Mesoderm, the embryonic germ layer between ectoderm and endoderm, gives rise to major organs within the circulatory and excretory systems and to stabilizing tissues (muscles, bones, connective tissue). Although mesoderm is a key-innovation in evolutionary history, its origin and further diversification into the different organs and cell types of a broad range of animals has not been elucidated. Our knowledge of mesoderm development is mainly based on work performed in prominent model systems including vertebrates (fish, frog and mouse) and invertebrates that are distantly-related and considered to be highly derived (Drosophila and C. elegans). The project proposed herein aims to study mesoderm development in a variety of highly informative animal taxa and trace its differentiation into cell types and organs, with the ultimate aim of reconstructing the history of mesoderm during animal evolution. Our approach combines advanced bioinformatics, live-imaging and molecular methods, and will be carried out in nine representative species belonging to under-investigated animal groups. We will describe the morphological and molecular development of mesoderm in these species, and the differentiation of two important mesodermal cell types: nephridia and blood. Using this information we will be able to infer the embryology and mesodermal cell type composition of ancestors at six important nodes in the animal tree of life. We will also be able to comprehend when shifts in mesoderm development have occurred and how these shifts have remodeled the animal body plans. Further, our implementation of advanced methods in under-studied species will provide new model systems and a more comprehensive framework for further studies in evolutionary developmental biology as well as in other research fields.
A vigorous Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC) is crucial for the mild northern European climate; it brings warm water northward near the surface and returns cold, dense water at depth. In a warming climate the AMOC is projected to weaken – or even approach a tipping point. Contrary to this established view, I hypothesize that an overlooked, climate-change induced mechanism may impart resilience to the overturning: As the sea ice recedes, increasing stretches of the boundary current system around the Nordic Seas and Arctic Ocean become exposed to the atmosphere. The resulting increased ocean heat loss in winter further densifies the water in the boundary current, which is a direct pathway supplying the lower limb of the AMOC. Enhanced dense-water formation is counter-intuitive in a warming climate and not represented by current climate models, but has the potential to safeguard the northern overturning and maintain a steady supply of dense water to the AMOC. Sparse observations and preliminary results from a 1D model indicate that water mass transformation occurs in the increasingly ice-free boundary current, but its extent, importance, and future development are unknown. In ROVER, I will explore this concept through an extensive field campaign, which includes a mooring array across the boundary current and an unprecedented wintertime survey of this severely under-sampled area. Combined with targeted high-resolution modeling, I will use the comprehensive data set to document the occurrence of this process, understand its dynamics, quantify its extent, and assess its climatic importance. Dense-water formation in the boundary current system that may safeguard the northern overturning would represent a paradigm shift for water mass transformation at high latitudes and the stability of the overturning circulation. As such, ROVER is timely and will have a substantial and significant impact on the science of climate change and climate impact assessment.
RENE is a first interdisciplinary study to investigate interactions between rural and urban cult sites, their communities, the diffusion of religious traditions and architectural style, the regional mobility of elite (temple benefactors and dedicators), and how the latter affected religious traits. It is based on published archaeological, epigraphic and sculptural materials in two extreme parts of the Roman Empire. They are: the Hauran (Southern Syria), and Lusitania (roughly Portugal and the western part of Spain) from the pre-Roman to the Roman period periods (the second century BC to the third century AD). It will examine their variation and reasoning by contextualising the study areas within their geography and their socio-political background, which will contribute to scholarly debates on the Roman world from the West to the East. It will reevaluate rural and urban cult sites as multifaceted indicators of continuous evolving religious processes and of fluctuating contexts shaped by interactions of different social and political actors through the emergent computer-based method of social network analysis (SNA) that I will learn thanks to the training programme offered by Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship. The database of cult sites, their SNA models and results of RENE will be freely available on the project’s website which I will create thanks to the training programme of the fellowship.
Diamond, due its outstanding properties, is a desired material to coat various objects for medical, bioelectronics, optical, aerospace, marine and other applications. However, achieving uniform coatings on complex-shaped 3D objects is still a not overcome challenge due to 2D nature of current deposition techniques. The aim of this project is to develop a new diamond growth technology, which will allow diamond synthesis in 3D and accelerate the widespread use of diamond-based materials in new research fields and industry. The technical challenge of diamond growth in 3D will be addressed by leveraging on two ground-breaking ideas: 1) exploiting the unique properties of metamaterials and fractals to achieve uniform plasma excitation in 3D; 2) using new protonuclei-enhanced gas phase diamond nucleation pathways to overcome the nucleation barrier. The diamond growth will be achieved by microwave plasma chemical vapor deposition technique in a unique deposition system. The plasma in the system will be excited by traveling surface waves in 3D using fractal apertures on composite right/left-handed materials with infinite wavelength propagation property. As a result, plasma is expected to be distributed homogeneously in space, which is a necessary condition to achieve uniform diamond synthesis on 3D objects. The growth of diamond is expected to proceed via nonclassical protonuclei-enhanced gas phase nucleation pathway proposed to significantly increase diamond nucleation rate and allow diamond growth that is independent on a substrate temperature. The use of metamaterials with fractal apertures for diamond synthesis via nonclassical gas phase nucleation pathway is an absolute novelty, which will address fundamental questions about diamond growth in a gas phase. Beyond that, this new technology could enable other researchers to explore new applications of diamond on temperature sensitive materials, which require good electronic, chemical, or surface tribological properties.
Pregnancy complications such as preeclampsia and preterm birth are known to affect infant health, but their influence on mothers’ long-term health is not well understood. Most previous studies are seriously limited by their reliance on information from the first pregnancy. Often they lack the data to study women’s complete reproductive histories. Without a complete reproductive history, the relationship between pregnancy complications and women’s long-term health cannot be reliably studied. The Medical Birth Registry of Norway, covering all births from 1967-, includes information on more than 3 million births and 1.5 million sibships. Linking this to population based death and cancer registries provides a worldwide unique source of population-based data which can be analysed to identify heterogeneities in risk by lifetime parity and the cumulative experience of pregnancy complications. Having worked in this field of research for many years, I see many erroneous conclusions in studies based on insufficient data. For instance, both after preeclampsia and after a stillbirth, the high risk of heart disease observed in one-child mothers is strongly attenuated in women with subsequent pregnancies. I will study different patterns of pregnancy complications that occur alone or in combination across pregnancies, and analyse their associations with cause specific maternal mortality. Using this unique methodology, I will challenge the idea that placental dysfunction is the origin of preeclampsia and test the hypothesis that pregnancy complications may cause direct long-term effects on maternal health. The findings of this research have the potential to advance our understanding of how pregnancy complications affect the long-term maternal health and help to develop more effective chronic disease prevention strategies.