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Identifying conserved gene expression changes functionally linked to lifecycle parameters and predictive for fitness of soil invertebrates.

Objective

To enable management of polluted sites, regulatory and scientific focus is on developing sensitive sub lethal (cellular, biochemical, molecular) indicators for early recognition, identification and analysis of chemical effects. Current tools are based on detoxification mechanisms that can only be linked to ecological parameters by correlation. To provide immediate ecological relevance of biomarkers this project aims to identify molecular parameters (e.g. genes) that are functional components of life-cycle traits important to population fitness. In addition to the focus on risk assessment (a priority area in Thematic Sub-Priority 1.6.3 Global Change and Ecosystems), research into genetic control of life-cycle (i.e. longevity) is at the cutting edge of life-science research making the work of direct relevance to human health and the biotechnology sector. To identify genes functional linked to life-cycle, two species have been selected; the long living, slow reproducing earthworm Lubricous rubella’s and the opportunistic, short living, fast reproducing nematode Caenorhabditis elegant. L. rubella’s is one of the few environmentally relevant soil species that is genetically well studied, ubiquitous and established in ecotoxicology and biomarker research. C. elegant has a fully sequenced genome and functional genomic tools are available (gene knock out and RNAi). The staged research programme we plan will
1) screen functional Expressed Sequence Tags to identify L. rubella’s genes possibly linked to life-cycle;
2) establish functional links between growth, reproductive rates and gene expression;
3) determine the population level relevance of toxicant induced life-cycle changes;
4) validate the relevance of the functional linkage in L. rubella’s;
5) determine how expression of functional linked genes relates to fitness in C. elegant;
6) mechanistically validate the best candidate genes and their fundamental and conserved functional roles.

Call for proposal

FP6-2002-MOBILITY-5
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Funding Scheme

EIF - Marie Curie actions-Intra-European Fellowships

Coordinator

NATURAL ENVIRONMENT RESEARCH COUNCIL
Address
Polaris House, North Star Avenue
Swindon
United Kingdom