Epigenetics of the Dragon

Posted in Pogona Research on Dec 15, 2021

Great to see that the antibodies for a range of sex related proteins developed for mammals work in our model species, the dragon lizard. Our article, led by Sarah Whiteley and as a collaboration between the QIMR Berghofer Institute for Medical Research, appeared today in the journal Biology of Reproduction.

Turtles of the World Checklist

Posted in Turtle Research on Nov 17, 2021

Today, a team of international scientists from the USA, France, Australia and Germany published the ninth edition of the *Turtles of the World*. The publication not only contains detailed descriptions of all 357 turtle species, but also information on the endangerment status of all species and a comparison of their present and original ranges. It is an immensely valuable resource for those interested in these fascinating animals.

Microchromosomes central players in vertebrate evolution

Posted in Pogona Research on Oct 31, 2021

Unlike mammals, most birds and reptiles (birds are reptiles after all) have a series of very small microchromosomes in addition to larger macrochromosomes. In a paper that appeared this week in PNAS, we show remarkable conservatism in the homology among microchromosomes dating back to Amphioxus. This work shows how we are all the product of our history, and not just recent evolutionary history, but with a signature in our genome organization that goes back to the pre-vertebrate days of an Amphioxus-like ancestor.

Species or Lineages within Species

Posted on Oct 10, 2021

Mention species concept nowadays and you are likely throw up their hands and give a negative or dismissive reaction. Nevertheless we have another go in our recent paper which appeared this week in the Biological Journal of Linnean Society. Our framework addresses two cornerstone issues in systematics that are often not discussed explicitly in genomic species discovery: diagnosability and how to determine it, and what criteria should be used to decide whether diagnosable lineages are conspecific or represent different species.

Sex reversal provides new insight to being female

Posted in Pogona Research on Apr 14, 2021

In our recent study reported in PLoS Genetics, we take the unique opportunity to compare gene regulation in the embryonic gonads of the Bearded Dragon with sex determined by chromosomes with that of embryonic gonads where female sex is determined by environmental temperature. This provides a window within which to examine how the cell senses environmental temperature then transduces via ubiquitous signalling pathways to direct the epigenetic processes that govern sex determination.

Alpine lizards reverse sex as it becomes cooler

Posted in Pogona Research on Feb 01, 2021

The alpine skink has XX/XY chromosomes like us, but unlike us the females can be converted to males in the egg by low temperatures. In a paper that appeared today in Heredity, Dumie Dissanayake shows that the frequency of sex reversal varies along an elevational gradient, and that the resultant sex ratio skew will potentially drive the loss of the Y chromosome at the highest elevations. Interesting stuff. https://rdcu.be/ceziZ.

The Hidden Sex Life of the Jacky Dragon

Posted in Pogona Research on Jan 20, 2021

Sex in dragons can be a complicated affair. In a paper published today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London (Proceedings B), IAE PhD student Sarah Whiteley and her colleagues present some tantalizing evidence that the TSD Jacky Dragon has an underlying predisposition to be one sex or the other, a predisposition that is over-ridden at extreme incubation temperatures.

Turtles in Trouble

Posted in Turtle Research, Education and Outreach on Jun 22, 2020

Fifty-one international experts today published the most comprehensive study of the extinction risks for turtles and tortoises in Current Biology. Turtles are in trouble. More than half of all 360 turtle and tortoise species face imminent extinction if current trends continue. Australian turtles feature prominently in the list of species of greatest concern.

Piku Biodiversity Network launches

Posted in Turtle Research on Jul 24, 2019

An exciting new NGO has emerged from the Piku program that has operated out of the University of Canberra since 2006. The new NGO is called the Piku Biodiversity Network Incorporated or PBN for short. Its purpose is to promote and enable biodiversity conservation in Papua New Guinea through environmental education, community-led conservation and knowledge generation.

Waking the sleeping dragon

Posted in Pogona Research on Jun 17, 2019

Those of you watching *The Desolation of Smaug* closely might have been surprised to see how quickly Smaug arose from his slumber when disturbed by Bilbo the Burglar. How is it that dragons can arouse so quickly if disturbed during hibernation? We might have the answer in our latest paper in BMC Genomics.

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