Hidden or extinct? Genome analysis of a 120-year-old torpedo ray specimen confirms species status
There are always little “treasures” to be found in museum collections – that’s what makes them so valuable for research. With today’s methods of analysis, new, detailed findings can be elicited from archives that are often centuries old. Scientists from the Natural History Museum Vienna, Austria, and the LOEWE-(TBG in Hesse, Germany, have now analysed the genetic data of a rare and presumably already extinct species of torpedo ray. It was collected, preserved, and described during the second Austro-Hungarian deep-sea expedition in the Red Sea between 1897 and 1898 – but has never been observed again since. The new results confirm that the torpedo ray Torpedo suessii is a separate species within the genus.
“In view of the increasing threat to marine ecosystems and the fish communities living in them due to climate change and pollution, it is crucial to take stock of marine biodiversity in order to protect it. With our genome analyses and the resulting information on species, we want to gain a better understanding of biodiversity on Earth and thus contribute to its conservation,” says Dr Carola Greve, Head of Laboratory at the LOEWE Centre TBG.
For more infos see press release at Senckenberg. (Photo: NHM Vienna)
Learning from bats: ERC Synergy Grant 2023 for Senckenberg genomicist Prof. Michael Hiller
Diseases due to infections or ageing pose major challenges to humanity worldwide, be it from a medical, health policy, economic or emotional perspective. Interdisciplinary and innovative research approaches are needed to find solutions. In a joint research project, four scientists, including Prof. Dr. Michael Hiller from the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research, want to show that nature can serve as a helpful model. Therefore, they are looking at the longevity and disease resistance of bats. The international team received an ERC Synergy Grant of around 12 million euros from the European Research Council for the “BATPROTECT” project, which will run for six years.
Four scientists covering different disciplines – biology, genomics, immunology, and gerontology – now want to shed light on these special characteristics of bats together with their teams. The overarching goal of their project “BATPROTECT” is to achieve a breakthrough in understanding the molecular basis of the extended life expectancy and disease resistance of bats to find new ways to improve human health and disease progression in the future.
For more infos see press release at Senckenberg. Photo: Sven Tränkner
Darwin or Kimura – Natural Selection or Pure Chance? New literature review aims to clarify a heated debate between evolutionary biologists
Some of nature’s mysteries have kept scientists busy for decades – for example, the processes which drive evolution. The question of whether certain differences between and within species are caused by natural selection or by chance processes divides evolutionary biologists even today. An international team of researchers has teased apart a scientific debate concerning the evolutionary theories of Darwin and the Japanese geneticist Kimura. Their conclusion: the debate is unnecessarily convoluted by the co-existence of different interpretations.
Are these two theories in conflict, or can they be reconciled? This is one of the questions that researchers from the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research, the universities of Durham and East Anglia and the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (LOEWE-TBG) discuss in a literature review. The review, published in the journal “Biological Reviews”, lists several aspects of the Neutral Theory that are open to different interpretations.
How Hessian researchers unveil the venomous secrets of European snakes
Not only in the tropics do snake bites lead to dangerous envenoming – bites from European venomous snakes can also cause severe physical damage. But their venom also contains active substances that could be used against bacterial pathogens in the future. Scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME in Giessen and the Hessian LOEWE-TBG are investigating the venoms of European snakes and have recently decoded the venom cocktail of the Milos viper native to Greece. Their study was published in the journal “Frontiers in Molecular Biosciences.
The now published study underlines that there is still much to learn about snake venoms beyond the particularly dangerous, tropical species. “It is of enormous importance that we develop a better understanding of the venom composition, function and poisoning symptoms of European venomous snakes as well,” Lüddecke says. “We will now pursue this task with special focus, targeting in particular our species found in Germany. We also know very little about their venoms,” Schulte adds.
For more infos see press release at Senckenberg. (Photo: Thomas Lindner)
Sustainable support for the Common hamster - New research project in the German state of Hesse to aid the conservation of a highly endangered species
It is one of the most endangered mammal species in Western Europe: the Common hamster (Cricetus cricetus), also known as the European hamster. Once hunted intensively as an “agricultural pest” and for its multi-coloured furs, a significant decline in its population has been recorded since the 1970s. Without further research and conservation measures, the Common hamster could become completely extinct in the next twenty years, according to forecasts.
Preventing this in Hesse, Germany, is the goal of the new project “MetaHamster”, which focuses primarily on genomic data and involves scientists and conservation actors from various institutions, including the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research and the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (LOEWE Centre TBG) in Frankfurt am Main.
The project is funded by the State of Hesse within the framework of the Lore Steubing Institute (LSI) for Nature Conservation and Biodiversity of the Hessian Agency for Nature Conservation, Environment and Geology (HLNUG).
For more infos see press release at Senckenberg. (Photo: Manfred Sattler)
How the use of chemicals and biodiversity loss are connected
Science does not take a deep enough look at chemicals in the environment as one of the causes of the decline in biodiversity. Forty scientists in the RobustNature research network of Goethe University Frankfurt and collaborating institutes, among them LOEWE-TBG have corroborated this in a study that has now been published in the journal “Nature Ecology and Evolution". The researchers regard an interdisciplinary approach as a new opportunity to better understand biodiversity loss in order to be able to take more efficient countermeasures. To this end, they are studying the interactions between chemical pollution and biodiversity loss.
The authors call for a stronger interdisciplinary focus in research so that the impacts of chemical substances on biodiversity can be better understood and mitigated. They also highlight considerable challenges: for example, basic data are often lacking; each area under study has specific characteristics; the processes at ecosystem scale are complex. To meet these challenges, the researchers have made 16 recommendations. They suggest, for example, obligating industry to make relevant data public. Or they propose developing ecological test models that cover not only individual organisms but also populations, communities or even entire ecosystems.
For more infos see press release at the Goethe University (Photo: Markus Bernards)
Giessen venom researcher meets Nobel Laureates
He has received one of the coveted invitations to the 72nd Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings from 25 to 30 June 2023: Natural products researcher Dr. Tim Lüddecke from the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME) and the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (TBG) in Hesse, Germany.
It is an event with tradition that inspires young scientists anew every year: since 1953, outstanding young researchers have met Nobel Prize winners, the so-called Laureates, at the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings. The meetings in the small Bavarian town of Lindau on Lake Constance serve intellectual exchange and rotate thematically between the Nobel Prize disciplines of physics, chemistry and – as this year – physiology and medicine. The multi-stage selection process for participation is international and highly competitive; a total of 635 young scientists were invited to exchange ideas with the Laureates. After this unique experience, the participants remain connected within the Lindau Alumni Network for a lifetime.
For more infos see press release at Senckenberg. (Photo: Désirée Schulz)
A fire brigade against dangerous mosquitoes - Technological innovation from Hesse can protect against the spread of tropical diseases
The warm season in Europe marks the beginning of the high season for mosquitoes. While they and their larvae serve as prey for many animals and thus play an important role in the ecosystem, humans find the small bloodsuckers rather annoying. Meanwhile, they can also become dangerous to us: mosquitoes from tropical and Asian regions are increasingly appearing in Central Europe. They can transmit the Zika or West Nile viruses, which trigger dangerous fever diseases. A team of scientists from the Hessian LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics and partner institutions is showing how the further spread of these mosquito species can be prevented in a targeted and environmentally friendly way.
