Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)




Eric Bradley

Committee Members

Margaret Saha

Diane Shakes

Dana Lashley


Mercury, especially methylmercury (MeHg), poses a significant health risk to both humans and animals. Neurologic and developmental defects have been tied to both acute and chronic mercury exposure. RNA sequencing was used to analyze the effects of MeHg on the zebra finch genome in the brain after chronic, low-level exposure and in the developing organism after the parents experienced chronic, low-level exposure. 104 differentially expressed genes were discovered in brain tissues that corresponded to metabolism, neurodevelopment, behavior, and immunity or toxicity mediation. Developmental gene expression between day E4 and day E6 in untreated embryos revealed 597 genes that were differentially expressed, while the gene expression on the same days for mercury treated embryos revealed 155 differentially expressed genes. Of these genes only 13 overlapped in both groups. Pathways associated with these genes include neurologic pathways, musculoskeletal pathways, and apoptosis pathways. These studies revealed that MeHg affects the genome even at low levels, which can impact neurology and development.

Available for download on Monday, May 05, 2025

On-Campus Access Only