Marinela studies meiosis, a highly-regulated cellular process essential for maintenance of genome integrity and fertility in the vast majority of sexually reproducing organisms.
From an evolutionary perspective, the importance of meiosis lies in its ability to create new combinations of genes upon which natural and artificial selection can act. Thus, recombination can increase the efficiency of selective processes, boosting the adaptation potential in natural and domesticated populations.
However, it is known that meiosis is itself sensitive to environmental conditions, especially temperature, even though it is not yet clear if and how it can adapt as organisms evolve to adapt to challenging environmental conditions.
Understanding this is of special importance in the light of ongoing global warming since temperature differences of few degrees can have detrimental consequences on meiosis impacting our food production.
Marinela uses natural variation among diploid populations of an emerging model system Arabidopsis arenosa, originating from bio-geographically and climatically distinct regions, to investigate how meiosis evolves in diverse thermal conditions and to characterise the meiotic changes that are need for successful reproduction when colonising new environments.