A new edition of Pannell’s lab Away Days took place in the charming Alpine village of Mex, at the skirts of the Dents du Midi. Hikes in the mountains were interlaced by scientific updates and discussions, as well as by ‘armchair talks’ on the decisive moments of lab members’ scientific careers. The fast progress on Mercurialis genome sequencing is bringing new opportunities for population genomic studies in the genus, providing also comparative data for major crops from the Euphorbiaceae family (e.g. cassava). Experiments based on Mercurialis are also in full swing, with multiple hypotheses being tested on the evolutionary significance of male inflorescence architecture. Progress on metapopulation modelling is also bringing new insights on Mercurialis demographical history.
Enjoying outdoors Science!
In the last weeks, Myriam Heuertz and Santiago C. González-Martínez developed different educational activities aimed at promotion of scientific thinking among children, in the framework of their respective Marie Curie Fellowships (in Fribourg and Lausanne). Hermaphrodite, male and female plants of Mercurialis annua were used to illustrate the incredible variety of plant mating systems, even within species. The distinctive Mercurialis male inflorescence was easily identified by the children, who were surprised that plants could have variation in their ways to produce offspring. This was continued by discussing in easy-to-understand terms how differences in mating system can have important consequences in plant evolution.
Learning about separated sexes in plants
This winter Away Days of Pannell’s lab at UNIL-DEE took place at Lac Taney. Among other research, updates on Mercurialis genome sequencing and the design of a new full-exome capture assay were discussed. In addition, new and exciting discoveries of new morphological traits in the species that may be relevant to understand the complex mating system in the species were provided by potdoctoral researcher Dr. Luis Santos-del-Blanco.
Pannell’s lab at Lac Taney
In March 2014, the Mercurialis Genomics Network has been launched, initially involving researchers from Switzerland, Spain, France, Germany, Poland, Belgium, Israel, and Italy. This network is born with the overarching goal of establishing an interaction platform for multidisciplinary research on Mercurialis species. The network will develop much needed medium- to long-term studies of molecular adaptation in Mercurialis, combining approaches and perspectives from different disciplines: molecular biology, evolutionary ecology, plant sciences and environmental modelling.