Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Friday, December 21, 2012

Geometric morphometry

Saša spent his last days in Slovenia to collect grayling specimens for geometric morphometry. First we went to the fish farm in Tolmin for the Adriatic grayling.

  >   Dušan, Saša and Pele were well-tempered after having a "baklava" cake. 

The next day we made a brief visit in the fish farm Bled to collect also "normal" (Sava) grayling.

>   Toni, the manager of the fish farm Bled, is looking for some females (grayling females), and Saša is encouraging him.

Obvious differences between the two sample sets were evident at the first glance, hopefully the geometric morphometry (and genetics :)) will tell us more about a reason for these differences.

 >   Adriatic grayling

>   Sava grayling

Monday, December 10, 2012

Trip to Bosnia

Few days after Nejc defended his diploma thesis, he, I and my son Matija made a fly-fishing trip to Bosnia-Herzegovina to celebrate the hard expecting event. We used this opportunity to check the presence of Cottus sp. in some of its most enigmatic spots such as the Krka and Neretva river systems. I enjoyed revisiting my old ways and showing the youngsters charms of the Balkans.
Due to the – crisis, the department management decided to get rid of our good old Ford Galaxy; the last straw was the hole in its exhausting pipe. The other car, LR Discovery has become very busy lately; during the described field trip, it was indispensably needed as a shuttle from Rodica to Gozd Martuljk for some conference purposes... So I addressed our colleagues from the Faculty of Forestry, who kindly lent me (no charge!) their Renault Traffic van. Thank you very much!
>   We are heading to Babića jezero, which is via subterranean passages connected to Butižnica River-the right tributary to the Krka River.

>   The lake was some meters below its normal level. There were plenty of Cottus.

>   On the way to Konjic we visited the confluent of the Neretva and Buna Rivers, and made a quick stop in Mostar.

>   Abbey road scene in some Mostar street.

>   The bridge over the Neretva River in Jablanica, which was destroyed by the Yugoslav partisans in the fourth enemy offensive (Battle of the Neretva) during the Second World War.
>   On the way to Boračko jezero; remaining ruins of a house destroyed during the last Balkan war.
>   Who says that there are no Cottus in the Neretva?

>   Warming up for fly-fishing.
>   Great expectations.
>   The first fly-fished trout in life.

>   In otio diem peragere.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Saša is in Slovenia

Saša has recently come to Slovenia to finish several previously initiated projects including Caspian grayling and trout.
After his arrival to the bus station in Ljubljana, he immediately proceeded to the lab in Rodica to start DNA isolation. Exceptionally hard-working and valuable guy!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

23rd LIFFe

With revival of BTRG site, we had also awakened traditional visit of LIFFe festival, the participation of which is obligatory. Only the most eager members (Tamara and Urška) plus the new ones (Ida and David), who did not dare to say no, and of course Aleš-the boss attended the event.

We were watching The Loneliest Planet, which was far from what the trailer promised (see below).

Nobody liked it but we've been talking about it for quite some time. After the movie, we went to Mexican restaurant to drown disappointment in booze and hot food. Lots of fun.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Urška's PhD defense

Three weeks ago, Urška defended her PhD “Genetic background of coloration and color pattern formation in trout”, mentored by Simona Sušnik Bajec.

To identify and characterize genes potentially involved in skin coloration and color pattern formation in marble trout (Salmo marmoratus), she compared skin transcriptome profiles from marble trout, brown trout (S. trutta), and marble trout x brown trout hybrids exhibiting the marble color pattern, using a salmonid 32K cDNA microarray.

Thesis highlights: •transcription analysis revealed seven genes that are differentially expressed between marble and brown trout and are involved in the biological process of animal pigmentation •the formation of marble color pattern in trout depends on wnt signaling pathway •the origin of marble color pattern is based on reaction-diffusion mechanism.

It was a very nice presentation, actually for most of us her first public appearance on the stage.

Just before the presentation started (no worries evident)…

…and just after it face to face with passionate fisherman prof. dr. Rado Komel, a member of examination board.

All's well that ends well.

Let’s see what Darwin says about it.

Kinsfolk never give up.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Russian expedition - part I

In 2010, Saša got acquainted with Dr. Oleg Askeyev, the head of Biomonitoring Laboratory at the Institute of Problems in Ecology and Mineral Wealth, Tatarstan Academy of Sciences in Kazan. He found out about us via this website. Due to our common interests, we saw a potential of mutual collaboration; in August 2011, Saša, Matjaž Červek (my outdoor buddy) and I responded to a Russian invitation for a 14-days expedition to pre-Ural area in Tatarstan, Orenburg and Bashkiria, in the first place to perform Thymallus thymallus sampling, which took place in the middle Kama and upper Ural river systems.

