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current research
Honors Program
Project SynER-G

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Current Research

We are currently focusing on this NSF-funded project:
NSF IOB-0640478, RUI: Fast and slow cellular response to thermal stress: the role of AMP activated protein kinase and HSP70 in two decapod crustacean species

Marine crustaceans are exposed to frequent seasonal and diel temperature changes. Such temperature changes have a profound impact on the animals’ energy metabolism and activity. Mechanisms to adapt to both, rapid and slower seasonal temperature changes are necessary to maintain a constant supply of cellular energy. Exceeding the ability to adapt to high or low temperatures leads to energy depletion and death of the animals. 
    This project will investigate in two crustacean species cellular mechanisms of temperature tolerance using an interdisciplinary approach that combines methods from physiology, biochemistry and molecular biology. The study will focus on a short-term activation of regulator proteins, and their longer term expression after temperature stress. We expect to identify and characterize cellular mechanisms that allow marine crustaceans to cope with temperature changes, or that limit survival when exposed to more severe temperature stress.
    A deeper understanding of these adaptive mechanisms and regulatory processes enables predictions of the impact of temperature changes (e.g. through global warming) on the animals. Once stress markers have been identified, they can be used to evaluate the stress level of the respective animal. Findings of the current project can be translated to other invertebrate species, including commercially important crustacean species such as blue crabs, lobsters or shrimps.
    Additionally to advancing the knowledge on invertebrate temperature physiology, this project will enhance the research infrastructure at a small liberal arts college and will include undergraduate students at many levels. Through this project students will gain a stronger experience in biological research and be better equipped for the challenges of the emerging science-based knowledge economy.