Environmental Epigenetics Laboratory

Role of epigenetic regulation in developmental plasticity in a model cladoceran.

The objective of this study is to investigate the role of DNA methylation in the development of alternative phenotypes in response to environmental stressors. One of the excellent examples of a species with phenotypic plasticity is the water flea (Daphnia spp.). Daphnia is a commonly found crustacean in freshwater ecosystems that serves as an excellent environmental model. It exhibits distinct phenotypes in response to environmental changes and is widely used as a model species to study evolutionary basis of phenotypic plasticity. It reproduces both clonally (asexually) as well as sexually, facilitating the investigation of transgenerational phenotypes. In recent years, the availability of genomic resources has facilitated research in understanding the molecular basis of plasticity in ecologically important species. Some of the phenotypic responses have been explained by the genetic variation, and recent studies have identified epigenetic variation as a potential mechanism of action.DNA methylation is an important epigenetic mechanism and it has been shown to play a role in the establishment of developmental plasticity in honeybees.Using high-throughput sequencing we aim to characterize DNA methylation profiles in Daphnia at various stages during development.

 

Funding is provided by Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for Innovative Research (2012)

Last updated: October 19, 2012