Seminars

February 22 2017

12:00 158 HH

Gretchen Hofmann
Department of Ecology, Evolution and Marine Biology
University of California, Santa Barbara

Studying Ocean Global Change Biology & Mechanisms of Rapid Response to Ocean Change

Summary

Understanding and predicting the response of organisms to climate change is a major research challenge, especially in light of the growing awareness of the complexity of studying multiple stressors. Recent research in my lab has focused on understanding the “genome to phenome” concept in an environmental context. Here, we are investigating mechanisms that contribute to rapid shifts in organismal physiological capacities in response to environmental change, processes that would operate on ecological rather than evolutionary time scales. Our model system is early life-history stages of the purple sea urchin Strongy locentrotus purpuratus, and we are focusing on two processes – within-generational plasticity and trans-generational plasticity where we are interrogating a series of epigenetic mechanisms may that alter gene expression in early stage urchins on a rapid time scale. Experimentally, we will focus on co-occurring multiple abiotic factors (pCO2, oxygen and temperature) that are ecologically relevant, are highly variable in the purple urchin nearshore habitat, and are projected to change drastically in future climate change scenarios. As such, the project explores ecological epigenomics in a global change context. It’s early days for this project, but I’d like to present the data on where we are at the moment.