• IBE
  • IBE
  • IBE

Uncovering the hidden diversity of the oceans

The Project

Do you dare to discover new species and get to know the required steps to characterize it? Learn how to culture, describe and analyze in an evolutionary context a new lineage using cutting edge techniques. If you are eager to uncover a new organism that no one has seen before, this is your project.

Scientists at the IBE often receive samples from all over the world containing potential new species. In this case we have received a new specimen from the Arctic Ocean. The so called AB19 by the researchers was isolated from the digestive tract of the filter feeding mussel (amphipod) in a group of islands of Canada. It belongs to the clade of Ichthyosporeans, and we suspect it might be a new unicellular marine species showing a very complex life cycle and features similar to animals and fungi.

In the workshop you will have to describe this marine organism. As other samples, AB19 has the potential to become a new species. Therefore, its study would have an evolutionary importance to gain knowledge about biodiversity and the origin of animals and funghi on Earth.

In the first part of the workshop we will use in vivo imaging techniques in parallel to molecular studies with the goal of characterizing the unknown microorganism. We will use different molecular biology techniques to characterize AB19 starting with fluorescence microscopy imaging followed by DNA extraction, PCR, Electrophoresis and DNA sequencing.

In the second part of the workshop we will use computational biology tools to analyze the outcomes obtained from the experimental part. Software for microscopy images edition will be used to describe AB19’s life cyle and morphology. The DNA sequencing results will allow us to perform phylogenetic analyses in order to know where it is placed within the tree of life. At the end of the process, we will have a full profile of the species incluing its genome, and microscopy videos showing how it looks like and how its life cycle is. Once analyzed all the information, we will know whether AB19 is a new species or not, and if so, we will have to name it!

Finally, we will debate the importance of gaining knowledge about the real diversity of the planet and how this is essential for reconstructing our ancestor in order to better understand our origins.

Matching profiles

Evolutionary biology, biochemistry, biology, genetics, microbiology, bioinformatics

Required materials

Lab coat, laptop

Coordinator of the project
Núria Ros

Núria Ros

Núria Ros has a Bachelor in Biotechnology (University of Vic) and a Master in Biomedical Research (Pompeu Fabra University). Since 2014, she is a PhD student in evolutionary biology trying to unravel the origin of animal multicellularity by studying a unicellular relative of animals. She has been involved in several projects to try to better understand this organism continuing her formation with microscopy courses and a stage at Harvard University. Besides this, during all these years she has complemented her scientific career with several outreach and teaching activities, always trying to engage the general public and especially future students with interest for sciences.

Alicia Sánchez

Alicia Sánchez

Alicia Sánchez has a Bachelor in Biology with a major in Zoology (Complutense University of Madrid), and a Master in Primatology (University of Barcelona). During her studies, she did some fieldwork with turtles in Cape Verde and later on in a primary rainforest of Madagascar, where she could study lemur behaviour for 7 months. In 2015 she started her PhD in IBE (UPF-CSIC) in Barcelona (Spain). Her PhD is focused on the study of diversity patterns and phylogenies in animals and their unicellular relatives, with the aim of discovering new molecular lineages to complete part of the tree of life. She is also involved in scientific outreach to promote the communication of basic science to the general public.

Alberto Pérez

Alberto Pérez

Alberto Pérez-Posada did a BS in Biology at the University of Seville, having spent his last year working as a researcher student in Protist Gene Regulation. He moved to Barcelona for a MSc in Genetics and Genomics at Universidad de Barcelona, with a MSc scholarship from Catalunya-La Pedrera Foundation. He did his Master thesis under the supervision of Iñaki Ruiz Trillo, and continued in the same laboratory for the PhD project at Universitat Pompeu Fabra. After one year, he has been working in the development for genetic tools in the unicellular relatives of animals, as well as the role of pivotal gene regulators in the unicellular context of these organisms.

The center
IBE

The Institute of Evolutionary Biology (IBE) is a joint institute between the University Pompeu Fabra (UPF) and the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) which is dedicated to the study of the processes and mechanisms that generate biodiversity.