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The epigenetic dimension of the central-periphery hypothesis: the role of DNA methylation and adaptive potential at range margins

Grant number: 23/00101-3
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2023
Effective date (End): July 31, 2024
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Botany - Phytogeography
Principal Investigator:Fábio Pinheiro
Grantee:Fábio Pinheiro
Host Investigator: Ovidiu Paun
Host Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Research place: University of Vienna, Austria  


The study of species' geographic ranges and how they are influenced by ecological and genetic processes is of great importance in ecology and evolutionary biology. The center-periphery hypothesis' (CPH for further use) main goal is to explain ecological, genetic, and demographic variations along species distributions. According to the CPH, the environmental conditions would be optimal near the center of a species distribution, and harsher at the margins. DNA methylation is sensitive to the environment and is involved in organisms' plastic and adaptive responses to variable and stressful environments. Indeed, several stressors, including biotic (e.g. social and parasitic) and abiotic (e.g. thermal, mechanic and chemical) stresses, can induce modifications of DNA methylation profiles. In this project, we aim to investigate variation of DNA methylation, in the context of already available differential gene expression, along the distribution range of E. fulgens, comparing central and marginal populations. We have generated transcriptome data for 80 common garden grown individuals that originated from eight populations along the species geographic range, and this data will be used to compare gene expression profiles with the genetic and epigenetic diversity, using the same samples. We will use reduced representation sequencing techniques that will still enable a genome-wide investigation of DNA methylation patterns, which will allow us to better understand the epigenomic patterns of diversity along an environmental gradient of abiotic stress, which increases from central to range edge populations. (AU)

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