Claire Smithson

Epigenetic mechanisms underlying responses to environmental stress

About me

Before starting my PhD, I studied for an Integrated Masters (MBiol) in Biology here at the University of Leeds. My final year project, in Steve Sait’s lab, aimed to understand the role of epigenetics in species survival. Using chemical inhibition of DNA methylation and histone modification in a Plodia-Venturia model system, I aimed to understand the role of epigenetics in enabling interacting species to adapt to stochastic environments.

My project

For my PhD I am now based in Amanda Bretman’s lab at the University of Leeds and continuing my study into the role of epigenetics. All species experience both biotic and abiotic stressors during their lifetime, yet some individuals are more resilient to stress than others. However, the reason for this is unknown. My project aims to use a Drosophila first approach to attempt to resolve an epigenetic stress pathway and see if this pathway is conserved across other Drosophila and invertebrate species.