Bonnie Blalock

My name is Bonnie Blalock and I am a first year PhD student at Umass Boston, School of the Environment. It has been my dream to travel to Antarctica and I am very excited for this opportunity and to see the beautiful landscape and wildlife!

My research interests for this expedition involve examining the expression of genes involved in quiescence behavior in Euphausia superba specifically examining genes involved in cell signaling to trigger this alternative behavioral response in addition to energy and metabolism. In terms of biomass E. superba is one of the most abundant multi-cellular animal species in the world and is a keystone species of the Antarctic region. The success of this species is likely contributed to their unique behavioral strategies to tolerate the extreme conditions of the Southern Ocean. For self-preservation E. superba may induce a quiescence strategy until conditions may be more favorable to transition into an active state. Past research trips to the Antarctic region by Zhou, M. indicated that during the winter months there are active and dormant populations of E. superba. It has been indicated that animals have been using quiescence as a survival mechanisms for several hundred years and genes coding for quiescence have been found to be conserved across the animal kingdom (Storey and Storey, 2012, Cirelli et al., 2005). Therefore, for this study bioinformatic tools were used to select genes by identifying genes involved in quiescence behavior in mammals and other invertebrates that were also found to be highly homologous to E. superba. The objectives of my research are to examine genes involved in quiescence behavior in active and dormant communities of E. superba, cell signaling that may trigger this response, and compare gene expression to swimming behavior.

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