“Our publication shows how RNA interference, or RNAi for short, can be developed to market maturity in Europe as an innovative and environmentally friendly technology for controlling so-called vectors – pathogen-transmitting organisms. Sprays based on RNAi are also being developed against insect pests such as the Colorado potato beetle and should soon be on the market as an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional pesticides,” says Vilcinskas, describing the promising potential applications of the new method.
For more infos see press release at Senckenberg. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, James Gathany, CDC, public domain)
Senckenberg Biodiversity Genomics Symposium on June 21st
The Senckenberg Biodiversity Genomics Symposium, organized in collaboration with PacBio, is back for the third year running.
On June 21st, scientists from Europe and beyond will share their experiences using highly accurate long-read sequencing (HiFi sequencing), to generate reference-quality genomes of taxonomically diverse organisms to address key biological questions. The half-day virtual event, starting at 12.30PM CEST, will include: presentations from researchers using HiFi sequencing for biodiversity genomics research, the latest technology and bioinformatics updates from PacBio scientists and a live Q&A to interact with the speakers.
The confirmed speakers of the symposium include: Prof. Mark Blaxter from the Tree of Life, Wellcome Sanger Institute; Carles Galià-Camps from the University of Barcelona - IRBio; Ioannis Chrysostomakis, Temitope Oriowo, and Francisco J. Ruiz-Ruano from the Leibniz Institute for Analysis of Biodiversity Change; Nadège Guiglielmoni from the University of Cologne; Gözde Cilingir from the University of Zurich & Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL; Yury Bukhman from the Morgridge Institute for Research; as well as Prof. Eric Helfrich, Lisa Männer, Ariadna Morales, Marcel Nebenführ, Shenglin Liu, and Hannah Muelbaier from LOEWE-TBG.
Register today to join the HiFi sequencing community and learn how you can use highly accurate long-read sequencing to advance your research.
Unlocking the Secrets of Silk Gene Evolution - Hidden variations illuminated in the diversity of silk production for the first time
For thousands of years, the silkworm has cornered the market on silk production for textiles. However, convergent evolution may be spinning a new thread of opportunity for caddisflies and other arthropods. New research published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS) utilizes high-quality long-read sequencing to uncover the hidden variation within silk gene evolution. (...)
Paul Frandsen and co-authors utilize new genome sequencing technologies to unlock the secret variations in silk as they assemble and analyze the complex gene sequence for the first time. Until now, fully resolving both copies of the particularly long silk gene with repeating patterns that line up like a chain of differently colored Lego bricks of various lengths eluded sequencing.
"In the area of comparative genomics, studying allelic variation may hold interesting insights for application-oriented research,” said Steffen Pauls, researcher at LOEWE-TBG. “For example, caddisfly larvae can produce silk that hardens and sticks underwater but remains elastic and has a very high tensile strength. This could be a helpful model for industrial production of flexible, underwater fibers."
For more infos see press release at Brigham Young University (Photo:Wikimedia Commons, Lina Louvem, Lizenz CC BY-SA 4.0)
Sophisticated gene memory - Frankfurt researchers develop new method to genetically compare hundreds of animal species
Thanks to great technological advances, the genetic material of living beings can now be sequenced at a rapid rate. Comparisons of genomes, whether of closely related or completely different species, reveal particularly interesting findings. In this way, information can be obtained on phylogenetic relationships, the formation of characteristics or on adaptive abilities. However, comparing genomic data poses tricky technical challenges. To simplify the analysis process, a team of scientists led by Prof. Michael Hiller from LOEWE-TBG has developed a new method and presented it in the journal Science.
The new computational method TOGA simplifies such analyses and tackles both challenges together. The acronym stands for “Tool to infer Orthologs from Genome Alignments”. To determine orthologous genes, researchers use the fact that the parts in the genes that code for proteins are generally more similar to each other than the coding sections of other genes. The TOGA method extends this similarity principle to the entire genomic context of a gene.
For more infos see press release at Senckenberg. (Foto: Photo: Andy Witchger, flickr, licence CC BY 2.0)
The genome of the smallest baleen whale provides insight into evolution and tumor resistance
The pygmy right whale (Caperea marginata) is the smallest of all baleen whales although it can grow to six metres in length and weigh up to three tons. The species occurs circumpolar in the Antarctic waters of the Southern Hemisphere, and only a handful of sightings have been reported thus far. It is considered to be the last surviving member of an otherwise extinct branch of baleen whales and has received little to no attention from the scientific community. However, its genetic material could provide interesting information for cancer research, as a team of scientists from Frankfurt and Lund, Sweden, has now discovered. Their study on the evolution and tumor resistance of baleen whales was recently published in the journal BMC Biology.
“Our new findings demonstrate that almost every large cetacean species seems to have other positively selected genes in their genome. This could be explained by an idea already discussed in paleontology, namely that the iconic gigantism of whales has evolved several times independently,” explains Magnus Wolf, researcher at the SBiK-F and Goethe University in Frankfurt, first author of the study. “This means that each larger whale may have its own adaptations against tumor that we could one day use.”
For more infos see press release at Senckenberg. (Foto: World Register of Marine Species, Robert Pitman, NOAA Fisheries, licence CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)
The Chilean Abalone is "International Mollusc of the Year 2023" - Result of the public vote is now official
It is a large, carnivorous limpet with a heavy shell – and the “International Mollusc of the Year 2023”! The Chilean Abalone (Concholepas concholepas) received the most support in the public online voting. It was one of the five mollusc finalists in the international competition. This was the third annual competition, after its start at the end of 2020 by the Senckenberg Museum, the LOEWE-TBG and the International Society for Mollusc Research (Unitas Malacologica) to raise awareness of the enormous biodiversity of molluscs and the threats they face.
Both its great importance in its native regions of Chile and Peru and its special characteristics have made the Chilean Abalone the public’s favourite this year – with around 42 per cent of the votes, it passed another sea snail, a deep-sea oyster and two nudibranch species.
Concholepas concholepas was nominated for the title “International Mollusc of the Year 2023” by Associate Professor Antonio Baeza. He conducts research on biodiversity, evolution, and conservation of marine organisms at the Department of Biological Sciences at Clemson University in South Carolina, USA.
For more infos see press release at Senckenberg (Photo: Cristian Sepulveda)
Which mollusc will be "International Mollusc of the Year 2023"? Public online voting starts today
Starting today, five mollusc species are up for election as "International Mollusc of the Year 2023"! Anyone interested can participate in the public online voting until March 19th, 2023. This yearly competition was launched in 2020 by the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research, the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (TBG) and the International Society for Mollusc Research (Unitas Malacologica). Aims are to raise awareness of the rich diversity of molluscs, and the need to protect this. The species with the most votes will have its entire genetic information decoded.
In 2023, there are again five exciting mollusc species to choose from: The thick-horned nudibranch (Hermissenda crassicornis), the unusually patterned Wavy Bubble Snail (Micromelo undatus), the giant deep-sea oyster (Neopycnodonte zibrowii), the land-dwelling leopard slug (Limax maximus) and the Chilean Abalone (Concholepas concholepas) from the south-eastern Pacific, a rock-snail with a large foot and robust shell and is traded worldwide as a delicacy.