 > The expedition team: Igor (Oleg’s twin brother, ichthyologist), Aleš, Oleg, Matjaž, Saša, Sergey Monakhov (ichthyologist, PhD student), Rustem the driver, Dmitry (biologist and excellent cook in the field) and the famous UAZ 4WD van. Saša Belayev (small mammal  expert and curator of the Natural history museum) is taking the picture.

From my perspective, the celebrity of this expedition was grayling; we found them in small headstreams, which are in Slovenia normally populated with brown trout only. This is only one of several differences that make the Caspian grayling distinct from the Sava ones.

Net was the main fishing tool; quite some skill is needed to use it effectively.

For more details, see Field trips.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

New publication

A paper describing a new nDNA-based method for discriminating Salmo sp. purebreds from hybrids has been just published in Aquaculture. The method, which is based on KASPar technology, is especially important for marble trout conservation.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Nejc presented his Diploma work

In September, Nejc has accomplished his diploma work “Taxonomic analysis of bullhead (Cottus sp.) in Slovenia with application of molecular methods” and presented it at the Department of Biology, University of Ljubljana.

Diploma highlights: •mtDNA analysis revealed the distinctness of C. metae and supports its classification into a new species •considerable phylogeographic polymorphism was found in the Western Balkans possibly giving rise to new species •two major colonization waves of bullhead to Europe presumably started in the Western Balkans

During his diploma stage, Nejc was brought face to face with the concept of minimalism.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Power to the people

After BIBLIOGRAPHY reconstruction, we have finally reorganized the PEOPLE section. I hope the quoted data are correct and that nobody was overlooked - if otherwise, please, let us know and we will fix it.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

To Budapest by train

In march me and Aleš went to Budapest to meet Ákos Horváth and his co-workers. This time we were travelling by train. It was nine hours journey, not much to see or do, except planning sightseeing in Budapest.

> Aleš planning where to go and what to see in Budapest

After arrival to Budapest, Ákos kindly picked us up and drove us to Gödöllő, where we spent the night in dormitory. Compared to dormitory in Ljubljana this place was very, very quiet.

Next morning after strong coffie....
...happy face appeared :)

This day was all about business and science projects. First Ákos show us around his work place, where we had opportunity to see fish tank system for growing zebrafish and some other neat stuff, then we discussed possibility for international collaboration. Hopefully we could join our forces to do some fancy stuff together. Our stay with Ákos ended with lunch and a drive back to Budapest.

We had day and a half for seeing known and unknown attractions in Budapest and we tried to see them as much as we can. At that time "The Human Body Exhibiton" was presented in Budapest and we had to go. Well, I wanted to go (Aleš was not very excited about seeing human bodies and organs) and so we went. After exhibition (Aleš was unusually pale) we went to see some other attractions.

> Great Market Hall

> Matthias Church

> Fisherman's Bastion

 > Chain Bridge

> St. Stephen Basillica (we almost broke in, fortunately monk showed us the right door)

> Buda Castle at night

Friday, October 26, 2012

Staff changes and other important events

Anja defended her PhD thesis in April, 2012, “Molecular ecology of imotska gaovica (Delminichthys adspersus (Heckel, 1843))”, a minnow-like fish, endemic to karstic environment of the Western Balkans. They are found only in springs and associated subterranean waters. In many locations, gene flow is maintained across geographically separated populations despite the absence of superficial interconnections of those waterways. Anja concluded that the only apparent explanation for this is subterranean migration of the fish between populations, a phenomenon never before documented in epigenic fishes.

A part of her work was published in Molecular Ecology, and the picture of the studied fish, taken by Arne Hodalič, appeared as the cover image of the journal.

Two others publications came out as a result of this study, one in Journal of Biochemical Systematics and Ecology and one in Ecohydrology.

She just left afterwards.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Staff changes and other important events

In December, 2010, Klavdija Bogataj graduated with her diploma thesis “Genetic analysis of native brown trout (Salmo trutta) populations in Slovenia”. After that she remained active in the group and has performed many routine genotyping of brown trout.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


After two years of limbo (apologies to our followers and fans!), we have restarted the blog. Several things happened in the mean time, so we decided to present some of the episodes in few following blogs.

We have also started updating the site (bibliography first), but this will take some time.

Great thanks for the blog and site revival go to Urška, who helped with her computer skills and kicked me forward.