Deep-sea Sponge Ground Ecosystems of the North Atlantic
Our EU H2020 project (coordinated by the University of Bergen) is currently ongoing, and we are trying to understand the structure and function of deep-sea sponge grounds in the North Atlantic. In our lab, we are mostly interested in the genetic diversity, connectivity and reproductive patterns in key sponge species, but we will also work on metatranscriptomics and molecular evolution of sponges.
DeepSym: Connecting the microbiome with the genome of the host
Amplicon sequencing and meta-transcriptomics in deep-sea sponges (MSCA Cristina Diez)
We are interested in understanding the co-evolution of the symbiotic partners (microbes and sponges) in deep-sea habitats. Our research is enclosed in a much larger project called SponGES (see above).
Origin of animal sex determination
EVOSEX: Evolution of sexual reproduction in animals: genomic toolkits, microbiomes, and macroevolutionary patterns in sponges (PID2019-105769GB-I00)
Our project will use comparative genomics, transcriptomics, and 16S amplicon sequencing to understand how sex is determined in sponges compared to bilaterians (annelids), what the role of the microbiome is in reproductive shifts and what is the impact of reproduction on their macroevolutionary trajectories. We will include fieldwork, deep sequencing, bioinformatics, statistics, and phylogenetic comparative methods to resolve these questions in a project funded by the Ministry of Science and Innovation of Spain. We are hiring!
Sponges as natural samplers of eDNA
SpongeDNA: Bolstering marine biodiversity exploration and monitoring through natural environmental DNA samplers (NERC: NE/T007028/1)
Sponges (phylum Porifera - the world's most efficient water-filterers) concentrate particles in their tissues, from which trace DNA of the surrounding biota can be retrieved and screened. Since sponges are also present in every marine habitat - and are amenable to non-lethal sampling - this offers the exciting prospect of harnessing Nature's own recording devices as biological observers, and hence by-pass some of the most cumbersome steps along the eDNA workflow, through highly reduced costs and minimal environmental impact. This project will thoroughly investigate the mechanisms that will enable to transform this attractive prospect into an operational tool for exploring and monitoring biodiversity across the world's oceans. And we are also hiring!
Molecular ecology in the sea
Invertebrate phylogenetics and evolution
The study of the genetic diversity of marine invertebrates is currently a major priority given the rapid extinction rates reported for many areas. We are interested in speciation processes and phylogenetic relationships among different invertebrates to understand the evolution of marine species. We are working in sponges, polychaetes, and cnidarians.