In the long run, herpetologist Tyrone Hayes beats big industry

A new article in the New Yorker tells the incredible story of UC Berkeley professor Tyrone Hayes, and his long fight against industry giant Syngenta’s herbicide (and frogicide) atrazine. To put the story in Star Wars terms, Syngenta is the “Evil Empire”, and the Tyrone Hayes lab is the “Rebel Alliance.”  The Empire seems to have unlimited resources at their disposal for lobbying and pushing their agenda. Meanwhile, scientific studies continue to paint a dismal picture for the impacts of atrizine on the environment.

Hayes has devoted the past fifteen years to studying atrazine, a widely used herbicide made by Syngenta. The company’s notes reveal that it struggled to make sense of him, and plotted ways to discredit him. Photograph by Dan Winters.

Hayes has devoted the past fifteen years to studying atrazine, a widely used herbicide made by Syngenta. The company’s notes reveal that it struggled to make sense of him, and plotted ways to discredit him. Photograph by Dan Winters.

 

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Salamander migration

Ambystoma gracile. Photo by Jared Grummer.

Ambystoma gracile. Photo by Jared Grummer.

Graduate student Jared Grummer was recently interviewed by the Sammamish Review to discuss salamander breeding and migrations, particularly in rural Seattle areas.

Highlights of the article include the following quotes (not necessarily from Jared):
– “Salamanders, as it happens, are kind of dumb.”
– “There’s nothing more irritating (for other drivers) than when you stop your car to go pick up a salamander,”
– “The males drop a sperm packet, which the females scoop up, and then – voila – there are fertilized eggs.”

You can find the original article here.

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SNP Workshop

The Leaché Lab hosted a workshop focused on collecting and analyzing SNP data using the  ddRADseq method. Participants included students, postdocs, and faculty from the UW, USGS San Diego, San Diego State University, and Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico). The first four days of the workshop were spent constructing genomic DNA libraries in the molecular lab for all sorts of organisms, including lizards, frogs, snakes, scorpions, birds, agave plants, and hazelnuts.  We spent the fifth and final day of the workshop bringing everyone up to speed on the bioinformatics and data analysis skills that they’ll need to handle the DNA sequences once they’re ready. It was an exciting week that produced a ton of new data. We hope to conduct another SNP workshop in the future. Please let us know if you’re interested in attending.

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Everyone was in a great mood after seeing computer output (TapeStation) showing that their SNP libraries were successful.

RADseq_Workshop

Front row, left to right: Andreas Chavez, Itzue Caviedes-Solis, Rob Bryson, Rubi Meza, Dustin Wood, Jared Grummer.
Back row, left to right: Andy Gottscho, Jon Richmond, Matt McElroy, Kevin Epperly, Adam Leaché, Leonard Jones.
Not shown: Alejandro Zadívar Riverón and Audrey Ragsac.

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Honest Abe Linkem a.k.a Alexander

Alexander Linkem learning family trade at 6 days old.

Alexander Linkem learning family trade at 6 days old.

Congrats to Charles and Gabrielle on the arrival of Alexander “Honest Abe” Linkem. Alexander is the first official lab baby. Not that he was conceived in the lab (to our knowledge). More babies are on the way! Check back in January for details.

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New Species Tree Sampling Design Study

Rebecca Harris has a new paper in the journal Evolution on the influence of sampling design on species tree inference. The paper also has a new phylogeny for New World Chickadees.

Link to article.

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