Friday, December 4, 2015

Isolation of spermatogonia cells

As we already mentioned in some previous post we got a new Hungarian-Slovenian project on spermatogonia transplantation. Even if the project officially starts at the beginning of 2016, we were all eager to start with the first step – spermatogonia isolation and cryopreservation.

For that occasion Jelena and Zoran from Dr. Ákos Horváth group came to Slovenia to try to isolate these cells from brown and marble trout. Beside the isolation of spermatogonia we also took some samples of the whole testis and the pituitary gland for gene expression analysis.

We were quite successful with the isolation itself, as we optimized the protocol by the end of the visit, but had some problems with cryopreservation, which we still have to solve. In either case, the overall impression was that we successfully started the project and we all look forward to a great collaboration, with new challenges but also exciting results.

 > Of course we couldn’t miss a walk to lake Bled, just before collecting brown trout from the hatchery (from left: Zoran, Aleš, Simona and Jelena)

 > At the hatchery

>Everyone observing Jelena at work
 >Toni collecting males
 > Lab work...

 > Isolated testis
 > Zoran excited about successful spermatogonia cells separation with percoll

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Lobster

In line with BTRG tradition, Tamara, Urška, Ida, David, Nejc and Aleš went to International Film Festival in Ljubljana (LIFFE 2015), to see the movie entitled "The Lobster" (jastog).

It was an easy job to pick up the movie, as this was the only title available containing a word associate with water biology.

The movie was of course not about crayfish but mostly about single people, short-sighted couples and the loners. Worthy of watching. Click here to find out more or watch the trailer.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Fish Reproduction Group has a blog!

Fish Reproduction Group from the Department of Aquaculture, Szent István University has just established a bolg.
Take a look! Interesting, funny and cool.

>Esther, the designer of the site, waiting patiently for a good snap to be posted on the blog.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Searching for interesting patterns

As you may already know, one of our research area is studying the molecular background of marble pigment pattern formation in trout. The main focus of our study is marble trout and its spectacular pigmentation, but in order to develop hypothesis about general mechanism of pigment pattern formation, we are interested also in other fish that display similar marble (labyrinthine-like) patterns.

This month Dr. Ákos Horváth kindly invited us to Gödöllő. With just two hours’ drive from their Department of Aquaculture we arrived to a hatchery in Lillafüred where “Tiger trouts” are reared. These hybrids between brown and brook trout exhibit an interesting labyrinthine pigment pattern, similar to the one of marble trout. Since the owner of the hatchery György Hoitsy is a really kind man (and an excellent cook!), he let us take samples from several tiger trouts, and also their parental species. We are now excited to see if the molecular pathways involved in the formation of this pattern are similar to the one in marble trout.

>Ákos, Jelena and Zoran were excited to start sampling

>catching the samples (from the left: Simona, Gergely, Ákos, and György)

>Tiger trout

>First course of our delicious lunch at the hatchery

Apart from “field work” we also had the opportunity to discuss some future plans about the Hungarian-Slovenian project about spermatogonia transplantataion that will involve the two groups and will start next year. 
Of course we couldn’t go home without tasting some of the local cuisine, including fruit soup and the so called Hortobágyi palacsinta (pancakes filled with meat). 

>Hortobágyi palacsinta

Genetika 2015

The Genetic Society of Slovenia and the Slovenian Society for Human Genetics organised the international congress Genetika 2015, which took place in Rogaška Slatina last September.

Three days of talks included presentations of Slovenian and international scientists whose work is related to human, animal, microbial or plant genetics. There was also the traditional Golden Chromosome Award competition, which gives the opportunity to young researchers to present their work and latest results. 

This year I was among the candidates, so I presented some preliminary results we got from RNA-seq analysis of marble and brown trout skin. Beside the adrenaline rush at the beginning of the talk everything went great.

>Rogaška Slatina

>Ida during the talk

Monday, October 5, 2015

Time for something new

The transplantation of the germ cells from a donor organism into recipient organism is becoming a promising approach in preservation of endangered species, including fish. It is, for instance, theoretically possible to engineer recipient fish (e.g., easy spawners such as carp) in a way that they produce offspring of donor fish (e.g., demanding spawners such as Adriatic nase) instead of their own.

To study these transplantation methods, BTRG has just started collaboration with Dr. Ákos Horváth in a frame of Hungarian-Slovenian project, financed by OTKA and ARRS.

To find out more about theoretical basis of spermatogonia transplantation in fish, Simona and Aleš have recently attended International Workshop on the Biology of Fish Gametes in Ancona, Italy.

>The event was hosted by the Faculty of Economy "G. Fuà" Ancona in old Villarey barracks, a building in the centre of town, which used to be used as military headquarters.

>We had opportunity to meet and listen to Dr. Goro Yoshizaki, who first started spermatogonial transplantation in fish. Dr. Elsa Cabrita and Dr. Martin Pšenička were the moderators of this session. 

>We got acquainted with Dr. Jelena Lujić and Zoran Marinović (on the right) from the Ákos lab, who are about to come to our lab for the project work. Timea, Ákos and Esther in the front, Simona and Aleš in the rear.

>One of the Ancona’s highlights leading into temptation to hang out with fauns and satyrs.

>Thanks go to the local organizers with Dr.Oliana Carnevali at the head, for well-organized and nice event. Our boss MN would be overjoyed if she saw the gender ratio…

Friday, September 25, 2015


I had a pleasure to attend the ESPCR2015 that was held in the beautiful Edinburgh this year.

Many important names from the area of pigment cell research also attended the meeting so I had the opportunity to meet them in person and to discuss about some results and ideas. I was also busy presenting our poster during poster sessions. To summarise, it was a great experience.

New publication: TEM analysis of pigment cells in the skin of marble and brown trout

The ultrastructure and organisation of pigment cells in the skin of marble and brown trout was analysed in the paper.
We demonstrated a higher organisation in the skin of brown trout. Also the erythrophore ultrastructure in salmonids was described for the first time.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Lištica trout...struggling to survive

In August, Johannes, Saša and I, on our way to Albania, stopped in Široki Brijeg, Bosnia–Herzegovina to visit Vinko Musa, who showed us around the upper Lištica River, which is inhabited by a strange kind of trout, half brown half softmouth… Despite unreasonable stocking with the Atlantic brown trout that has been taking place in Lištica for quite some time, the native strain is still persisting.

>Lištica trout. Another species...go for it, guys!

>We saw some really nice stretches along the river…

…with a little drop of poison everywhere.

>Vinko quickly caught some trout…

>Johannes took pictures…

…and Saša and I took fin-clips.

To be continued...

Friday, July 24, 2015

SMBE 2015 and Seita Miyazawa's visit

From 12th-16th July I had the opportunity to attend the 23nd Annual Meeting of the Society of Molecular Biology and Evolution, where I also presented our poster with some preview of the transcriptome data from the skin of marble and brown trout. With several interesting talks and posters placed in a fascinating venue of Hobfburg palace it was a unique experience.

Among more than 1300 attendants from all over the world there was also our Japanese co-worker Seita Miyazawa. After the SMBE meeting he came to visit Slovenia and our lab for the first time. We had the opportunity to exchange our NGS data, some new ideas but also to show him some of our beautiful natural sights. 

SMBE meeting in Hofburg palace:

Seita in Slovenia:
Visiting Bled...
and Gorge Vintgar (in the photo: Simona and Seita)
Škocjan caves were quite a refreshing change during these extreme hot days in Slovenia
Seita had the opportunity to see the hatchery in Tolmin, but also to try fly-fishing in the beautiful Soča river

Seita with his fly–fishing “instructor” – Nejc

Seita, Simona and Aleš

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

A new publication: genetic analysis of the Balkan minnow

A new paper has been recently published in MPE, in which we studied phylogeography of minnow (genus Phoxinus) populations in the Balkan Peninsula - not in the Western Europe, but in the Balkan Peninsula, using molecular methods.

Some highlights of the paper:
  • Highly divergent genetic clades of Phoxinus were detected in the western Balkans.
  • The two species view (Danubian P. phoxinus and Adriatic P. lumaireul)proposed by morphologists, was not supported.
  • Revision of Phoxinus classification in the studied area is suggested.
  • The clades extend along the Adriatic area crossing the main watershed boundaries.
  • Specific genetic signatures point to the possibility of underground fish dispersion.

>Minnow from the Skadar drainage (Rijeka Crnojevića, Montenegro)

Friday, June 19, 2015

In the field…

On Tuesday I joined Alain Crivelli, who is currently in Slovenia, Dušan Jesenšek and other members of RD Tolmin on the field. I collected some skin samples of hybrids downstream, where the populations of marble trout have been hybridizing with brown trout, while they were monitoring the pure populations of marble trout upstream. Their study, with the purpose of observing population dynamics, has been already a long collaboration between the groups and is still going on.
Even if I needed to sample hybrids for the pigment pattern study I’m happy to say that there were not so many of them but when we moved upstream, there were plenty of marble trouts.

 >Boys catching trouts

 >Measuring and collecting samples

>A pure marble trout