Syntax: 2009-2010 results

The closing date for applications to the 2009/10 round was 31st January 2010 and the following projects were funded.

  1. Dr van Veen (University of Exeter)
    Resolving Alloxystini taxonomy to facilitate the geographic comparison of insect food webs
    This project has a strong taxonomic focus within an ecological context. It will catalogue all currently known species of Alloxystini wasps, including the many currently undescribed and unnamed ones. It will produce an easily accessible identification resource based on an extensive image library and a database of morphological measurements. This will build on the phylogenetic structure of an aphid-based food web, which includes the construction of a molecular phylogeny of the Alloxystini.
  2. Dr Nichols (Queen Mary University of London) and Dr Garner (Institute of Zoology, London)
    Laying the taxonomic foundations for the study of UK ranaviruses (DEFRA funded)
    British amphibian populations are experiencing a wave of infection by ranaviruses. The taxonomic status of these viruses is unclear, consequently their origins have not been determined – hence it is difficult to devise control strategies. Furthermore, there appear to be biological differences between viruses infecting different species of amphibian, but without a sound understanding of the viral taxonomy and origins it has proved difficult to establish which species are infecting which other. The viruses are a serious threat to UK BAP priority species.
  3. Dr Glover (Natural History Museum, London) and Dr Dahlgren (Göteborg University, Göteborg)
    Dispersal in the deep: molecular systematics and population connectivity of deep-sea annelids
    This project will undertake taxonomic descriptions and molecular systematic analysis on at least 10 new species of poorly-studied, but potentially species-rich deep-sea annelids. The generic clades that these species belong to have global distributions, but the patterns at the species level and the degree of genetic structuring with distance are unknown. The results will have important consequences for our understanding of dispersal in the oceans, population connectivity, and the drivers of biodiversity in the deep sea.
  4. Dr McDonald (Bangor University) and Dr Flint (University of Aberdeen/ The Rowett Institute of Nutrition and Health)
    Determination of the phenotypic taxonomy of the bacterial phylum Fibrobacteres
    This project will provide the first assessment of the diversity, global distribution, phenotype, phylogeny and taxonomy of novel lineages belonging to the poorly studied bacterial phylum, Fibrobacteres, using a combined molecular/genomic and cultivation-based approach. Significant outputs would include a completely revised taxonomy of the Fibrobacteres phylum and the environmental distribution of its component taxa, and for the first time, a collection of cultivated strains with phenotypic profiles. These taxonomic data will make a much-needed contribution to the characterisation of a potentially novel cellulase system, and the provision of evidence for a role of fibrobacters in global carbon cycling.
  5. Dr Richards (University of Exeter) and Dr Bass (Natural History Museum, London)
    Global evolutionary complexity of freshwater alveolates: a new threat to frogs? (DEFRA funded).
    This project uses environmental DNA, phylogenetics, microbial culture isolation, and microscopy to identify the evolutionary complexity, biogeography, and comparative taxonomy of a novel group of parasitic alveolate protists that appear to infect tadpoles. The project aims include a formal taxonomic description of these novel protists and an assessment of their distribution within UK environments.
  6. Dr Perotti (University of Reading) and Dr Desch (University of Connecticut)
    Follicular mites of primates: taxonomy and molecular markers for further co-evolutionary studies.
    This project focuses on the description, for the first time, of the follicular mite species (Acari, Demodecidae) of great and lesser apes. Few mite species from New World monkeys and lemurs are known so far. The project includes a systematic approach by producing molecular markers of the mites and will also include phylogenetic and co-phylogenetic studies of the mites and their primate hosts.
  7. Dr Olson (Natural History Museum, London) and Dr Berriman (Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Cambridge).
    Toward phylogenetic resolution of parasitic flatworms through comparative analysis of complete genomes
    This project proposes a novel application of whole-genome data to resolve a critical question in the evolution and systematics of parasitic flatworms (Platyhelminthes). It will serve as an example for how large-scale genomic data can be used in Systematics, and makes phylogenetically informative characters publicly available for a wider range of taxa within the phylum.
  8. Dr Hofreiter and Dr Missa (University of York).
    Systematics of Oribius weevils (Coleoptera, Curculionidae) in New Guinea
    This project proposes to work on the systematics and biogeography of Oribius weevils, a genus endemic to the island of New Guinea. Fifty-eight species are currently recognised, including a number of very serious pests to agriculture, which threaten the food security of this developing nation. Despite its economic importance, the genus has not received any taxonomic attention for over 50 years. The intended project will therefore be of immediate practical value for pest identification and management. It will also allow us to reconstruct the evolutionary history of this diverse genus and elucidate the exact role that geology played in its diversification.
  9. Dr Vogel (The Natural History Museum, London) and Dr Hollingsworth (Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh).
    The War of Bluebells
    This project focuses on Hyacinthoides which comprises 11 species, including the British bluebell (H. non-scripta). The genus shows examples of recent origins of localised endemic species, and also evidence for narrow stable hybrid zones between H. hispanica and H. non-scripta in Iberia where both species are native, and extensive introgression in the UK where H. non-scripta is native but H. hispanica is introduced. Understanding species limits and the dynamics of hybridisation and diversification will shed light into the mechanisms underpinning recent speciation/maintaining species boundaries, and will also provide information to assess the threat level to the native British bluebell from hybridisation by H. hispanica.
  10. Dr Helgason (University of York)
    Taxonomic diversity and biogeography of the arbuscular mycorrhizas
    SSU rRNA gene analysis of environmental samples suggests much higher diversity of Glomeromycotan fungi in nature than can currently be cultured. This project will yield an understanding of the taxonomic diversity present in the unculturable species in the Phylum. In addition, it is becoming clear that phylogeny of other genes does not support the SSU rRNA phylogeny of this phylum. This proposal will develop an actin gene marker for use in field systems that will more accurately reflect both the identity and phylogenetic relationships within the unculturable component of this important group of fungi.
  11. Dr Williams (Natural History Museum, London) and Dr Goulson (University of Stirling)
    Resolving cryptic bumblebees of the lucorum-group
    Bumblebee species closely related to Bombus lucorum dominate north temperate pollinator assemblages and are also key commercial pollinators, making their accurate identification important for pure and applied biology. However, traditional species identification based on colour patterns is impossible for many individuals and is often wrong according to recent genetic data. Pilot work suggests that global sampling and genetic analysis may produce new, morphologically diagnosable groups. This project will combine this broad global approach with a local in-depth study to clarify the taxonomy, distribution, ecology, and conservation status of this important group world-wide and in the UK.
  12. Dr Glover (University of Cambridge) and Dr Rudall (Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew)
    Molecular control of petal spot evolution in Cape Flora daisies
    This project combines plant systematics and development to study the molecular drivers of petal spot evolution within a species complex. Geographically distinct populations of the South African daisy Gorteria have distinct petal spot phenotypes, allowing us to investigate the molecular changes that underlie the morphological evolution between populations of a single species. Determining the direction of petal spot evolution within the context of a detailed phylogenetic analysis and identifying the genes encoding the regulators of petal spot morphology will provide a complete picture of the molecular evolution of a key trait central to morphological differentiation and speciation.