Comparative Genomics of Non-Model Invertebrates

Zeyuan Chen

Zeyuan Chen is working on ESR Project 10: Genomics and resilience of Limacina pteropods under the supervsion of Prof Michael Schrödl at SNSB - Zoologische Staatssammlung München. Her project is related to the Genomics and resilience of Limacina pteropods (sea butterflies). Limacina pteropods are abundant and ecologically important in global oceans and as a key indicator of the acidification process. However, recent research has highlighted complex phylogeny and a high degree of differentiation between Limacina species group, which shows the limitations of traditional taxonomic methods. In her project, Zeyuan decided to generate genomes of various Limacina species, resolve the taxonomic status of the L. helicina group and delimit cryptic species.She is also very interested in the historical process of their evolution, such as when and why and how they differentiated into different species and distribute to different regions. Another important thing is to identify informative genes for species distinction and shell biomineralization and search for insights into how genomic mechanisms are influenced by ocean acidification and their resilience to environmental change through comparative genomics. This research will be very interesting and meaningful.

Before IGNITE, Zeyuan obtained a Bachelor degree in Biotechnology at Quanzhou Normal University, China, which opened a door of biology to her. After that, she earned a Master degree in Ecology at the Sichuan University, China. During her studies there, Zeyuan entered into the world of evolution, focusing her research on Populus ilicifolia, an endangered poplar species that is located in the southernmost region of the world. Through whole-genome sequencing, assembly, and evolutionary analysis, she found genomic signals such as positive selective genes, expansion genes that are closely related to its tropical adaptation. Also, through whole-genome resequencing, Zeyuan comprehensively assessed genetic diversity, inbreeding coefficient, population dynamics, and genetic load of P. ilicifolia population. In her own words: "I really hope that my research will provide some guide and contribution to the protection of P. ilicifolia and in the promotion of this project, I accumulated extensive knowledge of genetics and bioinformatics, and lots of skills on processing whole-genome sequencing data."

When it comes to research, Zeyuan has a strong interest in the origin and evolution of life.

"Nature is magical, it is just the different arrangement of ATGC forms millions of lives. It's like a book, recording stories, changes and history traces of a life. The good thing is, we can use bioinformatics tools to interpret what they have experienced in the long years, speculate on what their ancestors looked like, and even predict their futures. Evolution is a very interesting story, and I want to explore it, discover it and be a good storyteller."

Outside of her provessional interests, Zeyuan's hobby is dancing and she also wants to be a good dancer. Zeyuan enjoys to be in the nature, especially creeks, lakes, rivers, and the sea. She also likes to experience different things, cultures, customs and record her feelings and experiences.

Institution: SNSB - Zoologische Staatssammlung München

ESR Project 10: Genomics and resilience of Limacina pteropods

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