Sponge Gemmulation by DNA Methylation

By: Ellen Nadel '13

Advising Faculty: Stephen Loomis

The purpose of my project is to determine if freshwater sponge gemmulation is controlled by the epigenetic mechanism, DNA methylation. Epigenetic mechanisms are changes in gene expression that allow an organism to maintain homeostasis and respond to environmental changes by switching on and off genes without altering the DNA sequence. DNA methylation is one type of epigenetic mechanism that has been widely studied in humans, but has been more rarely studied in invertebrates. In response to certain cues such as decreased temperature and desiccation, sponges asexually produce gemmules in order to continue their species through environmental stresses after the sponge dies. 

Related Fields: Biological Sciences, Biology