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Adaptive convergent evolution of hematophagy-related genes in Insecta

Grant number: 17/25058-2
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2018
Effective date (End): July 30, 2020
Field of knowledge:Biological Sciences - Genetics - Animal Genetics
Principal Investigator:Mariana Freitas Nery
Grantee:Lucas Araujo Freitas
Host Institution: Instituto de Biologia (IB). Universidade Estadual de Campinas (UNICAMP). Campinas , SP, Brazil
Associated scholarship(s):18/19682-8 - Theoretical aspects of adaptive and convergent molecular evolution and their applications in comparative genomics, BE.EP.PD


Hematophagy has evolved independently multiple times over the evolutionary history of Insecta and it is of particular interest because many blood-feeding insects act as vectors of diseases leading to negative impacts in human health and animal husbandry. Overall, vector-borne diseases (VBDs) account for more than 1 million human deaths each year (> 17% of all infectious diseases) and are responsible for billions of dollars in economical losses. Further, the study of the evolution and maintenance of the hematophagic behavior in insects is important as it may inform policy on disease control in humans and animals. The advent of next-generation sequencing technologies has boosted the field of comparative genomics, allowing the massive characterization and functional annotation of many genes along genomes and enabling the study of adaptive convergent evolution at the molecular level. This evolutionary event occurs when proteins evolving along separate, independent lineages, converge to the same molecular pattern, indicating convergence to the same molecular function. Then, the aim of this project is identify proteins evolving under adaptive convergent evolution in hematophagous insects. The identification of hematophagy-related genes evolving under positive selection and convergent evolution could guide scientists from other fields (e.g. biochemists and genetic engineers) in the development of new strategies to deal with these vectors (e.g., CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing). The software pipeline implemented during the project will be made freely available under an open source license. This way, our research strategy will be directed to the study of hematophagous species, but our joint convergent evolutionary analysis approach could be easily expanded to answer biological questions for the three domains of life and viruses. (AU)

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Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
FREITAS, LUCAS; NERY, MARIANA F.. Expansions and contractions in gene families of independently-evolved blood-feeding insects. BMC Evolutionary Biology, v. 20, n. 1, . (17/25058-2, 18/19682-8, 15/18269-1)
DA SILVA RAMOS, ELISA KAREN; FREITAS, LUCAS; NERY, MARIANA F.. The role of selection in the evolution of marine turtles mitogenomes. SCIENTIFIC REPORTS, v. 10, n. 1, . (15/18269-1, 17/25058-2, 18/01236-1)

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