Semester of Graduation

Summer 2021

Degree

Master of Biological Science (MBioSci)

Department

Life Sciences

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Climate change represents one of the most important challenges to biodiversity, therefore it is important to understand the mechanisms that allow species to respond to rapid environmental change. Here, we compared two populations of eastern oysters, Crassostrea virginica, from the Gulf of Mexico to study the mechanisms underlying hypoxia tolerance. Using a common garden experiment and comparative transcriptomics, we identified sets of genes involved in the hypoxia response and found differences in both the timing and baseline expression of hypoxia-responsive genes between tolerant and sensitive populations, consistent with a scenario of local adaptation. These genes include the signaling transcription factor wnt, previously associated with hypoxia resistance in insects but poorly explored in marine invertebrates. Notably, differences in gene expression levels between populations is greater in gill tissue compared to digestive gland, suggesting that environmental stressors affect these tissues differently. Our results provide important insights into the genetic, physiological, and evolutionary mechanisms underlying hypoxia resistance in marine species and provide sets of candidate genes that can inform future studies.

Committee Chair

Kelly, Morgan

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