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Sam Dupont

Anna-Lisa Wrange & Ulrika Lind

Jessica Marks

Karen Wilson

Snuttan Sundell

Ola Svensson & Lotta Kvarnemo

Petronella Kettunen

Daniel Johansson, Ricardo Pereyra & Kerstin Johannesson

David Kleinhans

Sonja Leidenberg

Swantje Enge

Hannah Wood

Göran Nylund

Gregory Charriér 

Group discussions

How to assess adaptability to future climate change? The Genetic basis of ocean acidification induced variation in Strongylocentrotus sea urchins developmental gene regulatory network

Sam Dupont,
Department of Marine Ecology - Kristineberg, University of Gothenburg

There is an interesting paradox between the accepted idea that developmental stages are the more sensitive to environmental disturbance and the fact that development is stable under real-world ever changing conditions. It is then of great importance to understand the resilience of developmental processes under natural environmental variations in order to predict what will be the consequence of future predicted climate changes on marine species and ecosystems.

These last two years, we have investigated the effects of predicted near future ocean acidification and temperature increase (global warming) on developmental processes (larval fitness, phenotype, growth, physiology, gene expression, etc) in 15 marine species. Based on these results, we hypothesize that the direct impact of OA and adaptive potential of a species can be predicted by both historical and temporal environmental variability in pH and other environmental stressors. This hypothesis was tested this year (Spring 2009) by comparing populations of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis from two areas with different environmental variability. Our results demonstrate that the best way to predict the impact of future climate change and adaptation potential of a given species is to understand the environmental variability at the relevant spatio-temporal scale (environment experienced by the larval stages).

The next question is how to assess the genetic basis of adaptability within species and between populations. We need to know if there is sufficient genetic variation to canalize or improve the plastic reaction of genes to climate change related stressors.

Different techniques may be considered, such as population genetics or microarrays. However, this may not be appropriate for theoretical or practical reasons. For example, a relevant mutation could lie within the cis-regulatory region of the gene itself, in the coding sequence of any of the transcription factors that interacts with its cis-regulatory sequences, or in any of the cis-regulatory regions of any of these transcription factors. The mutation could even lie in any of the transcription factors that interact with these cis-regulatory regions. Another approach is to consider the impact of environment on gene regulatory networks variability.

Early embryonic gene networks of the purple sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) have been studied in considerable detail, providing an informative basis for analyzing the developmental and evolutionary mechanisms that alter gene expression. These “gene regulatory networks” (GRNs) provide integrated and highly predictive views of gene interactions that control biological processes (cell fate, tissue specification). As the molecular and genetic mechanisms of early embryo patterning are elucidated we propose to investigate how these processes respond to perturbations and underlie regulative phenomena.

We will present our experimental plans for the next season (Spring 2010) to assess the phenotypic plasticity and genetic basis of ocean acidification induced variation in a S. droebachiensis developmental GRN emphasizing the importance to define standard frame of references.

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Effects of ocean acidification and salinity on gene expression and settling success in the barnacle Balanus improvisus

Anna-Lisa Wrange(1) and Ulrika Lind(2),
(1)Department of Marine Ecology - Tjärnö
(2)Department of Cell & Molecular Biology,
University of Gothenburg

The dramatic environmental changes that are forecasted in the near future due to global warming, will have major effects on marine ecosystems. Some effects that are predicted to occur in the near future are increased water temperatures, ocean acidification and lowered salinity. The acorn barnacle Balanus improvisus, is one of few macro-invertebrates that inhabits most of the Skagerrak-Kattegat-Baltic gradient, up to the northern Bothnian Bay. B. improvisus occurs mainly in low salinity environments, but it is known for its extreme salinity tolerance. To get an understanding of how B. improvisus reacts to the predicted environmental changes, we are performing common-garden experiments in which barnacle cyprid larvae are exposed to different salinities and pH. Changes in gene expression will be investigated using a Geniom microarray containing around two thousand sequences obtained from an EST-library. In addition, effects on settling success and mortality will be investigated.

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Reproductive character displacement in egg-jelly carbohydrates reinforces mating barriers in two broadcast-spawning marine invertebrates

Jessica Marks, Centre for Ecological and Evolutionary Synthesis (CEES), University of Bergen, Norway.

