Presentation Type

Poster

Title of Abstract

Differential Gene Expression in Spartina alterniflora Caused by Hydrocarbon Stress

Abstract

In response to a stressful stimulus, organisms field a wide variety of physiological responses – however, they may also respond at the genome level. Changes in protein expression levels may occur in particular stress genes, and these rapid-response changes may be caused by epigenetic differences, such as DNA methylation. Spartina alterniflora is a crucial wetland species of grass native to eastern North America, and invasive in Europe, and Asia that structures and transforms the intertidal zone that it inhabits. . It is an ideal model organism not only because of its importance as a keystone species and phytoremediator, but because of its tremendous phenotypic plasticity, likely due to both physiology and genetics. In this experiment, I compared Spartina alterniflora samples that were collected from areas affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to greenhouse-grown control samples using RT-PCR on four suspected hydrocarbon-response genes. This research will not only expand understanding of saltwater ecosystems, but may reveal insights into the nature and prevalence of genetically-based stress response. Additionally, follow-up experiments to examine methylation differences may reveal the existence of important epigenetic marks, contributing to a fundamental understanding of epigenetic-environmental interactions.

Categories

Natural Sciences

Research Type

Research Assistant

Mentor Information

Dr. Christina Richards

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Differential Gene Expression in Spartina alterniflora Caused by Hydrocarbon Stress

In response to a stressful stimulus, organisms field a wide variety of physiological responses – however, they may also respond at the genome level. Changes in protein expression levels may occur in particular stress genes, and these rapid-response changes may be caused by epigenetic differences, such as DNA methylation. Spartina alterniflora is a crucial wetland species of grass native to eastern North America, and invasive in Europe, and Asia that structures and transforms the intertidal zone that it inhabits. . It is an ideal model organism not only because of its importance as a keystone species and phytoremediator, but because of its tremendous phenotypic plasticity, likely due to both physiology and genetics. In this experiment, I compared Spartina alterniflora samples that were collected from areas affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to greenhouse-grown control samples using RT-PCR on four suspected hydrocarbon-response genes. This research will not only expand understanding of saltwater ecosystems, but may reveal insights into the nature and prevalence of genetically-based stress response. Additionally, follow-up experiments to examine methylation differences may reveal the existence of important epigenetic marks, contributing to a fundamental understanding of epigenetic-environmental interactions.