Université Pierre et Marie Curie



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Evo/Devo laboratories

Labo: Speciation & Hybrid Biology
Responsable: Manuela Coelho,
Localization: Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa
Project: Gene expression dynamics in a polyploid complex
Local: Laboratório de Genética (C2) no DBA

In order to address the question of sex determination in the maternal species and the hybrids, we aim to conduct a candidate gene approach, by isolating and characterizing the expression patterns of genes involved in sex determination cascades of other vertebrates (dax1 and sox9). Presently, we are concluding the analysis of patterns expression of the first candidate gene (amh) for sex determination isolated for both genomes present in the hybrids. Through expression analysis, in the adult gonad and in different developmental stages, of new genes we hope to elucidate some steps of the sex determination cascade in these non-model species and establish the possible contribution of the isolated genes to the overall mechanism.

Labo: Evolution & Development
Responsables: Élio Sucena, Marta Moita
Localization: IGC, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras
Project: Genetic and physiological basis of odor preference in Drosophila

This Project results of a collaboration between the “Evolution & Development” and the “Behavioral Neuroscience” laboratories at IGC.
Drosophila larvae show a very high variance in odor preference, spanning from attraction to repulsion, for a number of pure odorants tested in laboratory conditions. Also, in nature, there are examples of adaptations in which different lineages have diverged into antagonistic behaviours regarding particular odorants. This is the case for Drosophila sechellia and Drosophila simulans, respectively attracted and repelled by octanoic acid. Despite the ecological and evolutionary significance of such behaviours, little is known about their genetic and neurophysiological basis.
In this Project we wish to select in opposing directions (attraction and repulsion) for larval odor preference in Drosophila. This will entail setting up a behavioural assay and selection regime that will lead in the longer run to a genetic (through mapping and candidate gene testing) and physiological dissection (through the comparison and manipulation of neuronal circuitries) of the selected behavioural difference between lines.

Evolution laboratories

Labo: Speciation & Hybrid Biology
Responsables: Maria Judite Alves, Manuela Coelho
localization: Museu Nacional de História Natural, Lisboa
Project: Temporal patterns of genetic variation in two endemic freshwater fishes.

The pattern of genetic variation over time will be investigated in two cyprinid fishes, Anaecypris hispanica and Chondrostoma lemmingii, whose populations have severely reduced in size over the last decades. These species are now classified as Critically Endangered (CR) and Endangered (EN) in the Portuguese Vertebrate Red Data Book (ICN, 2005). Microsatellite analysis will be applied to museum samples collected over the last 30 years, allowing examination of temporal changes in genetic diversity and population structure. This approach will allow evaluate the impact of recent bottlenecks in genetic diversity and may provide valuable insights on the impact of natural and man-made environmental changes.

Labo: Speciation & Hybrid Biology
responsables: Daniel Schaumann, Manuela Coelho
localization: Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa
Project: Evolutionary processes in the origin of “hotspots for biodiversity”: insights from the study of adaptive genes

We are currently looking for a motivated student, who would like to work for a project (FCT) in the field of molecular evolutionary biology. In this project, we seek to understand which factors have been responsible for the high levels of speciation of cyprinid fish mainly in the Portuguese southern rivers compared to the northern drainages. We are focusing our attention on the study of selected candidate genes with putative adaptive roles. Our goal is to understand the potential role of neutral and adaptive differentiation in the speciation process of these fish and to predict their evolutionary trajectories.

Labo: Evolutionary Cytogenetics
responsable: Maria João Collares-Pereira
localization: Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa
Project: Genomic Invasion and evolutionary impact in continental fish: a cytogenetic approach

Labo: Evolutionary Cytogenetics
responsable: Maria João Collares-Pereira
localization: Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa
Project: Study of phenotypic expression in hybrid genomes
Labo: Experimental Evolution
responsable: Margarida Matos
localization: Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa
Project: The importance of population size for adaptive rate in captivity
Labo: Behavioral Neuroscience
Responsables: Marta Moita, Élio Sucena
Localization: IGC, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras
Project: Testing the prisoner’s Dilemma in Rattus norvegicus

In the Prisoner’s Dilemma, two individuals simultaneously choose one of two strategies: cooperate or defect. The resulting payoff depends on both players’ choices (Table I). To qualify as a Prisoner’s Dilemma, the payoffs must conform to the following set of inequalities: T > R > P > S. Mutual cooperation results in a moderate reward (R), but mutual defection leads to low payoffs for both players (P). When one cooperates and the other defects, the defector receives the largest possible reward (T) and the cooperator receives the smallest possible reward (S). This implies that mutual cooperation is better than mutual defection, but for an individual player, there is a sizable temptation to defect. Therefore, the evolutionarily stable strategy in a one-shot game is defection.
Nevertheless, stable cooperation can emerge if the cooperative interactions occur repeatedly, the opening move is cooperative, and from that point on, each player copies the other’s moves. This winning strategy is a version of reciprocity called Tit-For-Tat (TFT).
So far, the Prisoner’s Dilemma has only been directly tested in humans. Therefore, the evidence that sustain this behavior to be dependent on cognition and abstraction, or placing it in the framework of a “theory of mind”, is weak. Using Rat as a model system, we aim at addressing this question in non-humans, in a two-stepped approach. Firstly, we will teach the rats the rules of the game in a operant conditioning paradigm. This will shed some light onto the boundaries that learning may have in this species, in particular regarding the ability to learn that the outcomes depend not only on its own behavior but also on another individual actions. Secondly, we will test the Game, per se, determining whether the animal is capable to transpose the learned rules into a Prisoner’s Dilemma situation.

