The Role of DNA Methylation in the Northern Elephant Seal Stress Response
DNA methylation is an epigenetic process wherein methyl groups are added to the nitrogenous bases of DNA molecules. DNA methylation is known to affect transcription and influence gene expression. For the past two semesters, I have been quantifying the global DNA methylation profiles of Northern elephant seals to see how they modulate their gene expression in response to stressors (such as frequent fasting periods and hypoxic conditions) in their environment. This summer, I will continue my research by investigating specific genes involved in the elephant seal stress response and determining how DNA methylation affects the expression of those genes through DNA sequencing.