Special GRG seminar on ancient DNA! – Tues Aug 13th 11:00 am, Room 449, Madsen Building – Dr. Ana Prohaska (University of Cambridge & GRG collaborator)

The Geocoastal Research Group (GRG), School of Geosciences invites you to a talk by:

Dr. Ana Prohaska (Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge & GRG collaborator)

Title: Ancient pollen DNA: Opportunities and challenges’

Time & Location: Tues Aug 13th 11:00 am & Conference Room 449 Madsen Building F09, USYD.


Abstract: Reconstructing changes in plant populations and communities over time holds a central position in the study of past environments. Over the last hundred years, the most commonly used methods for determining past plant dynamics were based on the morphology of fossilized plant remains. Taxonomic limitations of these methods have prompted the search for novel approaches, and ancient DNA (aDNA) has been put forward as a promising new proxy for studying late Quaternary environments. Recently, sedimentary aDNA and plant macrofossil DNA have provided important ecological and evolutionary insights about a number of plant species. In comparison, pollen aDNA has been a largely overlooked proxy to date, despite first studies being undertaken more than two decades ago. I will present a rationale for using pollen aDNA for studying past plant dynamics and give a brief overview of the underlying technologies, followed by a discussion about the key challenges and opportunities of applying this proxy.

Bio: Ana’s research interests lie at the interface of ecology, biogeography and evolution. In particular, she is interested in understanding the long-term dynamics of species and ecosystems in response to environmental change, and in developing methods that can advance this understanding. Ana has obtained a DPhil degree from the University of Oxford where she focused on the ecological responses of lowland tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia to past climatic changes using fossil pollen and lipid biomarkers from lacustrine sediments. Prior to this, she received a BSc in Ecology from the University of Zagreb in 2008 and a MSc in Biodiversity, Conservation and Management from the University of Oxford in 2009. Ana has been holding a postdoctoral position in the Willerslev Group at the University of Cambridge since January 2017.


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