Labo: Evolutionary Biology
Responsables: Isabel Gordo, Francisco Dionisio
Localization: IGC, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras
Project: Epistatic interactions in bacterial fitness

Epistasis is the phenomenon that results from a dependence of a mutation effect with the genetic background in which it occurs. Such interactions between genes are key to understanding the genotype to phenotype map. Quantifying the amount of epistasis is also important for understanding the evolution of sex and recombination, local adaptation and speciation.
This project aims at quantifying the amount and sign of epistasis in the bacteria Escherichia coli.

Labo: Population Genetics
Responsables: Francisco Dionisio, Isabel Gordo
Localization: IGC, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras
Project: Social behavior in the microbial world

We are accepting master students interested in studying cooperation, either between species (mutualisms) or within species (altruism). The basic general question we address is: how does cooperation persist, despite invasion by parasites that steal the benefits one mutualist provides another, or despite cheating behavior among a population of cooperators? Students may be engaged, either in theoretical models (for predictions or understanding previous experimental results) or in laboratory evolutionary experiments with bacteria and other microbial associates.

Labo: Bacterial Signaling
Responsables: Karina Xavier, Isabel Gordo
http://www.igc.gulbenkian.pt/rfichtre esearch/unit/73
Localization: IGC, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras

Bacterial Quorum Sensing: costs and benefits to bacterial fitness

Quorum sensing is a form of communication between cells. It involves the regulation of gene expression in response to fluctuations in population density. During this process chemical signals (autoinducers) are released and detected by the cells, with the important function of modulating several cooperative multicellular behaviours such as symbiosis, virulence and biofilm formation.
From the evolutionary standpoint the production of such signals is Beneficial. But is it deleterious for the individual? What is the cost bacteria pay for communicating? How is fidelity maintained in quorum-sensing systems, how is cheating controlled, and if and how eavesdropping occurs. Is this type of communication a true example of altruism in the microbial world?
In this project, genetic and biochemical experimental approaches will be combined to test theoretical prediction to answer these specific questions within this general problem. Ultimately, this work should yield new insights into the role of cooperative behaviour in evolutionary biology and ecology.

Labo: Evolutionary Genetics
Responsable: Henrique Teotónio
Localization: IGC, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras



Labo: Extracellular Matrix
responsable: Gabriela Rodrigues
localization: Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa
Project: Extracellular matrix influence and paracrine substance effect on epithelial formation in the paraxial mesoderm of chick embryos

Labo: Extracellular Matrix
responsable: Sólveig Thorsteinsdóttir, solveig@fc.ul.pt
localization: Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade de Lisboa & Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras

The role of extracelular matrix on the regulation of early mouse miogenesis

Labo: Early Fly Development
Responsable: Rui Martinho, rmartinho@igc.gulbenkian.pt
Localization: IGC, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras

Use of D. melanogaster to study mitochondrial disorders in humans.
The Early Fly Development group uses Drosophila melanogaster as a model system to investigate the molecular and cellular mechanisms that mediate formation of a polarized epithelium.
Additionally, we are planning to use Drosophila as a model system to study human diseases. The researcher will work on a mitochondrial protein that was recently identified in our lab as being important for the formation of a primary epithelium during Drosophila early embryonic development. The human homologue of this protein is associated with a human mitochondrial disorder.
The main research goals of this project will be 1) further phenotypic characterization of the isolated Drosophila mutants, 2) identification of the DNA lesions associated with these mutants, 3) antibody production and characterization of the expression of this gene during Drosophila early embryonic development.