For more infos see press release at Senckenberg. (Foto: Aketza Herrero Barrencua)
Genomics for biodiversity conservation - Genomic analyses provide important insights for conservation management
Conserving nature’s biodiversity is one of the great challenges of our time. To develop strategies and effective measures, well-founded scientific analyses, and concrete information for the actors in nature conservation are needed. The field of biodiversity genomics can make an important contribution here: genomic data of species, species communities and entire ecosystems provide insight into characteristics, adaptive abilities, relationships and evolutionary developments. This data should always be considered in far-reaching assessments and decisions in nature conservation management – this is what an international team of scientists advocates in a new publication in the scientific journal “Trends in Genetics”.
"With our publication, we would like to promote cooperations between researchers from the fields of conservation and biodiversity genomics for guiding a new era of conservation genomics in the Anthropocene – the age in which humans have become one of the most important factors influencing biological, geological and atmospheric processes on earth,” explains Dr. Kathrin Theissinger, one of the first authors of the publication.
For more infos see press release at Senckenberg. (Foto: Diego Delso)
The genetic shades of the brown bear - Genomic study clarifies the diversity of brown bears across the entire species range
Brown bears are among the largest land-dwelling carnivores in the world. They are characterised by a muscular hump over their shoulders, which gives their front legs additional strength. All ten or so brown bear subspecies currently identified are distributed in North America, Europe, Russia, and Asia. They show great diversity in their shape, habitats, and behaviour.
In a genomic study published in the Nature journal “Communications Biology”, an international team of researchers, including four scientists from Frankfurt am Main, investigated the genetic diversity of brown bears and how and when this variation arose. In doing so, they present the first comprehensive population genomic study of the brown bear (Ursus arctos) and use its example to show the effects of the last ice age on today’s diversity within the species.
The study approach to unravel the demographic history of brown bears could serve as a blueprint for the study of the effect of historic events on many other species.
For more infos see press release at Senckenberg(Photo: Gregoire Dubois, flickr, Lizenz CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Extraordinary flight artists - Hummingbird’s hovering flight likely evolved because of a lost gene
Hummingbirds, native to North and South America, are among the smallest and most agile birds in the world. Often barely larger than a thumb, they are the only bird species that can fly not only forwards, but also backwards or sideways. Their characteristic hovering flight makes that possible. However, hovering is extremely energy-demanding.
In a genomic study published in the journal "Science", an international team of scientists led by Prof. Michael Hiller at the LOEWE-TBG in Frankfurt investigated the evolutionary adaptations of the metabolism that may have enabled the hummingbirds' unique flying abilities. In their study, researchers sequenced the genome of the long-tailed hermit (Phaethornis superciliosus) and compared this and other hummingbird genomes with the genomes of 45 other birds, such as chicken, pigeon, or eagle. They discovered that the gene encoding the muscle enzyme FBP2 (fructose bisphosphatase 2) was lost in all studied hummingbirds.
For more infos see press release at Senckenberg. (Foto: Nicolas Defaux)
Less helps more - Mild bee venom shows greater application potential
Honeybee venom has been used in traditional medicine for centuries as an anti-inflammatory. Only its main component, melittin, has been scientifically well researched. However, with its strong effect, the natural substance can also damage healthy cells when used.
In a study published in the journal “Toxins”, researchers at LOEWE-TBG are now showing another facet of the importance of wild bees: in their venoms, which have been little studied so far, they were able to detect more original variants of melittin, a peptide of 26 amino acids and major component of bee venom.
Dr. Pelin Erkoc-Erik, first author of the publication, explains: “We examined the effects of melittin peptides on cell damage and the release of messenger substances and inflammatory markers – in both cancerous and non-cancerous human cells.” One of the substances that caught the team’s attention was melittin from the violet carpenter bee, a wild bee species. In the laboratory analyses, this showed a promising effect on breast cancer cells.
For more infos see press release at Senckenberg. (Foto: Björn M. von Reumont)
Natural products against flu viruses
Influenza A and B viruses cause severe, contagious infections that can even be fatal if complications arise. The most effective protection against the ever-changing virus strains is the annual vaccination. However, if an infection occurs, only two classes of drugs are approved in most countries, including Germany. Scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME in Giessen and the LOEWE-TBG see great therapeutic potential in natural substances to inhibit influenza viruses in the future. They provide new impetus in a scientific review.
“Promising natural products include animal toxins, antiviral substances in fungi and also bacteria, which are not only interesting for antibiotics but also for drugs against viruses. The enormous diversity and structural complexity make natural products a promising starting point for researching and identifying new compounds that could be effective against influenza viruses.” explains study leader Dr. Kornelia Hardes.
For more infos see press release at Senckenberg (Photo: Desirée Schulz/Fraunhofer IME)
LOEWE-TBG biodiversity genomic research is consolidated at Senckenberg from 2025 onwards
The LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (TBG) was launched in 2018 with the aim to establish an international centre in Hesse for research into the genomic basis of biodiversity. LOEWE-TBG underwent a very successful first funding phase and it saw innovative research, outstanding results and promising projects in its current phase which started in 2022. After LOEWE funding ends in 2024 the research area of biodiversity genomics will become a permanent asset of the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung. Genomics will thus permanently complement the geobiodiversity research of Senckenberg with insights into the most fundamental levels of biodiversity.
The permanent integration of Biodiversity Genomics into Senckenberg is possible by Senckenberg's strategic extension proposal "Anthropocene Biodiversity Loss", which was recently fully approved by the Joint Science Conference (GWK), subject to formal budget preparation in 2024.
For more infos see press release at Senckenberg (Foto: Sven Tränkner)
Back in the wetlands - the European pond turtle receives support from the research project Emys-R
From the zoo to the wild – this is the path taken by a total of 650 European pond turtles (Emys orbicularis) in the German-French border area between Neuburg am Rhein and Lauterbourg over the past ten years. The last group was released into their natural habitat in the Woerr bioreserve in Alsace in mid-September 2022 – to be closely monitored there in the coming years. In Europe, the European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis) is the only naturally occurring turtle species in freshwater. The aim of the action is to reintroduce the species, which according to the Red List is threatened with extinction.
Since 2022, a new scientific framework has been provided by the large-scale European research project Emys-R, headed by Dr Kathrin Theissinger, a scientist at the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research and the Hessian LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (LOEWE-TBG). In addition to ecological aspects, the focus there is also on societal aspects.
For more infos see press release at Senckenberg. (Foto: Nicolas Busser)
An eye on genes - currently unknown genes are responsible for good eyesight
Many people suffer from eye diseases, that can lead to blindness in the worst case. Eye-related diseases like cataract, glaucoma, and macular degeneration are well described, nevertheless, the underlying causative genes are frequently unknown.
A team of scientists from the LOEWE-TBG and the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research in Frankfurt as well as from the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden and the Centre for Regenerative Therapies of the Technical University Dresden has now set out to identify some of these undiscovered genes in mammals that take over functions in the eye. They discovered 15 previously unknown eye-related genes in their large-scale genomic analysis and confirmed 14 more genes with known roles in the eye. The study published in the journal “eLife” by researchers is ground-breaking as it uses genome analysis to predict gene function. It lays the foundation for further research related to vision and the eye.
