Ellen Dow

I am interested in understanding the communication between microorganisms and their hosts via molecular pathways and cellular processes. I joined the IMaGeS lab in 2014, where my research is centered on investigating the mechanisms of molecular signaling within innate immune pathways in symbiotic marine cnidarians. Cnidarian symbiosis requires endosymbiotic algal dinoflagellates and host to communicate through cell signaling pathways in order for the host to recognize, tolerate, and maintain symbionts within host cells. Cnidarians possess an innate immune system that recognizes and responds to invading microorganisms, which may function in host tolerance of dinoflagellates. My current research focuses on signaling cascades that lead to nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB), a transcription factor, which regulates immune response, antioxidant, developmental, and apoptotic inhibitor gene expression. My project will address the function of innate immune signaling in stabilizing cnidarian symbiosis through regulation of homeostasis genes and how these pathways are altered during uptake and loss of symbionts. 

I completed my B.S. in Biology, emphasis in Marine Biology, with Highest Honors from Oregon State University in 2014, where I studied the role of the complement system and symbiosis, an innate immune pathway, in bacterial infection in the model sea anemone, Exaiptasia pallida. My second project focused on gene expression in relation to symbiosis as a response to temperature and light in the temperate sea anemone, Anthopleura elegantissima.