Date of Award

Spring 5-2014

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Timothy McLean

Advisor Department

Biological Sciences


Karenia brevis is species of dinoflagellate responsible for most of the harmful algal blooms that occur in the Gulf of Mexico. These blooms can be detrimental to the environment and the economy of a coastal region due to the brevetoxins produced by Karenia brevis. Currently, the cause of these blooms, as well as the mechanisms of associated toxin production, are unknown. Efforts to characterize Karenia brevis at a molecular level are ongoing. However, based on genomic findings, researchers have hypothesized that regulation of gene expression occurs post-transcriptionally. In many organisms, non-coding RNAs, such as natural antisense transcripts (NATs), play crucial roles in gene regulation. The goal of this project was to assess a possible role of NATs in the post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression in Karenia brevis. To that end, RNA was extracted from Karenia brevis samples at dusk and dawn and sequenced at a core facility using Illumina HiSeq RNA sequencing. The sequences were then processed and assembled into a transcriptome using various softwares. Statistical analyses were performed that corroborated the validity of the transcriptome. Research stopped at this point due to time constraints. Further bioinformatics sequence analysis could yield a better understanding of differential gene expression in Karenia brevis and the role of NATs in such expression.

Included in

Biology Commons