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The importance of gene and genome duplications for natural and artificial organism populations

Objective

The long-term establishment of ancient organisms that have undergone whole genome duplications has been exceedingly rare. On the other hand, tens of thousands of now-living species are polyploid and contain multiple copies of their genome. The paucity of ancient genome duplications and the existence of so many species that are currently polyploid provide an interesting and fascinating enigma. A question that remains is whether these older genome duplications have survived by coincidence or because they did occur at very specific times, for instance during major ecological upheavals and periods of extinction. It has indeed been proposed that chromosome doubling conveys greater stress tolerance by fostering slower development, delayed reproduction and longer life span. Furthermore, polyploids have also been considered to have greater ability to colonize new or disturbed habitats. If polyploidy allowed many plant lineages to survive and adapt during global changes, as suggested, we might wonder whether polyploidy will confer a similar advantage in the current period of global warming and general ecological pressure caused by the human race. Given predictions that species extinction is now occurring at as high rates as during previous mass extinctions, will the presumed extra adaptability of polyploid plants mean they will become the dominant species? In the current proposal, we hope to address these questions at different levels through 1) the analysis of whole plant genome sequence data and 2) the in silico modelling of artificial gene regulatory networks to mimic the genomic consequences of genome doubling and how this may affect network structure and dosage balance. Furthermore, we aim at using simulated robotic models running on artificial gene regulatory networks in complex environments to evaluate how both natural and artificial organism populations can potentially benefit from gene and genome duplications for adaptation, survival, and evolution in general.

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/genetics and heredity/chromosome
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/genetics and heredity/genome

Call for proposal

ERC-2012-ADG_20120314
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-AG - ERC Advanced Grant

Host institution

VIB VZW
Address
Rijvisschestraat 120
9052 Zwijnaarde - Gent
Belgium
Activity type
Research Organisations
EU contribution
€ 2 217 525
Principal investigator
Yves Eddy Philomena Van De Peer (Prof.)
Administrative Contact
Rik Audenaert (Mr.)

Beneficiaries (1)

VIB VZW
Belgium
EU contribution
€ 2 217 525
Address
Rijvisschestraat 120
9052 Zwijnaarde - Gent
Activity type
Research Organisations
Principal investigator
Yves Eddy Philomena Van De Peer (Prof.)
Administrative Contact
Rik Audenaert (Mr.)