This award renews support of the Peromyscus Genetic Stock Center at the University of South Carolina at Columbia. The deer mouse (Peromyscus maniculatus) and congeneric species are among the most abundant and widely distributed North American mammals. They are found in a variety of natural habitats within a range that extends from Alaska to Central America. Several of the most common species are used frequently as models to study fundamental processes underlying speciation, adaptative physiology, behavior, and community ecology. The Peromyscus Genetic Stock Center, established in 1985 is a reliable source of Peromyscus and related materials for the national scientific and education communities. The Center currently houses seven species of Peromyscus and more than 23 distinctive mutant or otherwise genetically defined stocks, primarily of the deer mouse. The Stock Center supplies researchers and educators with live animals and with selected biological materials, including fresh or preserved tissues, molecular probes, and libraries of cloned Peromyscus DNA. It also functions as a clearinghouse for information by sponsoring an Internet database (http://stkctr.biol.sc.edu/), maintaining a reference collection of reprints, standardizing the genetic nomenclature for the genus and publishing a semi-annual Peromyscus Newsletter.
The Peromyscus Genetic Stock Center provides pedigreed and disease free animals for research to investigators throughout the United States as well as internationally. The animals are primarily used for research and teaching purposes in Universities and Colleges. Members of the genus Peromyscus are the most widespread, and abundant mammals in North America. The animals are used in genetic approaches to identify genes involved in environmental adaptation to habitat, behavior, evolutionary mechanisms and physiological processes. Nearly 4,000 animals or DNA samples have provided investigators with resources for research in these areas that have resulted in more than 100 scientific publications in the last 5 years with additional publications by members of the Stock Center. Highlight publications have used long-lived P. leucopus as a model to examine the role of certain enzymes in ageing, identified differences among species in exploratory behavior when confronted with unknown animals, identification of genes involved in coat color adaptation to the environment, discovery that certain defects in hybrids between species are due to loss of genetic imprinting, and discovery that certain environmental toxins have transgenerational effects on behavior. In order to enhance Peromyscus as an experimental organims, a genetic map with chromosomal location of numerous genes and DNA markers has been constructed and whole genome DNA sequence is being determined for 4 of the Peromyscus species. These resources will provide tools for identification of actual genes involved in exploratory behavior, mating behavior, growth and development, ageing, and responses to the environment. Numerous undergraduates and graduate students have participated in research projects in the Peromyscus Genetic Stock Center