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National University of La Plata
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12 Projects, page 1 of 3
  • Funder: European Commission Project Code: 911767
  • Funder: UK Research and Innovation Project Code: NE/F004788/1
    Funder Contribution: 294,962 GBP

    Anatomical evidence plays an important role in elucidating the relationships of plant fossils and in the ways in which plants grew and functioned -physiology. Silicification of plant tissues results in the most faithful preservation of cellular detail and occurs in two principal ways, within volcaniclastic deposits by precipitation of silica dissolved from ashes or as silica supersaturated waters flow from hot springs. The latter is particularly important because eruptions cause flooding of vegetation in the vicinity of vents and thus not only engulfs growing plants but also animals and microbes, even whole ecosystems in situ. Such occurrences are rare in the fossil record, but provide unique snapshots of past life. Perhaps the best known hot spring deposit is the Lower Devonian Rhynie Chert of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. However, studies of present-day vegetation growing in the vicinity of hot springs e.g. Yellowstone, USA and Iceland, demonstrate that the plants (and associated ecosystems) that are most likely to be flooded are usually hydrophytes or tolerant of flooding and are capable of withstanding normally high and potentially toxic levels of salt, heavy metals and pH extremes. Indeed similar plant and animal associations are found around brackish water associated with coastal marshes or ephemeral evaporation dominated inland water bodies (e.g. salt lakes). This suggests that fossiliferous hot spring deposits such as the Rhynie Chert do not reflect the most common vegetation but are highly specialised. However testing of such an hypothesis at Rhynie is highly unsatisfactory because we have no fossils from contemporaneous rocks in coastal or lacustrine settings, the Rhynie Chert plants are dominated by soft tissues unlikely to be preserved unless permineralised and, apart from a lycophyte, they have no living relatives, the evolution of the remaining lineages of vascular plants having occurred in the intervening 400 million years. Exploration by gold mining companies has identified numerous, more-recent (Tertiary & Mesozoic) plus one earlier Silurian, hot spring deposits with potentially fossiliferous silica sinters and associated wetland environments. By far the most extensive are confirmed richly-fossiliferous Jurassic (c. 200Ma) deposits within the Deseado Massif, Patagonia. Preliminary results indicate that unlike the Rhynie Chert, some of the Patagonian fossils can be related to living forms e.g. the monkey puzzle conifer family, and further there are richly-fossiliferous rocks recording the vegetation peripheral to the hot springs, bordering lakes and rivers, plus in stressed environments such as coastal fringes. A major component of the proposed project will be to reconstruct the Jurassic hot spring ecosystem including plants, bacteria, fungal decomposers, algae and animals. Building on this, following plant identification with assistance of Argentine colleagues, we will compare diversity (species list) from the various types of rock and estimate the degree to which the hot spring ecosystems are typical of either 'normal' dry-land/wetland, or salinity stressed wetland ecosystems. Following detailed anatomical description we will detect any modifications at the cellular level which are indicative of adaptation to water stress/physiological drought, or are connected with withstanding heavy metal toxicity. Similar but probably less rigorous analyses, due to time constraints, will be applied to Carboniferous, Cretaceous and Miocene hot springs, to attempt to demonstrate convergence in anatomical and physiological responses in disparate plant lineages. Particularly exciting is the prospect of the discovery of 3-dimensionally preserved angiosperms at the Chinese locality, Dongfanghong, part of an extensive gold field situated within the same Lower Cretaceous province and close to localities that have yielded the earliest semiaquatic angiosperms plus birds and feathered dinosaurs.

  • Funder: UK Research and Innovation Project Code: NE/T000341/1
    Funder Contribution: 647,969 GBP