In marine broadcast-spawning organisms, geographic divergence in gamete compatibility may reflect the first step toward speciation, yet little is known about patterns of pre-zygotic isolation among populations or mechanisms involved in the formation of reproductive barriers. I determined fertilization success within and between Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis and S. pallidus, two closely related species of sea urchins that overlap in geographic distribution and spawning season. I studied populations of both species from the NE Atlantic (Norway, Svalbard) and the NE Pacific (WA). In sea urchins, carbohydrates in the egg-jelly coat trigger the sperm acrosome reaction, a necessary step in the fertilization cascade that is a species-specific mediator of fertilization in these species. Eggs can also discriminate among sperm using the sperm protein bindin and its egg receptor. To elucidate the mechanism behind gametic incompatibility, sperm were also pre-treated with egg jelly. I found trends toward greater incompatibility in heterospecific crosses in sympatry than in allopatry, a pattern of reproductive character displacement that is consistent with reinforcement. Pre-treatment with egg jelly mitigated this effect, implicating divergence in egg-jelly carbohydrates but not sperm bindin. In contrast, intra-specific barriers among allopatric populations reflect divergence in bindin; for most populations, conspecific crosses had lower fertilization in allopatry that could not be remedied by pre-treatment with egg jelly. I demonstrate reproductive character displacement in a broadcast-spawning marine invertebrate and suggest barriers to fertilization can arise through different mechanisms operating between individuals, populations and species.

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Echinoderms and Crustaceans genomes: New data to investigate changing marine environments.

Karen Wilson,
Department of Marine Ecology - Kristineberg, University of Gothenburg

Echinoderms and crustaceans represent important species in the marine environment. They have high ecological and commercial value and are of evolutionary interest, since they belong to two important lineages in the animal kingdom: The protostomes and the deuterostomes. The recently sequenced genomes of Strongylocentrotus purpuratus (echinoderm) and Daphnia pulex (crustacean) are enabling the use of genomic technologies to investigate the physiology of these species in particular their reaction to changing environmental conditions. 

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Invertebrate osmoregulation – an eldorado in diversity.

Snuttan Sundell
Department of Zoology, Zoophysiology, Göteborg University

To say that osmoregulation and water balance is the most crucial physiological adaptation on earth is probably not to tell a lie. Most living processes have evolved around the small but crucial molecule of water. Life actually constitutes one, or rather several, bags of salty water. Therefore osmoregulation is one of the most illustrative examples in the art of maintaining homeostasis. Marine invertebrates are many times not solely marine, but can inhabit environments ranging from zero in salinity up too more then 200% seawater strength, on a sunny day. This means that they have evolved an enormous diversity of osmoregulatory strategies which probably also show plasticity as well as genetic adaptations to changing environments. The aim of this presentation is to illustrate this diversity with examples from different physiological, osmoregulatory mechanisms and strategies and then focus in on the model animal Balanus improvisus.

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Differences in behaviour ecology between sand goby populations from the Swedish west coast and the Baltic Sea

Ola Svensson and Lotta Kvarnemo
Department of Zoology, University of Gothenburg

Sand goby (Pomatoschistus minutus) populations from the Swedish west coast and the Finnish coast of the Baltic Sea have been studied extensively. The two areas differ in several environmental factors associated with the difference in salinity (2–3% at the marine site and 0.4% at the brackish site). Because of the brackish environment in the Baltic Sea the mussel shells, which sand gobies rely on for nesting, are fragile, small and few whereas at the marine site the mussel shells are bigger and occur in large numbers. In addition, at the Swedish west coast, goby nests are threatened by several species of effective egg predators, mainly netted dog whelks, shore crabs and brown shrimp, whereas in the Baltic Sea only brown shrimp are present. These differences are predicted to affect the breeding tactic of the males i.e. if they build a nest or only spawn parasitically and also to affect trade-offs between defence against parasitically spawning males and parental care. I will review the published literature as well as presenting unpublished data.

