Congrats to both Samantha and Emily who were awarded grants from the Odum School of Ecology to further their dissertation research. Samantha will work to empirically address theory regarding why alligators evolved the ability to use incubation temperature as a means to determine sex. Emily will be exploring how the developmental timing of environmental experiences and subsequent endocrine responses influence the process of epigenetic aging.
New paper from our team published in Science of the Total Environment. Emily Bertucci led the project with lots of help from Marilyn. This is particularly exciting for us as it is our first paper using the medaka fish model. Medaka are small fish (with small genomes) that do quite well in our outdoor mesocosm arrays and the system has a lot of genetic resources available. The work is focused on laying the groundwork for environmental influences on biological aging. We first investigate the impacts of chronic exposure to low doses of ionizing radiation on the hepatic transcriptome and then ask if the effects are mediated by systemic/global shifts in the DNA methylome. Ionizing radiation is an interesting environmental factor because all life shares an evolutionary history with radiation and has evolved mechanisms to deal with it, but contemporary exposure (and exposure risk) is higher due to anthropogenic activity. How do adaptive mechanisms that evolved to respond to 'background' levels protect against higher levels over long periods of time? What are the costs? More to come...