Category Archives: sample sorting

Cataloging: the art of keeping track

Combining a multitude of guest researchers and our own efforts at working through the material, we’re producing thousands of new records to be cataloged into our database (we’ll get those listed here eventually, work is still ongoing at the moment).

Cataloging samples also means that the material needs to be physically updated;
New labels are printed for the samples,  and these must then be matched to their respective jars, inserted, and stored safely. It may sound pretty straight forward, but with this many samples, it is still a time consuming job.

 

Guest researchers: Lloyd

Further investigations of the diversity of the Glyceriformia (Polychaeta: Goniadidae and Glyceridae) from West African shelf areasimgp1313

For the past three weeks, Lloyd, who is a Senior Environmental Scientist at Envaserv Research Consult in Ghana, has been visiting us to continue work on the project we have running on the Glyceriformia in the MIWA-material. This project was initiated when Lloyd and Willams were here visiting in November 2015. They worked closely together with Tom, using the available literature to identify and select animals for barcoding, and to get a feel for the diversity of the group.

Similar projects on other polychaete families have taught us that the current knowledge of species diversity and distribution of the region is not comprehensive – there are more species than what is currently described in the literature, so we attempted to barcode representatives of all the morphologically distinct groups – it’s highly likely that material contains species that are new to science.

From this work, 19 “species” were identified based on morphology, and several representatives for each were selected for genetic barcoding: A voucher specimen is selected, photographed, and tissue sampled. The tissue sample is sent to the CCDB lab in Canada for sequencing, whilst the photo and metadata (such as where the animal was collected, who has identified it, at which institution is the voucher specimen stored etc.) is uploaded to the international database named BOLD – Barcode of Life Datasystems, as part of the iBOL (international barcode of life) initiative.

Unfortunately, only 50% of the specimens we tried to Glyceriformia©University_Museum_of_Bergenbarcode resulted in a barcode sequence, but even so the DNA indicated 21 genetically distinct groupings (“BINs”).

Last summer we made a poster summarizing the work we had done, and presented it as a poster at the 12th International Polychaete Conference in Wales in August 2016.

We’ve continued the work, both with sorting more samples, thus making more material available for studies, and by doing detailed examinations of the specimens we have. This is done using both regular light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy (SEM).

Some of the characters that needs examination - overall morphology, jaw structures, parapodia and bristles, and the papillae on the probocis

Some of the characters that needs examination – overall morphology, jaw structures, parapodia and bristles, and the papillae on the proboscis

Discussing the results from the previous round of barcoding - where do we need more data?

Discussing the results from the previous round of barcoding – where do we need more data?

Tom and Lloyd working on taking tissue samples

Tom and Lloyd working on taking tissue samples

During his most recent stay, Lloyd continued the work with identifying animals and selecting specimens that we will submit for barcoding – we’ll try to get the next plate sent in by the end of the month, and hope for a high(er) success rate and further insights in the diversity of the Glyceriformia of the region.

Thank your for visiting, and for all your hard work, Lloyd! We hope to see you again soon.

Guest Researchers: Kate

Kate, from Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales, has been back visiting us, and is giving us an update on how the work on the magelonid project is coming along

The shovelhead worms

– taxonomy of magelonid polychaetes – an update

16th – 27th January 2017

Kate hard at work studying the MIWA material

Kate hard at work studying the MIWA material

I came to the University Museum of Bergen (UMB) back in November 2015 to work on shovelhead worms (Magelonidae) collected as part of the MIWA-project. In particular, the priority was to select specimens for DNA sequencing from each of the putative species that had been identified whilst studying the material back at the National Museum Wales in Cardiff.

 

Studying the results from the first round of sequencing

Studying the results from the first round of sequencing

Some of the DNA voucher specimens

Some of the DNA voucher specimens

 

The initial results came back with sequences from 45 of the 72 tissue samples that were taken, mostly from the MIWA project but also European magelonid samples for direct comparison. The corresponding tree showed some interesting results and included sequences from 13 of the 20 putative species that had been highlighted previously. However, sequences from the other species identified, and further sequences from those species that only had one or two were still needed.

So work continued back in Wales, looking for further specimens for sequencing. However, it was felt that it would be beneficial to come back to Bergen in order to further study the DNA voucher specimens that had sequences already, comparing them morphologically to new material selected. It was also hoped to select alternative specimens for sequencing which had previously failed.