For more infos see press release at Senckenberg (Foto: Josh More (flickr, Naked Mole Rat_15, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
TBG is co-organising 2nd Biodiversity Genomics Symposium (online) - registration now open
The second "Senckenberg Biodiversity Genomics Symposium" will take place online on 28.06.2022 from 1 to 5 pm. Following last year's successful virtual event, the biodiversity symposium is returning this summer, organised by the LOEWE Centre TBG, the Senckenberg Natural Research Institute and PacBio.
Scientists from Europe and beyond will report on their experiences using highly accurate long-read sequencing (HiFi sequencing) to address key biological questions.
TBG researchers also use this method to generate reference-quality genomes of taxonomically diverse organisms – from plants to lichens, insects and snails to vertebrates – and thus answer important research questions. In addition to a variety of lightning talks, the agenda includes a keynote presentation, panel discussions and Q&A opportunities.
Registration and further information: https://events.pacb.com/senckenberg-biodiversity-2022
How a harmless environmental bacterium became the dreaded hospital germ Acinetobacter baumannii
Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are often particularly difficult to treat because the pathogens have developed resistance to common antibiotics. The bacterium Acinetobacter baumannii is particularly dreaded in this respect, and research is seeking new therapeutic approaches to combat it. To look for suitable starting points, an international team led by Ingo Ebersberger at Goethe University Frankfurt and LOEWE-TBG has compared thousands of genomes of pathogenic and harmless Acinetobacter strains. This has delivered clues about which properties might have made A. baumannii a successful pathogen – and how it might possibly be combated.
Ebersberger is convinced: “Our data are of such a high resolution that we can even look at the situation in individual strains. This knowledge can now be used to develop specific therapies against which, with all probability, resistance does not yet exist.”
For more infos see press release at Goethe University (Graphik: Kateryna Kon/ Schutterstock)
Endangered but not harmed - even intensive whaling did not rob the fin whale of its genomic diversity
Fin whales are the second largest creatures on our planet, surpassed only by blue whales. They can reach a length of around 20 metres – and require up to two tonnes of food per day. Accordingly, they release enormous amounts of nutrients – with significant effects on the ecosystems of the oceans. However, industrial whaling has significantly reduced their numbers. It was geared towards the oil of whales as raw material and was particularly intensive between 1880 and an international agreement in 1986. Today, the number of fin whales worldwide is estimated at about 100,000 animals; the species is considered endangered according to the Red List. A new study by scientists from the LOEWE-TBG, the SBiK-F as well as from Icelandic and Swedish research institutions shows the consequences of their decimation for the populations and especially for the genomic diversity of fin whales. Fortunately, their results show no long-term genetic weakening of this species.
For more infos see press release at Senckenberg. (Foto: Christian Valle/robertharding)
Dangerous microplastics - Ingestion of polyamide microplastic can trigger evolutionary changes
Microplastics have already been detected in all ecosystems, from the deep sea to high alpine glaciers. These particles can even get into the brains of mammals. Although there is increasing evidence that the ingestion of microplastics - depending on size, quantity and composition - could be harmful to organisms, the degree of danger has not yet been conclusively clarified.
The fact that microplastics can also trigger evolutionary changes has now been shown for the first time by an international team of scientists from the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (TBG), the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre Frankfurt (SBiK-F) and the Estonian National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics, Laboratory of Environmental Toxicology. The paper was published in the journal "Chemosphere". According to the study, the ingestion of microplastic particles triggers an evolutionary adaptation in the Chironomus riparius mosquito.
(Foto: Markus Pfenninger)
Vampires with genetic defects - comprehensive genome analysis sheds light on nutrition and evolution of vampire bats
Vampire bats live up to their name: they feed exclusively on the blood of other vertebrates, which they hunt in the dark. But how do they cope with this unbalanced diet? Blood contains a lot of protein, but sugar and fat are largely absent. A detailed analysis of the genome of the common vampire bat now provides new insights into the evolution of dietary adaptations and other abilities of these unique animals. This international study, published in the journal Science Advances and led by scientists from the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics in Frankfurt and the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden, shows that vampire bats lack thirteen genes that other bat species possess.
For more infos see press release at Senckenberg. (Foto: Brock Fenton)
The Cuban painted snail is "Mollusc of the Year 2022" Result of the public vote is now official
It is colourful, lives on land and reproduces with sophisticated mating rituals: the Cuban painted snail (Polymita picta). The newly crowned “Mollusc of the Year 2022” received the most votes in the international public vote and thus prevailed over four other finalists. This competition, initiated by the Senckenberg Nature Research Society, the LOEWE-TBG and Unitas Malacologica, already attracted great interest in its first round in 2021. The call was also made this year to scientists and the public to nominate molluscs for the glory of the “Mollusc of the Year” title. From 25 February to 15 March 2022, all interested parties were invited to vote online for one of the five finalist species.
For more information see press release at Senckenberg. (Foto: Bernardo Reyes Tur)
New research approach reveals mechanisms of action in stingray venom, using a novel network pharmacology approach
Animal venoms can be a valuable source when it comes to discovering new drug leads. Their special mechanism of action and their complex composition can be particularly informative. In order to obtain a comprehensive picture of how animal venoms influence organisms, a team of scientists from the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (TBG) among others, developed a new approach to drug research. In the study recently published in “Marine Drugs”, the authors combined the results of genome analysis of animal venoms with physiological datas. The aim was to predict the mechanisms of action of the venom components as well as the time curve of the venom action. For this purpose, two high-throughput technologies were combined in a network. The focus of the investigations where stingrays.
Find further information in the scientific paper published in “Marine Drugs" (Photo: Andreas Vilcinskas)
Central Europe: The future of Eurasian lynx -Loss of genetic diversity in reintroduced lynx populations is worrying
Scientists from Senckenberg and the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics, together with an international team, have studied the genetic diversity of Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) in Europe. In their study, published in the journal Biological Conservation, they show that genetic diversity in reintroduced lynx populations has declined sharply over the years. The researchers warn that this loss, together with the significantly increased inbreeding values, could endanger the long-term conservation of this rare species. In addition, their work shows which measures are necessary for having viable and healthy lynx populations in Europe.
For more infos see press release at Senckenberg. (Foto: Christine Breitenmoser/KORA)
Perspective paper highlights the importance of comprehensive genome analyses for conservation biology
In a perspective paper published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution the ERGA consortium - including four scientists from the LOEWE-TBG and the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research - highlights the need and importance of reference genomes in the context of conservation biology revolutionizing the conservation genomics era.
Genomic research that uses genetic material to study individual organisms, populations and ecosystems greatly benefits from reference-quality genomes by generating insight into the evolutionary make-up and adaptive potential of a species.
First author Dr. Kathrin Theissinger, from the Program Area Functional Environmental Genomics at LOEWE-TBG: "We are at the beginning of an exciting era in which reference genomes, especially in combination with population genomic data, can finally contribute to the monitoring, conservation and restoration of biological diversity."
For more infos see press release at Senckenberg. (Foto: Clement Schneider)
Documenting, protecting and using biological diversity - State of Hesse to fund LOEWE-TBG for another three years
Biodiversity is reflected in the enormous variety of living organisms and their extremely diverse forms and functions. This complexity is the result of 3.5 billion years of evolution. Today, genomic analyses of organisms provide comprehensive and new insights into the origin and development of our environment. Thus, the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (TBG) has set itself the goal of unlocking the genetic basis of biodiversity in order to use it for basic and applied research. It is also essential for the protection of biodiversity to recognise, understand and document it.
