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XTBG talk on rapid evolutionary change

28 November 2023

A talk at the amazing Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Few venues to give a talk rival visiting the spectacular Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (more commonly referred to as XTBG) research centre run by the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The location is within the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in southern Yunnan Province near the border with Laos. The gardens are set on an island in a meandering river, and are host to more than 4000 species of plants, including tropical forest native to the area.

I provided a summary of the MeaseyLab work on rapid adaptation in Guttural Toads and African Clawed Frogs, which went down very well with many rapid-fire questions. Afterwards, we had an amazing meal and discussion with many researchers also working on complementary themes around rapid evolution. Thanks to my hosts Kyle Tomlinson and Ahimsa Special thanks to Yiran, Niña, Thilina and Ade for all their kindness.

It is always a pleasure to visit and meet all of the enthusiastic researchers from all over south-east Asia. There is an amazing mixture of research projects including invasive plants and animals. I’m really looking forward to my next visit.


Measey, J. (2023) What can biological invasions teach us about rapid evolutionary change? 28 November 2023. Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences

The 19th Xenopus Conference in Cambridge, Maryland

25 August 2023

An amazing meeting full of Xenopus people!

It was my first time to experience the International Xenopus Conference, but I left wishing that I had been to many more. The conference abstract book is available online here, and the talks were just as diverse as the people giving them. Walking around the posters, and talking to the speakers, I quickly understood that everyone shared a passion for working with Xenopus frogs (both X. laevis and X. tropicalis), at the same time as acknowledging that this was a little unusual. 

I conducted my PhD in a department where Xenopus was used as a model organism to study neural biology. Thus I was acquainted with the other world of Xenopus users. However, I was completely unaware of the more recent scope of the work that is currently being conducted with this species. It is staggering the breadth of work being done, especially the way in which Xenopus is now being used as a model for single gene mutations in children. The speed of replicating the gene mutation suffered by a newborn child in a tadpole can really help clinicians work on finding better treatments. 

The meeting was held in a Hyatt-Regency Hotel, alongside large numbers of golfers and other holiday revelers. Certainly, I'd guess that most of these folks were unaware of the large number of frog lovers meeting in the ballroom.

Many thanks go out to the conference organizers who went above and beyond to help me attend. It was a truly great experience, and I look forward to the next one!

Home and away: the core gut microbiome of Xenopus laevis is modified by its environment

Authors: Measey, J., Ersin, M., Guille, M., Almojil, D., Araspin, L., Wagener, C., Boissinot, S., Watts, J.,
Robson, S.
Presenting Author Affiliation: Centre for Invasion Biology, Institute of Biodiversity, Yunnan University, China & Centre for Invasion Biology, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa

Abstract: The vertebrate gut microbiome is a community largely composed of bacterial, fungal and viral components, whose molecular component equal that of the host. The influence of the microbiome is known to be significant both on an individual basis, and also on population scales in a wide range of host organisms. The gut microbiome is known to be involved with key attributes of animal health, including assimilation of nutrients, immuno-defensive functions and host behavior. In this study, we used bacterial 16S rRNA amplicon-based sequencing for metataxonomic classification of the gut microbiome of individuals from eight populations of Xenopus laevis. These populations were selected to represent an altitudinal gradient in of the host species (0 to 3000 m asl). From the 16S rRNA community profiles, we determine the components of the core microbiome of X. laevis, and ask whether deviations from the core are associated with the environmental context in which they live. In addition, we sampled four European invasive populations and a laboratory population from the European Xenopus Resource Centre (EXRC) in the UK, to determine what aspects of the core microbiome are retained by non-native populations. This represents the first time that the microbiome of X. laevis has been assessed across such diverse conditions,
and provides data that will help understand the role played by the environment and inform monitoring of health within this model organism.

  Frogs  Lab  meetings  Xenopus

A talk for the San Diego Zoo

13 July 2023

Introducing aSCR to the San Diego Zoo

While in California this July, I was asked to give a talk on some of my work for a weekly meeting of the San Diego Zoo staff. I chose to talk about aSCR because of the relevance it has to monitoring threatened species. 

There was a good turnout and some great questions after the talk. The zoo has a great presentation room with a nice sound system on which we could listen to the calls of South African frogs. 

It was great to give a talk on aSCR again and reflect on how much we have achieved with this technique over the last 10 years. 

Measey, J. Counting chirps. Acoustic monitoring of threatened frogs in South Africa's fynbos. San Diego Zoo. 13 July 2023

  aSCR  Frogs  meetings

Visiting Carla Madelaire

11 July 2023

Carla Madelaire at the San Diego Zoo

While visiting San Diego this month, I ceased the opportunity to visit Carla Madelaire in her new position at the San Diego Zoo. Carla's new position as researcher in the Frozen Zoo is a fascinating blend of laboratory experiments into the physiology of cell-lines indicating responses of whole organisms to phenomena such as climate change. Carla has literally hundreds of cell-lines for different species of vertebrates in the Frozen Zoo. 


Many of you will remember that Carla spent some time in the MeaseyLab in 2019 when she was a post-doc with Fernando Gomes (and visited together with Adriana Barsotti - see blog post here). I later caught up with Carla again in Brazil at the herp conference (see blog entry here). Carla worked on dehydration and stress in toads and still has a keen interest in these subjects.

It's going to be fascinating to see what Carla does in her new job. Really looking forward to future collaborations.

Portant nomination au titre d'attache honoraire

26 June 2023

Using Museum National D'Histoire Naturelle as my address

Today I learned that from 1st August 2023, I will become an Honorary Attaché of the Natural History Museum, Paris. Readers of this blog will know that I have a long association with the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle  in Paris, dating back to the early 2000s when I worked at IRD, Bondy. Since 2006, my long term collaborator Anthony Herrel has held an associated CNRS position at the museum, and hence I've visited even more (see here).

Many of you will also know Laurie Araspin, who is registered both at the museum and at Stellenbosch University (see blog posts on Laurie here and here). 

For the next five years, I will be an attaché of the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, which I hope will bring more opportunities to collaborate with researchers there. Looking forward to visiting in my new role before the end of the year.

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