Sometimes magelonids can be pretty small

Sometimes magelonids can be pretty small

So, I travelled back to UMB in January 2017, just in time to catch the end of the snow, before the rains came again to spend two weeks studying MIWA material. Each of the DNA Voucher specimens were studied in great detail, making detailed notes, drawings and full taxonomic descriptions of each.

Each of the DNA voucher specimens was carefully studied taking detailed notes and making drawings of each

Each of the DNA voucher specimens was carefully studied taking detailed notes and making drawings of each

This enabled the selection of further specimens of the same species for sequencing but also highlighted specimens that showed differences. Consequently 74 additional specimens have now been chosen for sequencing. These have all been photographed and are now ready for tissue sampling before being sent off to Canada for sequencing.

Whilst those samples are being sequenced, the process of drawing, imagining, measuring and describing each species will begin back in Cardiff with formalin fixed samples.

With so many potential new species, this could be quite a lengthy process but luckily some of this work has already started. Work commenced looking at the more stout species within samples. These species usually posses a pigment band in the posterior thorax and unlike most magelonids are known to build sediment tubes. Until now only one species with a pigment band has been described from African waters, Magelona cincta, Ehlers, 1908 from Algoa Bay, South Africa. However, a further five species with pigment bands have been found in the MIWA material, four of which are believed to be new to science. Full taxonomic descriptions and a key to these species have already been produced and the process of imaging and drawing these will begin in Cardiff next week.

One of the species with a thoracic pigment band

One of the species with a thoracic pigment band

Now the process of waiting for the sequences begins and wondering if it will throw any surprises into the ring. So back to Cardiff armed with two notebooks full of notes and drawings (and three less pencils!) ready to being drawing and describing.

-Kate

Thank you for visiting (always a pleasure!), and best of luck with the myriad of new species!

Will we get DNA from our faded stars?

We have done substantial amounts of COI barcoding on various animal groups through the MIWA-project. You can find all the specimens that we have submitted for barcoding here. Of the Echinodermata we have previously submitted Echinoids (sea urchins) and Ophiuroids (brittle stars). Currently we are focusing on the class Asteroidea, the sea stars.

There were not terribly many sea stars in our material, and all of the Asteroids were identified when we had asteroid specialist Anna Dilman visiting last spring.

Part of this material is fixated in ethanol and therefore available for genetic work, and we’ve been waiting for some more material to come along so that we would have enough samples to fill the 95 wells in a plate for barcoding and uploading to the BOLD-database. Now we’ve gotten some supplemental material, and are preparing a plate of mainly Asteroidea. We are also including a few brittle stars, as we had six Gorgonocephalidae (basket stars) waiting to be barcoded, and they are plain too cool to pass up. We did a blog post about basket stars in our InvertebrateCalendar, click here to read more about the head of the Medusa.

Why “faded”? Well, in real life they are amazingly beautiful critters, looking something like this:

By Philippe Guillaume - Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29948486

By Philippe Guillaume – Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29948486

But once a specimen of the same species – this is a Astropecten aranciacushas been dragged up by a trawl and marinated in ethanol for a while, it looks  more like this:

Astropecten aranciacus from Sao Tome & Principe, collected at 54 m depth

Astropecten aranciacus from Sao Tome & Principe, collected at 54 m depth

Thankfully, the colour loss does not mean that the animal is “ruined” – it still retains its key identifying characters and DNA – they just looks a bit less exiting for us non-sea-star-experts!

The cast of characters so far - there's a few waiting to be photographed still

The cast of characters so far – there’s a few waiting to be photographed still

We’ll finish in the “photo booth” and get the tissue sampling done over the next couple of days, and hopefully our faded stars will shine (as barcode vouchers) after all!

Stay tuned for updates.

Guest researcher: Mario

Mario

Mario

Mario (who also visited us in January) came back to continue his work on the Terebellids and Pista (polychaeta) in October. In his own words: This time, I take to my home two papers close to completion; one about species of the genus Pista (Terebellidae) with additional information to what I found during my last visit in January. The second paper is about species in the subfamily Polycirrinae (Terebellide) from the West coast of Africa.

