Eleanor Jones

Eleanor is a molecular ecologist at Fera, applying DNA typing and sequencing methods to detect and identify species.

Eleanor Jones

  • Area of expertise
    Population genetics, DNA barcoding and environmental DNA
  • Years of experience
  • Highest qualification

Eleanor is a molecular ecologist at Fera, applying DNA typing and sequencing methods to detect and identify species. This ranges from identifying species by 'DNA barcoding' where conventional identification cannot be used, to recovering and identifying target DNA from a range of matrices or environments such as pathogens in plant material, tree species from mixed wood samples, or organisms in ponds or lakes. Eleanor's other main area of research and expertise is in population genetics, using DNA-based methods to examine population dynamics (colonisation and admixture, population differentiation, breeding systems, dispersal distances) in a range of animals, including bees, hornets, house mice, rats, and foxes.

More about environmental DNA

eDNA is particularly useful to identify species in water bodies and is used most famously for great crested newts. However there are many other species and things we can use eDNA for other Species.

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Animal and plant species can be identified by their DNA, typically using a short ‘DNA barcode’ fragment. This technique is useful in a range of scenarios: providing identification from an unknown or fragmentary specimen, identifying what is in a mixed sample, or detecting species in their environment without monitoring the species themselves. This final area, known by the acronym ‘eDNA’, is a rapidly developing field, already commercially available at Fera to detect the presence of Great Crested Newts in ponds without seeing or capturing the newts themselves. We are currently working on detecting the fish species present in lakes using DNA from water samples, and methods to capture DNA from water more effectively. eDNA has the potential to provide a lower cost and lower effort alternative to conventional survey methods.

Beyond identifying individual species, it can be necessary to consider the relationship between individuals and populations within a particular species. We use DNA sequence data and markers (typically microsatellites) to study factors such as routes of colonisation, how differentiated populations are from each other, levels of inbreeding within populations, and how individuals are related to each other. We have used these methods in a range of studies including investigating the origin and spread of invasive species, identifying and differentiating cultivars or races of cultivated plants, or providing data to model how new diseases may spread within established populations.

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Latest Papers and Articles

2016 Förster D, Jones EP, Jóhannesdóttir F, Gabriel S, Giménez M, Panithanarak T, Hauffe H, Searle J (2016) Genetic differentiation within and away from the chromosomal rearrangements characterising hybridising chromosomal races of the western house mouse (Mus musculus domesticus). Chromosome Research, in press.

2015 Haniza MZH, Adams S, Jones EP, MacNicoll A, Mallon EB, Smith RH, Lambert MS. (2015) Large-scale structure of brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) populations in England: effects on rodenticide resistance. PeerJ 3:e1458 https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.1458

2015 Jones EP and Searle JB (2015) Differing Y chromosome versus mitochondrial DNA ancestry, phylogeography, and introgression in the house mouse: Y chromosome phylogeography in mice. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society,115, 348-361.

2014 Atterby H, Allnutt TR, MacNicoll AD, Jones EP, Smith GC (2014) Population genetic structure of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in the UK. Mammal Research, 60, 9-19.

2013 Jones EP, Eager HM, Gabriel SI, Jóhannesdóttir F and Searle JB (2013) Genetic tracking of mice and other bioproxies to infer human history. Trends in Genetics, 29, 298-308.

Events past and future

2017: “Asian hornets”. Talk at the Bee Inspectors Technical Training Conference.

Eleanor and her team work with customers to deliver the following services within Fera...

DNA-based detection and sequencing methods and population genetic analysis.

Environmental DNA

Environmental DNA

Speed up planning applications with fast and accurate eDNA testing for great crested newts.

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Pollinator R&D

Pollinator R&D

Protecting essential pollinators to support sustainable, high-quality crop production.

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environmental planning and policy

Environmental Planning & Policy

Fera is in a unique position to combine academic research, big data, forecasting models and information from a host of sources to inform practical environmental solutions and policy decisions across the public and private sector.

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All Environmental Science