Medical Research

University of Delaware

Jennifer Biddle, Adam Marsh, Thomas Hanson
Newark, DE
$1,000,000
June 2017

It is well known that DNA alone does not determine the destiny of mammalian cells and organisms and that environments exert significant influence through epigenetic “above the genome” mechanisms.  What is not known is how the environment can shape the destiny of a microbe.  All organisms need to control which genes they express and send specific signals to coordinate metabolism and growth.  While humans and larger eukaryotes are known to have epigenetic components to this regulation, a new and exciting area of interdisciplinary research has emerged as researchers discovered that microbes may also use DNA methylation as an epigenetic control.  A team of investigators at the University of Delaware proposes to investigate the relationship between DNA methylation, gene regulation and energy stress in model and environmental microbial systems at genomic scales by building on their current platform development efforts.  Their hypothesis is that microbes do employ functional epigenetic signals, and that this mode of regulation is important under energy stress or in low-energy environments.  Through a better understanding of microbial gene control, the team expects to better understand how microbes impact the environment and human health.

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