UNT Theses and Dissertations - 90 Matching Results

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Acute Effects of the Antibiotic Streptomycin on Neural Network Activity and Pharmacological Responses
The purpose of this study is to find out that if antibiotic streptomycin decreases neuronal network activity or affects the pharmacological responses. The experiments in this study were conducted via MEA (multi-electrode array) technology which records neuronal activity from devices that have multiple small electrodes, serve as neural interfaces connecting neurons to electronic circuitry. The result of this study shows that streptomycin lowered the spike production of neuronal network, and also, sensitization was seen when neuronal network pre-exposed to streptomycin.
The Acute Toxic Effects of the Synthetic Cannabinoid, JWH-018 on the Cardiovascular and Neuroendocrine System in Ictalurus punctatus (Channel Catfish)
Cannabinoid (CB) receptors have been found in most vertebrates that have been studied. The location of various CB receptors in the body and brain are known, but their physiological functions are not fully understood. The effects CBs have on the cardiovascular system have been of growing interest in recent years. Increasing reports from emergency departments and law enforcement agencies detail acute cardiovascular and psychological effects from synthetic CB intoxication, such as JWH-018. This major health concern is substantiated by governmental agencies like the CDC and NIDA. This pilot study investigates the acute toxic effects of the synthetic CB, JWH-018, on the cardiovascular and neuroendocrine systems in Ictalurus punctatus (channel catfish). Research in organisms besides the traditional mammal models can provide new insights into CB function and physiology. Ictalurus punctatus lend multiple benefits as a model organism that permits researchers to investigate in vivo effects of both cardiovascular and neuroendocrine systems without much influence from traditional sampling methods, and further more provide ample size and tissue to perform specific cardiovascular experiments. Multiple methods were used to assess cardiovascular function and sympathetic nervous system activation. Two different doses, low (500 µg/kg) and high 1,500 µg/kg, of JWH-018 were evaluated in the study. Delivery of JWH-018, via dorsal aorta cannulation, was administered to channel catfish in order to measure cardiovascular functions and sample blood. Plasma levels of the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal/interrenal (HPA/I) biomarkers; ACTH, cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine, were measured using ELISAs. Myocardial and neural tissue was collected after the exposures for rt-PCR analysis on β2 adrenergic and glucocorticoid receptor density change. Acute exposure of JWH-018 in undisturbed channel catfish yielded several findings: (1) High dose of JWH-018 was responsible for cardio depressor effects in catfish with a tendency to produce tachycardia, (2) rt-PCR results showed a 2.7 fold increase of glucocorticoid receptor mRNA density ...
Aging Is a Determinant in Anoxia Stress Tolerance in Caenorhabditis Elegans
Oxygen availability is critical for survival for most organisms. The nematode, C. elegans, has been useful for studying genetic regulation of anoxia tolerance due to the oxygen deprivation response mechanisms shared with other metazoans. Studies examining long-term anoxia (72h, LTA) tolerance have only been conducted at adult day 1. To investigate the effect of aging on anoxia tolerance wild-type and mutant strains were exposed to LTA between adult day 1 and day 9. Wild-type isolates and daf-16(mu86) (FOXO transcription factor regulated by insulin-signaling) and aak-2(gt33) (catalytic subunit of AMP-activated protein kinase) strains were anoxia sensitive at day 1 and displayed increased LTA tolerance with aging correlated with reproductive senescence followed by a decline in survivorhsip through day 9. The daf-2(e1370) (insulin receptor homologue of C. elegans), glp-1(e2141) (a lin-12/Notch receptor) and fog-2(q71) (required for spermatogenesis) strains were LTA-tolerant through day 5. I conclude that aging influences LTA-tolerance in a strain- and age-dependent manner. In addition to being LTA-tolerant the daf-2(e1370) and glp-1(e2141) strains have a longevity phenotype that is suppressed by loss of kri-1 or daf-12. While loss of kri-1 did not suppress the LTA-tolerant phenotype of glp-1(e2141) at day 1 the portion of impaired survivors increased at day 3 and by day 5 tolerance was suppressed. Similarly, when exposed to 4 days of anoxia the glp-1(e2141);daf-12(rh41rh611) double mutant had a reduced survivor rate at all ages analyzed compared to glp-1(e2141) controls. To better understand formation of an anoxia-tolerant physiology I exposed adults to one or more 24h bouts. Recurrent bouts increased LTA tolerance in wild-type hermaphrodites in a dose-dependent manner. Bout-treated daf-16(mu86) animals had increased survival rate compared to controls yet maximum survival remained below age-matched wild-type. Anoxia bouts decreased LTA-tolerance in aak-2(gt33) mutants, indicating the requirement for ATP regulation in establishing an LTA-tolerant phenotype. These data support the ...
Anatomical and Morphological Responses of Cardiospermum Halicacabum L. (Balloon Vine), to Four Levels of Water Availability
C. halicacabum (Sapindaceae) is an invasive plant that is considered a nuisance species in Texas riparian environments. Little is known of the tolerance of C. halicacabum to flooding and drought; however, this information may provide insight into the characteristics that contribute to C. halicacabum purported invasiveness. C. halicacabum seedlings (n = 92) were exposed to one of four levels of water availability (flooded, saturated, intermediate and dry) over six weeks under greenhouse conditions. Plant performance was affected by water availability; however, there was no effect on survivorship. Flooded and saturated plants exhibited morphological adaptations; producing adventitious roots, hypertrophy, and aerenchyma tissue. Morphological measures, anatomical responses, and patterns of biomass allocation all indicate that C. halicacabum is able to survive periodic inundation, perform in saturation, and establish and thrive on the drier end of a moisture gradient.
