Why phylogenetics is difficult

Here is a short video I made for one of my MSc classes, explaining why building phylogenetic trees is not easy. For examples of this phenomenon in my own research see here and here.

Could we predict personal coronavirus risk from our DNA?

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

This article, co-authored with my colleague Prof. Richard Nichols, was published at The Conversation on 17th March 2020. Since then, Science has published a news article about efforts to do the type of studies that we advocated. NB. This is not about testing to see if we have coronavirus – this is about testing how… Continue reading Could we predict personal coronavirus risk from our DNA?

Lost elms of Kent

Mature elm trees in the English landscape are something I and many other have never seen. Dutch Elm Disease killed them all in the 1960s. Only the older generation can remember what we have lost. Browsing through some local photos from the 1930s this weekend, my eyes were opened to the size and grace of… Continue reading Lost elms of Kent

How to lead a journal club

Getting together to discuss a published paper is a classic way of keeping on top of the literature and training students how to read it. During my postgraduate studies I went to a journal club every week organised by my PhD supervisor. It was here that I learned how to read a scientific paper, and… Continue reading How to lead a journal club

Published
Categorised as Research

“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

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