“Abundant bioactivity” of random DNA sequences?

This blog was written for the Nature Ecology and Evolution Community where it is posted here. Probing the claims of a recent study Readers of this blog will be aware of the recent Nature Ecology and Evolution paper entitled “Random sequences are an abundant source of bioactive RNAs or peptides”. Rafik Neme, the first author,… Continue reading “Abundant bioactivity” of random DNA sequences?

Darwin’s abominable mystery

One of the hidden gems of Royal Botanic Gardens Kew is its library. I spent several happy hours there researching a recent letter to Nature Ecology and Evolution, published in June under the title “The deepening of Darwin’s abominable mystery“. The brightest moment came when a helpful librarian found me an 1838 reprint of a… Continue reading Darwin’s abominable mystery

The evolutionary mystery of orphan genes

Every newly sequenced genome contains genes with no traceable evolutionary descent – the ash genome was no exception This week in Nature I and my co-authors published the ash tree genome. Within it we found 38,852 protein-coding genes. Of these one quarter (9,604) were unique to ash. On the basis of our research so far,… Continue reading The evolutionary mystery of orphan genes

Ash tree genomics in response to ash dieback

The ash tree genome project published in Nature today began, for me, with a lunchtime conversation with Andrew Leitch in the SCR bar at Queen Mary University of London in early November 2012. Ash dieback had been found in natural woodland in England for in late October. Such was the seriousness of the likely environmental… Continue reading Ash tree genomics in response to ash dieback

Phenotypic plasticity drives cichlid radiations?

At the Royal Society last month, I was listening to proponents of the “extended evolutionary synthesis” (EES). Patrick Goymer has blogged this meeting for Nature Ecology & Evolution, and tweets from it can be found on Storify. The debates have rumbled on in the back of my mind since, especially the contention that phenotypic plasticity… Continue reading Phenotypic plasticity drives cichlid radiations?

Telegraph article: British woodlands need diversity from around the world

This article was written for The Daily Telegraph and is published online here. Foreign tree species are needed to help preserve Britain’s woodlands from disease, argues Dr Richard Buggs. Trees in Britain do not have enough genetic diversity to cope with a global influx of pathogens. As global trade introduces new pests and diseases, we… Continue reading Telegraph article: British woodlands need diversity from around the world