Daniela Monsanto

PhD Candidate

Spatial-temporal variation in Collembola on sub-Antarctic Marion Island

(with Prof. David Hedding, Drs Charlene Janion-Scheepers and Raquel Godinho)

The sub-Antarctic islands represent natural outdoor laboratories to uncover the biotic and abiotic factors that influence the genomic architecture of organisms. The Marion Island landscape has been shaped by eight volcanic eruptions and five glacial events, leading to the formation of distinct landforms and heterogeneous landscapes. This complex landscape, along with the ever-changing climatic conditions experienced by Southern Ocean islands, provides opportunities for innovative genetic research. Although a body of literature have shown that the biology and behaviour of species, together with the island’s history, heterogeneous landscape, and climatic conditions play a role in shaping spatial genetic patterns, these studies were largely based on relatively uninformative markers (when considering adaptations specifically).

Daniela is using next-generation sequencing technologies to develop a suite of informative markers (including whole gnome assembly) to address ecological and evolutionary questions of the springtail species, Cryptopygus antarcticus travei, on Marion Island. Her work will allow us to identify the forces that impose strong selection pressures on the organism and the genes that experience selection in response to environmental change.