Benthic Macroinvertebrates of Temperate, Sub-Antarctic Streams: The Effects of Altitudinal Zoning and Temperature on the Phenology of Aquatic Insects Associated to the Robalo River, Navarino Island (55°S), Chile
The Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve, within the remote Sub-Antarctic ecoregion is a reservoir of expressions of biological and cultural diversity. Although it is considered one of 24 wilderness areas remaining in the world, it is not free from local and global threats, such as invasive species, and climate change. Field biologists and philosophers associated to the Sub-Antarctic Biocultural Conservation Program and the Omora Ethnobotanical Park, have worked to describe the region’s biocultural diversity, linking ecological and philosophical research into education, ecotourism, and conservation, through a methodology called field environmental philosophy (FEP), which integrates ecological sciences and environmental ethics through a 4-step cycle consisting of: 1) interdisciplinary research; 2) composition of metaphors; 3) design of field activities with an ecological and ethical orientation; and 4) implementation of in situ conservation areas. In this context, the purposes of this dissertation were to: 1) provide a comprehensive review of publications regarding the conservation status of aquatic and terrestrial insects at a global scale and with an emphasis in southern South America; 2) study the distribution of benthic macroinvertebrates through the sharp altitudinal gradient of the Róbalo River watershed; 3) describe the life histories of Gigantodax sp (Simuliidae: Diptera) and Meridialaris chiloeense (Leptophlebiidae: Ephemeroptera) in the Róbalo River and to assess the potential effects of climate change on their phenology; and 4) to apply FEP methodology in order to better understand and communicate the intrinsic and instrumental values of freshwater invertebrates in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve.
Beta-adrenergic Blockade Via Atenolol and Its Effects on Blood Pressure, Heart Rate, and Renal Morphology in the Developing Chicken Gallus Gallus Domesticus
Chicken embryos were chronically exposed to the ?1- blocker atenolol during one of three stages: mesonephros (E7-E9), mesonephros-metanephros (E11-E13), or metanephros (E15-E17). Mesonephros group hearts were larger than all other groups (P < 0.01). Mesonephros and metanephros group kidneys were larger than all remaining groups (P < 0.0001). The mesonephros group nephron number was ~40% lower than control values (P = 0.002). Glomerular areas were 26% and 18% larger than the control group in the mesonephros and metanephros groups, respectively (P < 0.001). These data suggest an E7-E9 critical window of cardiovascular and renal development for atenolol. Acute atenolol exposure in E15 embryos showed an increase in mean arterial pressure with all but the highest dose. All doses significantly decreased heart rate.
Bioconcentration and Morphological Effects of Triclosan on Three Species of Wetland Plants
Triclosan (TCS) is an antimicrobial compound found in several types of common household products. After being washed down the drain, TCS will then end up in the local watershed. Although numerous studies have been conducted to evaluate the fate and effects of TCS in aquatic environments, there have been no studies evaluating the role arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AM) play in a plants response to TCS exposure. Three species of wetland plants native North Texas were inoculated with AM spores and exposed to 0, 0.4 g/L and 4.0 g/L TCS concentrations. Root morphology of E. prostrata and S. herbacea showed AM and exposure responses. S. herbacea produced the greatest amounts biomass and TCS bioaccumulation, in all but one treatment. It also displayed opposing results to E. prostrata in measures of root length, root surface area, relative root mass, relative shoot mass and shoot:root ratio. TCS root tissue concentrations increased with increased exposures for both E. prostrata and S. herbacea. Even though E. prostrata had the lowest levels in each measure of biomass production, it had the highest amount of root TCS bioaccumulation in the AM inoculated 4.0 g/L treatment. H. laevis was between the other two species in terms of biomass production, and did not demonstrate any exposure or inoculation effects in morphology or TCS accumulation. Overall, no clear patterns were detected, which highlights the fact that further study is required to completely understand the effects compounds like TCS can have on plant community structure, and ultimately ecosystem function.
Cardiovascular Fetal Programming in Quail (Colinus virginianus), An Avian Comparative Model
The consequences of early embryonic insults and how they affect subsequent life reflects the emerging concept of "fetal programming". The aim of this project is to study the effects of embryonic insults as they subsequently manifest themselves in adults, with emphasis on the heart and vasculature. My experiments establish that fetal programming operates on the bobwhite quail inducing similar changes as those observed in mammalians and other birds. The quail's fast development provides reliable data in a short period of time than other avian models (e.g. domestic chicken). Data on quail showed a correlation between egg mass and hatchling mass; where small eggs produce small hatchlings but a high mortality made it impractical as a stressor for this study. Hypoxia was used as a stressor during embryonic incubation, where it induced a low hatching weight in quail that was not observable in adult birds. Morphological measurements demonstrated an increased ventricular collagen content and reduced ventricular lumen in birds in adults incubated in hypoxia consistent with hypertension. The hematological analyzes showed few differences indicating organ remodeling instead of hematopoietic compensation. The assessment of vascular reactivity pointed out an impaired endothelium dependent relaxation commonly associated to hypertension in birds and mammals. Fetal programming could be a widespread response to an adverse prenatal environment in endotherms and the resulting data from this work contributes to our understanding of fetal programming in vertebrates and its long term consequences.
