The latest discoveries from our Biosciences Department

The research that happens in our Biosciences Department helps to change the world for the better. 

These three recent discoveries give you a flavour of what kind of research activity we carry out here at Swansea University. We hope that they will inspire you to make your own discoveries in your future career as a bioscientist. 

Snakes

Snake: Credit Dr VonkWe are part of an international team that discovered a new species of venomous snake in Australia. It could be said that the last thing Australia needs is another venomous snake but as Swansea University’s Dr Kevin Arbuckle points out, this new species could have distinct benefits.  “Due to their secretive habitats, small size, and venom that is not highly toxic to humans, the Weipa bandy-bandy is of no threat to us.  In fact, once the venom of this new species is investigated, its complex mixture of biologically active chemicals has the potential to lead to future drug developments that could help humans.”

 

Seagrass

Seagrass with turtleWe helped to discover seagrass meadows in the middle of the Indian Ocean by tracking turtles. Seagrass conservation is a key part of our work here in Swansea. Dr Richard Unsworth is an expert in seagrass conservation and advised the Blue Planet II programme. Seagrass meadows featured heavily in the episode ‘Green Seas’. He says “Seagrasses are flowering plants that live in shallow sheltered areas along our coast. Like the coral reefs and rainforest’s of the tropics, these underwater gardens are full of life, hosting many animals of different shapes, colours and sizes. These incredible underwater gardens are threatened. Globally, estimates suggest we lose an area of seagrass around the same size as two football pitches every hour. Protecting and restoring what is left is vital.

You will be able to help with seagrass monitoring and conservation on one of your field trip options.

Saving pollinators

Pollinator by Kevin BandageWe contribute to saving pollinators such as bees and hoverflies with our work at the National Botanic Garden, Wales, where we track the movements of pollinators by decoding the DNA of the pollen that they carry. This work gives us insight into how plants are pollinated and help to ensure the future production of our food. This work is being carried out by Dr Andrew Lucas, one of our recent PhD students.

©️ Image: Kevin Bandage