Poster Presentation Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution Conference 2016

Waking the sleeping dragon - molecular insights into the hibernation of the central bearded dragon (#460)

Alex Capraro 1 , Denis O'Meally 2 , Paul Waters 1
  1. School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences, University Of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW, Australia
  2. University of Canberra, Canberra

Hibernation is a common strategy present throughout the animal kingdom that allows organisms to survive the harsh environmental conditions of winter. In order to achieve this, hibernators modulate many biological processes, including basal metabolic rate, oxygen consumption and heart rate. Additionally, hibernators employ a number of defence mechanisms in order to mitigate physiological stress caused by starvation, oxidative stress, hypoxia, and immune challenge. Molecular-based research into hibernation is almost entirely focused on mammalian systems; however, a wealth of information remains untapped in reptilies. I will describe RNA sequencing results from liver and large intestinal tissue of central bearded dragons (Pogona vitticeps) in late hibernation and post-feed after arousal. Hibernation was associated with up-regulation of genes associated with stress response and cell cycle regulation, in addition to protein modification processes and epigenetic regulatory mechanisms. Arousal from hibernation was associated with enrichment of a multitude of metabolic processes, as well as gene expression patterns that indicate the activation of the innate and adaptive immune system. My results provide exciting novel insights into the biological processes and regulatory mechanisms that govern hibernation.