Characteristics of Primary Cilia and Centrosomes in Neuronal and Glial Lineages of the Adult Brain
Primary cilia are sensory organelles that are important for initiating cell division in the brain, especially through sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling. Several lines of evidence suggest that the mitogenic effect of Shh requires primary cilia. Proliferation initiated by Shh signaling plays key roles in brain development, in neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus, and in the generation of glial cells in response to cortical injury. In spite of the likely involvement of cilia in these events, little is known about their characteristics. Centrosomes, which are associated with primary cilia, also have multiple influences on the cell cycle, and they are important in assembling microtubules for the maintenance of the cell’s cytoskeleton and cilia. The cilia of terminally differentiated neurons have been previously examined with respect to length, incidence, and receptors present. However, almost nothing is known about primary cilia in stem cells, progenitors, or differentiated glial cells. Moreover, it is not known how the properties of cilia and centrosomes may vary with cell cycle or proliferative potential, in brain or other tissues. This dissertation focuses first on neurogenesis in the hippocampal subgranular zone (SGZ). The SGZ is one of the few brain regions in mammals that gives rise to a substantial number of new neurons throughout adulthood. The neuron lineage contains a progression of identifiable precursor cell types with different proliferation rates. This present study found that primary cilia were present in every cell type in the neuronal lineage in SGZ. Cilium length and incidence were positively correlated among these cell types. Ciliary levels of adenylyl cyclase type III (ACIII) levels relative to ADP-ribosylation factor-like protein 13b (Arl13b) was higher in neurons than in precursor cells and glia, and also changed with the cell cycle. G-protein coupled receptors, SstR3, MCHR1, and Gpr161 receptors were only found in neuronal cilia. The levels ...
Characterization of Arthrobacter Globiformis Aspartate Transcarbamylase Concentrations of Substrates
This thesis consists of one major section with two subsections. The first subsection investigates the activity of Arthrobacter globiformis aspartate transcarbamylase's specific activity with increasing concentrations of the enzyme's substrate. Dihydroorotase (DHOase) activity was also measured with increasing concentrations of the substrate dihydroorotate. The second subsection collected data in order to classify the enzyme, resulting in a classification into the category of class A ATCases with bifunctional ATCase-DHOase complexes. The thesis provides evidence to broaden understanding of the ATCase and DHOase enzymes for members of the family that Arthrobacter belongs to.
Characterizing the Molecular Changes of Austrofundulus limnaeus As It Develops Towards and Enters Diapause II
Austrofundulus limnaeus is a species of annual killifish which inhabits ephemeral ponds in South America. The species is able to survive seasonally desiccating ponds due to their ability to produce robust embryos. The embryos of this species are capable of entering a developmental arrest, termed diapause II, which precedes the onset of drought. While in this arrested state embryos exhibit the greatest tolerance to anoxia of any characterized vertebrate at 25ºC. Furthermore, when raised at 30ºC, embryos escape the entrance to diapause II and go on to develop directly. Currently, little is known about the molecular mechanisms which induce and maintain this developmentally arrested state. In this study I have developed methods to analyze changes in histone modifications in the context of diapause II. Histone modifications were chosen due to their extreme conservation and well characterized role as modulators of gene expression in other systems. Results utilizing adapted immunobased assays show significant changes in the global amount of H3S10P, H3K27me and H3K4me, as the embryos progress from early embryogenesis through the exit of diapause. Additionally, it is revealed that there exists a degree of phenotypic plasticity with regards to the entrance into diapause II which is modulated by the environment (severe hypoxia 0.1% O2). This work builds a foundation for future histone modification studies and contributes the development of several tools to the field. This study contributes to a greater molecular understanding of the cue(s) which influence the remarkable phenomenon of obligate developmental arrest in a vertebrate embryo.
Chronic Hypoxia and Hyperoxia Modifies Morphology and Vegf Expression of the Lungs of the Developing Chicken (Gallus Gallus Domesticus)
This study determines effects of oxygen levels on morphology and VEGF expression of developing chicken lungs following incubation in normoxia (21% O2), hypoxia (15% O2) or hyperoxia (30% O2), until developmental days 16 or 18. Lung morphology was assessed using light microscopy, while VEGF expression was determined with ELISA. In hypoxia, the proportion of parabronchial tissue and parabronchi including lumina increased from day 16 to 18 (61 to 68% and 74.2 to 82.2%, respectively). Non-parabronchial tissue was higher in hypoxia than in hyperoxia on day 16 (26 to 20%). However, by day 18, there were no differences between groups. VEGF expression was 33% higher in hypoxia than in hyperoxia on day 16 (736 vs. 492 pg/ml). On day 18, VEGF expression was 43% higher in hyperoxia than in normoxia (673 to 381pg/ml), and remained elevated by 40% in hypoxia over normoxia (631 pg/ml). VEGF may be a mechanism by which parabronchial tissue is stimulated from day 16 to 18 following exposure to chronic hypoxia.
Clustering Algorithms for Time Series Gene Expression in Microarray Data
Clustering techniques are important for gene expression data analysis. However, efficient computational algorithms for clustering time-series data are still lacking. This work documents two improvements on an existing profile-based greedy algorithm for short time-series data; the first one is implementation of a scaling method on the pre-processing of the raw data to handle some extreme cases; the second improvement is modifying the strategy to generate better clusters. Simulation data and real microarray data were used to evaluate these improvements; this approach could efficiently generate more accurate clusters. A new feature-based algorithm was also developed in which steady state value; overshoot, rise time, settling time and peak time are generated by the 2nd order control system for the clustering purpose. This feature-based approach is much faster and more accurate than the existing profile-based algorithm for long time-series data.
