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Diversity and evolution of Bivalve sensory systems: a unifying approach based on comparative transcriptomics and integrative microscopy

Grant number: 19/18834-1
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): October 01, 2021
Effective date (End): September 30, 2023
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology - Morphology of Recent Groups
Principal researcher:José Eduardo Amoroso Rodriguez Marian
Grantee:Jorge Alves Audino
Home Institution: Instituto de Biociências (IB). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


Sensory systems include different genetic, molecular and morphological components that allow animals to interact with the surrounding environment. The investigation of such systems is critical to elucidate functional and adaptive hypotheses, as well as evolutionary mechanisms. In all animals, chemoreceptors and opsins are G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) that sense chemical signs and light, respectively. Currently, receptor characterization represents a crucial step to understand sensory system diversification and evolution. Whereas the sensory molecular repertoire of many vertebrates and arthropods has been identified, a similar approach is still incipient for the remaining invertebrate groups. In this context, the bivalve clade Pteriomorphia comprises a model group to gain insights into this subject considering its wide diversity of mantle sensory organs, such as eyes and tentacles. The present project aims to characterize such organs in pteriomorphian species based on comparative transcriptomics and integrative microscopy, thus unifying functional approaches. Ocelli and tentacles will be dissected from 10 species from different pteriomorphian families. Histological and electron microscopy techniques will be applied to study both tissue and receptor cells organization. The RNA-seq will enable the identification of differentially expressed G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs), particularly opsin and chemoreceptor candidates. Additional comparative and phylogenetic analyses will be conducted to infer the evolution and function of bivalve mantle sensory systems, and to test hypotheses on homology and convergence across different biological levels, i.e., from molecules to anatomy. (AU)

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