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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Happy and joyful holidays, with lots of health, love and happiness, the NATURALLY team wishes you from the bottom of our hearts!

See you in the even more beautiful year 2023

We participated in the event Znanost u prolazu

Our young scientists Mirela Uzelac and Danijela Damijanić participated in the event Znanost u prolazu. The event, organized by the NGO Penkala, which aims to promote women scientists, took place on Saturday 15 October 2022 at the Korzo in Rijeka.

The topic of the presentation was the presentation of activities on the Naturally project, education of citizens about invasive species, citizen science campaigns.

In this way, citizens could learn to recognize the invasive plant species Tree of heaven, Black locust, Jerusalem artichoke and Canadian goldenrod. It was discussed whether these species only cause damage or whether they can also be useful in the form of medicines, decorations, bioherbicides.

We are glad that we can share our knowledge and have fun doing it. We can’t wait for the next opportunity!

Summer internship at the Genetic laboratory

In July, Miheala Šimunić, a student of Molecular Biology at the Faculty of Science in Zagreb, and Hrvoje Korovljević, a student of Biology at the Josip Juraj Strossmayer University in Osijek, did a student internship.

Over the two weeks, students learned the basics of using laboratory equipment (handling an analytical scale, mill, pipettes, vortex, digester), performed several PCR analyses, learned how electrophoresis works and read the results.

In addition, as part of the NATURALLY project (IP-2020-02-6899), they made microscopic preparations of the glands of the pajasen (A. altissima), which were then stained with basic colors and observed with an Axioscope 5 fluorescent microscope.

In Ljubljana, LC-MS analyzes were performed on extracts and fractions of invasive species

In the laboratory of the Biotechnical Faculty at the University of Ljubljana, our colleague, Ph.D. Maja Mikulič Petkovšek and PhD student Mirela Uzelac created new extracts and fractions of invasive plant species: Black locust, Tree of heaven, Jerusalem artichoke and Canadian goldenrod.

The obtained extracts and fractions were analyzed by LC-MS methods in order to find out exactly which compounds the extracts of each species consist of.

After the analysis, the obtained data were integrated and analyzed, followed by statistical processing. There were a lot of peaks, which means that our invasives are rich in secondary metabolites!

Student Lucija from the University of Edinburgh completed an internship

As part of the NATURALLY project (IP-2020-02-6899), Lucija Burić, a first-year student of Biological Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, did an internship.

During May, Lucija used spectrophotometric methods to determine the antioxidant capacity of flowers of invasive alien plant species R. pseudoacacia, A. altissima, S. canadensis and H. tuberosus.

Lucija did her internship in the laboratory of the Istrian Polytechnic, in the Center for Materials Research of the Istrian County – METRIS.

When creativity merges with science an Exhibition is made

During the Fourth Croatian Microscopy Congress (May 18-20, 2022) in Poreč, the Exhibition “Od sitnozora do modernog mikroskopa” was held.

The exhibition was created by the Croatian Microscopic Society and the authors are Dr. Danijela Poljuha, Mirela Uzelac, PhD student and Dr. Vida Strasser.

The concept of the exhibition included six sections in which the development of microscopy in Croatia was chronologically and thematically discussed, through stories about microscopes and people, told through photography and the written word.

You can see the whole exhibition on the link.

We participated in the 4th Croatian Microscopy Congress

As part of the 4th Croatian Microscopy Congress held in Poreč from 18 to 20 May 2022 the educational dimension of the NATURALLY project was presented.

At the congress is Mirela Uzelac, PhD student, presented a poster entitled “A new approach to teaching about invasive species using a pocket paper microscope Foldscope”.

The poster presents a method of educating young people about invasive plant species using the Foldscope paper microscope.

The poster is available at the link.


We participated in the seventh UNESCO Unitwin Congress in Portorož

Invasive species are known to be harmful to biodiversity and some to human health, but did you know that invasive species also destroy cultural heritage?

This was one of the topics at the 7th Congress of UNESCO Unitwin, which took place this year on 16 and 17 May in Portorož. As part of the NATURALLY project, Dr. Barbara Sladonja gave a lecture on the risks that invasive species pose to valuable cultural heritage.

An example is the species, Tree of Heaven, which has been observed in large populations at several valuable cultural sites in Istria. Its impact on archaeological sites is mainly mechanical in the form of destruction of the building by strong roots. Furthermore, it produces secondary metabolites that cause chemical contamination of the soil. Tree of Heaven is a very adaptable species and spreads quickly and its seeds can spread and establish a population at high altitudes and in unusual places.

Read more about invasive species at the web pages of the Invasive Species Centre.

A plenary lecture was held at the 6th Global Congress on Plant Biology and Biotechnology

Project leader, Ph.D. Danijela Poljuha gave a plenary lecture on the topic of invasive alien species as a food source and phytopharmaceuticals.

The first preliminary results of the analysis of antioxidant capacity of extracts of four invasive plant species and the results obtained by RP-HPLC profiling were presented at the lecture.

Also, H. tuberosus and R. pseudoacacia species were presented as a valuable source of raw materials that can be used in the diet.


We published a paper in the scientific journal Plants

The good news are coming from the NATURALLY team!

We published a paper entitled LC – DAD – MS Phenolic Characterization of Six Invasive Plant Species in Croatia and Determination of Their Antimicrobial and Cytotoxic Activity in the scientific journal Plants.

This study provides the first LC-MS phytochemical review of six invasive alien plant species in Istria County (Croatia): Ailanthus altissima, Ambrosia artemisiifolia, Conyza canadensis, Dittrichia viscosa, Erigeron annuus and Xanthium strumarium.

This activity involved Danijela Poljuha, project leader and project associates Barbara Sladonja, Ivana Šola, Jacobus N Eloff, Maja Mikulič Petkovšek and PhD student Mirela Uzelac.

Read the whole paper at the link.