Comparison of Heteranthera Dubia (Jacq.) MacM.-associated Macroinvertebrates Between Georgraphical Regions in the United States
Macroinvertebrates associated with the aquatic plant, water stargrass (Heteranthera dubia), were sampled from 12 waterbodies in four regions of the United States from June to August 2005. Taxa richness, evenness, and diversity were lowest in the Lower Midwest (LMW) region, and higher in Northern sites, especially the Upper Midwest (UMW), and Northeast (NE). While relative abundance varied from site to site and region to region, utilization of the plant by functional groups remained fairly constant. Collector-gatherers consistently comprised the largest portion of invertebrates sampled. The shredder/ herbivore functional group comprised an average of 17 % of total groups. Through an exhaustive literature review, it was found that shredder/ herbivores of water stargrass have not been reported in the literature. Because of this, the herbivore group was analyzed separately and consisted of 2,383 specimens representing 23 species. The most common groups were Rhopalosiphum sp., Nectopsyche spp. and chironomids. No differences were found in herbivore diversity or evenness between sampling regions, but species richness was significantly different.
Cytotoxicity and Functional Toxicity of Mefloquine and the Search for Protective Compounds
Mefloquine hydrochloride is an antimalarial agent that has been used for the past 40 years. Numerous reports of neurological side effects have recently led the FDA to issue a strong warning regarding long-term neurological effects. This warning lead to the U.S. Army’s Special Forces and other components to discontinue its use in July of 2013. Despite reported adverse side effects, mefloquine remains in circulation and is recommended to travelers going to specific Asian countries. Mefloquine has been used as a treatment for those already infected with the malaria parasite (blood concentrations ranging from 2.1 to 23 µM), and as prophylaxis (blood concentrations averaging 3.8 µM) (Dow 2003). The purpose of this study was to quantify Mefloquine’s toxicity using spontaneously active nerve cell networks growing on microelectrode arrays in vitro and to identify compounds that alleviate or reduce toxic effects. The current literature on mefloquine toxicity is lacking electrophysiological data. These data will contribute to research on the mechanism of adverse side effects associated with mefloquine use. Sequential titration experiments were performed by adding increasing concentrations of mefloquine solution to cultured neurons. Network responses were quantified and reversibility was examined. In each network, activity decreases were normalized as a percent of reference activity yielding a mean IC50 value of 5.97 ± 0.44 (SD) µM (n=6). After total activity loss, no activity was recovered with two successive medium changes. To test for network response desensitization resulting from sequential applications over 5-6 hr periods, one-point titrations at varying concentrations were conducted with fresh networks. These experiments yielded a single concentration response curve with an IC50 value of 2.97 µM. This represents a statistically significant shift (p < 0.0001) to lower concentrations of mefloquine, demonstrating that sequential applications result in network desensitization. After mefloquine exposures, cells were evaluated for irreversible cytotoxic damage. Over a ...
Delivery of CRISPR/Cas9 into Blood Cells of Zebrafish: Potential for Genome Editing in Somatic Cells
Factor VIII is a clotting factor found on the intrinsic side of the coagulation cascade. A mutation in the factor VIII gene causes the disease Hemophilia A, for which there is no cure. The most common treatment is administration of recombinant factor VIII. However, this can cause an immune response that renders the treatment ineffective in certain hemophilia patients. For this reason a new treatment, or cure, needs to be developed. Gene editing is one solution to correcting the factor VIII mutation. CRISPR/Cas9 mediated gene editing introduces a double stranded break in the genomic DNA. Where this break occurs repair mechanisms cause insertions and deletions, or if a template oligonucleotide can be provided point mutations could be introduced or corrected. However, to accomplish this goal for editing factor VIII mutations, a way to deliver the components of CRISPR/Cas9 into somatic cells is needed. In this study, I confirmed that the CRISPR/Cas9 system was able to create a mutation in the factor VIII gene in zebrafish. I also showed that the components of CRISPR/Cas9 could be piggybacked by vivo morpholino into a variety of blood cells. This study also confirmed that the vivo morpholino did not interfere with the gRNA binding to the DNA, or Cas9 protein inducing the double stranded break.
Detection of Mercury Among Avian Trophic Levels at Caddo Lake and Lake Lewisville, TX
Mercury (Hg) is a globally distributed toxicant that has been shown to have negative effects on birds. in the United States, avian taxa have been shown to possess high Hg concentrations in the northeast, Great Lakes and Everglades ecosystems; however, few studies have measured avian Hg concentrations in other geographic regions. Previous studies have documented high Hg concentrations in multiple organisms in east Texas, but birds were not included in these studies. the main objective of the present study was to quantify Hg concentrations in birds in differing trophic levels at Caddo Lake and Lake Lewisville, TX. Results suggest that Hg concentrations may be high enough to negatively impact some bird taxa, particularly those at high trophic levels, residing at both Caddo Lake and Lake Lewisville.
Determination of Bioconcentration Potential of Selected Pharmaceuticals in Fathead Minnow, Pimephales promelas, and Channel Catfish, Ictalurus punctatus
The primary objective of this work was to determine the tissue-specific bioconcentration factors (BCFs) of the selected pharmaceuticals: norethindrone (NET), ibuprofen (IBU), verapamil (VER), clozapine (CLZ) and fenofibrate (FFB) in two freshwater fishes: fathead minnow and channel catfish. BCF tests on fathead followed the standard OECD 42-day test while a 14-day abridged test design was used in catfish exposures. Additional objectives included a) comparing the measured BCFs to the US EPA's BCFWIN model predicted values, b) comparing the BCF results from the standard and reduced tests, and c) prediction of chronic risk of the pharmaceuticals in fish using the human therapeutic plasma concentrations. Each test included uptake and depuration phases to measure tissue-specific kinetic BCFs. The results indicated that all the pharmaceuticals, except IBU, have the potential for accumulation in fish. Estimated BCFs for NET, VER and FFB may not be significant in view of the current regulatory trigger level (BCF &#8805; 2000); however, CLZ's BCF in the liver had approached the criterion level. Significant differences were noticed in the tissue-specific uptake levels of the pharmaceuticals with the following general trend: (liver/kidney) > (gill/brain) > (heart/muscle) > plasma. IBU uptake was highest in the plasma. When compared to the measured BCFs, predicted values for NET, IBU, VER and FFB were slightly overestimated but did not differ largely. However, the measured BCF of CLZ in the liver was approximately two-orders of magnitude higher than the predicted level. The tissue-BCFs for the two species were not widely different indicating the potential usefulness of the reduced BCF test. Comparison of fish and human plasma levels indicated that NET, CLZ and VER have the potential to cause chronic effects in fish.