From January 2022, the state of Hesse will fund the LOEWE Centre TBG for another three years with a total of around 15.6 million euros. In addition, there will be funding for construction measures amounting to around 2.6 million euros.
Find further Information in the press release at Senckenberg.
Gene loss as a result of unbalanced diet - Evolutionary adaptation could be dangerous for predators
A team of scientists from the Senckenberg Nature Research Society, the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (TBG) and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research have investigated whether changes in the diet of 52 placental species and 31 fossil taxa could lead to the loss of genes during evolution. In their study, recently published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, they found that the loss of the PNLIPRP1 gene is associated with a low-fat diet, regardless of whether the animal is a herbivore or carnivore. In addition, researchers have pointed out that carnivores may be particularly vulnerable to diet-related toxins because of the loss of the gene NR1I3, which is involved in the detoxification process.
Find further information in the scientific study or the press release at Senckenberg. (Photo: Pexels)
New DFG funding for research on mutation rates
The project “Temperature dependence of point mutation rate: underlying factors and processes” (PF 390/15) coordinated by Prof. Markus Pfenninger aims to understand the causal processes for the observed temperature dependence of the mutation rate and explores its evolutionary causes and consequences. The project seeks to answer several questions: What processes drive the variation in mutation rate? Why does the mutation rate increase toward both extreme temperatures? What determines the position of the optimum of the mutation rate on the temperature scale? Is it a species-specific constant or does it evolve in response to local temperature conditions?
The project was funded 217.881 € by the DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) and will run between 2022-2025.
Antje Steinbrink - acting coordinator of the program area Genomic Biomonitoring
Starting with January 2022, Dr. Antje Steinbrink will coordinate the program area Genomic Biomonitoring. She is taking over the role from Dr. Carsten Nowak, who was leading it in the first phase of LOEWE-TBG.
In Phase I Dr. Antje Steinbrink was working in the group of Sven Klimpel on the project “Microbiome and genome analyses of medically relevant hematophagous arthropods”. In May 2021 she joined the working group of Prof. Andreas Vilcinskas at the JLU Giessen. Shortly afterwards she started leading her own Junior Research Group focusing on the project “RNAi as an alternative approach against mosquitoes (Culicidae)“.
“I am looking forward to the new role and I am very excited about the new perspectives and insights that this role is offering me.“- said Antje Steinbrink.
LOEWE_TBG enters the second phase
The Hessian Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and the Arts (HMWK) has officially announced: LOEWE-TBG will receive further support in a second funding phase from 2022 to 2024 in the amount of 15.6 million euros plus 2.6 million euros for construction measures. The programme advisory board was impressed by the excellent evaluation results. “Both centers [the LOEWE centres TBG and DRUID, editor’s note] are outstanding not only for their research performance, but also for their great visibility in the scientific community and in the general public,” explained the chairman of the LOEWE Programme Advisory Board, Prof. Dr. Stefan Treue. For LOEWE-TBG, this approval of the funding means a great opportunity to continue and expand from exisiting research on the genomic basics of biodiversity, together with the partner institutions, at a very high level. It also means making the results accessible to applied research. For more information see the press release of HMWK.
Science meets industry - online seminar "Medicine from nature"
Technologieland Hessen and LOEWE-TBG are organizing an online event called “Medikamente der Natur. Neue Wirkstoffe entdecken, entwickeln und nutzen“ (Medicines of Nature. Discovering, developing and using new active substances). The aim of the event is to give insights into the current challenges of this field by bringing together representatives from science and industry. The event will take place online, on 23. November, between 13.00 - 16.30 o'clock and will be featuring presentations from Dr. Carola Greve, Prof. Andreas Vilcinskas, Prof. Eric Helfrich and Dr. Kornelia Hardes. Input from the Pharma Industry will be provided by Prof. Paul M. Selzer, Dr. Björn Rotter and Dr. Anja Schüffler.
Please register here for the event.
It's the mix that makes it: The complex biology of spider venom
An international team of researchers around Dr. Tim Lüddecke, together with colleagues from Australia, has for the first time summarized their insights into the biology and evolution of spider venom. The article was published in the "Biological Reviews". "Spider venom is critically influenced by life stage, habitat, and especially sex. It is also the interaction of the many components rather than the action of a single toxin that makes spider venom so effective. Through their interactions, the components increase their effectiveness, literally adding up to more than the sum of their parts," says Dr. Tim Lüddecke.
For more information, see the paper or the press release at JLU. (Photo: Wolfgang Dibiasi)
Genome reveals: lichens produce climate-specific substances
Natural substances produced by organisms are known primarily as agents against cancer and other diseases. But they can do even more, as researchers from the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics now show in the journal “Environmental Microbiology.” For the first time, the team was able to show that there is a climate-specific difference in gene groups responsible for the production of natural substances in lichen-forming fungi. The natural substances presumably contribute to the lichens’ ability to adapt to different environmental conditions. Find further information in the scientific study or the press release at Senckenberg. (Photo: Imke Schmitt)
ProLOEWE Science Rally: TBG with video at summer quiz
This is research from Hessen at its best: TBG and 20 other LOEWE projects funded by the state start a summer quiz for the whole family on 2 August. The ProLOEWE science rally offers new insights into research via short films and a new science puzzle every day. Whether experimenting, painting, crafting or discovering previously unknown things in nature, the puzzles are as diverse as the LOEWE projects – and the prizes. Those who puzzle along and submit their suggested solution for one or more videos by 2 September can win various prizes ranging from experiment boxes to museum tours. The solution will be revealed on 21 September – again, of course, in a short film. All videos and information on participation and dates at proloewe.de. (Photo: Eva Diehl/Senckenberg)
DNA-based method allows reliable wolf-dog hybrid detection
A European team around TBG scientist Dr. Carsten Nowak has presented a new method in the scientific journal “BMC Genomics” that allows the reliable identification of wolf-dog hybrids on the basis of environmental samples such as feces, hair, or saliva residue. The method is based on DNA sequences, so called SNPs, and has a much higher resolution than conventional methods. Thus, it is expected to serve as a standard procedure in the future, allowing for comparable detection of hybridization rates across Europe. Find further information in the scientific study or the press release at Senckenberg. (Photo: Jan Noack/Senckenberg)
Lecture: economic role of biodiversity and genetic resources
Grand finale of the lecture series on biodiversity genomics: Senckenberg's former Director Prof. Dr. Dr. Volker Mosbrugger and Dr. Luigi de Gaudenzi, TBG Technology Transfer, give a joint lecture on the economic role of biodiversity and genetic resources. Advances in biotechnology are making the use of genetic resources increasingly relevant, for example in the breeding of new crops or the extraction of active medical ingredients. At the same time, the decline in biodiversity is causing a shortage of genetic resources. How can sustainable use succeed - also internationally - and what regulations are in place so far? These and other questions are the subject of the lecture „Genetische Vielfalt als Ressource – Welche Rolle der ‚Wirtschaftsfaktor Biodiversität‘ in der Zukunft spielen wird“ (in Germa).The lecture will take place online on Wednesday, July 27, at 7:15 p.m. via livestream at www.senckenberg.de/live. The event is the final talk of the Senckenberg lecture series "Bauplan der Natur – Wie Genomik unseren Blick auf die biologische Vielfalt revolutioniert".