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The zebrafish as a new model to study learning and memory

Petronella Kettunen
Postdoc in the lab of Henrik Zetterberg, Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Sahlgrenska Academy

A majority of our most common neurological diseases are manifested by memory loss and a reduced potential for learning. Despite all the efforts to solve the mystery of learning and memory, we still do not have a complete cellular model of learning in a higher model organism. I have developed a preparation to study simple forms of learning in the zebrafish (Danio rerio). This preparation allows for genetic manipulations and behavioral memory testing simultaneously with physiological recordings in vivo. I am now studying the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying learning and memory. Also, I am investigating the effects of Alzheimer-related proteins on learning and memory using this preparation. My goal is to establish the links between genetics and behavior that will help us understand both the normal and diseased brain.

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Algae Wars Episode II: Attack of the clones
- Rapid speciation and maintained genetic variation in a clonal macro alga

Daniel Johansson, Ricardo Pereyra and Kerstin Johannesson
Department of marine ecology – Tjärnö, University of Gothenburg

Fucus radicans, a brown alga endemic to the Baltic Sea, diverged from F. vesiculosus after the latest ice age, and possibly as recent as 400 years ago. Although F. radicans reproduces asexually in a large part of its distribution, the level of genetic variation is as high as in its congener F. vesiculosus. This may be because the female clone, dominating much of the distribution, is highly heterozygote and may act as a genebank preserving genetic variation. Earlier data suggests that F. radicans in Estonia is genetically more related to sympatric populations of F. vesiculosus than to F. radicans in Sweden, and the same situation holds true for Swedish populations. This raises important questions about the origin of these populations and the speciation event that have led to this pattern. With a phylogenetic approach, using Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism (AFLP) and microsatellites, we aim to shed light on the phylogenetic relationships and complex population genetic structure. Ongoing experiments looking at differential gene expression and performance in different salinities, aim at resolving questions concerning adaptation to low salinity and the successful dispersal of the female clone. For example, do individuals of the same clone perform differently in different environment? Do individuals of different clones perform differently in a common environment?

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The role of asymmetric dispersal in metapopulations

David Kleinhans,
Department of Marine Ecology - Göteborg,University of Gothenburg

Metapopulations consist of a number of sub-populations connected
through the dispersal of migrants. In many theoretical approaches
often rather simple dispersal patterns are investigated, while
typically complex dispersal patterns are observed in nature. This
especially is the case for larvae dispersal in marine environments
driven by ocean currents.

In a recent work Vuilleumier and Possingham investigate the role of
symmetry in dispersal patterns and draw the conclusion, that
asymmetric dispersal has a distinct negative impact on population
viability. Our results based on artificial dispersal patterns,
however, suggest that symmetry actually only could have a vanishing
impact. The simulation results are in good agreement with tests on
realistic dispersal patterns of mussel larvae in the Baltic Sea.

I will take the opportunity to briefly introduce the problem and the
initial work by Vuilleumier and Possingham. Then I will focus on our
approach and demonstrate the important role of artificially generated
dispersal patterns for the disentanglement of the complexity intrinsic
to natural systems. Although many aspects of larvae dispersal might
not yet have been understood I can draw the conclusion, that asymmetry might not be as severe as expected by Vuilleumier and Possingham. That is of course good news for many systems of biological relevance.

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Are Idotea species adapted to the Baltic Sea?

Sonja Leidenberger,
Dept of Marine Ecology-Gothenburg - Göteborg, University of Gothenburg

Isopods of the genus Idotea are widespread in the northern hemisphere. In European waters nine species are recorded. Only three species have successfully spread into the Baltic Sea: I. baltica, I. chelipes and I. granulosa.
An overall question is why these Idotea species are successful in the Baltic Sea. Have they evolved specific adaptations or do they represent species with great plastic capacity? Are there specific combinations of traits that have enabled these species to invade the Baltic Sea? To answer these questions I have started to collect existing information about Idotea species occurring in the Baltic Sea and also about species living in neighbouring geographic areas. I will present a short review about the known ecology of these Idotea species and their distribution patterns in the Baltic Sea, extracted from the literature and from material at the Swedish Museum of Natural History.

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Evolutionary novelty: an explanation for successful macroalgal invasions?

