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Universitat de Barcelona

The EvoDevoGenomicsUB group led by Cristian Cañestro in the Department of Genetics, Microbiology and Statistics and the Institute of Biodiversity, University of Barcelona, participates in the DeuteroNoise project and it is responsible to coordinate all tasks related to studies of the impact of in-lab treated animals (WP4).

The UB-team together with the LaSalle-team led by Rosa form the Catalan-HUB, which is in charge of all the experiments related with the Catalan coast.

Our main objective is to explore the genetic response that embryos of marine invertebrate species (deuterostomes) as an adaptation to noise contamination in the sea, using the chordate tunicate specie Oikopleura dioica as a case study. After LaSalle-team has characterized the different soundscapes in different parts of the Catalan area, these noises will be reproduced in the lab to explore how it can affect the development of O. dioica embryos as well as the behaviors of adults.

RNAseq experiments will be done with treated and non-treated animals, and differential gene expression analysis will be performed to identify genes that are able to respond to acoustic stress. The same experiments will be performed in different animal species, and after comparison, we will try to identify a potential core of conserved genes share among the responses of different species, that will constitute the “noisosome” (set of genes that respond to noise).

These experiments will be accompanied by expression and functional CRISPR-KO or RNAi-Knockdown gene analyses to uncover the expression domains of those genes and their functions in the genetic adaptive response of marine invertebrate embryos. Genetic studies will be accompanied by morphological, behavioral, and reproductive experiments to also investigate how noise can interfere with sensory organs, embryo morphogenesis as well as with fertility.

Oikopleura dioica adult female showing a gonad full of eggs