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Belgrade Drosophila Group




Dynamics of gene pool, genetic and phenotypic variability of populations, determined by the environmental changes
Technological Development, grant No OI173012, 2011-) The project is focused to the key problem of conservation and population genetics, the range and dynamic of genetic and phenotypic variability through the study of integrative response of populations under conditions of spatially and temporally changing environment, environmental and genomic stress. Due to the associations of genetic diversity with evolutive potential of populations, the obtained data on genetic and phenotypic diversity of selected species will give insight into their capacity to cope with environmental changes. One direction of the project uses Drosophila species and populations, which allows understanding of mechanisms and adaptive potential of variability through monitoring of genetic structure of natural populations and their adaptive response in laboratory conditions. Another direction of research covers phenotypic and genetic variability in natural populations of economically important taxons, Syrphidae and Culicidae from the wider range in Europe to evaluate the evolutionary potential of those spatially and temporally fragmented species. The scope and research results enable understanding of genome - environmental interactions and processes and mechanisms that influence dynamics of gene pools associated with microevolutive processess and adaptation to climatic change, pollution, habitat fragmentation. The results have findamental significance in population biology and are aplicative in conservation and biodiversity protection.
Ecological and genetical studies of Drosophila populations from the central Balkans
(Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts; PI: Academician Marko Andjelkovic) The central Balkans is region of large spatial ecological and biological diversity, and also one of the main glacial refugia. As such, this region provide valuable possibitlities for specific population genetics and evolutionary biology research. The projects involves long term study of Drosophila (mostly D. subobscura) species from ecological ad genetic aspect. Combination of field and laboratory research is aimed to reveal the significance of different parameters that shaped the evolution and genetic structure of populations in specific habitats of Balkan. Spatial and temporal dynamic of genetic variability is analysed through chromosomal, nuDNA and mtDNA polymorphism. The obtained results contibute to general biodiversity studies of Balkan region and are basis for creating biological monitoring system in conservation programs.
TEMEGENS - The effect of increased concentration of heavy metals in the environment on genetic structure and adaptive processes in natural populations of organisms
(2019-2021 Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Belgrade, Serbia). Organisms survive in changing and stressful environments under different selection pressures due to pollution through general and specific responses. The aim of this research is to assess the influence of certain heavy metals, represented in increased concentration in nature due to anthropogenic activities, on the genetic structure and adaptation of natural populations of organisms. In comparative studies of experimental evolution in conditions with and without elevated metal concentrations, changes in genetic polymorphism entities, expression of genes and proteins involved in general or specific response to pollution stress of populations of different origin will be examined. One of the defense mechanisms by which organisms react to the action of heavy metals is the induction of metalloprotein (MT) synthesis whose function is to maintain homeostasis and detoxification through oxido-reduction processes through different affinities for metal ion binding. Six Mtn genes (MtnA-F) are known in the Drosophila genome and specific binding of some metals has been identified for some of their products. This research also questions whether increased metal concentrations affect the dynamics and diversity of the microbiota in Drosophila species from the same locality.
SERBHIWE - Honey bees of Serbia, wild vs. managed colonies through the eyes of population geneticists
(2020-2022 Science Fund of the Republic of Serbia). Western honey bee (Apis mellifera) is an invaluable pollinator that single-handedly pollinates more than half of the world's animal-pollinated crops. An estimated market price of additional crop production stemming from animal pollination service in 2015 was valued between 235 and 577 billion US$, and nearly 75% of global food crop types depend on animal pollination. These data show us an importance and value of A. mellifera and why it is necessary to address the problem of serious decline in numbers of managed honey bees' societies worldwide. Decline in numbers has a major consequence in the form of loss of genetic diversity, and genetic diversity is an essential factor that enables species to evolve and survive in changing environment. To address this global problem we plan to act locally by analyzing genetic variability present in honey bees' populations in different natural habitats in Serbia. Main difference between our and similar projects conducted in Europe is the plan to analyze honey bees' populations that have been living in the wild, without human interference for a long time, i.e. wild and feral societies. These natural populations are of paramount importance since they are an excellent reserve of genetic diversity that may be used to restore the honey bees' fitness and improve their ability to respond to problems they are facing today. This project will:
  • identify and sample wild, feral and managed communities in natural habitats;
  • establish a clear picture of population structure of Serbian honey bees;
  • determine if there is a need for devising a better strategy for the management of domesticated honey bees and conservation of wild populations.
For the first time the data about genetic variability of wild honey bees' in the regions where they are autochthonous species will be collected providing the ground for the restoration of this economically and ecologically invaluable species.