Trip to the NHM in Tring this Saturday!

This year’s LERN summer outing to the Natural History Museum in Tring is this Saturday, the 9th of July. Entrance to the museum is free and everyone is welcome to join (bring family and friends!) – but please email us at so we have an idea of how may people are coming.

We’re meeting in 10.45am at London Euston and taking the 11.04 am train to Tring.

We’ll be at the NHM in Tring at about 12:15, if you’d like to meet us there directly. We’ve arranged a short introduction to the museum at the start of our visit, then we’ll be free to explore it in our own time.

We’ll be going to a pub for lunch after visiting the museum (very likely the Robin Hood).

In other news, our Science and Pizza night is taking place soon (20th of July) – and we need abstracts! So if anyone is interested in giving a 15-minute talk, please email us!

Abstracts needed for Science and Pizza night!

Hey everyone!

Thanks for coming to last week’s seminar with Chris Jiggins. Great talk about introgression in butterfly genomes, and about genetic control of wing coloration.

Two very exciting events coming up!

First, our trip to the Natural History Museum in Tring, on Saturday the 9th of July. It will be a fun-filled day, with a bit of museum and a bit of pub. Please join us – families/partners/etc are welcome! Drop us an email (, so we can send you the details of where we are meeting and of trains times. And so we can reserve a table at the pub for the right number of people.

Second, our Science and Pizza night, at 6pm on Wednesday the 20th of July. This will be a sort of informal mini-conference, with four 15-minute talks, and free pizza and drinks. Please email us your name and and abstract if you’d like to give a talk! (



LERN seminar on Tuesday

Our next seminar is this Tuesday, the 21st June! Chris Jiggins, from the University of Cambridge, will be giving a talk entitled: “A constructive role for introgression in generating novelty in butterfly wing patterns”.

You can find more information here.


We are increasingly able to study evolutionary processes such as adaptation and speciation on a genomic scale. I will outline our work to assemble chromosomal-level assemblies of butterfly genomes using high resolution linkage maps. These have been used to study patterns of divergence between closely related species. One of the most pervasive patterns is the extent to which distinct species show a signature of admixture due to hybridisation, which can influence up to 40% of the genome. This hybridisation can also occasionally contribute adaptive variants, and our work has demonstrated the importance of introgression in the origins of complex wing patterns. Genome sequence data from 100s of individuals across two major radiations has identified narrow regions associated with distinct colour pattern elements. We hypothesise that these modules in non-coding sequence represent distinct cis-regulatory loci that control expression of just 3-4 key genes, including the transcription factor optix and the morphogen WntA, which in turn control pattern variation across Heliconius. Phylogenetic analysis of these elements demonstrated that they have distinct evolutionary histories and that novel adaptive morphological variation was created by shuffling these cis-regulatory modules through recombination between divergent lineages. In addition, recombination of modules into different combinations within species further contributes to diversity. Analysis of the timing of diversification supports the hypothesis of introgression moving regulatory modules between species, rather than shared ancestral variation, as divergence can be much younger at wing pattern loci relative to species divergence. I therefore argue that shuffling of existing enhancer elements both within and between species provides a mechanism for rapid diversification and generation of novel morphological combinations during adaptive radiation.



LERN goes to the NHM in Tring

We are delighted to announce that for the annual LERN summer outing we will be heading to the Natural History Museum in Tring on Saturday the 9th of July.

Admission to the museum is free, and we will cover the full cost of 12 train tickets on a first come first serve basis – to confirm your spot please email

Tring is a beautiful Hertfordshire Town only a 35 minute train journey from Central London. We have arranged for a group introduction at their Natural History Museum after which we can continue exploring the museum and then wander around the picturesque town (if you won’t take our word for it, Google it – it’s ace!). We’ve also reserved a spot for us all to have some lunch at a local pub.

We haven’t yet decided at what time we are meeting – probably between 10 and 11am at Euston Station, depending on the schedule of the bus between Tring Railway Station and the museum (it’s a 40 minute walk).