TBG scientists analyse samples from German Environmental Specimen Bank
The German Environmental Specimen Bank archives samples from various habitats throughout Germany. More than 500,000 biological snapshots are stored at -150°C. Since the 1980s, they have been used to monitor environmental changes. Led by the University of Duisburg-Essen, researchers are now developing new genetic methods that will allow them to analyse biodiversity trends with the samples in greater detail in the future – for example, about insect extinction and newly introduced species. Involved are also researchers from the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (TBG) and the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre (SBiK-F) in Frankfurt. The project "TrenDNA" is funded by the Federal Environment Agency. (Photo: Fraunhofer IME, Studio 95, Ulrich Kaifer)
Guest lecture by Bernhard Misof: molecular biodiversity research
A top-class guest will talk about genomics on Wednesday in the Senckenberg lecture series: Prof. Dr. Bernhard Misof, Director of the Zoological Research Museum Alexander Koenig and Head of the Centre for Molecular Biodiversity Research. His talk "The genomic basis of change: possibilities and potentials of molecular biodiversity research" will highlight how so-called OMICS methods for sequencing and analysing genetic information, proteins and metabolites open up new dimensions for life sciences. The lecture will take place online on Wednesday, June 23, at 7:15 p.m. via livestream at www.senckenberg.de/live. The event is part of the Senckenberg lecture series "Bauplan der Natur – Wie Genomik unseren Blick auf die biologische Vielfalt revolutioniert" (in German). (Photo: Museum Koenig, Bonn)
After heat waves: genes identified for drought resistance in beeches
Which trees will survive dry, very hot summers and which will suffer severe damage? Regarding European beech trees, this question may now be answered by genome analyses. A team led by Prof. Dr. Markus Pfenninger, LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics and Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, has studied damaged and healthy beech trees in Hesse, Germany and identified areas in their genome that are responsible for drought resistance. Based on these DNA sections, it is possible to predict for each individual tree how it resists longer periods of drought. Using targeted DNA tests, resistant specimens could now be selected for forestry in order to help beech forests adapting to climate change. Read the paper in "eLife" and the press release at Senckenberg. (Drone pilot: Volker Heymann/Photo: Markus Pfenninger)
Digital Youth Earth Talk: "The era of DNA sequencing is affecting us all"
DNA is the basic unit of inheritance to all biological information. It is impossible to understand evolution, the biology of organisms and cells, or even diseases and human behavior without dealing with the concept of the gene. Technologies now even make it possible that pieces of DNA can be inserted into the cells of living organisms in order to allow them to be reprogrammed. How will genome sequencing affect our daily lives? Is it a key technology or a threat to our future? These and other questions will be discussed by Prof. Dr. Axel Janke, speaker of the LOEWE-TBG. The event will take place online, June 17 at 6 pm. It is addressed to young people aged 15-25. Participation is free of charge. Registration: email@example.com. The event is organized by the Senckenberg Förderverein.
Guest lecture by Laura Epp: Time travel via environmental DNA
Who wouldn’t wish to be able to look into the past? New molecular methods make this possible now – especially when it comes to the history of ecosystems. How exactly does it work? Prof. Dr. Laura Epp will explain it in her talk “Environmental DNA from the past: molecular palaeoecology as a tool for studying past and future ecosystems”. Laura Epp is researcher and lecturer at the Limnological Institute of the University of Konstanz. She is also involved in the PHYTOARK research network, together with TBG researchers. The lecture will take place online on Tuesday, June 8, at 7:15 p.m. via livestream at www.senckenberg.de/live. The event is part of the Senckenberg lecture series "Bauplan der Natur – Wie Genomik unseren Blick auf die biologische Vielfalt revolutioniert" (in German).
LOEWE-TBG at the "Week of the Environment"
LOEWE-TBG will present its research on biodiversity genomics at the "Week of the Environment" (Woche der Umwelt) on June 10 and 11. The event will be hosted by Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in cooperation with the German Federal Environmental Foundation (DBU) in the Park of Schloss Bellevue. The exhibitors have been selected by a jury of experts with the aim of showing their commitment to environmental protection and its aspects: from climate, energy and resources to soil and biodiversity, construction and mobility. The two-day program of the sixth edition will take place under the motto "This is how the future works“. The 150 exhibitors - among them LOEWE-TBG - will present their innovative solutions for the future - mainly in digital formats such as pictures and short video clips.
All informations about the WdU and the exhibitors can be found here.
Marco Thines at Leibniz "Book a Scientist"
TBG scientist Prof. Dr Marco Thines is taking part in the Leibniz event "Book a Scientist". Curious people and those with a thirst for knowledge can talk to him for 25 minutes on 1 June and ask him everything they want to know about the subject: How many species can we discover and where? Because according to estimates, only ten percent of the arthropod and fungus species are known at all. So where can we find the remaining 90 percent, and how can we protect what we don't even know yet? Thines answers these and other questions online in one-on-one meetings. Register at firstname.lastname@example.org, stating your name, the chosen topic and the desired time slot. For more information, click here.
Giraffe genomics support four species
Visually, they are hardly distinguishable, but genetic analyses show: There are four distinct species of giraffe and seven subspecies. This result was obtained by an international team led by Prof. Dr. Axel Janke from the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics. According to their comprehensive genome analyses, the four giraffe lineages have been evolving separately for thousands of years. Relationships within the genus of giraffes have been debated before. For a long time, it was assumed that there was one, then four and later three species. The study published in the scientific journal “Current Biology” provides new insights into the evolution of giraffes and relevant information for their adequate conservation in Africa. Read the article in „Current Biology” and the press release at Senckenberg. (Photo: Julian Fennessy, Giraffe Conservation Foundation)
Genome of a raccoon dog sequenced - potential reservoir host of SARS-CoV-2
Researchers from the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (TBG) have sequenced the genome of a raccoon dog for the first time. Genetic data support its potential to transmit SARS-CoV-2. Being native to East Asia, racoon dogs have spread widely over Europe and are currently listed in asan invasive species in Germany. Raccoon dogs are closely related to foxes and known to carry various viruses that can be transferred to humans. The study suggests that the raccoon dog could also be a reservoir host for coronaviruses. Read the article in the scientific journal "Frontiers in Genetics" and the press release at Senckenberg (Photo: Dorian D. Dörge)
Millions of tiny fungi species so far unnamed
Millions of small fungi species do not yet have names, including pathogens for humans, animals and plants. But that could change soon. A team of researchers has now presented new ways of naming fungi. Prof. Dr. Marco Thines from the LOEWE Center for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (TBG) and leading international systematists collaborated on the project. So-called microfungi are partly only known from genetic analyses of environmental samples, such as soil samples. Common identification keys are not suitable for them. The methods presented in the journal “Nature Microbiology” are based on the naming of bacteria and molecular genetic properties.. Read the article in "Nature Microbiology" and the press release at Senckenberg. (Photo: Marco Thines)
Lecture by Andreas Vilcinskas: Animal Venoms and Genomics
More than 200.000 animal species produce toxins to defend themselves against enemies or to kill their prey. These toxins are a barely tapped bioresource for the development of new medicines. In his lecture "Tiergifte und Genomik: Tiergifte als Bioressource für neue Medikamente" Prof. Dr. Andreas Vilcinskas (LOEWE-TBG / Fraunhofer-IME) will talk about new methods for screening substances for potential ingredients of new medicines. The lecture will take place digitally at 7:15 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23. A livestream can be found at www.senckenberg.de/live. The event is part of the Senckenberg lecture series " Bauplan der Natur – Wie Genomik unseren Blick auf die biologische Vielfalt revolutioniert". More info at https://senckenberg.de/bauplandernatur (Foto: Tim Lüddecke)
Paper published on European research network on animal poisons
An article has recently been published describing the COST Action European Venom Network (EUVEN CA19144), synergy and future perspectives of modern venomics. TBG researcher Dr. Björn M. von Reumont is co-author of the study and member of the German management committee. The network unites European animal venom researchers aiming at developing protocols and methods, establishing technological procedures and animal models as well as studying previously unknown venomous animal species and their venoms. As the application of the new findings for biomedical, diagnostic and agrochemical purposes is an important goal, collaboration with companies is also planned. Read the article in "GigaScience" and the press release at Justus Liebig University Giessen. (Photo: B. M. von Reumont)
Lecture by Michael Hiller: Is there really evolution?
