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Diversity and evolution of deep-sea fishes: DEEP-OCEAN

Grant number: 17/12909-4
Support type:BIOTA-FAPESP Program - Young Investigators Grants
Duration: March 01, 2018 - February 28, 2022
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Zoology
Principal Investigator:Marcelo Roberto Souto de Melo
Grantee:Marcelo Roberto Souto de Melo
Home Institution: Instituto Oceanográfico (IO). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Assoc. researchers:Anderson Garbuglio de Oliveira ; Christian Hoffmann ; Claudio de Oliveira


The deep ocean is the largest ecosystem on earth, and has extremes conditions for life due to its low temperature, high pressure and gradual reduction of sun light, which makes photosynthesis impossible starting at 200 m depth until total darkness, from 1,000 m and beyond. It is estimated that 10 to 15% of all fish species inhabit depths greater than 500 m. In Brazil, the REVIZEE project (1994-2004) created a basic knowledge about Brazilian deep-sea fish diversity, recording 734 species of Myxini, Chondrichthyes and Osteichthyes. However, the high costs of equipment and research vessels necessary for the expeditions represented a limitation to further developing the projects, leaving large unexplored areas, and a relatively small number of samples deposited on scientific collections useful for taxonomic reviews and molecular analyses. In the DEEP-OCEAN project (Diversity and evolution of deep-sea fishes), different aspects of deep-sea fish biodiversity will be examined. The major goal is to obtain new samples of fishes and invertebrates, including tissues for molecular analysis, from 500 to 2,000 m depths, from South and Southeast Brazil and the Rio Grande rise. The specific objectives include studies of taxonomy, phylogeny, and biogeography of deep-sea fishes, using both traditional and molecular methods of DNA barcoding, and to understand the mechanisms of coevolution of chemical compounds (luciferin and luciferase) and symbiotic bacteria in bioluminescent fish. The trawls will be made on board of the R/V Alpha Crucis using bottom and mid-water nets. The expeditions and analyses will be made in collaboration with Drs. Anderson Oliveira (USP), Christian Hoffman (USP), Claudio Oliveira (UNESP), Paulo Sumida (IO-USP), Rodrigo Caires (prospective postdoctoral fellow at IO-USP), and Tracey Sutton (Nova Southeastern University), besides undergraduate and graduate students. The project will have a major role in generating data to improve our understanding about the impacts caused by fisheries, oil extraction, and mining industries on the deep-sea fauna of the Western South Atlantic. (AU)

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