Insight into the adaptive evolution of marine organisms in response to environmental changes
The three-spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) is an important model organism for evolutionary biologists researching the genetic changes involved in adapting to new environments. The EU-funded EPI-TRADEOFF project will use G. aculeatus from the Baltic Sea to study the change in ocean salinity and the associated alteration in the parasite community resulting from climate change. The initiative will identify the osmoregulation–immunity trade-offs mediated by DNA methylation to shed light on the interactions of methylation within gene clusters as well as their expression. The data generated will be used to test the introduction of trade-offs by both infection and salinity changes in G. aculeatus, increasing our knowledge of the mechanisms underlying phenotypic plasticity in marine organisms and their influence on adaptive evolution.