Theses and Dissertations

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Defense Date

7-31-2012

Document Type

Thesis - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

M.S. Biological Sciences

Department

Oceanographic Center

First Advisor

Jose Lopez

Second Advisor

Aurelien Tartar

Third Advisor

Mahmood Shivji

Abstract

This project focuses on the use of sponge genetic transcripts in the form of expressed sequence tags (ESTs) readily available in Genbank to search for novel genes using bioinformatics analysis tools. Marine sponge species are known to house a diversity of marine microbes and are known as the ‘living fossils’ of the animal kingdom because of the large number of ancient genes they house. Genomic mining can be a useful tool in discovering these orthologous genes. This study utilized the techniques of genomic mining of 11 previously described sponge species transcripts. The results of this study provide a better understanding of the genomic structure of the organisms studied by creating a more detailed genetic map and examining a specific environmental snapshot of the genes in each sponge. Novel methods for dissecting beneficial information from large scale data sets available in genomic libraries utilizing bioinformatics search tool MGRAST were examined. The results of this study indicate that sponges house numerous genes that are likely to be evolutionary predecessors of genes in higher eukaryotes. Support was also given to the notion that microbial communities play a role in metabolic pathways of sponges.

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