Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Protecting living fossil trees

Date:
March 2, 2012
Source:
Queensland University of Technology
Summary:
Scientists are working to protect living fossil trees in Fiji from the impact of climate change with cutting-edge DNA sequencing technology.

Dr Peter Prentis is using a new DNA sequencer to understand what makes certain tree species in Fiji rare.
Credit: Image courtesy of Queensland University of Technology

Scientists are working to protect living fossil trees in Fiji from the impact of climate change with cutting-edge DNA sequencing technology. Dr Peter Prentis, from QUT's Science and Engineering Faculty, said the findings would enable researchers to understand how biological diversity is generated.

"Fiji is a hotspot for biodiversity. Most of the species that occur in Fiji aren't found anywhere else in the world," he said.

"My project looks at how island species in these ancient groups of trees originated."

Dr Prentis will use $150,000 DNA sequencer technology, called an Ion Torrent, to pinpoint genes in three pairs of tree species: Cynometra falcata (critically endangered) and C. insularis; Degeneria vitiense (vulnerable) and D. Roseiflora; and Podocarpus affinis (vulnerable) and P. neriifolius.

Dr Prentis said researchers would compare the vulnerable or endangered tree species with ones more commonly found in Fiji.

"We'll analyse each of the species pairs to find genes that have been important in the process of becoming unique. We're interested in how these rare species evolve," he said.

Dr Prentis said the research could predict how the trees will adapt to climate change.

"We need to understand how biodiversity is created in the first place to understand how to best conserve it in the future," Dr Prentis said.

"With climate change these species are going to have to respond to increasingly changing environmental conditions and an increase in extreme events, such as cyclones.

"We don't know if these living fossil trees have the potential to adjust to these future environments."

The new Ion Torrent technology will accelerate research at QUT, enabling scientists to analyse tens of thousands of genes at the same time, compared to studying a handful of genes simultaneously with a standard DNA sequencer.

"What we can do in a couple of hours on the Ion Torrent is the equivalent of six months' work on a standard DNA sequencer," Dr Prentis said.

The Ion Torrent, which can sequence whole microbial genomes and specific genes in species such as humans, insects and plants, will be used for health, agriculture and evolutionary research.

Dr Prentis' research, being conducted with Dr Gunnar Keppel from Curtin University in Western Australia, received $40,000 of funding from the Australian Pacific Sciences Foundation.

A preliminary paper, Diversification history and hybridisation of Dacrydium (Podocarpaceae) in remote Oceania, was published in the Australia Journal of Botany.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queensland University of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gunnar Keppel, Peter Prentis, Ed Biffin, Paul Hodgskiss, Susana Tuisese, Marika V. Tuiwawa, Andrew J. Lowe. Diversification history and hybridisation of Dacrydium (Podocarpaceae) in remote Oceania. Australian Journal of Botany, 2011; 59 (3): 262 DOI: 10.1071/BT10181

Cite This Page:

Queensland University of Technology. "Protecting living fossil trees." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 March 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120302101710.htm>.
Queensland University of Technology. (2012, March 2). Protecting living fossil trees. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120302101710.htm
Queensland University of Technology. "Protecting living fossil trees." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120302101710.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins