Biology Seminar Series


Welcome to UTM Biology Seminar Series 2022-2023


When: Fridays, 12-1pm (unless otherwise indicated)

Where: DV2080 & Live Stream on Zoom (links are posted for each session)


Every Friday during the academic year, the Department of Biology hosts an exciting seminar given by a guest speaker. Topics cover every aspect of biology, from whole organisms to molecular biology. Everyone is welcome to attend.


2022-2023 Schedule

September 30, 2022

Dr. Ninon Meyer, University of Freiburg, Germany

In Person POSTER

Wildlife connectivity : teaming up with local people to enhance conservation

Maintaining connectivity among remaining habitat fragments is key to conserve biodiversity in a rapidly changing world. Effective landscape connectivity requires both a strong scientific basis to identify areas of conservation concern, and socio-political considerations to successfully protect these priority areas. I will present case studies from Panama, Australia, and Europe where efforts to maintain/restore connectivity for terrestrial mammals are currently being undertaken. After estimating functional connectivity for a suite of species using a combination of approaches (i.e., movement, occurrence, genetics), and identifying areas that would best facilitate species movement, I outline the different strategies that are being implemented together with local initiatives and Indigenous people to enhance the conservation of wildlife and their habitat

We will stream live via zoom:



September 23, 2022

Dr. Santiago Herrera, Lehigh University


Advancing eDNA as a Tool for Exploration in Deepwater Environments

Environmental DNA (eDNA) sequencing and quantification complement established tools to assess the biodiversity of vulnerable benthic ecosystems. Offshore, marine eDNA may be transported long distances by complex ocean currents until it dilutes or degrades and is no longer detectable using PCR-based methods. A comprehensive understanding of the impact of marine physicochemical conditions on eDNA persistence has not been established. This gap in knowledge obscures the source location of eDNA from benthic ecosystems. In the mesophotic and deep ocean, below 30 meters depth, temperature, pH and dissolved oxygen concentration vary with depth and location. We conducted eDNA persistence experiments using eDNA derived from a deep-sea coral to determine the degradation rate among the natural combinations of temperature, pH and dissolved oxygen concentration that occur commonly in the deep ocean. The eDNA degradation process was best explained by a model with two phases with different decay rate constants. During the initial phase, eDNA degraded rapidly, and the rate was independent of physicochemical factors. During the second phase, eDNA degraded slowly, and the rate was strongly controlled by temperature and weakly controlled by pH. We did not find evidence that dissolved oxygen concentration from 0.1 mg/L to fully saturated conditions influenced eDNA degradation rate. Based on our results and publications using similar methods, we estimate that marine eDNA can persist at quantifiable concentrations for over 2 weeks at low temperatures (≤ 10 °C) but for a week or less at ≥ 20 °C. We propose a general temperature-dependent model to predict the maximum persistence time of eDNA detectable through single-species eDNA quantification methods. The relationship between temperature and eDNA persistence appears to be independent of the source taxa, however further experiments with other marine invertebrates are necessary. Community-wide sequencing data from eDNA samples at an offshore, mesophotic reef will test predictions regarding the transport extent of eDNA from benthic organisms and the application of eDNA analyses in these habitats. This research is supported by NOAA OER award NA18OAR0110289.


September 16, 2022

Dr. Adam Mott, UTSC


Disease or NAT? RNA control of receptor expression
The LRR-RLK family of cell surface receptors is the largest group of receptor-like kinases in plants. They regulate plant growth, development, and stress responses including immune activation. To optimize these processes and overall plant fitness, their expression and activation are tightly controlled. As a result, many LRR-RLKs show tissue-specific, developmentally regulated, or stress-induced expression patterns. What remains unclear is how the plant achieves this level of expression specificity and inducibility to a wide-range of signals. Our work shows that the LRR-RLKs are significantly associated with regulatory non-coding RNA molecules. The expression of these regulatory RNAs is often tissue-specific and/or stress-induced, suggesting that their activity could explain the regulation of LRR-RLK expression in response to diverse cues. Using several examples, we demonstrate a variety of regulatory effects and mechanisms by which these RNAs control LRR-RLK expression in a tissue-dependent manner. This work provides a novel mechanism for regulation of a variety of plant growth and immune responses mediated by LRR-RLKs. 



September 9, 2022

Ahmed Hasan – In Person
Ph.D. Candidate, Dept. of Cell and Systems Biology
Ness Lab,

How and why does recombination rate vary?
Recombination rate varies at multiple scales across nature; between species, individuals, and across genomes. Here, I present some work on inferring variation in recombination rate and investigating its causes and consequences across the genome, as well as ongoing work to develop software for fast and efficient detection of recombination in bulk sequencing reads.