The diversity of species has developed through evolution over the course of many millions of years. Through processes such as variation and selection, certain characteristics have emerged and others have disappeared – says the doctrine. But is this actually true? Or were humans and other species created by an intelligent being, as some believe? In his lecture " Hat Evolution wirklich stattgefunden? Belege aus der Paläontologie, Entwicklungsbiologie und Genom-Forschung" (in German), Prof. Dr. Michael Hiller from the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics will talk about valid arguments as well as visual and genetic similarities between species. The lecture will take place digitally at 7:15 p.m. on Wednesday, April 14. A livestream can be found at www.senckenberg.de/live. The event is part of the Senckenberg lecture series " Bauplan der Natur – Wie Genomik unseren Blick auf die biologische Vielfalt revolutioniert". More info at https://senckenberg.de/bauplandernatur
Skin deep: When mammals re-entered water
New insights in the evolution of mammals when re-entering water: The smooth, nearly hairless skin of whales and hippos look similar, but evolved independently. This is revealed by genomic and anatomical analyses partly conducted by Michael Hiller at LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics. The skin of these mammals fine-tuned for life in the water was long assumed to have come from a shared amphibious ancestor. The study published in “Current Biology” contradicts this assumption. It rather suggests that the last common ancestor was land-dwelling. Hence “aquatic” skin with specific adaptions developed more than once in mammal’s phylogeny. Read the article in “Current Biology” and the press release at Senckenberg (Photo: Zoo Duisburg gGmbH)
Biodiversity Genomics Symposium: agenda online, registration open
The Agenda for Senckenberg Biodiversity Genomics Symposium (21st of April 2021) is online including schedule, speakers and discussion slots. Among speakers are TBG scientists Prof. Dr. Miklos Bálint and Prof. Dr. Imke Schmitt. Registration for the one-day event is free, but required and still possible. The Symposium is co-organised by the LOEWE-TBG, the Senckenberg Research Institute and PacBio. Scientists from Europe and beyond will share their experiences using highly accurate long-read sequencing, known as HiFi sequencing, to generate reference-quality genomes of taxonomically diverse organisms. The event will feature a mix of scientific presentations, lightning talks, a poster session and breaks with opportunities to network with your peers. Read more and register here.
Lecture: Dr. Kornelia Hardes about her research on influenza
The Senckenberg lecture series "Bauplan der Natur – Wie Genomik unseren Blick auf die biologische Vielfalt revolutioniert" enters its second round on Wednesday, March 31. TBG project leader Dr. Kornelia Hardes from the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology (IME) in Giessen will speak about her research on influenza virus and antiviral strategies to prevent future pandemics starting at 7:15 p.m. Read all information at Senckenberg. (Photo: Désirée Schulz/Fraunhofer)
Excellent plant protection: Heitefuß Award for TBG-PI Marco Thines
The German Phytomedical Society e.V. (DPG) awards TBG-PI Prof. Dr. Marco Thines of the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Center in Frankfurt a prize for his research on filamentous pathogens. The Rudolf Heitefuß Preis is awarded for outstanding scientific achievements. Thines is studying the diversity of plant pathogens and their hosts. For example, he investigates oomycetes, a group that includes pathogens causing widespread plant diseases such as late blight of potatoes and tomatoes and downy mildew. Worldwide, plant-parasitic oomycetes and blight fungi cause losses in the billions every year. Despite their economic importance, only a fraction of their actual biodiversity has been discovered to date. At LOEWE-TBG Thines leads the project “Landscape genomics of plant-pathogen interactions”. Read press release at Senckenberg. (Photo: Marco Thines)
TBG starts public lecture series on genomics
Scientists from the LOEWE Center for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (TBG) and guest speakers from other institutions will provide insights into current genomics research. The public lecture series "Bauplan der Natur – Wie Genomik unseren Blick auf die biologische Vielfalt revolutioniert" (in German) will start on Wednesday, 17th of March, with TBG-Speaker Prof. Dr. Axel Janke. He will explain the basics of genomics and introduce LOEWE-TBG. Lectures take place virtually via Livestream (including YouTube-Video) until July almost every second week. The lecture series is organized in cooperation with Senckenberg. Find information on talks and participation here: www.senckenberg.de/bauplandernatur
Image: © iStock.com/ktsimage
TBG is co-organising Biodiversity Genomics Symposium – Registration and submission of abstracts open
Senckenberg Biodiversity Genomics Symposium will take place at 21st of April 2021. It is a one-day event co-organised by the LOEWE-TBG, the Senckenberg Research Institute and PacBio. Scientists from Europe and beyond will share their experiences using highly accurate long-read sequencing, known as HiFi sequencing, to generate reference-quality genomes of taxonomically diverse organisms, ranging from plants, lichens, insects, and snails to vertebrates to address key questions. The event will feature a mix of scientific presentations, lightning talks, a poster session and breaks with opportunities to network with your peers.
Read more and register here. / Submit your abstract here
Project seeks to replace the use of animal components in toxicology research
Prof. Henner Hollert und Dr. Andreas Schiwy from the Department for Evolutionary Ecology and Environmental Toxicology at Goethe University and the LOEWE Centre TBG, together with the environmental toxicologist Prof. Beate Escher from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig (UFZ) and the companies BiodetectionsSystems in Amsterdam and Scinora in Heidelberg seek to find alternatives to animal components in toxicology research such as serum or liver cell tisses. Their project won the “CRACK IT” innovation challenge by NC3Rs, a British organisation that works to reduce reliance on animal models in research. The challenge is sponsored by AstraZeneca and Unilever.
Holotype of newly discovered snake species sequenced at LOEWE-Centre TBG
Senckenberg scientist Prof. Dr. Gunther Köhler and an international team from East Yangon University in Myanmar discovered a new species of mud snake. Morphological and genetic analyses showed that Myanophis thanlyinensis belongs to a genus so far unknown to science, the team recently reported in the journal "Zootaxa". The genome of the holotype is already available for further research: it was sequenced as a novel digital taxonomic resource at the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics.
