Molecular adaptability to abiotic key factors in cold-adapted fish


Dr. Magnus Lucassen 
Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

project description

Temperature affects poikilothermal marine animals at all levels of biological organisation and determines their biogeography. Latitudinal distribution of fish populations is mainly defined by their specialization and tolerance towards temperature. Thermal tolerance windows of individual species are best explained by the physiological limits of oxygen supply and transport to tissues. The molecular mechanisms defining temperature limits and thermal acclimation have been studied so far mainly by describing effects on single proteins or protection mechanisms. Since temperature windows of individual molecules largely exceed the thermal limits of the whole animal, thermal limits are most probably set at the level of integration of molecules into functional units and networks up to whole organism level. Comparative studies at the molecular level are useful in natural populations, where genetic manipulations of the animals are not possible. Members of the family Zoarcidae (eelpouts) inhabit temperate, subpolar and polar waters, and thus represent a model system for the study of evolutionary adaptation versus seasonal acclimatisation. Our previous studies have demonstrated the high conservation of functional genes in different eelpouts from boreal and Antarctic waters, indicating that these species are excellent models in genomewide studies. In this project we will focus on genomic approaches to identify differentially expressed genes and new candidate genes with so far unknown functions within different populations, but also between the closely related species, which contribute to thermal plasticity and adaptation, respectively. By comparing different tissues and the responses to other abiotic key factors we aim to identify gene clusters and networks, which define sensitivity and adaptability of these species. Broadly, this project aims to investigate how molecular adaptability contributes to climate sensitivity.


DFG-Verfahren: Inrastruktur-Schwerpunktprogramme

term from 2007-2012