The Swedish Research council awarded in total 45 projects at Stockholm University in the subject science and technology. Among the projects that got the most contribution was Tanja Slottes project with 4, 3 million crowns.  FORMAS is a government research council for sustainable development and DEEP also received grants from them. Here below you can have a brief overview of what the awarded VR and FORMAS projects are about.

VR projects

Tanja Slotte.

Tanja Slotte: “The role of structural variation for the origin and evolution of a classic supergene”

Supergenes are sets of loci that can maintain adaptive combinations of traits, because they are inherited as a unit. They are responsible for a wide range of balanced polymorphisms in nature, yet our understanding of their origins and evolution remains incomplete. We aim to use the latest advances in genomic technologies to
study the origins and evolution of a classic supergene, the distyly S-locus. Distyly is a balanced floral polymorphism that has attracted the attention of many generations of biologists, including Darwin, yet we still know surprisingly little about the molecular evolution of the distyly S-locus. Here, we aim to study the evolution of the distyly supergene in Linum (wild flaxseed species), a classic system for the study of distyly, with the main aim of investigating the role of inversions, insertions and other types of structural genomic changes for the evolution of the S-locus. We are specifically interested in understanding of the extent to which structural changes at the S-locus represent a cause vs. a consequence of suppressed recombination, and whether introgression has contributed to the evolution of the supergene. To address these questions, we will use high-quality genomic data and a broad comparative genomic approach. The results from this project are important for an improved understanding of the processes that govern supergene evolution and the origins of coadapted gene complexes.

Awarded: 4 280 000 SEK

Johan Ehrlén.

Johan Ehrlén: ”Natural selection underlying counter-gradient patterns of environmental and genetic effects of geothermal soil heating on timing of reproduction"

This project we will examine how small-scale differences in temperature caused by geothermal soil heating influence plastic responses of flowering phenology in three perennial plant species, and how this response influences natural selection and genetic responses. We will test three predictions: (1) Natural selection is acting to compensate for maladaptive plastic responses, (2) This selection is partly be mediated by interactions with pollinators, insect prey and herbivores, and (3) Higher soil temperatures are associated with small-scale spatial genetic differentiation and local adaptation, exhibiting a counter-gradient pattern. We will use four main approaches to test these hypotheses; observational field studies to examine phenotypic trait selection, field experiments to assess the role of pollinators and prey availability as selective agents, climate chamber experiments with offspring from controlled crosses to examine genetically based differences in flowering time, and reciprocal transplantations of offspring from controlled crosses into field sites representing the full gradient of soil heating to assess phenotypic selection, genotypic selection and local adaptation.

The results of this project will be important as very few previous studies have provided a thorough examination of the mechanisms underlying the relationship between plasticity, changes in selection and genetic differentiation, for a key life history trait.

Awarded: 2 520 000 SEK

Peter Hambäck.

Peter Hambäck: ”The ecology and evolution of indirect interactions in host-parasitoid systems”

To understand ecological and evolutionary consequences of species interactions, it is often necessary to include also the microbiome living inside the body of the focal organisms. For instance, the gut microbial community of insect herbivores affect both the capacity to use low quality food resources and defenses against natural enemies. For this reason, the gut microbiome often evolves together with the host but this process requires that the gut microbiome is transferred from females to off-spring, a process that is complicated in holometabolous insects. In this project, we aim to identify the transgenerational transfer of the gut microbiome and to understand the ecological role of the microbiome in a clade of leaf beetles, for which we have considerable ecological knowledge,. In some species in the study clade, females lay fecal strings on the eggs and we aim to test if this behavior is a means to transfer the microbiome by surface-sterilizing eggs. We will also sequence the gut microbial community of species within the clade to examine if the community is structure by host ecology or host phylogeny. Finally, we will manipulate the microbial community by transferring novel microbes after sterilization and then observe the capacity of the beetle larvae in utilizing their host plant and in defending themselves against attack by parasitic wasps.

Awarded: 3 955 000 SEK

Katharina Pawlowski.

Katharina Pawlowski: “The first steps towards a pumpkin with nitrogen fixating tubers”

(Project description soon to come)

Awarded: 3 200 000 SEK

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FORMAS projects

Agnes Karlsson.

Agnes Karlsson: ”Can cyanobacterial blooms make Baltic Sea fish less toxic?”

This project will investigate the contribution of cyanobacterial blooms to fish production and contaminant bioaccumulation in the Baltic Sea. Isotope tracer techniques will be used to quantify how much fixed nitrogen from cyanobacterial blooms, which are increasing in the Baltic Sea, contribute to herring growth. At any given size,

faster growing fish have lower levels of bioaccumulating contaminants such as dioxins. The previous view of cyanobacterial blooms being detrimental to the Baltic Sea ecosystem has been re-evaluated and accumulating evidence demonstrates that they support secondary production during summer, when herring is food-limited.

In the proposed project we will carry out a synthesis on monitoring data from the last few decades. We will also analyse archived samples of fish from the Swedish contaminant monitoring program and invertebrates from other monitoring programs for stable isotopes with particular focus on nitrogen isotopes in amino-acids. Finally, using fish bioenergetic models coupled to the isotope data we will calculate fish growth and bioaccumulation of contaminants under varying environmental conditions ranging from low to high cyanobacterial bloom intensity. In doing so we will establish threshold levels for cyanobacterial blooms where positive effects on fish production and the bioaccumulation of contaminants can be expected.

Awarded: 2 900 000 SEK

 

Johan Eklöf.

 

Johan Eklöf:  ”Spatially cascading regime shifts - using network theory to understand and reverse the 'stickleback wave”

(Project description soon to come)

Awarded:  3 000 000 SEK