Developing a Collection Digitization Workflow for the Elm Fork Natural Heritage Museum
Natural history collections house immense amounts of data, but the majority of data is only accessible by locating the collection label, which is usually attached to the physical specimen. This method of data retrieval is time consuming and can be very damaging to fragile specimens. Digitizing the collections is the one way to reduce the time and potential damage related to finding the collection objects. The Elm Fork Natural Heritage Museum is a natural history museum located at the University of North Texas and contains collections of both vertebrate and invertebrate taxa, as well as plants. This project designed a collection digitization workflow for Elm Fork by working through digitizing the Benjamin B. Harris Herbarium. The collection was cataloged in Specify 6, a database program designed for natural history collection management. By working through one of the museum’s collections, the project was able to identify and address challenges related to digitizing the museum’s holdings in order to create robust workflows. The project also produced a series of documents explaining common processes in Specify and a data management plan.
Developing a Phylogeny Based Machine Learning Algorithm for Metagenomics
Metagenomics is the study of the totality of the complete genetic elements discovered from a defined environment. Different from traditional microbiology study, which only analyzes a small percent of microbes that could survive in laboratory, metagenomics allows researchers to get entire genetic information from all the samples in the communities. So metagenomics enables understanding of the target environments and the hidden relationships between bacteria and diseases. In order to efficiently analyze the metagenomics data, cutting-edge technologies for analyzing the relationships among microbes and communities are required. To overcome the challenges brought by rapid growth in metagenomics datasets, advances in novel methodologies for interpreting metagenomics data are clearly needed. The first two chapters of this dissertation summarize and compare the widely-used methods in metagenomics and integrate these methods into pipelines. Properly analyzing metagenomics data requires a variety of bioinformatcis and statistical approaches to deal with different situations. The raw reads from sequencing centers need to be processed and denoised by several steps and then be further interpreted by ecological and statistical analysis. So understanding these algorithms and combining different approaches could potentially reduce the influence of noises and biases at different steps. And an efficient and accurate pipeline is important to robustly decipher the differences and functionality of bacteria in communities. Traditional statistical analysis and machine learning algorithms have their limitations on analyzing metagenomics data. Thus, rest three chapters describe a new phylogeny based machine learning and feature selection algorithm to overcome these problems. The new method outperforms traditional algorithms and can provide more robust candidate microbes for further analysis. With the frowing sample size, deep neural network could potentially describe more complicated characteristic of data and thus improve model accuracy. So a deep learning framework is designed on top of the shallow learning algorithm stated above in order to further ...
The Ecology and Paleobiogeography of Freshwater Mussels (Family: Unionidae) from Selected River Basins in Texas
This dissertation has two overall objectives: first, to demonstrate the utility of paleozoological data for ongoing and future mussel-conservation efforts in Texas and second, to evaluate whether simple measures of habitat (e.g., water depth, velocity and particle size) are important for demonstrating the within-habitat spatial separation of mussels. Although these topics may seem disparate, both are important for increasing our understanding of unionid ecology and biogeography. Chapters 1 through 3 examine the use of paleozoological data for mussel conservation. Although these types of data are not new they have rarely been used in mussel conservation efforts within Texas. This is unfortunate because paleozoological data can provide an excellent record of the mussel fauna prior to wide-scale modern impacts and in areas where historical survey data are lacking. Chapter 4 examines whether assessments of microhabitat for mussels using simple measures of habitat (e.g., water velocity, depth and particle size) are useful. Recent studies have suggested that these measures do not explain the mussel distribution in flowing streams. If this is correct, instream flow studies using this approach need to be revised. Results of Chapter 4 indicate that mussels in the lower Brazos River basin are constrained in distribution by the availability of heterogenous substrate. Appendix A, details the first account of a living population of Truncilla macrodon, which is a candidate species for the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The population was found while conducting mussel instream flow studies in the lower Brazos River basin.
Ecology and Recolonization of Benthic Macroinvertebrates in a Groundwater-dependent Stream in North Central Texas During a Supra-seasonal Drought
Extreme climatic events such as droughts are known to eliminate aquatic biota and alter community structure and function. Perennial headwater springs provide important drought refugia to benthic macroinvertebrates and an important source of colonists via drift or aerial adults to intermittent streams post-drought. During a supra-seasonal drought in North-central Texas summer and fall 2006, benthic macroinvertebrates from persistent groundwater-dependent macrohabitats of varying hydrological connectivity and riparian shading were studied: perennial riffles, connected pools, shaded disconnected pools, and full sun disconnected pools. Riffles were a distinct habitat with significantly higher taxa richness, proportion of lotic taxa, diversity and evenness than other macrohabitats. Macrohabitats were found to be important refugia for 106 benthic macroinvertebrates and 4 microcrustacean taxa. Throughout the extreme drought, perennially flowing habitats were refugia to 19 taxa (17.9% total taxa) not collected in disconnected pools. Shaded disconnected pools contained lotic taxa not previously known to be able to complete their lifecycles in lentic habitats, emphasizing the importance of groundwater effluent and shading. With the resumption of flow at a downstream intermittent site of Ash Creek in mid-October 2006, an annual recolonization study was conducted comparing the perennial headwaters’ benthic macroinvertebrate taxa richness, densities and community ecology with the downstream intermittent site. The headwaters supported higher mean taxa richness than the intermittent site over the duration of the study (ANOVA P < 0.001). However, the unexpected result of overall decreasing taxa richness at the perennial headwater site from August 2006 to April 2008 appears to reflect lag effects of the supra-seasonal drought combined with effects of multiple spates of 2007, which are factors confounding the point of recovery for taxa richness. Recovery of taxa richness at the intermittent site took 9 months compared to 1 to 2 months reported in other arid and semi-arid streams in the United States recovering ...
