© Pint of Science, 2022. All rights reserved.
Are you fascinated by living things? Do you enjoy David Attenborough documentaries? If so, this event is for you! Why can algae harvest light better than solar panels? What can our ape cousins teach us? How do plants fight off disease, and why do forests need lemur poo? Join our scientists on their journeys of discovery, and learn about some of the amazing beings that share our life on Earth.
It's (not) always sunny in Europe: vitamin D status in chimpanzees
Rachel Jarvis (PhD Researcher, University of Birmingham/University of Nottingham/Twycross Zoo)
Chimps are highly endangered, and looking after their health and wellbeing in managed environments (zoos, sanctuaries, rescue centres) is crucial. We’ve all heard of vitamin D, but did you know just how important it really is? Vitamin D deficiency is a big problem in people, and chimps share around 99% of our DNA. Find out why we are measuring vitamin D in our closest animal cousins, what we know so far from the European chimp population, and what it means for great apes (including us!) around the world.
The amazing phycobilisome — using blue-green algae for good!
Dr Jedd Bellamy-Carter (Research Fellow in Biological Mass Spectrometry, University of Birmingham)
If you pick up some blue food or drink in the supermarket, you might notice an unusual ingredient: Spirulina, a harmless cyanobacterium. Cyanobacteria (aka blue-green algae) get a bad rap, especially the ones that create ‘toxic blooms’ in lakes and rivers but they aren’t all bad. Cyanobacteria have an ancient superpower - the phycobilisome, a brilliant blue protein that harvests light for photosynthesis. This happens at up to 95% efficiency - solar panels for UK Homes operate at <20% efficiency. We’ll talk about just a few ways we can use cyanobacteria (like Spirulina) for good.
Life lessons for apes: bouncing back from extinction
Lelia Bridgeland-Stephens (PhD Researcher, University of Birmingham)
The last two years have shown us that resilience is key to overcoming adversity. Gorillas and orangutans are critically endangered animals and face many different threats in the wild. Rescued apes need to recover physically and mentally before being released back into the forest. Come and learn about some of the ways we're tackling this issue, and pick up some tips on how to stay resilient and bounce back from stress!
Vaccines for plants: fiction or reality?
Dr Rosa Sanchez-Lucas (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Birmingham)
COVID-19 has firmly put in our minds the power of vaccines to combat diseases. A vaccine results in an immune response to a disease-causing organism. Plants also get diseases, but can we also use vaccines to protect them? Plants have a way of responding to pathogens and being prepared - this is known as priming or induced resistance. This is how it works: an initial stimulus (such as specific chemicals, root microbes or environmental stress) activates a plant's defence mechanisms - could vaccines help them to respond faster and more effectively to infection?
A perfect balance: understanding how lemurs interact with their forest homes
Gemma Baker (PhD Researcher, University of Birmingham)
Native to Madagascar, lemurs are the most diverse and varied group of primates in the world, ranging in size from mice to gorillas. While vital to Malagasy and global biodiversity, they are also integral to the island’s forest ecosystems, providing essential seed dispersal services for large fruiting trees. These are complex, hard to monitor interactions that will become more so as human activities exacerbate climate change and habitat degradation, changing the balance of the system. Development of faecal analysis to decipher these interactions is vital to lemur and Malagasy conservation.