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Constrained convergence: does pleiotropy constrain convergent alpine adaptation?

Project description

Understanding how much we can predict convergent adaptation

Despite the rich theoretical progress in the field of evolutionary biology, there is still a lot to be explored about the convergence in complex multicellular organisms. This knowledge is valuable for the understanding of diverse phenomena such as resistance to pathogens, pesticides or pollution. The EU-funded CONstrainCONverge explores the evolutionary mechanisms behind predictability in adaptive evolution. Merging evolutionary genomics and molecular genetics, transcriptomics, statistical genomics and functional experiments, this research aims to shed light on the genetic constraints of convergent adaptation to stressful environments. The plant model that will be used is the alpine Arabidopsis as its eight independently evolved populations form an ideal source of experimentation.

Objective

Is evolution predictable? In CONstrainCONverge, I aim to understand evolutionary mechanisms governing predictability in adaptive evolution, by asking why some genes are more likely reused by adaptation than others. Despite a rich theoretical background, systematic analysis of the mechanisms underlying convergence is lacking in complex multicellular organisms. That limits application of convergent evolutionary concepts in repeated evolution of socio-economically relevant traits such as resistance to pathogens, pesticides or pollution. To fill in this gap, I will study genetic constraints of convergent adaptation towards stressful alpine environments in plant model genus Arabidopsis. Eight independently evolved populations of alpine Arabidopsis provide a unique model of environmental adaptation, allowing to leverage an unprecedented range of genetic and experimental resources to address fundamental evolutionary questions. During my PhD I characterized this system from a population genomic point of view, preparing a ground for experimental genetic validations. In the outgoing phase, I will bring this experience to the host lab of Prof. Peichel at the University of Bern (UBERN), an expert in the evolutionary genetics of convergence in fishes. Systematic training in the host lab and three international research visits will broaden my bioinformatics and experimental skills. I will learn new multidisciplinary approaches bridging the fields of evolutionary genomics and molecular genetics through the combination of transcriptomics, statistical genomics, and functional experiments. I will return to Charles University (CU) to share the newly gained skills with local researchers and gain further training in functional genetics and transferable skills under the supervision of Prof. Lafon Placette, aiming to improve my teaching and leadership skills and establish my own research group in evolutionary genetics, a virtually non-existent field in Czech research environment.

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Coordinator

UNIVERZITA KARLOVA
Net EU contribution
€ 309 768,48
Address
Ovocny trh 560/5
116 36 Praha 1
Czechia

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Region
Česko Praha Hlavní město Praha
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
Links
EU contribution
No data

Partners (1)