Senckenberg Research

Session 1







17. January 2018, 10.30 -12.10 am


10.30-11.00 am

Prof. Outi Savolainen, University of Oulu, Finland

Genomic basis of post glacial and future adaptation of northern European plant species

Outi Savolainen, Tuomas Hämälä, Nader Aryamanesh, Tiina Mattila, Weixuan Ning, Timo Kumpula, Sonja Kujala, Helmi Kuittinen, Katri Kärkkäinen

All species living in northernmost Europe have likely colonized these areas after the last glacial maximum, during about the last 10 000 years. During this time, they have undergone significant demographic changes, such as bottlenecks and expansions. Further, the colonization was accompanied by adaptation to new environmental conditions. Understanding the patterns of processes of such climatic adaptation can help predicting adaptive potential to environmental change. Here we examine shared patterns of phenotypic adaptive variation in northern European species, and quantify associated selection pressures Arabidopsis lyrata and Scots pine. Further, we examine the genomic basis of adaptation in Arabidopsis lyrata, both at a Northern European scale, and at a more local scale of altitudinal gradients. In a reciprocal transplant experiment, at the same altitudinal gradient, we also compare genetic and plastic effects at the level of phenotypes, gene expression and of methylation. Finally, we consider the adaptive potential to climate change based on the field and genomics findings in these populations.

11.00-11.20 am

Dr. Gregor Rolshausen, Senckenberg, Germany

Host-driven compositional and functional microbiome differentiation along altitudinal gradients in a lichen symbiosis

Gregor Rolshausen & Francesco Dal Grande

Lichen-forming fungi not only host symbiotic algae (photobionts) in their thalli but also an abundant and diverse bacterial community – the lichen microbiome. Little is known about the specificity or ecological significance of these communities in lichens, in particular regarding intraspecific variation among hosts along environmental gradients. In the present study, we use metagenomics to investigate compositional and functional diversity of bacterial communities associated with two distinct ecotypes of the umbilicate lichen-forming fungus Lasallia pustulata along two replicated elevational gradients. We scrutinized a total of five metagenomic sampling pools per lichen host ecotype in order to (i) calculate population-wide bacterial species abundances via Bayesian reestimation based on taxonomically assigned short Illumina reads, and (ii) determine the functional profile of bacterial communities based on gene family abundances in each sampling pool. We then used those data to construct permutation-based confidence intervals that allow the depiction of ecotype-specific outliers, both for species and gene family predictions. We discuss these outliers on the background of a compositional and functional core microbiome in the L. pustulata lichen symbiosis.

11.20-11.50 am

Prof. Thomas Mock, University of East Anglia, UK

The evolution of diverged alleles in marine diatoms: A mechanism to cope with variable environments?

11.50-12.10 am

Dr. Nathan Kenny, The Natural History Museum, London, UK

Evolution on ice: molecular adaptations to temperature in Antarctic sponge populations

Nathan J Kenny and Ana Riesgo

Animals in the Antarctic seas have adapted to some of the most challenging conditions found anywhere on Earth. Temperatures generally ranging between 0 and -1.8°C and a food supply which fluctuates widely from summer to winter make their survival difficult. Nevertheless, species have found the means to live and thrive in such conditions.
This project aims to identify the molecular mechanisms by which species have adapted to such extreme environments, by investigating populations of congeneric species adapted to vastly differing thermal environments. These scientific aims will be accomplished by transcriptomic and genomic sequencing of sponges of the genera Axinella, Mycale and Phorbas. These are abundant in the Antarctic, Caribbean and Mediterranean, and play essential roles in the benthic ecosystems in which they are found.
Using a range of morphological, population genetic and molecular ecology approaches we will assay the molecular and population-level diversity of these sponges, and, specifically, how they have evolved to live in such cold conditions. These findings will also allow us to begin to determine whether the same adaptive molecular mechanisms to extreme cold are used broadly across sponge and animal phylogeny, and the likely impact of climate changes on the biology and distribution of these species worldwide.