Biodiversity and evolution through bioinformatics
Why is it important to know what species are on the planet and how they have evolved throughout history? The first life forms originated almost 4 billion years ago. Since then, and surviving several mass extinctions, a huge diversity of organisms has been generated, of which only about 2 million species have been catalogued. Currently, we are in the midst of a major biodiversity crisis where the rate of extinction is about a thousand times greater than that of natural causes. In this project we learn about biodiversity and the evolutionary processes that generate and maintain it over time, the genetic structure of the species and their ability to adapt to the environment, vital aspects in order to preserve the planet's wealth and ensure its future, and ours.
What will you learn?
According to many scientists, environmental pressure on humans has triggered the sixth major extinction. This, coupled with the lack of experts and the current political and economic situation, make it difficult to discover and describe the 10 million species that are estimated to inhabit the Earth before they completely disappear. In this project we work the bases of the evolution and of the genetics from a theoretical, functional and conservationist point of view, emphasising the genetic and morphological particularities that allow us to differentiate and to analyse the different organisms.
During this process, you will obtain the knowledge and tools needed to design and develop your own research. You will learn how to identify organisms in situ, in the vicinity of the MónNatura Pirineus centre, using the latest molecular biology tools to extract and sequence the DNA of the samples obtained, as well as cutting edge technology and computational tools to be able to analyse them. Through fieldwork and lab experiments, you can validate, from a genetic point of view, the identification you had previously made using bioinformatics methods. Who knows, maybe there will be a few surprises! If we find a new species, we will have to name it, so think about what you would call it!
All the concepts are explained through case studies, the project also includes scientific discussions and challenges about biodiversity and evolution in order to stimulate the critical spirit and your passion for science.
Project led by researchers of the Pompeu Fabra University (UPF), the Research Institute for Insect Biology (IRBI), CNRS-University of Tours in France; and the University of Washington, (United States). Project developed in Spanish and Catalan.