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Publication Date


First Advisor

Laura A. Katz

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Biological Sciences


Biology, Protist, Ciliate, Eukaryotic microbes, Epigenetics, Transposable elements


Transposable elements, also known as transposons or jumping genes, are mobile genetic elements that are a source of genetic diversity in eukaryotes due to their ability to move around in the genome, creating mutations. Mobile genetic elements, such as TEs, are a highly understudied portion of genomes. Often thought of as junk DNA, they are typically not captured by genome sequencing techniques. The transcription and regulation of TEs is important because it could potentially help us to understand the mechanisms underlying epigenetic regulation of things such as cancer cells. This study aims to seek out and identify transposable elements, both known and novel, in the genomes of single celled eukaryotes, ciliates. Ciliates are an excellent model organism for epigenetic studies because they have highly complex genomes that allow them to separate their germline and somatic DNA. One focus organism of this study, Blepharisma, is a ciliate that is able to be cultivated. Making them good models for stress studies because of our ability to manipulate their environments. This study could help us to better understand the effects that stress can have on both the activation and transcription of TEs.


©2021. Anna Elizabeth Tenerowicz. Access limited to the Smith College community and other researchers while on campus. Smith College community members also may access from off-campus using a Smith College log-in. Other off-campus researchers may request a copy through Interlibrary Loan for personal use




51 pages : color illustrations. Includes bibliographical references (pages 46-49)