Pista cristata

Pista cristata

The idea is combine drawings, digital photos of specimens with methyl-green staining pattern and SEM pictures, as well as molecular information that will hopefully help us separate species and make better estimates of the region’s biodiversity.

You can read more about Mario’s visit in our Invertebrate Advent Calendar, which is running from December 1-24th on our collections blog. Click here to find all the calendar posts!

Preparing plates

Today, the mail brought us this:

New plates for tissue samples!

New plates for tissue samples!

A good thing too, as we were running out of plates to fill. We are currently busy preparing four (possibly five) plates of material from the west coast of Africa.

There will be one plate of Amphipoda, which we have not submitted from this region previously (resulting from the workshop that Anne Helene and Ania had in December).

The remainder of the shipment will be polychaetes that have been identified both by our resident taxonomists and the guests that came here to work on the material over the past couple of months; São, Julio, Kate, and –most recently – Mario.

Mario at work in the lab

Mario at work in the lab

Mario arrived here on the 4th of January, and stayed for a month – we’ll make a proper post about his work here in a bit (he is currently on his way to field work in the Antarctic, but has promised a post later on). His main field of interest are Terebellomorph polychaetes, and he focussed especially on the genus Pista during his stay.

So now we are working on organizing, photographing, cataloguing and otherwise preparing the material – our guest have been busy, so there is a wealth of new data to deal with.

Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade

Tom taking tissue samples for two plates of Ampharetidae and other Terebellomorph polychaetes

Tom taking tissue samples for two plates of Ampharetidae and other Terebellomorph polychaetes

Photos and data entry

Photos and data entry

We have new guests arriving in a few days; there’s plenty to do. Stay tuned for updates!

Let’s hope for successful sequencing and many interesting results!

PS: make sure to check invertebrate.w.uib.no this Friday (the 12th) for some Biodiversity Love; the JRS Biodiversity Foundation has asked us to

Please share your love of biodiversity this Valentine’s Day with the hashtag #bdvalentine. Have fun and help raise awareness of biodiversity and conservation!  This is a chance to draw your audience to your social media and to express appreciation for your partners, grantees, collaborators, or someone you love.”

We are joining in, don’t miss out!

#bdvalentine

Guest Researchers: Kate

Collecting Magelona samples on my favourite sampling beach, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland. A beach known to many polychaetologists through the work of naturalist George Johnston.

Collecting Magelona samples on my favourite sampling beach, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland. A beach known to many polychaetologists through the work of naturalist George Johnston.

Earlier this month we had a visit from Kate Mortimer from Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales. In her own words:

Magelonid polychaetes – Shovelhead worms

7th – 15th November

I have been specialising in the taxonomy of magelonid polychaetes for the last 15 years, particularly the investigation of species from Europe and the Indian Ocean. More recently I have been additionally studying the behaviour and functional morphology of this fascinating group.

 

 

 

Making drawings of specimens from the MIWA project back at the National Museum Wales, Cardiff.

Making drawings of specimens from the MIWA project back at the National Museum Wales, Cardiff.

Discussions with Jon Anders Kongsrud at the University Museum of Bergen (UMB) started at the International Polychaete Conference in Lecce 2010 about the MIWA-Project and the magelonid species off West Africa. I started work investigating the magelonid specimens from the MIWA-project back in 2013. Early investigation work suggested the possibility of up to 16 putative species from the samples, which potentially included several species new to science. So the work began, on the lengthy process of drawing, describing and imaging each individual species back at the National Museum Wales, in Cardiff.

 

 

Imaging a Magelona

Imaging a Magelona, this specimen has a distinct thoracic pigment band

Whilst work continued looking at the morphology of these specimens it was decided that it would be prudent to come to the University Museum of Bergen to look at additional magelonid specimens from further MIWA samples, in order to select samples for DNA sequencing. The week would further cement morphological descriptions and to search for additional material of the rarer species within samples. So in November I took the trip to Bergen, leaving a wet and windy Cardiff behind and arriving in an equally wet and windy city!

After a week in the lab, over 100 vials of specimens and over 800 specimens have been studied. A further four potential species have been identified and the material is now ready for tissue sampling and photographing before the material is sent off to Canada for sequencing.

Working in the lab

Working in the lab

Magelonid samples processed and identified, awaiting sequencing.

