Doñana Biological Station

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 Our research focuses on the study of ecological interactions between plants and animals, and on their leading role in the micro and macroevolutionary processes underlying the astounding diversification of higher plants (Angiosperms). Within this conceptual framework we conduct a multidisciplinary research combining field work, molecular genetics and epigenetics, and chemical and microbiological analyses. We are currently paying special attention to the possible role of nectar microbes (yeasts and bacteria) in plant-pollinator interactions, and to the potential role of epigenetic variation in natural plant populations as a source of adaptations to pollinators, microbes, herbivores and abiotic stressors. Our aims may be grouped into three main research lines: - Unravelling three-way links between plant ecology, genetics and epigenetics. Along this line we pursue to understanding the potential of epigenetics in shaping plant-animal-microbe interactions and adaptation, particularly in stressful and seasonal environments, like Mediterranean ones. To accomplish this aim we focus on (i) the comparison between the genetic and epigenetic diversity, and the spatial structure of plant and microbe wild populations; (ii) the analysis of transgenerational epigenetic inheritance; and (iii) the role of epigenetics in resistance to extinction of naturally fragmented populations. - Uncovering the ecological and evolutionary consequences of nectar microbes in plant-pollinator interactions. The hidden role of yeasts in modifying nectar sugar amount and profile in wild flowers has been recently remarked by our research group. Now, we want to deepen on the ecological and microevolutionary consequences of nectar yeasts for plant-pollinator interactions. Exploring the effects of other microbes associated to nectar and wild fruits, as well as their biotechnological potential, is also included in our current research agenda. - Mediterranean ecosystems and endemic plant species are among our priority study subjects. Mediterranean ecosystems, probably as a consequence of their complex paleogeographic and paleoclimatic history, are characterized by extremely heterogeneous landscapes and highly stressful and changing abiotic conditions, which has contributed to the extraordinary rich Mediterranean plant biodiversity. Unsurprisingly, Mediterranean Basin is considered one of the most important Biodiversity Hotspots on Earth. Studying genetic identity, diversity and spatial structure of endemic and conservation priority plant taxa remains as a fundamental research objective. Results are also essential to assist managers to incorporate genetic diversity and plant-animal interactions as further key factors in the management of natural Mediterranean ecosystems under current conditions of accelerated climate change.


 Plant-Animal Interactions (IPA)

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    Estación Biólogica de Doñana - Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas - Apdo 1056 E - 41013 Sevilla
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