Friday, January 9, 2015

Professor Daniel Kelly Retires

Over the past months the Department of Botany at Trinity College has been celebrating the work and contribution to College of Professor Daniel Kelly who has recently retired.  As young as ever, it is hard to believe that Daniel has been a lecturer in Botany for 35 years.  In some respects Trinity and Daniel are inseparable.  He attended the Department as an undergraduate achieving scholarship in 1968 and graduating in 1970.  After a PhD he moved to Jamaica as a lecturer at the University of the West Indies returning to Trinity as a lecturer in 1979.  He is a plant ecologist of the highest calibre and has fascinated and inspired innumerable students and staff (myself included).  I shall always remember seeing a crowd of botany students with hand lenses examining his car which seemed to be the home of an embarrassing large number of mosses and lichens. Daniel’s expertise covers the entire range of plants but in particular trees and of course mosses and liverworts.  He is an exceptional scientist and a very generous person who is always willing to help and advise students, so we are all delighted that he will continue his research in the Department and continue to be such an inspirational presence for all of us.
Details of the symposium held in his honour can be found at:
Post: Nick Gray

Monday, January 5, 2015

New research on the genetic diversity and floral width variation in Rhododendron ponticum published

TTrinity College Dublin plant scientists Jane Stout, Karl  Duffy, Paul Egan, Maeve Harbourne and Trevor  Hodkinson have published a new paper  in the online Oxford  journal AOB Plants.

Genetic diversity and floral width variation in introduced and native populations of a long-lived woody perennial

Abstract: Populations of introduced species in their new environments are expected to differ from native populations, due to processes such as genetic drift, founder effects, and local adaptation, which can often result in rapid phenotypic change. Such processes can also lead to changes in the genetic structure of these populations. This study investigated populations of Rhododendron ponticum in its introduced range in Ireland, where it is severely invasive, to determine both genetic and flower width diversity and differentiation. We compared six introduced Irish populations with two populations from R. ponticum's native range in Spain, using Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism (AFLP) and Simple Sequence Repeat (SSR) genetic markers. We measured flower width, a trait that may affect pollinator visitation, from four Irish and four Spanish populations by measuring both the width at the corolla tip and tube base (nectar holder width). With both genetic markers, populations were differentiated between Ireland and Spain and from each other in both countries. However, populations displayed low genetic diversity (mean Nei's genetic diversity=0.22), with the largest proportion (76-93%) of genetic variation contained within, rather than between, populations. Although corolla width was highly variable between individuals within populations, tube width was significantly wider (>0.5 mm) in introduced, compared with native, populations. Our results show that the same species can have genetically distinct populations in both invasive and native regions, and that differences in floral width may occur, possibly in response to ecological sorting processes or local adaptation to pollinator communities.  The paper can be download for free from the Oxford Journals link:

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Professor Nick Gray