Magelonid samples processed and identified, awaiting sequencing.

It has been a successful week, and I am very much looking forward to comparing the results from the sequencing to the morphology of these animals. Meanwhile back in Cardiff, we have selected specimens of similar British species for comparison to the West African material and Norwegian species.

Many thanks to all at the Museum for making me feel so welcome in Bergen. I very much look forward to collaborating with you on this project and look forward to some fascinating and interesting results from the project.

Unravelling the diversity of Bivalve Molluscs of Western Africa

Tellina (Oudardia) compressa

Tellina (Oudardia) compressa

Venus verrucosa

Venus verrucosa

The study of the marine invertebrates of West Africa collected during the “Nansen Project” goes on and this year a second workshop was organized with a focus on the taxonomy of bivalves. Nine days of seclusion in our marine station at Espegrend on the surroundings of the city of Bergen allowed for the necessary tranquility to concentrate in the laborious work of sorting through and identifying thousands of specimens collected between Morocco and Angola by the Norwegian research vessel Dr. Fridtjof Nansen.

Abra alba

Abra alba

This year the “Molluscan” team was strengthen with two extra players; Sara Castillo, a PhD student from Spain enrolled at the University of Vigo and working on the marine fauna of Mauritania and Rudo von Cosel from the Paris Museum of Natural History a recognized authority on the taxonomy of bivalve molluscs.

 

 

Aequipecten flabellum

Aequipecten flabellum

Atrina chautardi

Atrina chautardi

Corbula cadenati

Corbula cadenati

During last year workshop we have implemented a successful “conveyor-belt operation” where each of us was responsible for a specific task (identification, labelling, databasing, imaging, barcoding, etc.). The samples were first organized by morphotypes and then passed into the hands and eyes of our taxonomic experts; a new label with a museum voucher number, species name, locality, etc., was added, and the samples were then databased, photographed, and some selected for DNA barcoding. In parallel several invited participants received training in the various technical and scientific aspects of this operation.

 

 

Cuspidaria cuspidata

Cuspidaria cuspidata

Falsolucinoma leloeuffi

Falsolucinoma leloeuffi

This year we have again implemented the same successful strategy; Lena Ohnheiser (University Museum of Bergen) was responsible for the database, labelling, and “in between” automontage imaging, Rudo von Cosel, José Pedro Borges (Portuguese Institute of Malacology), Kouakou Kouadio (University of Nangui Abrogoua, Côte d’Ivoire), Sidi Moctar (Institut Mauritanien de Recherches Océanographiques et des Pêches), and Sara Castillo for the taxonomic identification, and the author of these lines was the responsible for general imaging of the specimens and overall coordination of the team-work. In parallel Trond Oskars (a PhD student at the University Museum of Bergen) and Endre Willassen (PI of the Marine Invertebrates of Western Africa project) have worked on the preparation of 95 samples for DNA barcoding.

Gari fervensis

Gari fervensis

Laevicardium senegalensis

Laevicardium senegalensis

Noetiella congoensis

Noetiella congoensis

Our colleague Rudo von Cosel has been working for more than 10 years on a comprehensive book about the bivalves from tropical western Africa.

Rudo brought the proofs of his book to the workshop and we can proudly claim to have been the first ones to have ever seen his book assembled! The species illustrations and descriptions were bind together by families and used as identification tools during the workshop. At the end of the week we have databased over 800 lots and identified approximately 125 species. It was very rewarding to realize that our joint effort rendered many new geographical records contributing to better understand the distribution of species and biogeographic processes along the coast of West Africa.

 

We are very thankful to all participants in the workshop; to all those mentioned along these lines and those who were not but were nonetheless crucial for the success of this very productive week helping with various technical and logistic aspects, contributing to the good atmosphere, and very important keeping everybody “bellies” happy with great demonstrations of cuisine masterskills!

Sinupharus bernardi

Sinupharus bernardi

-Manuel

Pictures!

People are hard at work from early morning to late at night, and the amount of finished material is steadily increasing. We did lure our guests out on a little boat trip yesterday, which was very nice. Below are some photos of work in progress: discussions in the lab, identification work, drilling through mollusc shell to get to the tissue inside, piles of material and labels, and some snapshots of general life at the workshop.

Pictures 2014 workshop