    New World primates live in the tropical regions of Central and South America, and include such well-known and charismatic species as spider monkeys, howler monkeys, marmosets and capuchins. Today, there are more than 170 species known in five families, which collectively exhibit a broad range of different body sizes, diets and activity. Remarkably, all this diversity originated from a single common ancestor that reached South America from Africa 35-45 million years ago, probably by being transported over sea on a raft of vegetation. Why and how did this ancestor give rise to all the varied species that make up modern New World primate radiation? What were the drivers leading to the diversification of the different families? Were abiotic factors like changes in climate, the uplift of the Andes mountains, and the development of the Amazon river, or were biotic factors (competition with other mammals) more important in driving diversification? Can we identify when and why there were changes in body size, diet and activity pattern in different New World primate groups? Our proposed project will attempt to answer these questions. To do so, we will combine two very different, but complementary, types of data: genomic data, which provides detailed information on living species, and fossil data, which provides (often very incomplete) information on past diversity. Previous studies have usually used either genomic data or fossil data, but ours will combine the two, to take advantage of their different strengths and to compensate for each other's weaknesses. Firstly, we will examine the genomes of different New World primate species to see if we can identify genes relating to traits like diet, body size and activity pattern. By doing so, we will be able to infer how these traits have changed through time in the different New World primate groups. Secondly we will produce a new evolutionary tree (phylogeny) of all the living New World primate species, using large amounts of genomic data and sophisticated methods to produce the most complete and accurate phylogeny of the group, and we will use "molecular clocks" to infer divergence times for when different lineages split from one another. With our new phylogeny and divergence times, we will examine how the rate of diversification has varied through time, and whether very high or low rates of diversification coincide with periods of environmental change. We will also identify previously unrecognised species and reassess the taxonomy of all known species. This information will be key to conservation efforts, by helping identify the species most in need of protection to conserve maximum biodiversity. Thirdly, we will use data from the fossil record to model how living and extinct lineages of New World primates have diversified through time. This data can be compared with the pattern of diversification indicated by the phylogeny of living New World primates, to see if they are broadly similar. If they show major differences, this suggests that extinction has played a key role in New World primate evolution. We will also use the fossil record to test the hypothesis that New World primates outcompeted superficially "primate-like" mammals (actually, relatives of modern marsupials) that were already present in South America when the New World primate ancestor arrived from Africa. Our project will massively increase our understanding of New World primate evolution, shed new light on diversification and evolutionary processes in general, and help identify those New World primates most vulnerable to extinction. In doing so our findings will be of interest to a wide range of scientists, including evolutionary biologists, genomicists, ecologists and palaeontologists. Because our project, by rigorously clarifying NWP species numbers and boundaries, our results will also have broader practical utility for conservation practitioners and policy makers in governmental and non-governmental agencies.

  • Funder: European Commission Project Code: 585796-EPP-1-2017-1-AT-EPPKA2-CBHE-JP
    Funder Contribution: 992,525 EUR

    In Latin America, especially in Argentina, Brazil and Mexico the automotive industry represents between 9-17% of the manufacturing GDP focusing on manufacturing and being employment industry number one. All countries are manufacturing countries – very little development is conducted as the qualified human capacities are missing. Therefore, big OEMs identify ARG, BRA and MEX as little attractive for development as skills are lacking.ASCENT will close the current lack of skilled labour on automotive engineering (AE) to increase the positive impact of the automotive industry on regional development through the execution of expert trainings for academic staff, students and companies interested in AE and sales management to be also able to sell developments. Further, the installation of testing bays will lead to increased knowledge on AE, higher standards in teaching and will also create higher employability of graduates and more university-business cooperation through the operation of the 6 competence centres on AE in ARG, BRA and MEX attached to the testing bays.Through the expert trainings the target groups are going to receive upgraded knowledge on AE and sales to reach the following aims:• to spread the knowledge of AE during the counselling sessions of the competence centres • to increase the number of projects on AE with companies and • To increase the employability of students due to upgraded knowledge on AE and sales To expand generated knowledge a network for AE and sales will be established. It´s promoted through cross-border conferences and it´s important to add value to the automotive industry in Latin America.Through the cooperation with companies, associations and governmental bodies, the university-business cooperation will be improved. This leads to three advantages: • increased employability of students in the automotive sector• increased teaching standards• strengthen cooperation uni-business

  • Funder: European Commission Project Code: 598273-EPP-1-2018-1-AT-EPPKA2-CBHE-JP
    Funder Contribution: 999,826 EUR

    Smart Sustainable Cities (SSC) represent a progression of how cities apply digital technology to serve their populations, pursue sustainable socio-economic development, and transform themselves. The urban development that leads SSC requires a growing number of competencies to work together in order to plan, design, implement and manage the ongoing transformations of the city, enabled by technological innovation. Considering the great attention the concept of SSC has reached in Latin America, our project aims at integrating it into various university courses using new teaching and learning tools, as well as developing new curricula in all levels of education process. Given the increasing number of competencies needed and its interdisciplinary characteristic, the curricula for SSC will be implemented in areas such as ICT, Business Administration, Computer Science, Engineering, Architecture and Urbanism, Urban Planning, Political Science, among others, using a collaborative and international network of selected academic institutions in Latin America and Europe. The main outputs of the project include the development, evaluation and implementation of new courses and programmes on SSC to reach students, policy makers, public managers and other members of the city administration, professionals, managers and entrepreneurs, as well as university faculty that will be trained to apply the developed ICT-based tools to their classes. Besides academic curricula and specialization programmes, the project will provide an e-learning platform filled with a Massive Online Open Course on SSC. The main impacts of the project are to improve the quality of learning and teaching tools, methodologies and pedagogical approaches in the Latin America region, increase the employability and competitiveness of the students, and for the faculty members to increase the quality of their classes by using new learning and teaching tools and new content, as well as promoting life-long learning.


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