Research projects

   (non exhaustive list)

Evolution and adaptation along depth gradients in the Mediterranean

    The depth gradients along Mediterranean coasts offer interesting models to study evolution and adaptation along environmental gradients in marine environment. Along a few tens of meters, one can observe important differences in mean and variance of temperature, especially in Summer. Marine heat waves led to mortality events in populations of various sessile marine species, with a differential impact according to depth. I currently use genetic and genomic tools (SNPs derived from transcriptome and RAD-sequencing) to study the potential adaptation of species to local thermal conditions along depth gradients. I also use genomic data to better understand the connectivity among populations from different depths. My main model species are octocorals: Corallium rubrum, Paramuricea clavata, Eunicella cavolini.

    A few references (complete list here)

Pratlong M, Haguenauer A, Brener K, Mitta G, Toulza E, Garrabou J, Bensoussan N, Pontarotti P*, Aurelle D* (2018). Separate the wheat from the chaff: genomic analysis of local adaptation in the red coral Corallium rubrum (2018), bioRxiv, 306456, ver. 3 peer-reviewed and recommended by Peer Community in Evolutionary Biology.

Pivotto ID., Nerini D., Masmoudi M., Kara H., Chaoui L., Aurelle D. (2015) Highly contrasted responses of Mediterranean octocorals to climate change along a depth gradient. Royal Society Open Science, 2. http://rsos.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/2/5/140493

Pratlong M., Haguenauer A., Chabrol O., Klopp C., Pontarotti P., Aurelle D. (2015) The red coral (Corallium rubrum) transcriptome: a new resource for population genetics and local adaptation studies. Molecular Ecology Resources. 15(5), 1205-1215. doi: 10.1111/1755-0998.12383

Ledoux J.-B., Aurelle D., Bensoussan N., Marschal C., Féral J. P., Garrabou, J. (2014). Potential for adaptive evolution at species range margins: contrasting interactions between red coral populations and their environment in a changing ocean. Ecology and Evolution. doi: 10.1002/ece3.1324   http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ece3.1324/abstract

Phylogeny and speciation in cnidarians

   Cnidarian provide very interesting models to study the evolution of life cycles, life history traits, diversification and speciation. Because of important phenotypic plasticity, cryptic lineages and of a slow rate of evolution of mitochondrial DNA in some cnidarian lineages, species limits and species diversity also need to be revised with genomic approaches. I study the evolution of anthozoans (hexacorals such as hard corals, and octocorals such as gorgonians) at different phylogenetic scales: from inferences on phylogenetic relationships among main anthozoan lineages, to speciation and hybridization.

    A few references (complete list here)

Aurelle D., Pante E., Ledoux J.-B., Sartoretto S. (2019) Advances on the phylogenetic placement of the enigmatic octocoral Dendrobrachia Brook 1889. Zootaxa. 4674 (1),

Aurelle D.
, Pivotto I.D., Malfant M., Topçu N.E., Masmoudi M.B., Chaoui L., Kara M.H., Coelho M., Castilho R., Haguenauer A. (2017) Fuzzy species limits in Mediterranean gorgonians (Cnidaria, Octocorallia) : inferences on speciation processes. Zoologica Scripta, 46(6), 767-778.

Pratlong M., Haguenauer A., Chenesseau S.,  Brener K., Mitta G., Toulza E., Aurelle D.*, Pontarotti P.*  (2017) Evidences for a genetic sex-determination in Cnidaria, the Mediterranean red coral (Corallium rubrum). Royal Society Open Science, 4 (3), 160880 . http://rsos.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/4/3/160880 

Pratlong M., Rancurel C., Pontarotti P., Aurelle D. (2017). Monophyly of Anthozoa (Cnidaria): why do nuclear and mitochondrial phylogenies disagree?. Zoologica Scripta, 46(3), 363-371

van Ofwegen LP, Aurelle D., Sartoretto S (2014) A new genus of soft coral (Cnidaria, Octocorallia) from the Republic of Congo (Pointe-Noire Region). ZooKeys, 462, 1-10. doi: 10.3897/zookeys.462.8533

Population genetics of "outlier" marine metazoans

    In the open marine environment, metazoans with a long enough larval stage and high population sizes show low genetic structure. Mediterranean octocorals are "outlier" species in this context: despite a free larval stage, they show an important genetic structure at short distances. This pattern has important consequences for conservation and to better understand their evolution along environmental gradients (see above). I use genetic tools to study the connectivity among populations, the structure inside populations (departures from panmixia, relatedness), and the reproductive mode of these species. Started with microsatellites markers, these studies are now ongoing with high-throughput approaches such as RAD-sequencing.

   A few references (complete list here)

Aurelle, D., Tariel, J., Zuberer, F. Haguenauer A., Ribout C., Masmoudi M., Kara H., Chaoui L., Garrabou J., Ledoux J.-B., Gambi M. C. (2020) Genetic insights into recolonization processes of Mediterranean octocorals. Marine Biology. 167, 73. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00227-020-03684-z

Cánovas-Molina, A., Montefalcone, M., Bavestrello, G., Masmoudi, M. B., Haguenauer, A., Hammami, P., Chaoui, L., Kara; M.H.,
Aurelle, D. (2018). From depth to regional spatial genetic differentiation of Eunicella cavolini in the NW Mediterranean. Comptes Rendus Biologie, 341(9-10), 421-432.

Masmoudi M.B., Chaoui L., Topçu N.E., Hammami P., Kara M.H.,
Aurelle D. (2016) Contrasted levels of genetic diversity in a benthic Mediterranean octocoral: Consequences of different demographic histories? Ecology and Evolution, 6(24), 8665-8678.  

Ledoux J.-B.,  Garrabou J., Bianchimani O., Drap P., Féral J.-P., Aurelle D. (2010) Fine-scale genetic structure and inferences on population biology in the threatened Mediterranean red coral, Corallium rubrum.. Molecular Ecology, 19, 4204-4216.

Ledoux J.-B., Mokhtar-Jamaï K., Roby C., Féral J.-P., Garrabou J., Aurelle D. (2010) Genetic survey of shallow populations of the Mediterranean red coral (Corallium rubrum (Linnaeus, 1758)): new insights into evolutionary processes shaping current nuclear diversity and implications for conservation. Molecular Ecology, 19, 675–690.

Main fundings:

Amidex         ANR  
OT-Med           Eccorev

The yellow gorgonian Eunicella cavolini; Photo: D. Guillemain