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Royal Society of

Biology

THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF BIOLOGY

1 Naoroji Street, London WC1X 0GB

Tel: 020 3925 3440 info@rsb.org.uk; www.rsb.org.uk

EDITORIAL STAFF

Editor Tom Ireland MRSB, tom.ireland@rsb.org.uk

Chair of the Editorial Board

Professor Dan Davis FRSB,

Imperial College London

Editorial Board

Professor Matthew Cobb FRSB,

The University of Manchester Dr Anthony Flemming FRSB, Syngenta

Dr Sarah Maddocks CBiol MRSB,

Cardiff Met University Dr Esther Odenkule MRSB, GSK Professor Shaun D Pattinson FRSB,

Durham University Dr J mes Poulter MRSB,

University of Leeds Professor Diane Purchase FRSB,

Middlesex University Dr Natasha de Vere, National Botanical Garden of Wales

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Sian Campbell

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John Innes,

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ISSN 0006-3347

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(Registered charity no. 277981)

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Cover: Sea angel, photographed by Alexander Semenov lamy

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TheBiologistVol 70 No 2 • Summer 2023

THE MAGAZINE OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY OF BIOLOGY w w w . r s b . o r g . u k

VOLUME 70 NO 2 Summer 2023

Small wonder

Revealing the hidden world of plankton at night

INSIDE

METABOLISING

PLASTIC Can microbes help us clean up our planet?

GROWING ON GAMMA The fungi that feed on deadly radiation

AI AND BIODIVERSITY Using machine learning to discover new proteins

ON THE COVER 16 Migration in miniature An extract from Planktonia, a new book on the nightly migrations of plankton from the depths

Contents

12 The amazing possibilities of radiotrophic fungi Chernobyl studies suggest some fungi can use deadly radiation for growth

32 Reality check Plastic-eating bacteria can make an impact, but we have work to do irst

28 Mind the gaps Can ecologists iron out eDNA’s accuracy issues?

CONNECT WITH US Have an idea for an article or interested in writing for us?

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@RoyalSocBio www.youtube.com/ royalsocbio

UP FRONT 04 Society and policy news RSB hits accreditation milestone, welcomes new Honorary Fellow and urges UK government to stay in Horizon Europe

08 Policy priorities Areas of focus for the next ive years and impacts from 2022

10 Opinion The anxieties of in-person learning for the ‘COVID cohort’

FEATURES 12 Fallout fungi What we can learn from species that thrive on radiation

16 From the depths An exclusive extract from Erich Hoyt’s Planktonia

20 Biomolecule boom Startup Basecamp Research on AI, proteins and biodiversity

24 Focus on PHUGS How Defra studentships are boosting UK plant science

28 Sampling panacea? How scientists are integrating eDNA into their work

32 On the microbial menu Can plastic-eating bacteria really clean up our oceans?

REGULARS 36 Members 40 Book reviews 43 Treasurer’s report 2022 44 Branches 47 Crossword 48 Amazing experiments Margaret Bastock’s yellow mutants

Vol 70 No 2 / THE BIOLOGIST / 1

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