I just completed photographing and tissue sampling 95 specimens that will be submitted for barcoding through NorBOL – we’ll send them to the CCDB-lab in Canada for sequencing, and upload the metadata and sequences in the BOLD database – fingers crossed for successful sequencing!
This week the invertebrates are forced to take second place (!) as I have joined the master students participating on the course BIO309A – marine floristics out at our field station.
The course is the sister course to Marine faunistics that I joined in on last fall. The focus of this week is the macroalgae; the seaweeds that most people are (passingly) familiar with. (The micro algae have been covered in lectures and lab work back at BIO earlier.)
We are doing a mix of field work and lab work. Every day we go out and sample, and bring the catch back to the lab to identify it. 1-2 specimens of each species that is identified is destined to become barcode vouchers for NorBOL, and go through the by now fairly familiar route of photo-tissue sampling-preservation for inclusion in the museum collection as a voucher. Seaweeds fixate badly in ethanol, so instead we are pressing them and making herbarium specimens. So far we have about 50 vouchers (from almost as many different species), and the number is sure to climb as we continue working our way through the fresh stuff we just collected.
We started early with visitors for 2016; Mario arrived already on the 4th of January!
Mario’s home institution is the University of Antioquia, in Medellin, Colombia, and the contrast to snow covered (and/or rain swept) Bergen has been great; this was his first time having snow beneath his shoes.
Another of our polychaete collaborators, Arne Nygren from Sjöfartsmuseet Akvariet in Gothenburg (Artsprosjekt can be found here (NO)) seized the chance to visit as well, and together with the resident polychaetologists (Jon, Tom and Nataliya) it meant that we suddenly had an impromptu polychaete workshop on our hands 🙂
Being able to meet in person makes the work flow smoother all around, as work was delegated and plans concretized. 2016 is likely to be a year with much focus on the Polychaeta, as it is both the final year of the PolyNor project (ends in spring), and the year of the 12th International Polychaete Conference, which will be held in Cardiff, Wales.
During Mario’s month-long stay he was examining the collection of terebellids from West Africa and the museum’s collection of the bristle worm genus Pista, much of which will later be barcoded through NorBOL (for the Norwegian material) and MIWA (for our West African samples).
In his own words:
I usually work on the morphology of just one of the several families of polychaetes, the Terebellidae, or spaghetti worms. This visit has been very important since we have been able to separate four Pista species from the North Sea, using both morphological and molecular tools. “The combination of these two different methods has been superb”.
Jon, Arne and I began this study during August 2014, but this undertaking seems like it will never end because we keep adding more material. The recent findings have been the significance of some characters that did not have taxonomical importance in the past. Now, they are the clues for splitting very close species.
But this is not enough; it was possible to identify 43 species of terebellids belonging to 16 different genera, from material collected along the West African coasts.
This is a high polychaete diversity in only one family. For example, we found three Lysilla species, in a region with only one recorded species. New species? Highly possible. One can only wonder what the diversity of the remaining families is?
All this was accompanied with a perfect view through the window, seeing it snow some days, or watching the Sun on the mountains in front; some times with white top mountains, some times with deep blue sky. A landscape like that never could be my company in my tropical city.
Thank you for visiting, it was very nice having you here – we wish you the best of luck with your next adventure in Antarctica!
The Pleurobranchidae sea slug species Berthella sideralis was described by the Swedish malacologist Sven Ludvig Lovén in 1846 based on specimens collect at Bohuslän, in southern Sweden not far from the city of Gothenburg. This species has hardly been mentioned in the literature after its original description, and no images of life species are to our best knowledge available in books, research papers or even web platforms – until now!
A synthesis of the morphological features of B. sideralis can be found in Cervera et al. (2010) who studied in detail two specimens collected during 1930’s in Trondheimfjord as part of a phylogenetic study of the genus Berthella.
Recently, in late November 2015 during a Museum scientific cruise – there is a blog post about this day of field work here – we collected one specimen in Hjeltefjorden (around Bergen) at 220 meters depth using an RP-sledge. This specimen is here documented and was recently genetically barcoded as part of our effort to barcode the Norwegian marine fauna through the NorBOL project.
Berthella sideralis is only known from Sweden and Norway. In Norway it has been reported between Bergen and Finnmark.
Reference: Cervera, J L., Gosliner, T. M., García-Gómez, J. C., & Ortea, J. A. 2010. A new species of Berthella Blainville, 1824 (Opisthobranchia, Notaspidea) from the Canary Island (Eastern Atlantic Ocean), with a re-examination of the phylogenetic relationships of the Notaspidea. Journal of Molluscan Studies, 66: 301–311.
-Manuel & Katrine
We are very fortunate in that we have a modern DNA lab available «just down the street» from us, as the University Museum is part of the shared Biodiversity laboratories (BDL) structure.
The BDL is a formalized cooperation between three research groups at Dept. of Biology (Marine biodiversity, Geomicrobiology and the EECRG), and two of the research groups at the University Museum. One of the senior engineers if this lab is a Museum employee, and from time to time we are also able to hire in other collaborators for specific projects.
For the past couple of months we’ve had a technician – Morten – working on resolving some of the challenges that we run into when we work on COI barcoding of marine invertebrates.
Unlike many of the other groups that this method works exceedingly well for (like the Diptera), we are experiencing difficulties in obtaining DNA barcodes from a significant proportion of our samples.
We are currently focussing particularly on the Polychaeta (bristle worms), as this is the group we have submitted the majority of samples from in both our major barcoding projects: MIWA (Marine Invertebrates of Western Africa) and NorBOL (Norwegian Barcode of Life).
Morten has been working on obtaining DNA from the more problematic species, by troubleshooting and tinkering on various aspects of the ways we extract and amplify genes.
Basically there are more or less standardized ways of obtaining DNA, and these methods normally works well. Unfortunately (for various reasons) this is not always the case, and this is where we have to alter the protocols to see if we can find a way to retrieve the sample DNA from the specimens.
So far it looks quite promising; we’ve been able to fill in some of the most important “blanks” in our datasets – and we’re not done yet!
– Morten & Katrine