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Adaptation and biodiversity in alpine habitats - integrating genomic and ecological perspectives

English title Adaptation and biodiversity in alpine habitats - integrating genomic and ecological perspectives
Applicant Shimizu Kentaro
Number 137084
Funding scheme ProDoc
Research institution Institut für Pflanzen- und Mikrobiologie Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Botany
Start/End 01.07.2012 - 30.06.2016
Approved amount 265'281.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Botany
Ecology

Keywords (2)

adaptation; evolutionary genomics

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary

Climate models indicate that global warming will strongly impact on alpine floras worldwide, because alpine habitats will experience drastic and fast environmental changes. Understanding how plants are adapted to their environment and can persist under changing climatic conditions is therefore not only of prime interest from a fundamental scientific perspective, but also from a political perspective. Developing policies and implementing conservation strategies can only be done once a deeper understanding of the fundamental processes underlying survival and adaptation in alpine environments has been achieved. However, despite the great interest in alpine plants and their adaptations to extreme environmental conditions, little is known about the genetic and molecular basis of altitudinal adaptations. This is primarily a consequence of the lack of suitable study organisms with genetic and genomic resources. Here we propose to study altitudinal adaptation in Arabidopsis relatives to take the advantage of genomic and genetic resources of Arabidopsis.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Efficient detection of novel nuclear markers for brassicaceae by transcriptome sequencing
Stockenhuber Reinhold, Zoller Stefan, Shimizu-Inatsugi Rie, Gugerli Felix, Shimizu Kentaro K., Widmer Alex, Fischer Martin C. (2015), Efficient detection of novel nuclear markers for brassicaceae by transcriptome sequencing, in PLOS ONE, 10(6), 1-19.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Prof. Rolf Holderegger, WSL Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Roman Ulm, University of Geneva Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
PSC-Mercator Think Tank Talk given at a conference Environmental impacts on a Pan-Alpine plant species 02.06.2014 ETH Zürich, Switzerland Stockenhuber Reinhold;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Scientifica 2013 - "Risiko - Was wir wann wagen" Performances, exhibitions (e.g. for education institutions) 30.08.2013 ETH Zürich, Switzerland Stockenhuber Reinhold;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions Darf's ein bisschen wärmer sein? Eine Bergpflanze stellt sich dem Klimawandel German-speaking Switzerland 2016

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
127155 Adaptive genetic variation and plant adaptation to environmental heterogeneity (AVE) 01.04.2010 Sinergia
127227 PSC "Plant Sciences and Policy" 01.11.2009 ProDoc

Abstract

Climate models indicate that global warming will strongly impact on alpine floras worldwide, because alpine habitats will experience drastic and fast environmental changes. Understanding how plants are adapted to their environment and can persist under changing climatic conditions is therefore not only of prime interest from a fundamental scientific perspective, but also from a political perspective. Developing policies and implementing conservation strategies can only be done once a deeper understanding of the fundamental processes underlying survival and adaptation in alpine environments has been achieved. However, despite the great interest in alpine plants and their adaptations to extreme environmental conditions, little is known about the genetic and molecular basis of altitudinal adaptations. This is primarily a consequence of the lack of suitable study organisms with genetic and genomic resources.Here we propose to study altitudinal adaptation in Arabidopsis thaliana and a close relative, the perennial A. halleri. Both species are most common at lower altitudes but we have found them to occur in natural populations also at altitudes well above 2000 m a.s.l. in the Swiss Alps and in other mountain areas. These high altitude populations allow us to exploit the molecular toolbox of model organisms to study the molecular basis of adaptation to alpine habitats. By combining genomic and ecological perspectives, we address the following questions.1. Do alpine populations of A. halleri and/or A. thaliana have a single or multiple origins?2. Can we identify candidate genes for altitudinal adaptation in A. halleri and/or A. thaliana and what is the function of these genes?3. What is the adaptive value of the studied candidate genes under contrasting environmental conditions?Two PhD students will experience an interdisciplinary research environment including molecular genetics and field ecological research supervised by two PIs with different backgrounds. Both PhD students will focus first on the origin of high altitude populations of A. halleri and A. thaliana. The first PhD student will then continue to perform transgenic experiments, while the second PhD student will carry out field transplant experiments at different altitudes in the Alps. Both PhD students will actively participate in the ProDoc doctoral programme “Plant Sciences and Policy” of the Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center (PSC). In the course of the research project, they will have the opportunities to visit alpine regions in East Asia and the Carpathians and to participate and present their work at international conferences. The unique combination of the scientific experience gained during their work and the participation in the ProDoc doctoral programme “Plant Sciences and Policy” will allow these students to develop a broad perspective in science and policy.
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