Last week both Maria and Physilia presented their research at a conference organized by the Brazilian Research Consortium (BRC) that was digitally hosted by UNIVERSIDADE FEDERAL DO PARÁ. Physilia gave her latest results on how the study of poop has helped her to understand the capercaille diet, while Maria gave an update on her working using soil eDNA to study the impact of climate change on vegetation in a boreal temperate forest. 

Research has continued in the Plant.ID network over the summer, and many congratulations must be given to Physilia and Marcel and their supervisors for the two published papers and preprint that have been published over the last couple of months. Physilia first publication in Environmental DNA  presents the firstlarge-scale molecular dietary study ever on capercailles with 30% of their diet retrieved, with important implications for conservationists. Her other recent preprint in bioRxiv  contributes towards the development of 'extended barcodes' for plant identification using environmental DNA.  In addition, Marcel and his colleagues published a paper in Quaternary Science Reviews analyzing the mammoth (and other megafauna) diets. These are outstanding achievements for our PhD fellows as they complete their PhDs and move on to next stages in their research careers.  
Congratulations to Maurizio and Steven for their publication in PLOS ONE! This is Maurizio's first paper from his PhD, where he uses genome skimming to find novel molecular markers for the identification of illegally logged African timber species. Yet another example of the great (and very meaningful) work coming out of our network. 

Congratulations to Physilia for her first, first authorship paper! She has just published a preprint on bioRxiv on the diet of capercaillie birds in Norway and France. Using eDNA metabarcoding, she found 122 plant taxa in their diet. Who knew playing with poop could be so interesting?

Botany 2020

Yannick Woudstra and Anne-Sophie Quatela both gave presentations this year at Botany 2020. Anne-Sophie gave a presentation on the results from her pilot study on targeted long read sequencing using herbarium specimens, and Yannick gave a presentation on his first batch of phylogenomic data for the aloes, including a preliminary phylogeny of approximately 200 taxa that show it is possible to obtain reasonable separation between closely related aloes. Both Yannick and Anne-Sophie received interesting questions and compliments. Many congratulations to the both of them!

Congrats to Nataly Canales for her recent interview in BBC News on the cinchona tree and its historical use in human health. Quinine can be extracted from the bark of the cinchona tree, and for centuries was the primary treatment for malaria. The cinchona tree, which is native to the Andes, is presently endangered. Nataly explains in her article the importance of protecting the cinchona tree and 'the pharmacy of the world that nurtures it' as an incredible resource for future drug discoveries.



Mugshot Marcella

Brecht has accepted a new position as a researcher and editor in chief of Plant Ecology and Evolution at Meise Botanic Garden in Belgium.  While he will remain part of the Plant.ID team, Marcella Rydmark will be taking over as the new project manager. We wish to thank Brecht for all the tremendous work he has done as the project manager of Plant.ID, and we are grateful he will continue to support us as he starts in his exciting new role!

We've all seen posts in the media about the use of anti-malaria drugs to treat COVID-19. As scientists, it is our duty to be critical about this and to communicate clearly with the public. In this article, Kim Walker, Cassandra Quave, and Nataly Canales warn against the use of quinine or cinchona bark as there is no evidence to date that they exhibit activity against COVID-19.

Maurizio presenting

Maurizio presented his research on illegal logging of some important timber species at the 5th Annual Meeting on Plant Ecology and Evolution held at Meise Botanic Garden.

11th graders in classroom

Ntwai visited Ramotshere High School in Dinokana, North-West Province, his former high school in South Africa. He talked to 11th grade students about choosing courses at university, career planning, and life beyond the classroom. As a bona fide motivational coach, he encouraged them to do well during exams and life in general. (pictures)