Russian dolls and shark snacks

What are in shark guts? And what can the contents tell us? The results can be confusing – as we find prey, within prey. To decipher this ‘Russian doll effect’, scientists from the University of Sydney, Australian Museum, and NSW Department of Primary Industries tell us more. Anyone remember the scene in “Jaws” where Matt …

People in the Philippines have the most Denisovan DNA

Researchers have known from several lines of evidence that the ancient hominins known as the Denisovans interbred with modern humans in the distant past. Now researchers reporting in the journal Current Biology have discovered that the Philippine Negrito ethnic group known as the Ayta Magbukon have the highest level of Denisovan ancestry in the world. …

12th annual Sydney Phylogenetics Workshop

The MEEP Lab recently hosted the 12th annual Sydney Phylogenetics Workshop on 29–30 July. This was a free online workshop that provided an introduction to phylogenetic analysis using maximum-likelihood and Bayesian methods. The workshop had 130 attendees from 21 countries, representing every habitable continent. The attendees included about 90 research students. Workshop lectures were given …

History of migration to the Philippines

A landmark study has revealed the complex shared origins, inter-relatedness, and genetic diversity of the Filipino people Taking advantage of the latest advances in genomics and computational biology, a team of researchers investigated 2.3 million DNA markers from 1000 individuals representing 115 Philippine cultural communities. The team included MEEP Lab member Professor Simon Ho and …

Journey to the East

The spread of a plant pathogen along the former trade routes of the Silk Road For nearly two thousand years, the Silk Road was an important network of trade routes connecting Europe to East Asia via the Middle East. The Silk Road allowed the exchange of culture, religion, livestock, and crops. It also provided a …

Fairy wrasses and fairy tales!

The fairy wrasses are a captivating and diverse group of fishes found throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans. A study led by MEEP Lab PhD student Yi-Kai Tea has resolved the evolutionary relationships among fairy wrasses. By analysing a data set comprising nearly 1000 genetic markers, Kai reconstructed the evolutionary history and patterns of diversification …

“The Molecular Evolutionary Clock”

The Molecular Evolutionary Clock: Theory and Practice, edited by Simon Ho, has been published by Springer. This book contains 13 chapters on various aspects of molecular clocks, evolutionary rates, and phylogenomic dating. The book, as described on the publisher site, “presents coverage of the principles and practice of molecular clocks, which have provided fascinating and …

Angels in disguise

Angelfishes hybridise more frequently than any other coral reef species Why do some fish species form hybrids while others don’t? In attempting to answer this question, new research has uncovered that angelfish are the chief hybridisers of coral reef fish. Renowned journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B has a new front cover fish: the …

Two PhD completions in the MEEP Lab

Two members of the MEEP Lab, Cara Van Der Wal and Kyle Ewart, completed their doctoral studies in the first half of 2020. Congratulations to both Cara and Kyle! Cara Van Der Wal was awarded a PhD for her work on the evolution and phylogeny of crustaceans, specifically mantis shrimp and crayfish. Some of her …

The delicate water lily: A rose by another name?

A new study published in Nature reports the 409-megabase genome sequence of the blue-petal water lily (Nymphaea colorata). The authors conclude that most flowering plants may owe their success, including employing floral scent for attracting pollinators, in part to the genetic innovations observed in the delicate water lily. Water lilies are beloved features in ponds …