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Eric M. Thompson, PhD


Principal Investigator, Bergen Oikopleura team

In collaboration with the Chourrout group at the Sars International Centre for Marine Molecular Biology, we have been at the forefront of pioneering efforts to establish a new model organism, Oikopleura dioica, which plays key roles in marine ecosystems and global vertical carbon cycles and is a member of the closest extant sister group to vertebrates. Through close cooperation with the Manak group at the University of Iowa and NimbleGen, we have developed the high resolution Oikopleura tiling array (60 bp tiles) that covers 93% of this extraordinarily compact 70 Mb chordate genome and have established a very comprehensive developmental transcriptome profile. Projects that make extensive use of these array resources include exploration of developmental chromatin dynamics via ChIP-chip and ChIP-seq, molecular regulation of diverse cell cycle variants in this extremely fast growing chordate, and cellular and molecular adaptations implicated in the elaboration of complex extracellular feeding structures central to the evolution of the entire urochordate subphylum. We also investigate physiological transcriptional responses to stressors such as environmental pollutants and Ocean Acidification.