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The role of Chemistry in holobiont adaptation


A holobiont is constituted by a host and its whole ecological community of associated microbes. It is a unit of evolution, and the holobiont selection is a major evolutionary force. One feature which it is still poorly addressed is the role of secondary metabolites in microbes-host relationships, as well as in chemically mediated interactions between holobionts (the microbes-host ensemble) and the environment. In this proposal, we aim to investigate: selected aspects of marine sponge holobiont Chemistry and how the Chemistry is implied in marine sponge success; how microbes are involved in chemistry transfer from preys to predators in the marine environment; the Chemistry of selected groups of marine invertebrates and of microbes associated with invertebrates and plants, aiming to obtain novel bioactive chemicals; to further explore the Chemistry and Biology of already obtained lead compounds, in order to design more active and structurally less complex bioactive scaffolds, aiming to further explore the Pharmacology of these compounds; to investigate the biosynthesis of two selected groups of microbial metabolites, in order to unveil gene clusters and enzymes involved in biosynthetic steps and to envisage Bioengineered structural modifications to improve biological activity; to develop an unprecedented approach for the automated selection of microorganisms. The ultimate aim is to answer selected challenging questions, in order to advance the knowledge of holobionts adaptation, and to explore useful chemicals that influence holobionts adaptation and that result from holobionts success in Nature. (AU)

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