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  1. When your flight to Pisa with 9 turns into a flight to Bologna for 4.

    Oct 14, 2018

    For the next 10 days students from the HHU and pupils from the Schloss Gymnasium in Düsseldorf Benrath will explore the plastic contamination of the Mediterranean island Elba, famous for once being the home of Napoleon in 1814/15, with us. Apart from the fact that it wasn’t the French man’s idea to spend his time there, it might have been easier for him reaching it.

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  2. When you finally set up camp and get started

    Oct 15, 2018

    We need to disagree with Konfuzius this time: the journey was not the reward. After quite an unexpected (and partly twice as expensive) adventure in terms of reaching Elba, we were glad to have all members of our team arrive safely in Fetovaia. In particular due to the difficulties of Sunday’s journey, we kicked off the day a little slower.

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  3. When a rainy day turns into a productive one full of research

    Oct 16, 2018

    Tuesday, already our third day on Elba. Some heavy rain kept us from sampling plastic from the sea, so we had to move indoors and do some online research. It turned out more productive than expected.

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  4. When plastic becomes art

    Oct 17, 2018

    From the distance, the bay of Fetovaia bay makes the impression of being an idyllic and untouched piece of nature, but when you get closer, reality hits hard: waste everywhere. In all colors, in all shapes and size. We made the best of it and got creative. We designed a collage from what we collected.

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  5. When you get closer to the source

    Oct 18, 2018

    Some predictions have it that, by weight, by the year 2050 there might be more plastic floating in the oceans than fish. A scary thought and it makes you wonder of how that much plastic ends up in the oceans. The main source are rivers; 330.000t in the year 2015 from the Yangtze (China) alone. Today we screened not a river, but a rill for plastic.

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  6. When you discover the legacy of the past and present

    Oct 19, 2018

    In the far southeast corner of Elba, one can find a relic of the island’s past: the grand mines of Vallone. Since the early Etruscan times, Elba was well known for its minerals and over the centuries all governments tapped the different kinds of ores, which the “island of a thousand fires” offered to them and turned it into a profit. Here we set out to explore the plastic contamination off the beaten path.

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  7. When it's time to unwind

    Oct 20, 2018

    The harbour of Portoferraio is usually among the first thing you get see when arriving on Elba. We went there for our “day-off” and took a stroll through the old part of the town around the Forte Falcone, and enjoyed a few Caffè Ginseng in a small café.

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  8. When time flies

    Oct 21, 2018

    The last two days on Elba are already here and it’s about time to process all the collected data from our plastic pollution study. For the pupils that means to focus on finishing the texts and graphs for their posters and their presentation before we are leaving for Pisa on Tuesday.

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  9. When you realise it is time to change

    Oct 22, 2018

    Monte Capanne is located in the western part of the island, reaching a total height of 1,019 meters which we climbed today. It is easy to connect with nature when climbing a mountain and seeing different animals, but when we got back and summarized our own consumed plastic, we were facing another mountain: one made from plastic.

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  10. Here, have a first web log.

    Apr 12, 2017

    The world is full of empty promises and talk in the lab full of brain children, shower thoughts, struggles, minor findings, work adventures and even Eureka moments that rarely escape the corridor or office in which they were born. We do not promise to blog regularly, but as much as possible and from our every-day lives as scientists, including the ups and downs and the stories born around our BBQ on a Friday afternoon. The latter, after all, provides the best stories and worst pictures. Let’s start simple and see what we’re up to in general and more specifically next week.

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  11. The things I learned from Pathogen to Powerhouse, but that until now slipped my attention.

    Aug 10, 2017

    Clearing my hard drive, I found a few bullet points I scribbled down while reading "Pathogen to Powerhouse" by Ball et al. (10.1126/science.aad8864) back early 2016. I wrote a *Letter to the Editor* on that piece (10.1126/science.aaf6478), but we're all well aware they are (i) short and cannot touch upon all the issues and that (ii) lots of editing occurs before they go online. So here a more comprehensive list of issues I (and many other I had contact with from half a dozen countries) had with "Pathogen to Powerhouse". No reason they collect dust only on my hard drive. Maybe it still stimulates some discussion, also because the topic and debate remains hot.

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  12. Sampling on Elba

    Aug 18, 2017

    It’s been busy at MolEvol, especially outside of it. To continue our research on photosynthetic sea slugs, it was time to collect a bunch of fresh ones. In former publications, we worked mostly with Elysia timida (Fig. 1) and so it was time to visit the Mediterranean sea. *E. timida* is considered a Long-term Retention (LtR) species, because the kleptoplast’s PAM values (more specifically Fv/Fm) stay above levels considered background noise for over a period of several weeks, during starvation that is. This makes* E. timida* an interesting model to work with, besides the fact that they are easy to keep under laboratory conditions — they are robust, don’t need much space and have relatively short generation times. *E. timida* is one of the most abundant sacoglossan species in the Mediterranean and occurs almost all year round at a depth of between 0.5 to 5 meters, which is relatively shallow and makes them collectable through simple snorkelling. At those depths they feed on the “mermaid’s wineglass“, the green alga *Acetabularia acetabulum*.

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