selection, first introduced in his book On the Origin of Species (1859), new environments such as mountains and islands with abundant food and habitats, offer species the ‘ecological opportunity’ to colonise an area using those resources.

New research from the UK has shown that exactly the same mechanism of evolution that creates new species also operates within the same species when males and females compete for the ecological resources available in different habitats, such as bushy areas or stony patches with abundant food. The conflict between the sexes can lead to one sex becoming bigger, more colourful or adapting to eat different food, just like a traditional process of evolution by natural selection can lead an ancestor to split into two different species.

This process of evolution between the sexes expands the biodiversity of the area – a development that evolutionary biologists previously thought only occurred when the number of different species using different resources or ‘niches’ increases. This new research challenges that assumption, showing that different species and different sexes of the same species can occupy these niches.

This new research which explored the evolution of lizards in the Chilean Andes Mountains and Argentinean Patagonia, shows that different sexes of the same species can fill niches as well, meaning new species are actively prevented from evolving.

This is because there is no new environment for them to occupy – a necessary condition for new species to evolve under Darwin’s theory of natural selection.

Conducted by academics from the Universities of Lincoln, Exeter and Sheffield, the study demonstrated that biodiversity can now be seen as the formation of new, different species, or, as the formation of different sexes which are distinct enough to be equivalent to different species in the way they ‘saturate’ ecological niches.

Dr Daniel Pincheira-Donoso, Senior Lecturer in Evolutionary Biology at the School of Life Sciences at the University of Lincoln and lead researcher on the study, said: “Our research reveals evidence for this intriguing phenomenon that the evolution of sexes within a species could replace the evolution of new species, which begins to add a new layer to our understanding of the evolution of biodiversity.

“It is important to stress that the diversity of life on our planet applies not only to the evolution of different species, but also to the independent evolution of males and females within the same species, which potentially has very important implications.”

The findings have been published in the scientific journal Global Ecology and Biogeography.

Article reblogged from here