Project Report

The infrared imaging system of pit vipers, pythons and boas is an extraordinary sensory system based upon high-sensitivity thermoreceptors. These snakes detect thermal differentials at the facial pit organ, and use this information to continuously image their thermal environments, to accurately and precisely target potential prey and predators, and to locate thermal refugia. The molecular and neurobiological mechanisms of this unique thermal imager are still poorly understood. Evolutionarily conserved cation channels of the Transient Receptor Potential (TRP) protein family act as polymodal sensors in diverse species, and can be activated by chemical, mechanical and thermal stimuli. Thermosensitive TRP channels have been found in the snake’s trigeminal ganglion, which is known to innervate the pit organ. But, TRP channels have not been characterized in the peripheral sensory organs, where snakes directly interface with their external environment. Available information of reptilian TRPs is scarce, due in part to the limited genomic data from reptiles. To provide a strong foundation for further reptilian TRP research, the model reptilian species, the green anole Anolis carolinensis, was used. Molecular cloning methods led to the successful cloning and sequencing of a full-length TRP ion channel in the green anole, allowing for complete physiological characterization of this novel TRP ion channel. This work will increase our understanding of complex reptilian sensory behavior, will further our understanding of the ecological and evolutionary significance of TRP ion channels, and provide the basis for physiological characterization of TRP ion channels in the snake and other reptiles.

Agency
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Institute
Office of International and Integrative Activities (IIA)
Application #
1107620
Program Officer
Carter Kimsey
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
2011-06-01
Budget End
2012-05-31
Support Year
Fiscal Year
2011
Total Cost
$5,700
Indirect Cost
Name
Mclamb William T
Department
Type
DUNS #
City
Melbourne
State
FL
Country
United States
Zip Code
32901