Comparative transcriptomic analysis of thermal stress responses in key Atlantic and Arctic zooplankton grazers

Master Thesis subject (30 ECTS)
BACKGROUND: The Arctic Ocean and adjacent ice-covered seas have been rapidly and strongly affected by global warming, a trend which will continue over the coming decades. In this timeframe, the extent, thickness and seasonal coverage of sea ice will be strongly affected, together with ice-associated and pelagic communities. A key example is the northward shift in Boreal-Atlantic zooplankton species that now dominate zooplankton communities in the Fram Strait, with potentially strong impacts on secondary productivity and pelagic-benthic coupling in Arctic waters. AIMS: The aims of this project are to analyse the comparative thermal responses at the transcriptome level of congeneric boreal-Atlantic copepods Calanus glacialis and C. hyperboreus vs. C. finmarchicus under controlled experimental conditions using a range of permissive and stressful temperatures. The results will be integrated with physiological data from the same experiments to provide a comprehensive analysis of thermal reaction norms in these species. METHODS: RNA-seq data (Illumina paired-end reads) will be analysed using established bioinformatic pipelines for read mapping, differential expression analysis and gene annotation. Integration with physiological data will allow identification of critical thresholds and tipping points. EXPECTED RESULTS: The project will provide data critical to projecting the likely effects of global warming species performances, and inform efforts aiming to predict ecosystem responses.
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Ester A Serrão, CCMAR, Universidade do Algarve Ana A Ramos, CCMAR, Universidade do Algarve
Reference Number: RP-49091