While the concept of hibernation may conjure thoughts of bears curling up for the winter, the Arctic Ground Squirrel (AGS; Spermophilus parryii) undergoes more extreme physiological changes and serves as an ideal organism for hibernation research. Hibernation consists of two stages, torpor and interbout arousal. In torpor, the AGS minimizes metabolism and body temperature drops to near 0°C. Every 1-3 weeks the squirrel will undergo spontaneous arousal and rewarm to 36°C for a period 10-15 hours. This project aims to determine how the genomic integrity of arctic ground squirrels is influenced by torpor, interbout arousal, and hibernation collectively in comparison to summer activity. Project is done in collaboration with Dr. Kelly Drew Lab.
Hypothesis: Arctic ground squirrel has superior DNA stability and efficient DNA repair, compared to other rodents (e.g. mice or rats).
Students involved: Krysta Yancey, Rebecca Cheek, Nina Ruckhaus, Robert Williams