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When thinking of Evolution, we think of ancient creatures, dead and gone, that incredibly slowly changed into what we experience now. However, evolution is happening all around us, right here, right now. Join researchers from the University of Edinburgh to discuss how developmental pathways controlling embryo growth first evolved in early land plant and how Scottish deer are living in harmony with an invading species.
Strange bedfellows: hybridization between sika and red deer in Scotland
Dr Eryn McFarlane (Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Edinburgh, Uppsala University)
Animals typically mate with members of their own species, but when they make mistakes it results in hybridization. This can lead to extinction via the collapse of two species into one. Humans haven’t helped this problem, as we move distinct species back into contact, allowing them to breed. One example of this affects Scottish red deer. Japanese sika deer were introduced to Scotland in the 19th century. Now, hybridization with sika is recognized as the greatest conservation threat to red deer. We use genomic techniques to detect hybrid deer and to understandthe consequences for red deer.
Conquest of the land – How land plants got a waterproof skin
Dr Justin Goodrich (Senior Lecturer , The University of Edinburgh)
How complex structures develop and evolve is a central problem in biology. Two exciting advances in genetics have given us new tools to address these problems- the complete genome sequence of many organisms is available, and we can disrupt genes at will using genome editing. We are using liverworts, which are very early branch in land plant evolution, to understand how some of the key adaptations to life on land may have evolved in plants. I’ll talk about our research on how plants acquired a waterproof covering, called a cuticle, and several other adaptations to conserve water.