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Natural Sunscreens in the Great Salt Lake

Genetics, Pharmacology, Plant Biology

The Gagnon lab has recently demonstrated that the small molecule gadusol acts as a sunscreen to protect zebrafish from Ultraviolet Radiation (UVR) induced DNA damage. Gadusol and the genes involved in its biosynthesis are conserved across many species, including brine shrimp. In this stream students will perform fieldwork to collect brine shrimp cysts from different regions of the Great Salt Lake. They will then raise these brine shrimp under laboratory conditions and quantify gadusol at different developmental stages. Undergrads will perform UVR treatments on brine shrimp at different developmental stages to determine if there is a correlation between UVR resistance and gadusol levels, suggesting that gadusol acts as a sunscreen in brine shrimp. In addition to developing field work and molecular and developmental biology techniques, students will also learn to read peer reviewed literature critically as well as how to design experiments with proper controls to answer research questions.

Stream Leaders

James Gagnon, PhD
Assistant Professor, School of Biological Sciences

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