Molecular adaptations to the unique life style in mammalian hibernators.
Elena Gracheva, PhD
Associate Professor, Dept Cellular & Molecular Physiology, Dept Neuroscience
Abstract: Currently, the vast majority of cellular and molecular research in biological sciences focuses just on a handful of species, and even fewer are used as experimental models. In my lab, we have been developing non-standard animal models. We use hibernating 13-lined Ground squirrels (an obligatory hibernator) and Syrian hamsters (a non-obligatory hibernator), to tackle fundamental biological questions from perspectives unachievable using the standard animal models alone. Specifically, we are interested in studying molecular evolution of mammalian hibernation and cellular adaptations that these animals evolve in order to survive prolonged periods of hypothermia, water deprivation and starvation. We are also trying to pin point the molecular and physiological basis of hibernation induction. Comparative analysis of three rodent species—such as ground squirrels, hamsters and mice (non-hibernator)—at the behavioral, cellular and molecular levels, will help us to delineate the multitude of adaptations that hibernators evolved in order to survive harsh environment, and as a result came to inhabit a wide geographical range.
host: John Tuthill