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Research Abstracts Online
January 2008 - March 2009

University of Minnesota Duluth
Swenson College of Science and Engineering
Department of Mathematics and Statistics

PI: Marshall E. Hampton

Comparative Genomics of Mammalian Hibernators

Hibernation in mammals is an amazing phenomenon in which the core body temperature can drop below zero degrees C, and breathing and heartbeat can slow to a crawl. The ability to hibernate is also correlated with resistance to cellular and systemic injuries of many kinds, for example hypoxia, which makes the study of hibernation promising for medical applications.

In this project, newly available genomic information for the mammalian hibernators Spermophilus tridecemlineatus (13-lined ground squirrel), Myotis lucifugus (little brown bat), and Erinaceus europaeus (European hedgehog) was used to refine and extend molecular models of the regulation of hibernation. These models focused primarily on the dynamics of interbout arousals, during which the animal’s body temperature spikes back up to normal for 12-24 hours and then returns to the low-temperature state of torpor for up to two weeks.

The researchers used Supercomputing Institute resources to identify non-coding RNA sequences in these three genomes and for comparative analysis of both coding and non-coding sequences.

Group Members

Shane Ellis, Graduate Student