Marcel's recent publications on the use of DNA barcoding and AI in pollen identification have been featured in the UiO popular science publication Titan, and has additionally been picked up by Science Norway. While Marcel has moved on to new position since defending his PhD, we here at Plant.ID appreciate his continued outreach efforts in explaining the importance of his work - in this case, on alerting the population on the presence of allergenic plants so that they can take their medicine in time, as well as tracking the presence of invasive species. 

Our 5th and  final seminar - Molecular monitoring: Plant product quality and the environment. Our 5th and final seminar - Molecular monitoring: Plant product quality and the environment. The session was chaired by Plant.ID PhD fellow Bastien Anthoons (Centre for Research & Technology, Hellas and Aristotle University of Thessaloniki). Talks were given by Plant.ID PhD fellows Ozan Çiftçi (BaseClear) and Felicitas Mück (University of Oslo). Our invited speakers were Joanna Freeland (Trent University) and Anthony Booker (University of Westminster). Thank you to everyone for making this series such a success!

Our 4th Seminar series - Tracing Trade: Crossing the border between taxonomy and forensics against illegal plant trade. We we were fortunate to have this co-hosted by KEW Gardens. The session was co-chaired by Plant.ID PhD fellow Yannick Woudstra and Prof. Olwen Grace. Talks were given by Plant.ID PhD fellows Mehrdad Jahanbanifard (Naturalis Biodiversity Center) and Maurizio Mascarello (Meise Botanic Garden). Our invited speakers were Siri Abihudi (Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology) and Carly Cowell (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew).

The third installment of our seminar series! This session was chaired by Plant.ID PhD fellow Physilia Chua (University of Copenhagen) with student talks by María Ariza (University of Oslo) and Marcel Polling (University of Oslo and Naturalis, Netherlands). Invited talks were given by Sandra Garcés Pastor (The Arctic University of Tromsø) and Tyler Kartzinel (Brown University). Our next session will Thursday May 27, 15:00-17:00 CET: Tracing trade: Crossing the border between taxonomy and forensics against illegal plant trade (cohosted by KEW). 

The second session of our Plant.ID seminar series Molecular identification of plants for science and society! This session was chaired by Plant.ID ESR Stephen Garrett. Talks were given by Plant.ID ESRs Anne-Sophie Quatela and Ntwai Moiloa, and invited speakers included David A Duchêne (Australian National University & University of Copenhagen), Tom Wells (Oxford University), and Robert Scotland (Oxford University). Thank you to everyone who presented and participated! Our next session, Proxy wars: Molecular tools for reconstructing diets and environments, will be held Thursday April 22 (Earth day!).

The first session of our Plant.ID seminar series! This session was chaired by Plant.ID PhD fellows Margret Veltman and Nataly Canales. Talks were given by Plant.ID PhD fellow Thibauld Michel (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh), and invited speakers Hernán Burbano (University College London), Jasmin Ramos Madrigal (Univ. of Copenhagen), and Vanessa Bieker (Norwegian University of Science and Technology). Thank you to everyone who presented and participated in this first session! Our next session, Modern tools and old methods: Descriptive taxonomy and phylogeny, will be held Thursday March 25.


Yannick and Anne-Sophie were invited to give presentations at the Burgårdens Gymnasium high school in Gothenburg. They discussed their journey as researchers in botany, and presented some of their PhD work to the students. The outreach was a big success with very engaged students, and the teachers in attendance will also revisit some of the presented material before Christmas break.  It was a pleasure for both Yannick and Annie-Sophie to give some inspiration to these budding scientists.

María together with her two colleagues two of her colleagues Eva and Mari at the Natural History Museum in Oslo have published an article in Titan on the use of environmental DNA (eDNA) that can be found in soil for the mapping of nature types in Norway. This is the first time that eDNA has been used for mapping habitat types on land, and represents a major development in our ability to efficiently (and economically) monitor habitats. Thank you to our colleague Bjarne for writing this outstanding article, as well as sharing it with the Miljødirektorat in Norway! 

Anne-Sophie has taken the initiative to recently start up her own taxonomy club at the University of Gothenburg, within the Physolychnis section. Their meetings have both practical and theoretical components related to the taxonomic identification of plant species, with lectures, quizzes, and walks through the herbarium. This is a fantastic initiative, and Anne-Sophie is looking to expand it to research groups interested in zoology and fungi, as well as further outreach opportunities with the general public.

Video conference

Even during these current times with restrictions on travel and meetings, our Plant.ID ESRs are working hard to reach out to both the scientific community and public to explain and discuss their research. In this video, Yannick Woudstra explains his research at the weekly seminar KABaM! (Kew Advances in Botany and Mycology!) at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew to a virtual audience of 140 people.

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.

The article has also been translated into Spanish by Nataly. It is published in Peru, Nataly's home country that has the cinchona tree as national tree.

On Thursday 27 February, Mehrdad presented his work on ebony wood identification to battle against illegal trade at the forestry department of WWF The Netherlands.

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)

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Like last year, Bastien participated in the Researcher's Night in Thessaloniki, Greece. It is becoming a regular thing but it is always good practice to talk about your research to a non-expert audience.

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Bastien was one of the representatives of the Institute for Applied Biosciences (CERTH) during the Thessaloniki International Fair. He explained visitors what the function of the institute is, what kind of research is conducted, how they contribute to society, and how the institute collaborates with (inter)national partners.