My two main long-term research projects are:
Evolution of shell shape in Galápagos tortoises
The giant tortoises inhabiting the Galápagos archipelago represent one of only two surviving lineages of once widespread giant tortoises. Galápagos tortoises have two very distinct shell shapes: either domed, with a typical rounded carapace, or saddleback, with a higher anterior opening of the carapace and a more compressed shape on the sides. Although there is a correlation between shell shape and environmental characteristics (drier or more humid environment), it is currently not clear if the different shell morphologies represent an adaptation to these environment and in this case, what is the function and performance for which they are adapted to. In collaboration with J. Claude and A. Caccone, I am interested in studying the evolution and possible adaptation of the different shell morphologies within and among populations of the giant Galápagos tortoises. To this purpose, I combine genetic and morphometric data. I am also collaborating with B. Gilles and A. van der Meijden to include a functional morphology approach in my research. An interview on our work (in Dutch) on functional morphology can be found here [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9nmcaPeVmkw&feature=youtu.be]
Genetic and phenotypic responses to contaminant exposure
There is growing interest in the effects that environmental contaminants can have on living organisms. I am interested in studying the influence of short- and long-term environmental contamination on species evolution and possible adaptation to disturbed environments. In collaboration with S. Glaberman, E. García-Muñoz, and MA. Carretero, we are using amphibian and reptile species to study the genetic and phenotypic response of organisms to contaminant exposure. To accomplish this, my research combines molecular evolution, molecular biology, and comparative phylogenetic methods.
Selected recent publications (the complete list of publications can be found at http://www.yleniachiari.it/publications):
- N. Serén, S. Glaberman, MA Carretero, Y. Chiari (2014) Molecular evolution and functional divergence of the metallothionein gene family in vertebrates. Journal of Molecular Evolution 78: 217 - 233
- E. Loire, Y. Chiari, A. Bernard, V. Cahais, J. Romiguier, B. Nabholz, JM. Lourenço, N. Galtier (2013) Population genomics of the endangered giant Galapagos tortoises. Genome Biology 14: R136.
- JM. Lourenço, S. Glémin, Y. Chiari, N. Galtier (2013) The determinants of the molecular substitution process in turtles. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 26: 38-50.
- Y. Chiari, V. Cahais, N. Galtier, F. Delsuc (2012) Phylogenomic analyses support the position of the turtles as the sister group of birds and crocodiles (Archosauria). BMC Biology 10: 65.
- JM. Lourenço, J. Claude, N. Galtier, Y. Chiari (2012) Dating the cryptodiran nodes: origin and diversification of the turtle superfamily Testudinoidea. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 62: 496- 507.
- Y. Chiari, A. van der Meijden, M. Mucedda, JM. Lourenço, A. Hochkirch, M. Veith (2012) Phylogeography of Sardinian cave salamanders (genus Hydromantes) is mainly determined by geomorphology. PLoS One 7(3): e32332.
- Y. Chiari, J. Claude (2011) Study of the carapace shape and growth in two Galapagos tortoise lineages. Journal of Morphology 272: 379-386.
- Y. Chiari, C. Hyseni, TH. Fritts, S. Glaberman, C. Marquez, JP. Gibbs, J. Claude, A. Caccone (2009) Morphometrics parallel genetics in a newly discovered and endangered taxon of Galapagos tortoise. PLoS One 4(7): e6272.