Argonauta argo - Mollusc of the Year 2021
The Mollusc of the Year 2021 has been announced today, February 1, 2021 by Prof. Julia Sigwart, Section leader at the Malacology Department of the Senckenberg Museum, Dr. Carola Greve Lab manager of the LOEWE-Centre TBG, Dr. Tilman Schell, Bioinformatician of the LOEWE-Centre TBG, and Prof. Dr. Yasunori Kano, secretary of the worldwide society for Mollusc Research (Unitas Malacologica).
The Mollusc of the Year 2021 was selected from over 120 nominations submitted by international researchers and members of the public. The jury then selected five species that entered the second round as finalists. During this final round, the LOEWE-Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics website was open for the public to votes.
The title "Mollusc of the Year 2021" was won by the Greater Argonaut (Argonauta argo). As a prize, Argonauta argo will get its whole genome sequenced at the LOEWE-Centre TBG.
Nominate your favourite mollusc for FREE genome sequencing by the Senckenberg Museum and LOEWE-Translational Biodiversity Genomics centre!
Let's have a good start to 2021!! Senckenberg/LOEWE-TBG and Unitas Malacologica will select 5 top molluscs from the nominations, and the final winner will be determined by a popular vote in January.
Any living species of mollusc, in any habitat, anywhere in the world is eligible!
Researchers of the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre and the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (TBG) develop a new test to better assess environmental impact of substances
(SGN/TBG press release on a publication in the journal Environmental Pollution)
Image: © Markus Pfenninger
Animal poisons as a source of novel bioresources
(Article about the research field of Venomics by TBG scientists Tim Lüddecke und Björn von Reumont in the journal BIOspektrum (in German))
Partial autonomy. How species separate, but not entirely
Image: © lkpro / shutterstock.com
Controlled poisoning. Study provides deeper insight into the regulation of bacterial agents
(TBG press release on a publication in the journal Nature Microbiology)
Image: © D. Kucharski, K. Kucharska/Shutterstock.com
Deciphering the genome of bats
(Interview with TBG Prof. Dr. Michael Hiller on the Senckenberg website)
Image: Myotis myotis © Oliver Farcy
New in the LOEWE TBG team: PI Dr. Kornelia Hardes, who has just been granted BMBF funding to establish her own junior research group in infection research and is heading the level three security laboratory at the new Fraunhofer Institute for Bioresources in Gießen.
Measuring and monitoring biodiversity with molecular biological methods. Functional Environmental Genomics in Focus: Joint appointment of the University of Giessen and the Senckenberg Society for Nature Research
(SGN/JLU press release on the appointment of PD Dr. rer. nat. Miklós Bálint as Professor and Head of the Project Area Functional Environmental Genomics of the LOEWE Centre for Translational BiodiversityGenomics (TBG))
Characterize living beings and learn from them. Genomist Michael Hiller takes over new professorship at LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics
(TBG press release on the appointment of Dr. Michael Hiller as Professor at Senckenberg Society for Nature Research and Goethe University Frankfurt, and PI in the Project Area Comparative Genomics of the LOEWE Centre for Translational Biodiversity Genomics (TBG))
Image: © Sven Tränkner/Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung
Island of Methuselah. Researchers have deciphered the tuatara’s genetic makeup. These primordial animals once emerged from a catastrophe. Now they could help us understand why we age
(article with quotations from Dr. Stefan Prost, TBG, in the print edition of “Der Spiegel”, No. 34 of 14.08.2020; in German)
When the worm reaches for the poison. Research into native nematodes provides insight into the evolutionary development and economic use of animal toxins
(TBG press release (in German) on a publication in the journal Marine Drugs)
Image: © Rainer Borcherding / Schutzstation Wattenmeer
The tuatara – a living fossil
(article with quotations from Dr. Stefan Prost, TBG, at Wissenschaft.de under " Picture of the week"; in German)
Evolutionary secret of "living fossil" revealed. The world's first sequencing of the tuatara genome sheds light on the relationship between reptiles and longevity in the animal kingdom
(TBG press release (in German) on a publication in the journal Nature)
Image: © Bernard Spragg. NZ
Article in the NZZ am Sonntag on the discussion about wild animal markets and their role in the corona pandemic
(with comments by Dr. Stefan Prost, TBG; in German)
"Why do you have eye color?" Interview with Dr. Carola Greve, LOEWE-TBG laboratory manager, on the occasion of the 100th birthday of the British biochemist and DNA specialist Rosalind Franklin
(Die Sendung mit der Maus – Lach- und Sachgeschichten zum Hören. Under: Podcast 60 Min, starting at minute 41:33, in German)
Promising biomolecules discovered from the unusual venom of the wasp spider
(Press release of the Justus-Liebig-University of Gießen on a publication of the TBG research group “Animal Venomics” in the journal “Biomolecules”; in German)
Evolutionary geneticist and LOEWE-TBG speaker Prof. Axel Janke in the television programme “hallo hessen” of Hessischer Rundfunk about his research at the Senckenberg Institute and the biodiversity of mammals
(starting at minute 39:48, in German)
Early warning system for pandemics. International group of researchers develops strategies against virus transmission from wild animals to humans
(TBG press release (in German) on a comment in the journal Science)
Image: © Dan Bennett / CC BY
dpa-article on the current UN report on the illegal trade in wild animals and plants
(with quotation from Dr. Stefan Prost, TBG, published among others in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, in German)
With the backpack lab into the jungle – portable PCR and sequencing devices revolutionize genomic field studies
(article by Dr. Stefan Prost, TBG, in “Laborjournal”, in German)
The benefits of biological diversity – LOEWE Centre TBG on board the MS Wissenschaft 2020
(report and links on the ProLOEWE website, in German)
“Evolutionary Vertebrate Genomics” – LOEWE-TBG develops and tests course concept for the Goethe University Frankfurt
(report and links to publications on the ProLOEWE website, in German)
Honeybees as drug investigators – FAZ reports on Andreas Vilcinskas (LOEWE-ZIB and LOEWE-TBG) and the versatile application possibilities of the insects
(summary of the article and link to the FAZ Plus page on the ProLOEWE website, in German)
Closing all wildlife markets is too short a plan.
In conversation with Senckenberg researcher Stefan Prost (contribution on the Senckenberg website, in German)
Corona Virus origin: doubts about bat and pangolin as carriers
Stefan Prost of LOEWE-TBG expresses himself in a contribution of science.ORF.at (in German)
TBG-Press release regarding the international conference
4th Annual Meeting in Conservation Genetics – From Genomes to Application“ held in Frankfurt am Main from 26.-28.02.2020 at the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum (press release in German)
TBG-Press invitation to the international conference
4th Annual Meeting in Conservation Genetics – From Genomes to Application“ held in Frankfurt am Main from 26.-28.02.2020 at the Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum (press invitation in German)
Press release of the Hessian Ministry for Science and Art regarding the future LOEWE research funding
(with picture of LOEWE-TBG speaker Prof. Axel Janke) (press release in German)
TBG-Press release regarding the Nature Microbiology-Publication of Prof. Helge B. Bode
A deeper look into the treasure chest within microbes published in the online-magazine of Goethe-University Frankfurt
Press release of the Goethe-University Frankfurt (in German):
Blauwal-Erbgut enthüllt Paarung über Artgrenzen hinweg