Labo: Developmental Biology
responsable: Domingos Henrique, henrique@fm.ul.pt
localization: IMM, Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Lisboa

Study of the Dll1 and Dll4 ligands in embryonic retina development
The Notch pathway has conserved functions in vertebrate neurogenesis. Notch signaling in neural progenitor cells is activated by contact of the receptor with active ligands in adjacent differentiating neurons. In vertebrates, there are two groups of structurally distinct ligands, those with a structure related to the fly Delta protein and those related to the fly Serrate protein (also named Jagged in vertebrates). Mice, for instance, have two Jagged ligands, Jagged1 (Jag1) and Jagged2 (Jag2), and three Delta ligands, Delta1, Delta3 and Delta4 (also known as Delta-like1, Dll1, etc.). Some ligands are expressed in striking complementary patterns in the embryonic neural tube, as is the case for Jag1 and Dll1, or in partially overlapping patterns during neuronal differentiation in the retina, like Dll1 and Dll4.
Although Notch signaling is generally viewed as a “universal” modulator of neuronal differentiation, little is known about the specific roles played by each ligand during the process. Lack of detailed loss-of-function studies for each of the Notch ligands in the developing nervous system has prevented the elucidation of these roles. In part, this is due to the early embryonic lethality of mice with targeted mutations in Delta and Jagged genes, a problem that can now be circumvented through the analysis of conditional “Knock-Out’s” in which different ligands have been specifically inactivated in the developing CNS. In this project, we shall use a conditional “Knock-Out” approach to address the complexity of Notch signaling during neural development, aiming to get precise answers to some relevant questions about Notch function in the nervous system. More precisely, the project will aim to dissect the functional role of different Notch ligands during neural development, namely Delta1 and Delta4 in the mouse neural retina.
Several transgenic and mutant mouse lines are available in the lab and will be used for these studies. Students will acquire a strong knowledge in mouse genetics and neural development, as well as classical and more advanced molecular biology techniques.

Labo: Mitosis
Responsable: Alvaro Tavares, tavares@igc.gulbenkian.pt
Localization: IGC, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras
Study of the Cdc14 protein in Drosophila melanogaster

Labo: Neural Crest
Responsable: Moisés Mallo, mallo@igc.gulbenkian.pt
Localization: IGC, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras
Hox6 and Hox10 function in the development of mouse body muscle
The vertebrate axial skeleton is composed of a series of vertebrae that give
support to the body, while also allowing movement. Development of the differnt
areas of the axial skeleton (for instance those with ribs or without ribs) is
associated to development of functionally releated structures, most
particularly the muscles to allow coordinated processes such as breathing. The
Hox genes are essential for the specification of the different areas of the
axial skeleton. In our laboratory, we have shown that the Hox group 6 is
required for developing vertebrae with ribs and that the Hox group 10 has the
opposite effect, as they eliminate rib formation from vertebrae. In the
proposed project we want to analyze the effect of the activity of Hox groups 6
and 10 on the development of the body muscles. For this, we will create
transgenic embryos overexpressing Hoxa10 and Hoxb6 and we will analyze the
development of the muscle compartment of the somites using a variety of
techniques, from in situ hybridization to histological stainings.

Contact: mallo@igc.gulbenkian.pt



Labo: Organogenesis
Responsable: Ana Catarina Certal, acertal@igc.gulbenkian.pt
Isabel Palmeirim, ipalmeirim@ecsaude.uminho.pt
Localization: IGC, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras

The role of ion dynamics on somitogenesis and its putative control of the molecular clock
Vertebrate segmentation occurs early during embryonic development and becomes evident by the appearance of segmented structures called somites. Somites form in an anterior to posterior sequential manner, from the most rostral part of the presomitic mesoderm (PSM) while, caudally, new cells enter the posterior part of this tissue as a consequence of gastrulation. The time of somite formation is strictly controlled by a molecular clock operating in PSM cells, which is evidenced by the intrinsic cyclic expression of several genes. By using the chick embryo as a model we would like to access the putative relation between cyclic gene expression and ion dynamics at the level of both PSM and its prospective territory localized in the vicissitude of the embryo organizer.
- Study the ion dynamics at the level of both PSM and Hensen’s node/primitive streak by using the ion-specific scanning microprobe to detect extracellular ion fluxes and advanced ion imaging using chemical and genetically-encoded ion probes.
- Study the expression pattern of genes coding for particular ion transporters (H+, K+).

Labo: Actin Dynamics
Responsable: Florence Janody, fjanody@igc.gulbenkian.pt
Localization: IGC, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras

Labo: Plant Molecular Biology
Responsable: Paula Duque, duquep@igc.gulbenkian.pt
Localization: IGC, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras

Labo: Plant Development
Responsable: José Feijó, jfeijo@igc.gulbenkian.pt
Localization: IGC, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras

Labo: Symmetry & Development
Responsible: Leonor Saúde, mlsaude@igc.gulbenkian.pt
Localization: IGC, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras

Labo: Cell Cycle Regulation
Responsible: Mónica Dias, mdias@igc.gulbenkian.pt
Localization: IGC, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras


Labo: Computational Genomics
Responsible: José Leal, jleal@igc.gulbenkian.pt
Localization: IGC, Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, Oeiras

Labo: Morphogenesis
Responsible: António Jacinto, ajacinto@fm.ul.pt
localization: IMM, Instituto de Medicina Molecular, Lisboa

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 Last modifications :  jeudi, 22 janvier, 2009 16:46