By Elisavet Kaitetzidou (Aristotle University of Thessaloniki)
The school of Biology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki (AUTh) successfully participated in the actions under the European researcher’s night, on Friday 29th of September in Thessaloniki. More than 5,000 people of different ages visited the Concert Hall of the city to attend this pan European research feast. The European Researchers’ Night is a Europe-wide public event, which displays the diversity of science and its impact on citizens’ daily lives in fun, inspiring ways.
BGE members of AUTh team and students of the Biology School (members of the Biodiversity AUTh student group) presented the BGE project and the efforts of all BGE members across Europe to enhance the use of genomics in the service of Biodiversity. The visitors were informed about the aims of the project to enrich the reference databases for European eukaryotic species, and the opportunity for Greece to build the country’s barcoding reference library for species either endemic or found in its territory. Furthermore, the importance of monitoring biodiversity via genomic methods was presented and linked to the promising design of strategies aiming to prevent its decline.
Above: Attendees to the Researchers Night in Thessaloniki
Along with the communication of the program, children from 4-16 years of age were introduced to the use of DNA barcodes for species identification. A quick game was organised, with children using a small fragment of DNA barcode to identify one of eight species selected for the game, which are all found in Greece (i.e. two plants, a marine sponge, two arthropods, one amphibian, one bird and one mammal). The shared 4-base DNA code among species, as well as the diversity of these species was indicated. Videos of the species were shown and their photos were given to more than 200 children that participated in the game.
All images: Elisavet Kaitetzidou (AUTh)