Department Aquatic Ecology

Adaptation & Conservation Genomics

I am interested in understanding the genomic mechanisms generating and maintaining biodiversity in aquatic ecosystems. Specifically, I use a wide range of molecular techniques and experimental approaches to uncover how organisms adapt to different environmental conditions, and ultimately infer their vulnerability and resilience in the face of rapid environmental changes. I mainly focus on native and invasive freshwater bivalve species in Switzerland to conduct my current research, but I have worked on a variety of study systems in the past such as fishes, echinoderms and protists.

My research is divided in three general topics:

1) (Epi)genomics of contemporary evolution in bivalves

Freshwater ecosystems are strongly impacted by anthropogenic activities. These activities lead to habitat loss, pollution and climate change. If species cannot reach more suitable habitats, they are under selective pressure to develop adaptive strategies to cope with these new environmental conditions. I am interested to understand the adaptive genomic and epigenomic mechanisms in response to pollution and climate change in native and invasive species of bivalve.

2) Conservation genomics of freshwater mussels

Despite providing essential ecosystem services, freshwater mussels are strongly declining in their natural habitats, because of a combination of several factors including habitat loss, the impact of environmental changes and the competition with invasive species. Genomics offer powerful tools to understand the vulnerability and resilience of populations, however there are currently very few genomic resources available for these species. I plan to sequence the genomes of all freshwater mussels in Switzerland, and conduct population genomics studies to develop and implement conservation strategies in the long term.

3) Developing tools and knowledge for genetic biocontrol of invasive bivalves

Aquatic invasive species such as the Quagga and Zebra mussels are harmful to the local biodiversity, but they also generate high costs to contain their spread, for instance in water treatment and power plants. This last research topic aims at developing tools and knowledge for potential genetic biocontrol of invasive species in Switzerland. Currently, I am focusing on inferring what kind of sex determination system do the invasive Quagga and Zebra mussels have. This information will be crucial to develop appropriate genetic biocontrol measures in the future.

For more information about my lab and research, visit the Research Group webpage.