Effect of Acute Alcohol Ingestion on Resistance Exercise Induced mTORC1 Signaling in Human Muscle
The purpose of this project was to further elucidate the effects post-exercise alcohol ingestion. This project had many novel aspects including using a resistance exercise (RE) only exercise design and the inclusion of women. To our knowledge, we are the first to investigate the effect of post-RE alcohol ingestion in women. In the first chapter of this project, information on the prevalence of alcohol use and the importance of skeletal muscle as a dynamic and metabolic tissue was provided. In chapter two, the effects of post-RE alcohol ingestion in men and women are detailed. The major findings of this study was that although RE elicited similar mTORC1 signaling both in men and in women, alcohol ingestion appeared to only attenuate RE-induced phosphorylation of the mTORC1 signaling pathway in men. The third chapter focused on examining the effects of post-RE alcohol ingestion on acute testosterone bioavailability. The primary findings of this study was that alcohol substantially elevated serum total and free testosterone concentrations during recovery from a bout of resistance exercise. The fourth chapter detailed factors that contribute to bone density in men. The major findings of this study was that young adult male long-distance runners who participated in resistance training at least once per week had greater bone mineral density than their non-resistance trained and non-exercise trained peers.
The Effect of Curcumin Supplementation on Physical and Biological Indices of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and Inflammation Following Muscle Injury
In this project, the effects of dietary polyphenols on exercise-induced muscle damage and vascular health are examined. Dietary polyphenols exert well-known anti-inflammatory effects; however, how these effects are realized with respect to vascular health and EIMD is relatively unknown. I begin by reviewing the available literature surrounding the impact of three dietary polyphenols (curcumin, catechins, and quercetin) on inflammation associated with EIMD. It is well established that their primary means of anti-inflammation is through alterations of NF-κB and AP-1 transcription activities. Given this, their inclusion into training strategies seems reasonable. Consistent evidence is presented making a case for the anti-inflammatory effects of dietary polyphenols following EIMD. I follow this review up by completing an in-depth study on the consumption of curcumin prior to EIMD. I found curcumin (1000 mg/day) can reduce subjective soreness and decrease inflammation compared to placebo controls. To further understand the effects of dietary polyphenols on health, I investigate the effects of a four-week supplementation period of cocoa (catechins) on vascular. I concluded that atherogenic risk in obese women is reduced after consumption of cocoa. In addition to these experimental projects, I developed two novel methods that can be used to investigate vascular health (EMP concentration) and intracellular protein and mRNA production using flow cytometry.
The Effect of Menthol on Nicotine Metabolism: a Cross Species Evaluation
The effect of menthol on nicotine metabolism was examined in liver S9 fractions of four different species and in the in vivo mouse model. The purpose of this study was to investigate three parameters: (1) biotransformation of nicotine to cotinine in various species (human, mouse, rat and trout) using in vitro methods; (2) to determine if the addition of menthol with nicotine altered biotransformation of nicotine to cotinine; (3) and to assess similar parameters in an in vivo mouse model. The major findings of this study include: (1) mice appear to metabolize nicotine, over time, in a manner similar to humans; (2) menthol decreased cotinine production, over time, after a single dose in mice; and (3) menthol increased cotinine production, over time, after repeated doses, in mice.
The Effect of Post-exercise Ethanol Consumption on the Acute Hormonal Response to Heavy Resistance Exercise in Women
The purpose of this study was to examine the hormonal response to acute ethanol ingestion following a bout of heavy resistance exercise in women. Eight resistance trained women completed two identical acute heavy resistance exercise tasks (AHRET). From 10-20 minutes post-AHRET, participants consumed either a grain ethanol or a placebo beverage. Blood was collected before (PRE) and immediately after the AHRET (IP) and then every 20 minutes for five hours. Blood collected after beverage ingestion was pooled into 3 batches (phases: 20-40 minutes, 60-120 minutes, and 140-300 minutes post-exercise) and analyzed for serum total testosterone (TT), free testosterone (FT), insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), human growth hormone (GH), cortisol (COR), and estradiol (E2) concentrations. Circulating concentrations of TT were significantly greater at P20-40 than at PRE, P60-120, and P140-300. Circulating concentrations of FT were significantly greater at P20-40 than at all other times. Circulating concentrations of GH were significantly greater at IP than at PRE, P60-120, and P140-300. Circulating concentrations of COR were significantly greater at P20-40 than at all other times. Additionally, COR concentrations at P140-300 were significantly lower than at all other times. Circulating concentrations of IGF-1 were significantly greater at P20-40 than at P60-120 and P140-300. Circulating concentrations of E2 were significantly greater at P20-40 than at all other times. In summary, the present study demonstrated an acute modulation of the neuroendocrine milieu following a heavy resistance exercise bout in women. Ethanol ingestion appeared to have no significant effect on the characteristics of acute hormonal augmentation in TT, FT, GH, COR, IGF-1, or E2.
