Dr Michelle Hart
Dr Michelle Hart, Head of Scientific and Technical Services
As Head of Scientific and Technical Services (STS), Michelle is responsible for the provision and maintenance of the research laboratories and associated services at RBGE. The lab facilities are a core shared-use facility, supporting a diverse range of research activities.
Michelle is responsible for developing these facilities to accommodate changes in research emphasis and for implementing new technologies to support RBGE's Science. She is also involved in the day-to-day running of the labs, training and technical support to lab users and Health & Safety.
In addition to her management role, Michelle conducts research to support RBGE’s core science, for example on forest ecosystems, plant taxonomy and phylogeny, biogeography, plant and fungal DNA barcoding and metabarcoding.
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Current research interests include the application of Next Generation Sequencing to biodiversity research and maximising the use of plant collections, past, present and future, in genomic research:
- Meta-barcoding - Ecological factors determining symbionts in Cyanolichens. Collaborative project with Dr Rebecca Yahr (RBGE) This project is using amplicon sequencing to look at the selectivity of a symbiotic cyanobacterium, Nostoc, for its host, the Atlantic rainforest lichen Nephroma. The aim is to see how ecological factors such as climate, woodland connectivity and environmental availability affect the symbiont composition of lichens.
- Genotyping by sequencing – RADseq protocol optimisation. Developing lab protocols to work on recalcitrant material of Araucaria. To-date work has included modifications of the DNA extraction protocol and optimisation of ddRAD (double digest RAD) and ezRAD protocols to work with suboptimal DNA (low quantity and quality).
- Hybrid capture – Capturing Genes from Herbaria. An evaluation of the use of commercial kits in preparing DNA libraries from small quantities of highly degraded DNA, from herbarium samples as old as 180 years. It is also an assessment of the use of hybrid capture as a method to retrieve sequence data for a large number of loci from historical samples. https://doi:10.12705/655.9
- Collections management - Natural history collections for the Genomic era. The successful application of advanced sequencing techniques to historical collections, together with advances in ancient DNA extraction methods triggered this research. Aimed at optimising methods of field collection and sample storage at RBGE, the STS molecular team (Michelle Hart, Ruth Hollands & Laura Forrest) are undertaking a long-term experiment, assessing different methods of sample preservation to maximise DNA integrity.
Useful Links DNA barcoding the British liverworts
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RBGE publications include a range of titles with books on botany and botanical taxonomy, gardening and horticulture, art and history, children’s books and Guidebooks for all of our Gardens.
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