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Inside Life: 3D Micro-CT Applications for Life Sciences

 

 

Dan Sykes

Micro-CT Scanning Specialist, Imaging and Analysis Centre, Science Facilities, NHM

 

Friday 28 June 11:00

Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 

The Micro-CT facility at the NHM provides a cutting edge and innovative approach to museum science. The facility carries out projects covering a diverse range of research fields, including investigations into meteorites, paintings, fossils and many more. However, more recently the applications of micro-CT to biology have been rapidly expanding, allowing new ways of examining specimens in 3D. As this is a non-destructive, non-invasive technique it also allows us to study what’s inside important and rarecollection material, from our Egyptian mummified animal collection to virtually dissecting brains from insects’ heads. Through examining case studies, I will explore some of the most interesting and innovative studies and techniques using micro-CT at the museum. The aim of this talk is to encourage discussion about the potential of micro-CT to further museum research; and highlight interesting areas of future development that could open up new avenues of research.

 

For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.html

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Miniatures, morphology and molecules: problems with the phylogenetic position of Paedocypris

 

 

miniture fish.jpg

 

 

Ralf Britz

Vertebrates Division, Dept. Life Sciences, NHM

 

Wednesday 26 June 11:00

Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 

The highly miniaturized fish species of the cyprinid genus Paedocypris are among the smallest of all vertebrates. Their skeleton shows a puzzling mixture ofhighly reductive and morphologically novel characters. Numerous structures present in most bony fishes are absent in Paedocypris due to an organism wide case of progenesis or developmental truncation. I highlight the problems associated with working morphologically with such a truncated organism and offer some solutions. I also look in detail at the evidence from recent molecular systematic analyses some of which are in sharp contrast to the results based on morphology. I touch upon the general issue of morphology versus molecules and discuss it in the context of the phylogenetic position of Paedocypris.

 

For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.html

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Participation and Collections Management: Is good collection management and genuine public participation really possible?

 

 

hands on.jpg

 

When?
Thursday 27th June, 2013, 2.30pm-4.00pm

 

Where?
Flett Lecture Theatre, NHM, South Kensington

 

Who?

Speakers: 
Tim Vickers, Collections Care Officer, Luton Culture

 

What’s it about?:
This talk will look at some of the speakers experience of allowing hands on use of core collections to engage with the public. Focused primarily on the Museums archaeological collections, it will cover some of the risks and benefits of this way of working from a curator’s view rather than just for those who participate.

 

Who should come?
If you are thinking about or are working on a collections management project where you would like to involve members of the public where the focus is being hands-on.

 

Science Group: All senior departmental managers & collection management staff.

Public Engagement Group:  Any staff who work with and use collections or manage staff who work with collections.

 

We also welcome colleagues from other institutions who would find the seminar of interest.

 

There is no booking fee and only large parties need to notify the organiser for catering purposes.

 


Tea and coffee will be available in the lobby area after the talk.

 

Suggestions for seminar speakers are always most welcome.
Please contact the organiser Clare Valentine (c.valentine@nhm.ac.uk)

 

For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.html

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Tom Richards from the Museum's Life Science department is an author on a paper in Nature that explores the genome of one of the most abundant species of planktonic plant - the coccolithophore Emiliania huxleyi.  Coccolithophores occur in great numbers in the ocean: the chalk cliffs at Dover are made up of the remains of their calcium carbonate skeletons.

 

The World's oceans are tremendously complex.  Currents move over thousands of kilometres, some descending as they are cooled by weather systems, or mixing at the surface with fresh waters, sediments and nutrients from continental rivers.  Life is immensely diverse, ranging from corals to the deep-sea vent faunas.  The highest biomass of life is in the shallow seas near to land, but the open ocean contains a constantly shifting system of tiny planktonic organisms ranging from bacteria to single-celled plants to grazing zooplankton and their predators. 

 

These planktonic ecosystems change with currents, seasons, nutrient availability and predation. Their growth, population explosions, deaths and decline interact with the planet's cycling of carbon and other nutrients.  These interactions are important in understanding ocean productivity and climate: there are links to carbon dioxide fluctuation, for example, as the plants absorb it during growth and release some at death.  Despite the tiny size of the organisms, their huge numbers over two-thirds of the planet's surface means that their role in planetary systems is very significant.

 

E. huxleyi experiences huge population explosions in the open ocean - planktonic blooms. Some species of phytoplankton bloom under very particular conditions of temperature and nutrient availability, but E. huxleyi thrives in a wide range of conditions, occuring from the warm waters of the equator to polar regions.

 

NaturalHistoryMuseum_PictureLibrary_033355_Comp.jpgEmiliania huxleyi, showing the distinctive calcium carbonate plates that cover its exterior. 

These may have important protective and light-reflecting qualities for the organism.

 

The paper finds that E. huxleyi strains from different areas share a core genome - this gives them a robust abilty to resist the inhibiting and damaging effects of intense sunlight, together with genes that allow effective growth in low phosphorus conditions.  There are genetic differences between the strains that lead to distinct abilities to thrive in different nitrogen, ammonia and metal conditions.  It seems that this, and other characteristics, give E. huxleyi the ability to bloom in very different oceanic environments - it is described as a species complex because of its genetic diversity.

