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Role of mitochondria in mediating evolutionary rescue by anthropogenic pollutants in an invasive crab

Project description

Study investigates the mechanisms promoting green crab invasion in foreign ecosystems

Introduced either naturally or intentionally, invasive alien species are a main driver of biodiversity loss; they can adapt better to their new environment than natives after a certain time and then begin to colonise it. Recent research has shown that rapid evolution, which enables these species to quickly adapt and not go extinct due to maladaptation, accounts for their increased invasive capacity. Funded by the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme, the MitoRescue project will extend the key outcomes of this research. Researchers will assume that mitochondria, being exquisitely sensitive to environmental stress and with a highly mutagenic DNA, are key organelles involved in rapid evolution. They will study how pollutants and increased temperatures affect an ancestral and an invasive population of the European green crab, an extremely prolific invader.


Invasive alien species (IAS) are the cause of enormous socio-economic and biodiversity loss across the world. In the context of climate change and increased pollution, IAS are often more adaptive than native species, capable of adjusting their phenology in accordance with climatic changes, facilitating their invasion. It has been recently suggested that “rapid evolution” (allowing quickly adaption and avoiding extinction due to maladaptation), is the cause of the increased invasive capacity of IAS. In MitoRescue I take this concept one step further, and I hypothesize that mitochondria, being exquisitely sensitive to environmental stress and with a highly mutagenic DNA, are key organelles involved in rapid evolution resulting in “evolutionary rescue”. I will study the combined impact of pollutants and increased temperature on an ancestral and an invasive (recently established) population of the European Green Crab, an extremely prolific invader. The study involves both field and laboratory approaches, from the organelle to the whole-organism. It merges the fields of toxicology, physiology, evolutionary and molecular biology to provide a highly multidisciplinary and integrative perspective. The final objective of this research subject is to predict future invasion scenarios, identify novel targets to control IAS proliferation and improve management and risk assessments of IAS in Europe and worldwide. With MitoRescue I will use a state-of-the-art training in assessing mitochondrial plasticity to consolidate my career in Europe and compile the necessary data to establish a research subject new to the ERA with great translational impact. In the long-term, this research will promote “restoring Europe’s biodiversity”, which is one of the four current key strategic orientations for EU’s R&I. It will contribute as well to the European Green Deal Initiatives and the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 by addressing IAS socio-economical management in a thermally changing world.


Net EU contribution
€ 298 734,72
75794 Paris

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Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
No data

Partners (1)