Abstract – Understanding stress in Australia’s animals and plants

This project aimed to develop new ways to detect, characterise and predict the effects of stress in diverse
organisms. Stressors exert environmental influence over gene expression, thus we have developed a novel
technique to interrogate poor quality preserved specimens for changes in a highly conserved and almost
universal epigenetic process that regulates gene expression, chromatin accessibility and architecture.

Our method provides the ability to draw on the power of biological collections to retrospectively provide a
baseline and conduct “before and after” impact studies (e.g. disease, effects of urbanisation, etc), to track
the effects of gradual climatic change. We anticipate this methodology will have significant impacts in
academic fields (conservation, ecology, evolution, etc), agriculture (wild progenitors versus domesticated
stock), human health (accelerating disease biomarker discovery through retrospective sample cohorts).

To find out more about this method, contact Dr Clare Holleley.