Genevieve Housman

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Arizona State U.

Grant number

Gr. 9310

Approve Date

April 21, 2016

Project Title

Housman, Genevieve A., Arizona State U., Tempe, AZ - To aid research on 'Assessment of DNA Methylation Patterns in Primate Skeletal Tissues,' supervised by Dr. Anne C. Stone

Preliminary abstract: In anthropology, human and non-human primate skeletal features are often described as the result of environmental adaptations. However, skeletal morphology is more accurately defined as the result of complex traits, and these phenotypes are influenced by environmental, genetic, and epigenetic mechanisms, such as DNA methylation which regulates gene expression. Nevertheless, primate skeletal complexity in relation to epigenetic variation has not been assessed. In order to gain a complete understanding and appreciation of the evolution of primate skeletal morphology, it is necessary to study skeletal epigenetics in primates. The proposed study attempts to fill this gap by identifying intra- and inter-specific variation in primate skeletal tissue DNA methylation in order to test the hypothesis that specific features of skeletal form are related to specific variations in DNA methylation. Samples include human, chimpanzee, baboon, macaque, vervet, and marmoset femora, and femur traits include continuous linear and three-dimensional morphologies as well as binary assignments to healthy or diseased skeletal states. Genome-wide and gene-specific DNA methylation patterns will be assessed, and resulting data will be analyzed within and among species and related to femur form. Findings from this study will reveal how skeletal DNA methylation patterns vary across primates and relate to skeletal phenotypes, and they will inform our understanding of epigenetic regulation and complex trait evolution in primates.