Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Natural Systems group expands research into ecosystem evolution

29.11.2006
The newly-formed Science and Engineering of Natural Systems Group (SENSe) at the University of Southampton has appointed Dr Alex Penn to expand its research at the life sciences interface.

SENSe which is part of the University’s School of Electronics & Computer Science (ECS) aims to further understanding of biological and other natural systems and undertake research into the development and application of novel computational tools and techniques that are inspired by these systems.

Dr Penn, who did her PhD at the University of Sussex on the topic of artificial ecosystem selection, when she showed that the properties of whole ecosystems can be shaped by artificial selection procedures, is continuing her work on the ecosystem-level selection process at ECS with both models and experiments.

‘The question of how selection can act both on and within relatively loose collectives of species which are not yet integrated biological individuals bears relation to some of the most interesting questions in evolutionary biology today,’ she said.

Dr Penn’s research focus is an exciting new area which raises questions about possible novel evolutionary dynamics and which could potentially shed light on how new levels of biological organisation have formed over time. It also has potential practical uses, with the possibility of evolving bespoke ecosystems for waste treatment, bio-remediation and agricultural use, without the need for a reductionistic understanding of the complex underlying dynamics.

For example, a technique based on evolutionary theory which Dr Penn developed for improving the growth of lentils in degraded soils in Spain is now being applied to evolving microbial communities to biodegrade hydrocarbon compounds.

At ECS, she is working closely with Dr Richard Watson, a senior lecturer at SENSe whose main research interest is also evolutionary modelling. One of her key motivations is the great need at present to develop an understanding of how real ecosystems “in the wild” might be evolving in response to new external pressures such as climatic change.

Dr Penn commented: ‘I joined because ECS wanted someone who could do real experiments and bring more biology to the group, and I wanted to be part of an exciting interdisciplinary environment open to new ideas. Richard and I hope to explore how evolution works at multiple biological scales and how we can apply this knowledge to new practical challenges in complex evolving systems.’

Helene Murphy | alfa
Further information:
http://www.sense.ecs.soton.ac.uk/
http://www.soton.ac.uk

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society

nachricht Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>