Development of the Ascidian, Ciona savignyi, as a Marine Ecological Indicator Organism

EPA Grant Number: U915653
Title: Development of the Ascidian, Ciona savignyi, as a Marine Ecological Indicator Organism
Investigators: Johnson, David S.
Institution: Stanford University
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: August 1, 1999 through August 1, 2002
Project Amount: $102,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Fellowship - Life Sciences , Academic Fellowships , Biology/Life Sciences


The objective of this research project is to develop cutting-edge genetic and developmental techniques to study the effects of environmental stress (anthropogenic or otherwise) on the ascidian, Ciona savignyi. The basic biology of stress response, as well as the potential of such knowledge for ecological monitoring, is the focus of this project.


The first major task of this research project will be to develop cDNA microarray technology for C. savignyi. Initially, cDNA libraries for animals at various developmental stages will need to be designed. Then, expressed sequence tag (EST) sequencing will characterize the clones and decrease repetition. It is assumed that the EST sequencing will identify clones for genes that are known to function in physiological defense, such as the multidrug resistance and cytochrome p450 gene families.

Once the cDNA microarrays have been developed, it will be possible to compare differential mRNA expression caused by exposure to toxins (in both environmental and laboratory animals). It also will be possible to examine the ability of the animals to induce this stress response at various stages of development.

Supplemental Keywords:

fellowship, tunicate, ascidian, Ciona savignyi, indicator organism, microarray, stress response.

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2000
  • 2001
  • Final