The Effectiveness of Hybrid Problem-Based Learning versus Manual-Based Learning in the Microbiology Laboratory
Promising results from the use of problem-based learning (PBL) as a teaching method in medical programs have encouraged many institutions to incorporate PBL into their curricula. This study investigates how applying hybrid-PBL (H-PBL) in a microbiology laboratory impacts students' higher-order thinking as compared to applying a lecture-based pedagogy. The experimental design compared the learning outcomes of two groups of students: the control group and the H-PBL group, for whom PBL cases comprised 30% of the curriculum. Both groups were taught basic skills for the microbiology lab by the same instructor. Using the traditional teaching style for the control group, the instructor offered each student what they needed for their experiments. The H-PBL group practiced experimental design, data analysis, theory proposal, and created research questions by using six study cases that were closely linked to the area of study. The outcome was measured using a pre- and post- assessment consisting of 24 questions that was designed by following Bloom's taxonomy of learning levels. A one-way ANOVA was used to analyze the data. The results showed that for the first three levels of Bloom's taxonomy— knowledge, comprehension, and application—there were no statistically significant differences between the H-PBL and control group gain scores as determined by a one-way ANOVA. For the knowledge level, f (1, 78) = .232, and p = .632; for the comprehension level, f (1, 78) = .004, and p = .951; and for the application level f (1, 78) =. 028, and p =.863. On the other hand, the gain scores for the three higher levels—analysis, evaluation, and creativity—improved for the H-PBL group. The analysis level showed statistically significant differences, with f (1, 78) = 4.012, and p = .049. Also, there were statistically significant differences in students' performance at the evaluation level, with f (1, 78) = 11.495, ...
Effects of Airway Pressure, Hypercapnia, and Hypoxia on Pulmonary Vagal Afferents in the Alligator (Alligator Misssissippiensis)
The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is an aquatic diving reptile with a periodic breathing pattern. Previous work has identified pulmonary stretch receptors (PSR), both rapidly- and slowly-adapting, and intrapulmonary chemoreceptors (IPCs) that modulate breathing patterns in alligators. The purpose of the present study was to identify the effects of prolonged lung inflation and deflation (simulated dives) on PSR and/or IPC firing characteristics in the alligator. The effects of airway pressure, hypercapnia, and hypoxia on dynamic and static responses of pulmonary stretch receptors (PSR) were studied in juvenile alligators (mean mass = 246 g) at 24°C. Receptor activity appeared to be a mixture of slowly-adapting PSRs (SARs) and rapidly-adapting PSRs (RARs) with varying thresholds and degrees of adaptation, but no CO2 sensitivity. Dives were simulated in order to character receptor activity before, during, and after prolonged periods of lung inflation and deflation. Some stretch receptors showed a change in dynamic response, exhibiting inhibition for several breaths after 1 min of lung inflation, but were unaffected by prolonged deflation. For SAR, the post-dive inhibition was inhibited by CO2 and hypoxia alone. These airway stretch receptors may be involved in recovery of breathing patterns and lung volume during pre- and post-diving behavior and apneic periods in diving reptiles. These results suggest that inhibition of PSR firing following prolonged inflation may promote post-dive ventilation in alligators.
Effects of Brain Brain Injury on Primary Cilia of Glial Cells and Pericytes
Glial cells maintain homeostasis that is essential to neuronal function. Injury to the nervous system leads to the activation and proliferation of glial cells and pericytes, which helps to wall off the damaged region and restore homeostatic conditions. Sonic hedgehog is a mitogen which is implicated in injury-induced proliferation of glial cells and pericytes. The mitogenic effects of sonic hedgehog require primary cilia, but the few reports on glial or pericyte primary cilia do not agree about their abundance and did not address effects of injury on these cilia. Primary cilia are microtubule-based organelles that arise from the centrosome and are retracted before cells divide. Depending on cell type, proteins concentrated in cilia can transduce several mitotic, chemosensory, or mechanosensory stimuli. The present study investigated effects of stab wound injury on the incidence and length of glial and pericyte primary cilia in the area adjacent to the injury core. Astrocytes, polydendrocytes and pericytes were classified by immunohistochemistry based on cell-type markers. In normal adult mice, Arl13b immunoreactive primary cilia were present in a majority of each cell type examined: astrocytes, 98±2%; polydendrocytes, 87±6%; and pericytes, 79±13% (mean ± SEM). Three days post-injury, cilium incidence decreased by 24% in astrocytes (p< 0.008) and 41% in polydendrocytes (p< 0.002), but there was no significant effect in pericytes. Polydendrocytes labeled with the cell cycle marker Ki67 were less likely to have cilia compared to resting, Ki67- polydendrocytes. Considering post-injury rates of proliferation for astrocytes and polydendrocytes, it appears that resorption of cilia due to cell cycle entry may account for much of the loss of cilia in polydendrocytes but was not sufficient to account for the loss of cilia in astrocytes. Under normal conditions, astrocytes rarely divide, and they maintain non-overlapping territories. However, three days after injury, there was a 7-fold increase in ...
