News from IBE
The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded Rosa Fernández, principal investigator at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology (IBE), and Daniel J. Richter, "la Caixa" Junior Leader Postdoctoral Researcher at IBE, the Starting Grant worth 1.5M€ to fund their research in evolutionary biology during the next 5 years.
Rosa Fernández’s project "SEA2LAND" aims to study the evolution of land animals and unravel the genomic milestones involved in going from a marine origin to life on land. “To conquer the terrestrial environment, animals radically changed the way they breathe, reproduce, move or smell. And they did it several times in Earth's history. Understanding this process is therefore key to understanding animal biodiversity”, says the scientist. "Through genomics, transcriptomics and protein engineering, we are going to study whether animals are equipped with a genetic toolkit that allowed them to adapt to terrestrial ecosystems. To that end, we will focus on several questions: which genes facilitated life on Earth, how animals reconfigured their genomes to adapt to a dry environment and how certain proteins key for life on land evolved through time”, adds Fernández.
“GROWCEAN”, Daniel Richter's project, aims to “characterize the biology, ecology and species interactions of the most abundant and unknown eukaryotic microbial organisms in the oceans, where half of global photosynthesis occurs”, explains Daniel Richter. “We set three research goals: to establish robust laboratory cultures of these as yet unknown organisms in order to understand their life history and behavior, to sequence their transcriptomes at the single-cell level to build hypotheses about the functions of their gene repertoires, and to interpret our results to characterize their relevance to the global ecosystem”, concludes the scientist.
Fernández and Richter are two of the 11 ERC awardees granted in Catalonia in this call, and among the 23 that will develop their ERC-funded project in Spain.