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Environmental Genomics in an Antarctic polychaete

Genome-enabled biology provides a foundation for understanding the genetic basis of organism-environment interactions. . The research project links gene expression, genome methylation, and metabolic rates to assess the mechanisms of environmental adaptation (temperature) across multiple generations in a polar, and closely related temperate, polychaete. By comparing these two species, the research will assess how a polar environment shapes responses to environmental stress. This work will produce: 1) a database of full transcriptome (gene specific) profiling data for the polar polychaete cultured at two temperatures; 2) the contribution of genome methylation to the suppression of gene transcription activities; 3) the linkage between shifts in mRNA pools and total cellular activities (as ATP consumption via respiration); 4) an assessment of the inheritance of patterns of gene expression and metabolic activities across three generations; and 5) a simple demographic model of the polar polychaete population dynamics under normal and 'global-warming' temperature scenarios. Broader impacts include two outreach activities. The first is a mentoring program, where African-American undergraduate students spend 1.5 years working on a research project with a UD faculty member (2 summers plus their senior academic year). The second is a children's display activity at UD's School of Marine Science 'Coast Day'.

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