Post-Genomics & Proteomics

Programme overview

The aim of NERC's Post-Genomics & Proteomics (PGP) programme was to apply integrated genomic and proteomic approaches to environmental science. The PGP programme provided funding for six research grants and a co-sponsored research fellowship with the Environment Agency.

Background & objectives

The six funded PGP grants focused on the following areas:

  • How strongly a gene is 'switched on' to make proteins can be influenced by the environment. One team investigated fruit flies, puffer fish and chickens to see whether recently-discovered microRNA molecules regulate how the animals respond to environmental influences such as parasitic infection, temperature and, for the chickens, exposure to elevated steroid levels as developing eggs.
  • Another team investigated how flounder and sticklebacks respond and adapt to cocktails of man-made pollutants, and whether these pollutants put a selection pressure on the fish.
  • Almost every species of vertebrate has nematode parasites (roundworms), and infections often vary with the seasons as well as the hosts' sex, and age. Because they're so ubiquitous, nematodes are an important component of the environment, affecting an individual's reproductive 'fitness', and hence even population dynamics. Researchers applied new methods from genomics to explore how vertebrate-nematode interactions affect ecology and evolution in natural environments.
  • Another group investigated the molecular mechanisms that either stop or let plants expand their ranges into different environments.
  • In some plants, a prolonged cold spell early in development speeds up later flowering vernalisation. Researchers aimed to uncover the molecular variation that lets one well-studied species, the 'model' plant Arabidopsis (thale cress), adapt to varying winter lengths.
  • Researchers used post-genomic techniques to identify and explore marine microbial communities, explaining how individuals interact, and how their activities affect biogeochemical cycles (such as the exchange of carbon between the atmosphere and oceans).

Reports & key findings

The following case study is linked to this research programme.

New tools for monitoring biological effects of fresh and seawater pollution (PDF, 76KB)
Synopsis: Academics are training Scottish regulators in the latest `omic techniques, and collaboratively developing new monitoring tools for fresh and seawater pollution.