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Date of Award

Spring 2013

Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Dr. April Hill


Sponges, belonging to the phylum Porifera, are the earliest branching animals in existence today (Muller, 2003). Despite having diverged from the rest of the metazoan lineage roughly 600 million years ago (Nosenko et al., 2013), the majority of transcription factor, signal transduction, and structural gene families specific to the animal lineage are present in sponges (Srivastava et al., 2010). This is surprising because sponges do not possess any neurons, organs or tissues, yet have many genes that are essential in the development of organs in more complex animals. Thus, studying the functions of metazoan-conserved genes in sponges may provide a possible glimpse into primitive molecular functions of the genes in the ancestor that is common to all animals.