 

This work will enable scientists to understand better the responses and influences of this very widespread species, and to investigate the complex processes and systems of the ocean that determine productivity and influence climate change.

 

Read, B.A. et al. (2013) Pan genome of the phytoplankton Emiliania underpins its global distribution. Nature doi:10.1038/nature12221

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‘Wallace’s eureka moment: The discovery of natural selection’

 

Dr John van Wyhe, The Natural History Museum


The Natural History Museum 4 July 16:30 – 17:30, Flett Theatre

 


As part of the Wallace100 celebrations taking part in 2013, the Natural History Museum will be hosting a monthly lecture series. These lectures are part of the Museum’s participation in Wallace100, an international programme of projects and events celebrating the centenary of Wallace’s death on 7 November 2013. At these monthly events, leading biologists and historians will discuss different aspects of Wallace’s life and work. The series also highlights the significance of the Museum as a focal point for Wallace collections and studies.

 

The story of Alfred Russel Wallace getting the idea of natural selection in a fit of tropical fever is rightly a famous account of scientific discovery. But what prompted his eureka moment? There have been many theories about Wallace's eureka moment. During his talk, Dr van Wyhe will shed light on these, dispelling many, as he examines the facts and surviving evidence from the time. The truth turns out to be rather different from what we have long believed...

 

Find out the facts at our revealing talk, presented by renowned Wallace expert and historian of science, Dr John van Wyhe. This is the 6th in our series of Wallace100 lectures.

 

John van Wyhe is a historian of science who specialises on Darwin and Wallace. He is the director of Darwin Online and Wallace Online. His latest book is Dispelling the Darkness: Voyage in the Malay Archipelago and the discovery of evolution by Wallace and Darwin (2013).

 

Free tickets need to be booked in advance
Book tickets online
Doors open 16.00

 

Details of the event can also be found here: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/visit-us/whats-on/events/programs/nhm/wallace%27s_eureka_moment_-_wallace100_lecture.html

 

Details of the Wallace100 celebrations can be found here: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nature-online/science-of-natural-history/wallace/events/index.html

 

Details of Wallace100 events taking place at the NHM can be found here: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/wallace100events

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Deep Sea ID: creating an iPhone and iPad app for science

 

Adrian Glover

AQUID (Aquatic Invertebrates Division), Dep. of Life Sciences, NHM

 

Wednesday 19th June 11:00 Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 

Deep Sea ID is the first iOS (iPhone and iPad) app from the NHM science group, released in March this year. It is a field guide interface to the World Register of Deep-Sea Species (WoRDSS) that currently stores on your device (for offline access) the taxonomic information for over 20,000 deep sea species, over 350 high resolution photographs of deep-sea specimens as well as links to online taxonomic tools, sources and important references.In this talk and demo I will explain why we made this app, how we did it, the importance of open data and take you on a visual tour through some of the amazing creatures of the deep sea.

 

For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.html

 

64117_bathykurila-guaymasensis.jpgBathykurila guaymasensis


Credit: Adrian Glover.  http://www.marinespecies.org/deepsea/index.php  CC-BY-NC-SA

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On 9th & 10th September 2013 we will be hosting the 1st Tomography for Scientific Advancement symposium!

 

Invited speakers will give talks on their pioneering research on advancements in CT design, software and a wide range of scientific applications.

 

Register before 30th June to get discounted fees!

 

Also, apply for the Nikon Image competiton, Gatan Student poster competition and/or Travel awards for Students and Industrial delegates (Find out more at www.nhm.ac.uk/tosca)

 

ToScA_flyer_NHM.jpg

 

 

 

Hope to see you soon!

Team ToScA – Join us on Facebook & Twitter

 

 

 

For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.html

 

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Friday 7th June 11:00
Sir Neil Chalmers seminar room, Darwin Centre LG16 (below Attenborough studio)

 

A mouse that snacks on scorpions: evolution of venom resistance in a desert-dwelling murine predator

 

Harold Zakon

Depts. of Neurobiology & Integrative Biology, The University of Texas, Austin

 

 

The Grasshopper mouse (Onychomys torridus) lives in the Sonoran desert of the American Southwest and is sympatric with the most dangerous scorpion in the USA, the Arizona bark scorpion (Centruroides sculpturatus). Onychomys has evolved resistance to the venom of this scorpion and readily exploits it as a food source. Scorpion venoms are composed of many peptides some of which activate voltage-sensitive sodium channels thereby causing hyperexcitability in their insect prey or vertebrate predators. We have uncovered a novel mechanism by which this mouse has evolved resistance to the pain-inducing peptides of scorpion venom: a single amino acid substitution in the pore of a sodium channel that is expressed selectively in pain-sensing neurons paradoxically co-opts a component of the scorpion venom into a channel pore blocker. In other words, it takes a pain-causing venom peptide and "turns the tables" on the scorpion, by using it as an analgesic to block the pain system.

 

 

 

For additional details on attending this or other seminars see http://www.nhm.ac.uk/research-curation/seminars-events/index.html