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.
Congratulations to Physilia for her recent paper showing the potential of metagenomics for animal diet analysis using metabarcoding! These papers represent years worth of work, and Physilia has certainly shown how 'playing with poop' pays off!
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!
Today, Mari Elizabeth Engelstad, the MSc student of María, successfully defended her MSc thesis, "Determining nature types in Norway by soil eDNA metabarcoding". So many congrats to a job well done!
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.
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.
On International Women's Day, we acknowledge the hard work and commitment of all women in our Plant.ID network.
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.
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)
Anne-Sophie was awarded the prize for the best conference talk during the Systematic Days organised by the Gothenburg Global Biodiversity Centre. Congratulations!