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Sapienza University of Rome

Country: Italy

Sapienza University of Rome

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538 Projects, page 1 of 108
  • Funder: EC Project Code: 793212
    Overall Budget: 180,277 EURFunder Contribution: 180,277 EUR

    The extinction of species is the most alarming consequence of global biodiversity decline, with potential dramatic effects on our economy and well-being. The current rate of climate change is predicted to further increase extinction risk, hence there is urgent need to anticipate species decline rather than reacting to it. The breadth of a species’ niche - the set of environmental conditions in which the species can persist - is the key ecological trait that allows adaptation to environmental change, but is largely ignored in conservation planning applications. The goal of the PROTECTNICHE project is to disentangle the impacts of humans, climate change, and life history on the climatic niches of terrestrial mammals to inform a conservation strategy for preventing future species declines. This goal incorporates 3 objectives: i) Attribute the global change in past species climatic niches to intrinsic and extrinsic drivers; ii) Based on the models developed in Obj. 1, define a measure of adaptability to climate change for each species; iii) Based on the outcome of Obj. 2, develop a global conservation strategy to maximise the protection of species climatic niches while minimising their exposure to climate change. The project focuses on the world's terrestrial mammals, a data-rich group currently facing significant extinction rates, to develop and theoretically ground a conservation planning approach that can be also transfered to other taxa. Building on my expertise on extinction risk analysis and conservation planning, and the habitat and climatic modelling capabilities of Dr Rondinini and the Global Mammal Assessment lab, this project will define a proactive conservation plan where actions are prioritised to preserve species adaptive potential under global change. This is a research area of primary interest in Europe, given the EC has recognised that business opportunities from investing in biodiversity conservation could be worth US$ 2-6 trillion by 2050.

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  • Funder: EC Project Code: 279558
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  • Funder: EC Project Code: 101078838
    Overall Budget: 1,500,000 EURFunder Contribution: 1,500,000 EUR

    The last decades have seen an extraordinary leap in our knowledge of the human genome and its role in health and disease. Yet, approximately 5% of our DNA still lacks sequence annotation and has been largely excluded from functional and disease-association studies. These genomic gaps include DNA repeats such as centromeres, which are large tandem arrays of alpha-satellite DNA. Centromere’s chromatin is functionally essential for chromosome segregation serving as the basal template for the mitotic kinetochore. A recent breakthrough has been the complete genome assembly, including centromeres, of a haploid cell line derived from fetoplacental growth of a molar pregnancy. However, centromeres sequence and size vary across tissues, between individuals and in disease states. The main challenges are to understand how is centromere variation generated and especially, the consequences at a functional level. The specific objectives of my project are: (1) Identify the mutagenic processes and DNA repair responses operating at centromeres; (2) Determine the impact of centromeres’ sequence variation on chromatin structure, kinetochore function and chromosome behavior; and (3) Understand how these changes contribute to genome instability, cellular phenotypes and disease predisposition. The originality of this project is to follow a multidisciplinary approach that combines experimental studies – spanning structural biochemistry to cell biology – and bioinformatic analyses, that will benefit from the information on centromere reference already available and soon to be generated. The proposed research therefore represents a very appropriate and timely contribution to provide an integrated view of human centromere variation and its role in determining phenotypic traits. Furthermore, it will provide important insight on the functional role of the “missing genome” in human diseases and promises to yield key information and tools for expanding this novel field.

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  • Funder: EC Project Code: 220871
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  • Funder: EC Project Code: 839363
    Overall Budget: 183,473 EURFunder Contribution: 183,473 EUR

    Animal cultures represent an often neglected layer of biological diversity and a powerful model for the study of human evolution. Robust capuchin monkeys (Sapajus spp.) are emerging as a new model for cultural and technological evolution in humans, phylogenetically independent from the established chimpanzee model. Available data suggest a great potential for cultural diversity across the robust capuchins range, especially within the tool use domain. However, capuchins’ behavioural diversity remains so far mostly unknown. This fellowship will establish an innovative, multidisciplinary protocol to map tool use traditions across space and time in wild capuchins not habituated to human presence. The training through research activity will allow me, a field primatologist, to acquire essential skills to describe animal tool use from an archeological perspective and strengthen my ability to conceive, design and apply behavioral experiments. Specifically, I propose to: - use environmental surveys and camera trap monitoring to describe tool use behaviour at a new site in terms of behavioural repertoire, tool selection and tool transport; - test and apply a new approach, based on field experiments, to detect tool use behaviours in primate populations not habituated to human presence; - excavate tool use sites to trace the temporal development of technological traditions at a previously unstudied geographical location with unhabituated capuchins. This research will i) extend, for the first time, the field of primate archeology to unhabituated populations of non-human tool-using primates and ii) serve as a platform to launch a large-scale, multidisciplinary exploration of technological and cultural diversity in robust capuchins. This will ultimately allow to tackle the ecological and cultural drivers of behavioural diversity in capuchins and to shed light into evolutionary scenarios about human cultural evolution and the emergence of tool use.

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