Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Reading the Tea Leaves

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Biodiversity,  , Nature, Nature of Science, Biological Evolution, Climate Change, Global Change

Ed Hessler 

This report from TheScientist on biomonitoring demonstrates its value, especially tracing environmental DNA (eDNA)  left  by animals in various environments. It is a technique of value in noting both evolutionary and ecological responses of biological communities to global environmental change.

The original research is published in Biology Letters (linked in the reporting) which is fully available but technical, not that this should dissuade you from reading it.

Shawna Williams of The Scientist interviewed study coauthor Henrick Krehenwinkel (HK), an ecological geneticist at Germany's Trier University.

What was analyzed was tea and that it is a useful tool for biomonitoring may be a surprise. It was to me. 

And the story has a feature I like for it gets inside the lab. Included here are the use of research collections: questioning, considerations of experimental design,deciding on what to investigate--include/exclude, use of a test experiment then expanding it, and findings, especially population change over time, as well as the inevitable surprises..

Of course, HK had to be asked - the story would be incomplete otherwise - whether he is a tea drinker. His answer includes a bonus about the differences between tea and coffee as an eDNA research material material. 

"'I drink coffee actually. . . . And I fear coffee probably is not well suited for it because coffee is roasted. And what DNA really doesn’t like is being heated up to a very high temperature for a long time . . . . We have not tried it yet, but I fear coffee is probably not the best choice for this kind of experiment."" 

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