Monthly Archives: July 2013

Slipper lobster

I just photographed some specimens from the family Scyllaridae, and they are such funny looking critters that I decide to share them on the blog. The Scyllaridae are found in all warm oceans and seas, and typically live from shallow water and down to depths of about 500 m (according to Wikipedia).

Scyllarus carpati from Mauritania

Scyllarus carpati from Mauritania

Pictured is a Scyllarus carpati from Mauritania, collected by sledge at 100 meters.

If you click here, you can se the distribution of the species, as well as its IUCN Red List status. We will take tissue samples from this specimen and send it for COI DNA barcoding, which will be incorporated in the BOLD database. There are records of specimens from the same genus recorded in BOLD already, but none of this particular species, as you can see if you search for Scyllarus carpati here.

Portrait of a crab

Sakaila africana was recognized as a new species by Raymond B. Manning and L.B. Holthuis in 1981. Their publication in The Smithsonian Contributions to Zoology is an important source  to the identification of West African crabs. An electronic version of the publication is available on this link. Our workshop found Sakaila africana in samples from Guinea Conakry.

Sakaila africana

Sakaila africana

Environmental monitoring in Ghana

On 10th July, the workshop was visited by guests from the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research who are doing field work in Africa from R/V Dr Fridtjof Nansen. Tor Ensrud gave a presentation of monitoring activities performed from the Nansen in Ghanaean waters. He showed pictures and impressive video clips from the prototype of a sampling rig equipped with ROV and 3-5 grabs. Some of the pictures can be seen at the IMR website.

Environmental monitoring in Ghana

Environmental monitoring in Ghana

Tools of the trade – the BOLD database

One of the topics covered in depth during the workshop is the selection of specimens and the preparation of tissue-samples. These will to be sent for DNA sequencing, and the genetic sequence will then be included in the Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD). The aim is to obtain standardized genetic sequences (“barcodes”) for the various taxa that we are working on. The barcode consists of a segment of approximately 650 base pairs of the mitochondrial gene cytochrome oxidase c subunit 1 (COI). You can read more about DNA barcoding on WIKIPEDIA.

There is a very real challenge connected with estimating biodiversity when many of the species are still undescribed, as is the case with many invertebrate species, especially the more obscure and diminutive groups.  In such cases, barcoding can serve as a tool in screening for biodiversity, and aid the taxonomists in identifying areas where the taxonomic resolution is low.

We have not yet received any barcodes for our MIWA project, but the project page on BOLD is getting populated with images and geographical information.

Uploading pictures

Uploading pictures

Brittle star image gallery

Brittle star image gallery

Crab image gallery

Crab image gallery

This picture shows a plot of crab species that have been DNA barcoded around the World. Notice the lack of records from West African waters.

This picture shows a plot of crab species that have been DNA barcoded around the World. Notice the lack of records from West African waters.

This picture shows how we are presently about to add records of about 60 crab species to the BOLD database.

This picture shows how we are presently about to add records of about 60 crab species to the BOLD database.

 

How is it that the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) can make numbers of copies of a piece of DNA?

How is it that the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) can make numbers of copies of a piece of DNA? (Slide from an intro to the technology of PCR and Sanger sequencing given by EW.)

Lecture about the correct procedure for tissue sampling

Lecture about the  procedure for tissue sampling and recording of data for the BOLD system

The specimens from whuch we take the DNA tissue sample is documented through photographs

The specimens from which we take the DNA tissue sample is documented through photographs

A completed microplate with 95 tissue samples

A completed microplate with 95 tissue samples

Tools of the trade – Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)

IMG_7471On Wednesday, the group working on the Polychaeta (bristle worms) went to the city for a practical demonstation of one of the tools we are fortunate enough to have available here in Bergen; the ZEISS Supra 55VP scanning electron microscope at the Laboratory for Electron Microscopy.

The use of SEM gives us a unique possibility to examine details that are too small to be seen (or at least to be seen clearly) in a light microscope. It is possible to take high resolution photographs through the SEM, which can be used both for personal reference, and as illustrations in scientific publications.

The anterior region of a Hyalinoecia sp. (family Onuphidae)

The anterior region of a Hyalinoecia sp. (family Onuphidae)

The different kinds of bristles and their distribution along the animal's body are important characteristics in polychaete taxonomy.

The different kinds of bristles and their distribution along the animal’s body are important characteristics in polychaete taxonomy.