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DNA methylation changes at major animal evolutionary transition

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Dr Emily Mitchell.

Cytosine DNA methylation is one of the most widespread epigenetic marks in eukaryotes. Its roles encompass various gene regulatory processes, including imprinting, X-chromosome inactivation and transposable element silencing. However, our knowledge on DNA methylation mainly derives from vertebrate model systems, which have an inherent bias: vertebrate genomes are hypermethylated (>70% of CpGs are methylated), which is the exception rather than the rule in the animal kingdom. In my work, I challenge many of the assumptions in the field of DNA methylation taking a comparative epigenomic approach, using non-traditional animal and protistan species to decipher how various aspects of this epigenetic layer have evolved. In this talk I will discuss our latest results describing the origins of the DNA methylation system in animals and its impact on vertebrate brain evolution. This work provides a provocative insight on how changes on epigenetic information might have influenced organismal complexity and genome organisation in the animal kingdom.

This talk is part of the Behaviour, Ecology & Evolution Seminar Series series.

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