The Laboratory of Evolutionary and Adaptive Physiology LEAP (Silvestre Lab) from the University of Namur, Belgium, is one of the 4 laboratories belonging to the Research Unit in Environmental and Evolutionary Biology (URBE) within the Department of Biology. It is also a member of the Institute of Life, Earth and Environment (ILEE).
Our researches belong to integrative, comparative and evolutionary physiology. We aim to investigate the impacts of environmental changes (pollution, temperature, salinity, etc) on aquatic organisms at different levels: molecular, physiological, phenotypic. Different aquatic species are studied with priorities given to fish models. If we are using zebrafish as a common laboratory model, our main current interests concern two killifish species: the mangrove rivulus, Kryptolebias marmoratus, and the Turquoise killifish, Nothobranchius furzeri. The former has a unique mixed-mating system that allows self-fertilization, while the latest has a very short life-span (around 20 weeks). Our approaches try to understand how these organisms are affected by environmental stress and how they can acclimate, adapt and evolve. The mangrove rivulus, with its very low genetic diversity, is a perfect model to study the role of epigenetics in adaptation and evolution, while the turquoise killifish is great to decipher the interplay between pollutants and aging. We have developed a workflow of DNA methylation analysis and strive to correlate environmental cues, epigenetic mechanisms, molecular phenotype (at transcriptomic and proteomic levels) and organism phenotype, mainly of behavioural traits. We are combining laboratory experiments (e.g. pollutant exposure, DNA methylation analysis, fish respirometry, fish behaviour) with bioinformatic analyses and field experiments and sampling (in Florida and Belize). All together we aim at investigating proximate (mechanistic) and ultimate (evolutionary) consequences of environmental changes on organisms.