Below are details of the first project funded by an IBANS Research Forum Award:
Nicola Cook and Emma Carroll:
Ageing whales using the methylome: a reduced representation approach
Estimating the age structure of a populations is critical for understanding recruitment and growth rates. However, methods to age cetaceans without killing them are rare. Recently, Polanowski et al (2014) took a targeted gene approach and showed that methylation rates of genes relating to ageing in humans predicted age groups of humpback whales. We will take a broader approach and investigate genome-wide methylation patterns of southern right whale cow-calf pairs, which provide a natural old-young comparison. We will sequence a reduced representation of the DNA methylation profile of up to 10 cow-calf pairs and investigate genome-wide patterns in methylation between old and young animals. Any regions highlighted in this approach will be linked back to the bowhead whale genome, a closely related species that has been genome-enabled by a consortium interested in ageing in this species that can live for 200 years.