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Evolution of foraminifera, molecular versus micropaleontological approach

English title Evolution of foraminifera, molecular versus micropaleontological approach
Applicant Pawlowski Jan Wojciech
Number 112645
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Département de Génétique et Evolution Faculté des Sciences Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline Paleontology (biol.)
Start/End 01.04.2006 - 31.03.2009
Approved amount 425'000.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Paleontology (biol.)

Keywords (10)

systematics; Phylogeny; Phylogenomics; Foraminifera; Protists; Eukaryotes; Tree of Life; Microbial diversity; Biogeography; Microfossils

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
Foraminifera are testate amoeboid eukaryotes abundant in all marine environments and widely used in micropaleontology for inferring past climate conditions and oceanic circulation. Rich and continuous fossil record of foraminifera is an important source of information about the patterns and rates of evolution through geological time. By comparing paleontological interpretation of foraminiferan fossil record with molecular phylogenetic data we attempt to obtain an integrated view on the evolutionary history and diversity of this group of protists and to use it as a model for understanding the evolution of other eukaryotic phyla.The project is focused on five main topics:•phylogenomic analysis of Foraminifera and related eukaryotes•early evolution of Foraminifera and origin of skeletonization•diversity and biogeography of polar and deep-sea benthic foraminiferans•endosymbiosis as driving force of evolutionary radiations•molecular vs morphological species conceptThe specific aims of the project are:•to expand the genomic database for Foraminifera and other protists,•to identify new genomic markers for species identification,•to establish timescale of foraminiferan evolution based on genomic and fossil data.Current results of this project shed new light on the structure of the eukaryotic tree, revealing new supergroups of eukaryotes and refining their phylogenetic relationships. The project led to description of several new species and genera of monothalamous foraminiferans, which constitute the major component of meiofauna in high-latitude and deep-sea areas. It provided the first genetic evidence for global distribution of some common deep-sea foraminiferans. It also demonstrated the specificity of foraminiferal endosymbiotic relationships and their evolutionary importance.The project follows the aims of the “Assembling Tree of Life” program, which attempts to reconstruct the global phylogeny of eukaryotes. It also contributes to the objectives of “Census of Marine Life”, a major multinational initiative that serves to focus awareness on marine biodiversity and to coordinate research efforts in this field.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
100415 Evolution of Foraminifera, molecular versus micropaleontological approach 01.04.2003 Project funding (Div. I-III)
125372 Molecular evolution and ecology of Foraminifera and related protists 01.04.2009 Project funding (Div. I-III)