PerSeaVe: An omics multisensory perspective, how can human activities affect the sensory organs of deep-sea fish?
Sensory systems perform a set of indispensable functions for the organism, including obtaining information about habitat suitability, finding food, avoiding predators or selecting mates. However, anthropogenic activities such as fisheries, deep-sea mining, shipping, coastal activities and their effects as the current climate crisis, can lead to human-induced changes in deep-sea environments such as poor visibility, acidification, noise pollution and chemical contaminants leading to block, mask or disrupt senses.
Deep-sea fishes are particularly sensitive to human activities due to their biological characteristics such as reduced growth rate and postposed sexual maturation. Even though they are essential elements of the biological carbon pump in the oceans; mesopelagic fishes contribute significantly to vertical carbon flux through their vertical migrations and deep-demersal fishes can transfer carbon to deep long-term storage. Therefore, study how human activities can affect deep-sea fish species is a keystone to protect the ocean's ability to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere.
The main goal of the current proposal is to decipher the genomic basics of both visual and olfactory systems in a relatively unknown demersal deep-sea fish species, Notacanthus bonaparte. For this purpose, a new multisensory point of view will be used bearing in mind that senses have traditionally been studied independently of each other and newly obtained genomic and transcriptomic data will be analysed and compared with other deep-sea and shallow water teleosts. Furthermore, several hypotheses regarding its ecological and biological characteristics; smell-based mate selection, genetic and morphological patterns of its ecological specialization and possible negative effects of human activities will be studied.
The new biological information will be used for comparative studies with other deep-sea teleost species; especially with those phylogenetically closest, such as other elopomorphs like eels and tarpons, and/or other deep-sea demersal species with who N. bonaparte share habitat. A better understanding of animal sensory biology is not only required to understand how marine fish species respond to human-induced environmental changes but also has the potential to be an important tool for conservation management and assess impacts of human activities in the deep-sea environment.