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Photo: Marina Panova

Role of microbiome in the evolution of Littorina snail ecotypes

Research project

Short description

Microbes are present in all environments and plants, and animals host huge amounts of microbes. DNA-based metabarcoding now allows us to study complex natural microbiomes and understand their role in various ecosystems.

This project is the first attempt to estimate possible role of microbes in the ecological divergence of the marine snail Littorina saxatilis. The snails live in two contrast habitats: sheltered beaches with predatory crabs and wave-exposed cliffs. Snails from the two habitats have evolved into two ecotypes that are very different in for example size and shell shape, and also different in many genes.

We use DNA metabarcoding to compare microbial composition of the biofilm the snails feed on and the gut microbiomes of snails from the two habitats, to see if the ecotypes are adapted to different diets.


Maltseva AL, Varfolomeeva MA, Gafarova ER, Panova M, Mikhailova NA, Granovitch AI. (2021). Divergence together with microbes: a comparative study of the associated microbiomes in the closely related Littorina species. PLoS ONE, 16: e0260792.

Panova M, Varfolomeeva MA, Gafarova ER, Maltseva AL, Mikhailova NM, Granovitch AI (2022). First insights into the gut microbiomes and the diet of the Littorina snail ecotypes, a recently emerged marine evolutionary model. Evolutionary Applications, 16: 365-378.