Dealing with Taxonomic Vandalism

Posted in Turtle Research on Mar 28, 2022

As one of the architects of the Positive List of journals (and other relevant works) established by the Australian Society of Herpetologists, I outline here why I think it is a good idea. A Positive List distinguishes between science and non-science and may well put an end to the taxonomic instability that arises from the publication of poorly supported species descriptions promulgated outside the peer-reviewed scientific literature. Time will tell.

dartR Version 2 release

Posted in Education and Outreach on Mar 27, 2022

We are pleased to announce the release of dartR version 2. We have substantially increased the number of functions from 45 to 144 to enhance the user experience by extending plot customisation, function standardisation, increasing user support and function speed. dartR now provides many additional functions for importing data, exporting data and linking to other packages. Give it a try. And congratulations to the core development team Luis Mijangos, Bernd Gruber, Carlos Pacioni, Oliver Berry and Arthur Georges.

Sex in dragons -- reversal stable

Posted in Pogona Research on Feb 26, 2022

A combination of chromosomal sex determination and temperature-induced sex reversal appears to be evolutionarily stable based on evidence from an extensive field study of the central bearded dragon in central Queensland. Read more about it in a paper, led by Kris Wild, that came out today in Molecular Ecology.

PhD opportunities -- sex in dragons

Posted in Pogona Research on Feb 26, 2022

The University of Canberra is calling for expressions of interest from prospective PhD candidates to undertake ARC-funded research in the exciting area of epigenetic regulation of sex determination.

Sex in Dragons -- role for chromosomal conformation?

Posted in Pogona Research on Jan 17, 2022

Reptiles have an extraordinary variety of mechanisms to determine sex. In an article that appeared in PNAS this week, we propose that altered configuration of the repeat-laden W chromosome affects the conformation of the primary transcript of a candidate sex determining gene to generate more diverse and potentially inhibitory W-borne isoforms that suppress testis determination. Epigenetics rules.

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.

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