Adaptation, phenotypic plasticity and the brain in a changing world

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Several seminars are held weekly at the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência, an initiative that aims to bring together all researchers around the topics under discussion.

The sessions, with internal researchers or guests, contribute to stimulate the open and extremely collaborative culture of the IGC.

You can read the abstract of this seminar to learn more about it.


Anthropogenic activities are causing the global climate to change at an unprecedented rate. A plethora of studies have now shown that such rapid changes in the environment, including thermal anomalies and acidification of aquatic ecosystems can have severe consequences for aquatic organisms. We have been investigating the impacts of environmental change on the neurobiology and genomic regulations in marine organisms with the ultimate goal of understanding adaptive potential and resilience to climate change. Through transgenerational exposure to ocean acidification we deciphered short-term, developmental effects as well as the influence of parental effects on the brain. Furthermore, collections in the wild during heatwaves and at CO2 seeps allowed us to understand the common and variable responses among species and revealed different levels of plasticity and adaptive potential owing to evolutionary rates. Lastly, we find that climate change-stressors also alter crucial inter-specific behaviors in fish, such as cleaning interactions, and we exhibit the changes to the underlying molecular mechanisms in different brain regions revealing a major influence on mutualism maintenance with potential large-scale effects on marine ecosystems.


Celia Schunter
The University of Hong Kong


Rui Oliveira



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