Effects of Water Chemical Contamination and Adaptation to Environmental Changes in R. philippinarum

This project aims to study different populations of R. philippinarum from the Venice lagoon in which 50 years of industrial activities of Porto Marghera have caused chemical contamination of air, soil, and water sediments, with the depletion of several species. Due to its biology and ability to adapt and survive to different stressful environmental conditions, R. philippinarum is a perfect target to analyze the effects of chemical contamination and the adaptation to environmental changes. To date R. philippinarum has been widely used for biomonitoring within the Venice lagoon and recent DNA microarray studies (Milan et al. 2013, Milan et al. 2015, Milan et al. 2016) allowed to set up reliable gene expression markers associated to chemical contamination.

We are using RNA-Seq data to: a) analyze natural population sampled in areas with different amounts of chemical contamination; b) perform common-garden and reciprocal transplant experiments to investigate transcriptional responses to environmental changes. The obtained data will allow us to identify candidate genes that will be analyzed with a comparative approach and under an evolutionary perspective.

COLLABORATION: Prof. Luca Bargelloni, Prof. Tomaso Patarnello, and Dr. Massimo Milan (Department of Comparative Biomedicine and Food Science at the University of Padova) are leading this project.