Unravelling Evolutionary Physiology Landscapes of Coastal marine Fauna Under Extreme Temperatures using a Multi-Layer Systems Biology Approach



ExtremeOceans proposes that the understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying plasticity, adaptation and vulnerability of species subjected to ocean warming and heat waves can help us predict consequences beyond the narrow time-frame of climate change effects-oriented research. The main aim of ExtremeOceans is to unravel the genomic basis of adaptation and the role of epigenetics in phenotypic plasticity, describing the regulation of functional molecular networks and biological pathways of marine species under seasonal warming and heat wave events.

To tackle this challenge, our team will use a multi-layer Systems Biology approach to integrate several lines of evidence:


  • variation in biomolecular profiles of wild intertidal fish populations across climate provinces and seasons in the Portuguese coast, determined by multi-omics analyses (transcriptomics, epigenomics and proteomics);


  • assessment of individuals’ performance under heat wave scenarios in lab experiments, based on selected endpoints with physiological and ecological relevance;


  • iii) macroevolutionary analyses of genes, proteins, molecular networks, physiological adaptations and ecological and functional traits using Bayesian modelling approaches.


Based on the critical understanding of physiological networks, their interactions and evolution, and how these determine key functional traits important for modifying tolerance limits in marine species, we will be able to ultimately screen the tree of life for heat vulnerable or tolerant species, providing information on dynamic interactions and radiation processes.

Principal Investigator (PI)

Sara Carolina Gusmão Coito Madeira, NOVA.ID.FCT

UAlg’s PI: Catarina Vinagre – Ester Serrão,
CCMar – University of Algarve
Type of Collaboration: NOVA-UAlg