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WELCOME to the SenSIng project!

SenSing – Acoustic communication in changing sensory environments: testing  adaptive responses with the vocal fish model Danionella cerebrum

The overarching goal of this proposal is to provide insights on how environmental change, such as changing soundscapes, may impact brain gene expression, sensory processing, detection of biologically relevant information, and the ultimate consequences for social communication. The team will relies on a vocal and genetically tractable fish model, Danionella cerebrum, which belongs to the same family of zebrafish (Cyprinidae) and it was recently reported as a promising model organism for investigating vocal-auditory neural pathways at the cellular level. This species is highly vocal, remains transparent throughout life, and exhibits the smallest known adult vertebrate brain. The proposal relies on these advantages to establish an integrative research approach combining behavioral, electrophysiology, imaging and genetic tools. 

The specific objectives are: 1) characterize the social role of acoustic communication of Danionella cerebrum, and evaluate the species adaptation to the natural sensory environment; 2) investigate the auditory processing pathways and the effect of the acoustic environment shaping auditory sensitivity and encoding of conspecific vocalizations; and 3) test the impact of different environmental pressures (visual and acoustic) on brain gene expression and development of multimodal communication. 


Project reference: FDCT 068/2020/A2 (2021-2024)


Principal Investigator, ISE, USJ

Team member –  cE3C, Faculty of Sciences, University of Lisbon, Portugal

Team member – Swire Institute of Marine Science, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Hong Kong

Flora Gordillo-Martinez

Postdoctoral researcher, ISE, USJ

Andre Matos 

PhD student, ISE, USJ

Research Assistant, ISE, USJ

Andreia Ramos

Postdoctoral researcher, ISE, USJ

Additional Collaborators: 

Michael Orger (Champalimaud Foundation, Portugal)

M. Clara Amorim (MARE, University of Lisbon, Portugal)