Swantje Enge,
Department of Marine Ecology - Tjärnö, University of Gothenburg

Human activities cause global change. As a consequence marine ecosystems have to face shifts in sea surface temperatures, salinity and pH, but also the introduction of exotic species due to an increased international trade. Some introduced species may become invasive forming dominant stands with devastating effects on the native community threatening biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. However, besides these negative effects biological invasions provide an exceptional opportunity to study fundamental ecological and evolutionary processes in real time.
Why some introduced species become invasive, whereas others become only naturalized (minor members of the community) or even fail to establish is still an unresolved question. The concept of “evolutionary novelty” may explain success and failure of invasive plants and macroalgae. The red alga Bonnemaisonia hamifera is an example of an invader with a novel chemical defense to which native organisms, lacking a co-evolutionary history with the invader, seem not to be adapted. But adaptations can be rapid. Evolutionary changes of the native community members in response to selection from invasive species can evolve resistance formation or altered use of resources and habitats. The invader itself may be selected for traits, e.g. defense level, in response to novel regimes in the new community. In this context, B. hamifera by its interactions with native species may represent a valuable model organism to study the evolution of new adaptations.

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Using ecophysiology to understand a changing environment

Hannah L. Wood,
Department of Marine Ecology - Kristineberg, University of Gothenburg

As a new member of CeMEB this presentation will give an overview of the work planned for the next two years and in addition an overview of previous work and experience. The primary aim is to examine the importance of plasticity (at phenotypic and molecular level) to local adaptation in the isopod Idotea baltica to differing salinity and host algae quality along the Baltic gradient. This will be achieved using mesocosm experiments carried out at Kristineberg. The work will be carried out in collaboration with the investigations into the algae in order to consider co evolution of these species along the Baltic gradient.

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Phenotypic plasticity and local adaptation in Fucus vesiculosus

Göran Nylund,
Department of Marine Ecology - Tjärnö, University of Gothenburg 

My two years postdoc project within CeMEB aims to investigate induced versus genetically fixed components of phenotypic variation and local adaptation in marine macrophytes inside and outside the Baltic Sea. Macroalgae and seagrasses show high phenotypic variability in a range of fitness related traits such as phenology, morphology and resistance to herbivory. In collaboration with others within CeMEB, I will assess the genetic and environmental basis for the variations in these traits for a few model species, mainly through manipulative experiments along environmental gradients. As a first experiment, we are planning to investigate how the brown alga Fucus vesiculosus, collected from different populations along the Baltic-Skagerak salinity gradient, perform under different salinities and grazing pressures. Today’s presentation will focus on the design of this experiment

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Conclusions and Emerging questions from the workshop: “Using EST (Expressed Sequence Tag) data in biological applications

Gregory Charriér,
Department of Marine Ecology - Tjärnö, University of Gothenburg

The workshop “Using EST (Expressed Sequence Tag) data in biological applications” was held on October 19-22 at the Sven Loven Center, Tjärnö. This event was organized by the “Marine Sustainable Ecosystems” Research School, GU. The aim was to provide an opportunity for exchanging experience about EST data.

The presentations and round-table discussions proposed during this workshop addressed three main issues:
1- How to collect EST data ?
2- How to manage EST data ?
3- How to use EST data ?

The majority of the participants expressed the same problems and needs concerning the management of EST data. Managing ESTs is a challenging task, that is regularly underestimated. Several EST libraries have been built or are planned in the near future within the CEMEB (Balanus, Littorina, Fucus, Amphiura, Lophelia, …). The workshop raised the idea to develop within the CEMEB a common framework to set up EST databases for the species of interest. Coordinating the efforts to manage the continuously growing

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Topics for Group discussions.

EST - Discussion around the table: How to coordinate the efforts to set up EST databases ? Opportunities within the CEMEB ?

Chaired by: Greg Charriér, Marina Panova and Ric Pereyra

Aim of the discussion: Storing and managing the continously growing number of ESTs becomes a crucial issue. Therefore, it might be worthwhile to develop within the CEMEB a common framework to set up EST databases for species of interest (Balanus, Littorina, Fucus,
Lophelia, Amphiura, ...). This would be particularly valuable for an
easy and effient management of the large number of sequences collected on the species of interest.

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 Other topics suggested:

  • Discussions about the various costs, benefits, and problems with Biological/Ecological Climate Envelope Models
  • Population genetics & modelling
  • Experimental analysis of the potential for phytoplankton to adapt to changing pH
  • Discussion on receptor-genes in snails
  • Discussion on topics related to Balanus.
  • Fucus genomics



Page Manager: Eva Marie Rödström|Last update: 11/11/2009

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