NM News

September 2016

We're back!

Sorry for the very long silence, we've been so busy expanding our team, getting our lab up and running and developing lots of great new services, that we haven't had much of a chance to update our news feed. Here are some of our headlines:
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A test for Chytrid fungus

There are two species of Batrachochytrium fungus (Chytrid for short) that threaten amphibians in the UK. B. dendrobatidis (Bd) has been around for a while, while B. salamandrivorans (Bsal) is a newcomer that has particular implications for newt health. NatureMetrics can now test samples for the presence of both species so you can check that mitigation ponds are clear of the fungus before moving amphibians there.

So how do you sample? You can either use swabbing - but be aware that you need to swab 30-60 non-frog amphibians per water body - or you can take water samples from the pond using our new filter-based water sampling kits.

There are many advantages to water sampling over swabbing (particularly the time involved) but one of the big advantages as we see it is that you can use the same water sample to look for other aquatic species - for instance we could survey the fish community while we're at it...

Fish communities in a water sample

There has been lots of great research in the last year on the use of eDNA metabarcoding for surveying fish. Amazingly, it only takes a small number of relatively small water samples to characterise whole communities, and we're not too far off being able to estimate relative abundance in addition to presence-absence.

Metabarcoding is what we love, and we've been spending a lot of time honing our water sampling and DNA extraction methods so that we can reliably find your fish. We've put together a really nice, user-friendly water sampling kit that uses on-site filtration to preserve sample integrity. No ethanol involved so you don't have to worry about transporting dangerous goods, and we can get results back to you for large numbers of ponds in just a few weeks. Why not try it out?

Marine meiofauna

We've been getting some really interesting results from metabarcoding meiofauna in marine sediments - want to know how those nematodes, flatworms, annelids, crustaceans etc are responding to environmental change? DNA's the way!

New Senior Scientist joins the ranks

At the beginning of August we welcomed Dr Cuong Tang (CT) to the NatureMetrics team in the role of Senior Scientist. CT has a PhD in molecular ecology and prior to joining us worked as a postdoctoral researcher on a DEFRA funded project to investigate methods for high-throughput rapid identification of UK pollinators. He's a whizz at metabarcoding and allied approaches and is developing all sorts of exciting new analysis pipelines.

Bioinformatics bonus

We've also welcomed Dr Alex Crampton-Platt to the team on a part-time basis to get our data analysis pipelines honed. Alex was one of the pioneers of mitochondrial metagenomics and PCR-free community sequencing and we're so grateful to be able to make use of her experience and talent to ensure we're at the top of our game.