IGAP – Institute of Grassland and Animal Production (1987-1989/90)

IGAPReport1987imageWhen the new AFRC Institute of Grassland and Animal Production was created on 1 April 1987 it had five research stations: Aberystwyth, including the Bronydd Mawr Research Centre (Trecastle); Hurley, including the Bernard Weitz Research Centre (Arborfield); North Wyke’s Grassland Production and Utilisation Department;  Shinfield’s Pig Department and Roslin’s Poultry Department. From, information found in the IGAP Report, 1987, the Institute was designed to:

undertake an integrated programme of strategic and applied research concerned with grassland use and the environmental consequences of farming practices, the production and utilisation of grass and other forage crops and with the nutrition, physiology, welfare and production of ruminants, pigs and poultry and other animals. The objectives of the research are to improve the efficiency of the production and utilisation of feed, and other resources; to improve the predictability of animal performance; to reduce the costs of production of animal products, especially milk, meat and eggs; and to improve the consistency and quality of these products, having due regard for environmental and animal welfare consideration.

At the station in Roslin; however, IGAP shared the site with IAPGR (AFRC Institute for Animal Physiology and Genetics Research) which required a certain amount of restructuring of the laboratories, staff and offices.

One of the major research topics investigated by the Poultry Department at the Roslin station was in improving the efficiency in poultry nutrition and production:

Within the remit for poultry nutrition research, work on the broiler breeder hen and the turkey hen receives a unique emphasis. Nutritional biochemistry is a strong feature of the programme with work on amino acid metabolism in muscle and in lipoprotein and adipose tissue metabolism. Computer simulation techniques are widely used in both biochemical and nutritional studies. The Metabolic Pathology Group brings a range of skills in morphology, histology, histochemistry and ultrastructural studies to the poultry research programme and carries out research into skeletal and other metabolic diseases of poultry.

According to the Roslin Institute’s Library and Information Manager, Mike McKeen in his paper, ‘Roslin Institute Online:  A brief history of Roslin Institute,’ (November 1994; Rev. April 2008):

In the original reorganisation at Roslin the nutrition, biochemistry and pathology programmes of PRC were incorporated into the Institute of Grassland and Animal Production. The IGAP Poultry Department remained on the former PRC site and was subsequently incorporated into IAPGR in 1990 on the creation of the present Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research (which was itself transferred to Aberystwyth University in April 2008).

It’s been fascinating to follow the history and development of the various institutes over the course of time and seeing how they overlap and merge!

C.H Waddington: inspiring new creations

Guest bloggers Mhairi Towler and Paul Harrison write how using the Waddington archive inspired their artwork

Clare Button, project archivist for ‘Towards Dolly’ has invited myself, Dr Mhairi Towler, and Dr. Paul Harrison (http://www.paulliamharrison.co.uk) to contribute a guest blog in relation to the work we have been carrying out on C.H Waddington.  I have just completed a Masters in Animation and Visualisation at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee (http://mhairimastersproject.wordpress.com/) and as part of this course studied under Dr. Harrison on placement at the Visual Research Centre, University of Dundee (http://www.dundee.ac.uk/djcad/vrc). 

 Dr. Harrison was invited to be involved as artist in residence with a newly funded FP7 European community-funded network of excellence entitled ‘EpiGeneSys’, which includes 22 partners across Europe (http://www.epigenesys.eu).  EpiGeneSys combines interdisciplinary research into epigenetics and systems biology, and work is required to visualise this ground-breaking interaction in both a specialist and public context.  Dr. Harrison’s project, ‘Epigenetic Landscapes’, fits into a work package on ‘Science and Society’, with the aim of developing a series of collaborative initiatives at network centres throughout Europe.  Outputs, over a period of five years, will include several associated events and productions, such as exhibitions, workshops and publications – one of which will include a retrospective/reappraisal of the work of Conrad Hal Waddington, who first established the term ‘epigenetics’. 

During our exploration of Waddington’s work we visited Special Collections at Edinburgh University Library to gain inspiration from the Waddington archive held there, in order to develop animations.  When writing about his concepts, Waddington regularly described them in three dimensions; therefore it wasn’t too difficult to get into his way of thinking and visualise illustrations in 3D form.  From the archive, two images were chosen to produce visual outcomes. 

The first was the famous, “Epigenetic Landscape”, described by Clare in a previous post.  This was developed into an animation with help from one of my classmates, Link Li.  A still from the animation is shown below along with a photograph of the original:

Secondly, an illustration of a lampbrush chromosome (a structure that forms inside a developing egg) from Waddington’s 1956 book, Principles of Embryology, was used as the basis for a short animated film, Chromonema, made for my Masters project.  Again, the original illustration from the archive and a still from the film are shown below:

Being able to access the Waddington archive for this project was highly beneficial and gaining further insight into the life and work of Waddington was extremely interesting.

Please see the following blog for further documentation of the project.  http://placementmodule.wordpress.com

– Dr Mhairi Towler, with thanks to Dr Paul Harrison

Expression of Exogenous DNA and Chick Embryos

Margaret Perry, David Morrice and Helen Sang’s article, ‘Expression of exogenous DNA during the early development of the chick embryo’ in Roux’s Archive of Developmental Biology, Vol. 2, 1991, p. 302-319, discusses how they created a ‘plasmid construct containing the reporter gene, lacZ, under the control of the cytomegalovirus immediate early promoter, [which] was injected into the germinal disc of fertilised chick ova.’ The image, Fig. 2a, b, shows a ‘whole mount of a chick embryo at mid-cleavage (Stage IV) following injection of a lacZ gene construct (pHFBGCM) into the fertilised ovum, in vitro culture and 5-bromo-4chloro-3-indolyl-beta-D-Galactoside (X-gal) staining for beta-galactosidase. Stained blastomeres are present in the centre of the blastodisc (a). They vary in size and intensity of staining, and some are stained in the perinuclear zone (b). According to the article, the ‘results provide supportive evidence for transcriptional activity during the cleavage stages of avian development. They also confirm previous findings on the loss of exogenous DNA during the early development of the chick.’

As you may be aware, cell staining is a technique used by scientists in order to better visualise cells and their components under the microscope, and this example demonstrates both aspects admirably. While scientifically it allows for a clearer understanding the stages of avian development, it also seems to have an artistic component as well!

A Painter Paints…

As has been mentioned before on this blog, C.H Waddington’s wide-ranging interests also encompassed art, architecture and visual design. In 1969 he published Behind Appearance, a detailed study of the relationship between art and the natural sciences. But I for one was unaware that Waddington was a painter himself, so we were delighted recently when Dr Robert Root-Bernstein (Professor of Physiology at Michigan University who is researching scientists that are also artists) sent us images of some of Waddington’s artwork. They are mounted here with the kind permission of Waddington’s daughters, Professor Dame Caroline Humphrey and Professor Dusa McDuff. We hope you enjoy them!

Chicken IGF-I cDNA – Molecular Cloning and Gene Sequence Analysis

Some of the most interesting papers I’ve found so far in my cataloguing of the Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics Research (IAPGR) have been the ones on gene sequencing, molecular cloning and analysis. This is the first paper I’ve come across so far that shows an animal gene sequence next to a human one.

This image of a genomic sequence (Figure 3) in D. H. Fawcett and G. Bulfield’s article, ‘Molecular cloning, sequence analysis and expression of putative chicken insulin-like growth factor-I cDNAs’ in the Journal of Endocrinology (1990), 4, 201-211 shows the ‘potential splice donor sites at the excon 2 (5’) intron boundary in the chicken compared with the corresponding human sequence and the chicken and human cDNAs.’