Document Type

Article

Publication Date

10-1-2017

Publication Title

European Journal of Protistology

Abstract

Epigenetics, a term with many meanings, can be broadly defined as the study of dynamic states of the genome. Ciliates, a clade of unicellular eukaryotes, can teach us about the intersection of epigenetics and evolution due to the advantages of working with cultivable ciliate lineages, plus their tendency to express extreme phenotypes such as heritable doublet morphology. Moreover, ciliates provide a powerful model for studying epigenetics given the presence of dimorphic nuclei – a somatic macronucleus and germline micronucleus – within each cell. Here, we exemplify the power of studying ciliates to learn about epigenetic phenomena. We highlight “classical” examples from morphology and physiology including cortical inheritance, mating type determination, and serotype expression. In addition, we detail molecular studies of epigenetic phenomena, including: DNA elimination; alternative processing and unscrambling; and copy number determination. Based on the implications of these studies, we discuss epigenetics as a possible functional mechanism for rapid speciation in ciliates.

Keywords

Ciliates, Cortical inheritance, DNA processing, Mating type determination, Serotype inheritance, Transgenerational epigenetics

Volume

61

First Page

366

Last Page

375

DOI

10.1016/j.ejop.2017.05.004

ISSN

09324739

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Rights

Licensed to Smith College and distributed CC-BY under the Smith College Faculty Open Access Policy.

Comments

Peer reviewed accepted manuscript.

Included in

Biology Commons

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