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24, chemin de Borde Rouge –Auzeville – CS52627
31326 Castanet Tolosan CEDEX - France

Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Flagship project 2 - Adaptative capacity of agroecosystems

Flagship project 2: Understanding and improving the adaptive capacity of agroecosystems through knowledge of genetics and evolution

Understanding the mechanisms and limits to adaptive change in agroecosystems and their components in the face of global change is a major challenge with important socio-economic consequences, including for food security, protection of biodiversity, control of invasive species and emergence of human, animal or crop diseases.

This project focuses on understanding the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms behind adaptation of species and how it influences and is influenced by higher organisational levels such as population dynamics, biotic interactions, ecosystem functioning and direct and indirect human intervention on the diverse components of agrobiodiversity. To gain this understanding, we need to know how global change influences natural selection on traits and adaptive genetic variation, but also how agricultural practices and public policy will influence selection and dispersal of adaptative variation through agroecosystems and landscapes.

We will investigate genetic, ecological and societal processes involved in the adaptive evolution and coevolution of a set of model species representing plants, insects and microorganisms. We will develop an integrated (from gene to ecosystem) and interdisciplinary (biological and social sciences) approach that combines mathematical models with controlled laboratory experiments, field observations and field experiments in contrasting land use intensities and in different social and agricultural settings, in particular in intensive European agricultural systems and more extensive agricultural systems in developing countries.

We will investigate processes and patterns of adaptation using three broad approaches:

♦ Modeling: The BASC consortium has expertise in developing and exploring complex models on the genetic basis of trait variation and the evolution of traits under heterogeneous selection regimes using likelihood or approximate Bayesian approaches. We also develop predictive models using multi-agent approaches that integrate individual to population processes (adaptation and species interactions) with human activities.  Multi-agent models will also be used to understand and predict the adaptation of pests and disease vectors to changing patterns of human land use, along with likelihood models to infer adaptation in the context of biological control.

♦ Investigating the heritable and plastic components of adaptive trait variation: Several of our teams work on comparative genomics and transcriptomics of plants, insects, pathogens and other microbes and their interactions. Our aim is to integrate investigations of genetic variation at different scales (genes, networks of genes, species and ecosystems) using data available from new sequencing technologies, to characterize the adaptive component of gene expression variation, and to make the link between genetic/epigenetic and phenotypic variation.

♦ Investigating how natural selection and human practices generate pattern and process of adaptation: Several groups within the BASC consortium study how gene flow among wild, feral and domestic populations facilitates or limits population adaptation to local abiotic and biotic conditions, the latter including species interactions and coevolving hosts, pathogens, herbivores and mutualists. We intend to investigate how changes in agricultural practices, e.g., in response to global change, modify both gene flow, with exchange of adaptive variation among wild and cultivated populations, and the nature/intensity of selection. We will document the changes in agricultural practices and public policies in response to global change and investigate the effect of this on natural and artificial selection regimes experienced by wild and domesticated species and their pests, e.g., to understand the success of particular cultivars and to predict emerging diseases and pests on domesticated and wild species.

Two positions were filled to advance this work:

> Engineer « Caracterisation of structural variation within genomes through re-sequencing » - Yasmine Nooroya – 24 months

> PhD student « Demogenetics and environmental engineering: use of genetics to improve global change responses models » - Arnaud Becheler – 36 months

Coordinators: Stéphane Dupas (EGCE) & Maud Tenaillon (GQE-Le Moulon)