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Biochemistry Seminar: Alex Caulton, PhD Candidate

Advances in “omics” technologies have fuelled investigation into the epigenome as a tool to enhance livestock selection and breeding practices.

DNA methylation is an important epigenetic mark that is essential for genomic stability and maintenance throughout development and serves as a biomarker of chronological age and a biological fingerprint of the stress response.

To successfully incorporate DNA methylation data into current genetic merit predictions for livestock, the approaches that are used need to be high throughput, robust and cost-effective.

The first aspect of this study reviews four DNA methylation profiling assays, which are benchmarked against whole genome bisulphite sequencing, the gold standard methodology. The cost benefits are discussed with particular consideration for industry application. While high-quality reference genomes are now available for the majority of livestock species, comparatively little is known about the regulatory elements that drive functional phenotypic variation.

Towards understanding the molecular link between livestock genomes and phenotypic outcomes, the second element of this study involves the development of comprehensive, tissue-specific DNA methylation profiles in sheep. The methylome is analysed in parallel with a high-resolution map of transcription start sites, chromatin accessibility and functional state profiles, and RNA-seq expression data generated for the same set of tissues. DNA methylation has been widely used as a biomarker of chronological age in humans, implemented via so-called “epigenetic clocks”.

The final aspect of this research presents the first of its kind epigenetic clock for New Zealand livestock, which enables robust predictions of biological age and holds potential for use in breeding programs as a predictor for age-related production traits.

Overall, this research is directed toward discovering individual methylation markers or marker combinations that may be useful in the selection and breeding of livestock for continued improvement.

Streaming details:

Zoom link:
ID: 977 5670 4741
Password: bioc

Date Tuesday, 25 October 2022
Time 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Audience Undergraduate students,Postgraduate students,Staff
Event Category Health Sciences
Event Type Academic
Online and in-person
LocationBiochemistry Seminar Room G.13 (BIG13) and via Zoom, Dunedin
Contact NameDepartment of Biochemistry

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