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The knob-tailed gecko... a cuteness heavy-weight!
The knob-tailed gecko... a cuteness heavy-weight!
Photo: Mats Olsson
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Mats Olsson: Theme issues, essays and sabbatical in Australia

We've sat down with Prof. Mats Olsson, researcher at the Dept. of Biological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Gothenburg, and asked him a bit about his research.

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Professor Mats Olsson
Professor Mats Olsson

Mats, what does your research focus on?

At the moment I am a guest editor for Molecular Ecology together with three other invited researchers running a special theme issue on telomere biology, the chromosome end DNA-protein ‘capsules’ linked to ageing and viability processes. Exciting and educational! I have co-authored two manuscripts for this, too, during spring so it’s been busy! 

What is a project you are currently working on? 

Pretty hectic times! I am wrapping up collaboration projects on dragon transcriptomics with Willow Lindsay (ex-postdoc) and Mette Lillie (ex-postdoc) before Willow is going back to the US in July. We are trying to understand how and why different colour morphs of Australian dragon lizards express genes linked to components of fitness differently in different tissues. A collaboration project with Neil Gemmell in New Zealand looks at similar things in mitochondrial DNA, and back home Badreddine Barerhi just finished his PhD last Friday (he did great!) - so we are in the process of publishing a series of papers on inbreeding and telomere biology in sand lizards.

Rumour has it that you are going (back) to Australia on a sabbatical, could you tell us a bit more?

Yes – I am grateful for the opportunity to exploring two very large data sets on sand lizards. These primarily constitute genetic relatedness and telomere traits of ca. 5,000 lizards, which I have only had time to give a cursory look after my move back to Sweden due to teaching and admin. I will team up with researchers at Macquarie University in Sydney (primarily Rick Shine) and bury myself in writing for three months – can’t wait!

Western brown snake - beauty and beast in one package
Western brown snake - beauty and beast in one package
Photo: Mats Olsson
Field work has its risky moments
Field work has its risky moments...
Photo: Mats Olsson
... but prepares you well for pandemics and social isolation!
Photo: Mats Olsson