Dr. Rosemary Martin - Zoom
McCauley Lab

Hypoxia sensitivity and patterns of winterkill in larval anisopteran communities in temperate ecosystems
The depletion of dissolved oxygen in lakes and ponds as a result of extended ice coverage can lead to large die-offs of fish, a phenomenon known as winterkill. Hypoxic winter conditions act as an environmental filter and can shape fish communities in mid and high latitude ecosystems by selecting against hypoxia sensitive species. Most aquatic invertebrates remain active under ice, but it is generally unknown how periods of winter hypoxia affect activity levels and survival for many taxa. We surveyed larval dragonfly communities in 18 lakes in Michigan and Ontario for a total of 6 years of pre and post winter samples and identified dragonflies Anax junius and Leucorrhinia intacta as winterkill candidates. We experimentally tested relative sensitivity to low oxygen conditions in odonate species. Mortality of A. junius in hypoxic treatments was significantly higher compared with oxic treatments, but not for other dragonflies. Hypoxic conditions may contribute to patterns of overwinter declines in A. junius, a large bodied voracious top predator. Because of A. junius’s apparently higher sensitivity to hypoxia, habitats that become hypoxic in winter could be seasonal refuges from predation for aquatic organisms that are able to tolerate hypoxic conditions. Climate change is decreasing ice coverage duration which could decrease occurrences of hypoxia under ice. Reduced hypoxia could lead to greater numbers of A. junius present in spring communities and consequently increase predation pressure on aquatic invertebrates and other prey species.


2022-2023 Schedule

Sep 9. 2022
Ahmed Hasan

Dr. Rosemary Martin
How and why does recombination rate vary
Hypoxia sensitivity and patterns of winterkill in larval anisopteran communities in temperate ecosystems
Dr. Rob Ness
Dr. Shannon McCauley
Sep 16, 2022
Dr. Adam Mott
Disease or NAT? RNA control of receptor expression
Dr. Marcus Dillon
Sep 23, 2022

Dr. Santiago Herrera
Lehigh University
Advancing eDNA as a Tool for Exploration in Deepwater Environments
Dr. Cassidy D'Aloia
Sep 30, 2022
Dr. Ninon Meyer, University of Newcastle
Wildlife connectivity : teaming up with local people to enhance conservation
Dr. Helene Wagner
Oct 7, 2022
Dr. Josef Nissimov, University of Waterloo
Algal viruses: friends or foes?
Dr. Steven Short
Oct 21, 2022
Dr. Dmitry Rinberg,
NYU Grossman School of Medicine
Cracking the Olfactory Coding using Behavior
Dr. Arbora Resulaj
Oct 28, 2022
Dr. Francois Robert,
Dr. Ho-Sung Rhee
Nov 4, 2022
Dr. Megan Bontrager, U of T
Local adaptation at range edges and under anomalous climates
Dr. Peter Kotanen
Nov 11, 2022
Dr. Uwe Rascher, Julich Research Center
Dr. Ingo Ensminger
Nov 18, 2022
Dr. Tziana Gelmi Candusso, U of T
Dr. Christoph Richter
Nov 25, 2022
Dr. Fiona Hunter,
Brock University
Dr. Rosalind Murray
Dec 2, 2022
Dec 9, 2022
Jan 13, 2023
Bridget Murphy
Dr. Ingo Ensminger
Jan 20, 2023
Jan 27, 2023
Dr. Lynn Adler, UMass Amherst
Dr. Marc Johnson
Feb 3, 2023
Dr. Douglas Allan, UBC
Dr. Ted Erclik
Feb 10, 2023
Dr. Amy Iler, Northwestern University
Dr. Marc Johnson
Feb 17, 2023
Dr. Michelle DiLeo, OMNRF
Dr. Helene Wagner
Mar 3, 2023
Dr. Jun Ding, Stanford University
Dr. Baohua Liu
Mar 10, 2023
Mar 17, 2023
Dr. Ivana Cvijovic, Stanford University
Dr. Alex Nguyen Ba
Mar 24, 2023
Dr. Brady Johnson, University of Western Australia
Mar 31, 2023
Dr. Julia Stewart Lowndes
Ileana Fenwick
Grad Students

Seminar design

If you want to watch again: UTMBiology 2020-2021 Seminar Series Recordings

UTMBiology 2020-2021 Schedule

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