Effects of CFT Legumine™ Rotenone on Macroinvertebrates in Four Drainages of Montana and New Mexico
Rotenone is considered essential in the restoration of native fish populations; however, the technique is contentious and criticized, specifically concerning impacts to invertebrates. Knowledge of effects to non-target organisms is important for the management and conservation of fish populations. This thesis has two general objectives: (1) demonstrate the influence CFT Legumine™ rotenone has on benthic macroinvertebrates for restoration projects in Montana and New Mexico and (2) evaluate the immediate response by means of invertebrate drift. Chapters 2 and 4 incorporate results from four different restoration projects that examine benthic macroinvertebrate response. Results indicate treatment effects are minimal for Specimen and Cherry Creek projects in Montana. New Mexico projects, Comanche and Costilla Creek suggest a greater influence. Potassium permanganate used to neutralize rotenone, influenced communities in three of the four projects. Regardless, invertebrates in all four projects recovered one-year after treatment. Chapter 3 examines macroinvertebrate drift during rotenone treatment. Results suggest a delayed response compared to previous literature. Rotenone appears to have the greatest immediate influence on the early life stages of Ephemeroptera and Plecoptera. To reduce impacts of rotenone to invertebrates, managers should apply CFT Legumine and use the minimal dosage and duration to complete the projects goal of removing non-indigenous fish species.
The Effects of Inbreeding on Fitness Traits in the Critically Endangered Attwater’s Prairie-chicken
The goals of captive breeding programs for endangered species include preserving genetic diversity and avoiding inbreeding. Typically this is accomplished by minimizing population mean kinship; however, this approach becomes less effective when errors in the pedigree exist and may result in inbreeding depression, or reduced survival. Here, both pedigree- and DNA-based methods were used to assess inbreeding depression in the critically endangered Attwater’s prairie-chicken (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri). Less variation in the pedigree-based inbreeding coefficients and parental relatedness values were observed compared to DNA-based measures suggesting that errors exist in the pedigree. Further, chicks identified with high parental DNA-based relatedness exhibited decreased survival at both 14- and 50-days post-hatch. A similar pattern was observed in later life stages (> 50 days post-hatch) with birds released to the wild; however, the pattern varied depending on the time post-release. While DNA-based inbreeding coefficient was positively correlated with mortality to one month post-release, an opposite pattern was observed at nine months suggesting purging of deleterious alleles. I also investigated whether immunocompetence, or the ability to produce a normal immune response, was correlated with survival; however, no significant correlation was observed suggesting that inbreeding was a more important factor influencing survival. Pairing individuals for breeding by minimizing DNA-based parental relatedness values resulted in a significant increase in chick survival. This study highlights the importance of using DNA-based methods to avoid inbreeding depression when errors exist in the pedigree.
Effects of Peripheral Nerve Injury on the Cells of the Dorsal Root Ganglion: a Role for Primary Cilia
Primary cilia are ubiquitous sensory organelles found on most cell types including cells of the dorsal root ganglia (DRG). The DRG are groups of peripheral neurons that relay sensory information from the periphery to the CNS. Other cell types in the DRG include a type of glial cell, the satellite glial cells (SGCs). The SGCs surround the DRG neurons and, with the neurons, form functional sensory units. Currently are no reports describing the numbers of DRG cells that have cilia. We found that 26% of the SGCs had primary cilia. The incidence of cilia on neurons varied with neuron size, a property that roughly correlates with physiological characteristics. We found that 29% of the small, 16% of the medium and 5% of the large neurons had primary cilia. Primary cilia have been shown to have a role in cell proliferation in a variety of cell types. In some of the cells the cilia mediate the proliferative effects of Sonic hedgehog (Shh). In the CNS, Shh signaling through primary cilia affects proliferation during development as well as following injury, but no studies have looked at this function in the PNS. The SGCs and neurons of the DRG undergo complex changes following peripheral nerve injury such as axotomy. One marked change seen after axotomy is SGC proliferation and at later stages, neuronal death. We found that following axotomy there is a significant increase in the percentage of SGCs with primary cilia. We also found a significant increase in the percentage of medium-sized neurons with primary cilia. In other experiments we tested the idea that Shh plays a role in SGC proliferation. When Shh signaling was blocked following axotomy we found decreased proliferation of SGCs. This is the first report of a change in the percentage of cells with cilia following injury in ...
Effects of Sertraline Exposure on Fathead Minnow (Pimephales promelas) Steroidogenesis
Sertraline is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that is widely used for the treatment of depression and anxiety. Due to the abundant therapeutic use of sertraline, low levels have been detected in municipal wastewater effluents suggesting that aquatic organisms may be exposed. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the steroidogenic effects of sertraline on larval (FHM) and adult female fathead minnows (FFHM), Pimephales promelas. Larval FHM were exposed to 0.1, 1, and 10 µg/L sertraline for 28 days and analyzed via RT-qPCR for differential expression of 11β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11β-HSD), 20β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (20β-HSD), aromatase (CYP19), and nuclear thyroid receptor alpha (TRα). FFHM were exposed to 3 or 10 µg/L sertraline for 7 days with the brain and ovary excised at exposure termination. Juvenile FHM exposed to 0.1 μg/L sertraline had a significant upregulation of both 20β-HSD and TRα. FFHM exposed to 10 µg/L sertraline had a significant upregulation of 11β-HSD expression in brain tissue, while no steroidogenic changes were observed in the FFHM ovary. Similarly, in FFHM brain tissue, CYP19 and 20β-HSD expression levels were significantly higher in fish exposed to 10µg/L sertraline compared to control. The significance of these findings with respect to survival, growth and reproduction are currently unknown, but represent future research needs.
Endocannabinoid System in a Planarian Model
In this study, the presence and possible function of endocannabinoid ligands in the planarian is investigated. The endocannabinoids ananadamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) and entourage NAE compounds palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), stearoylethanolamide (SEA) and oleoylethanolamide (OEA) were found in Dugesia dorotocephala. Changes in SEA, PEA, and AEA levels were observed over the initial twelve hours of active regeneration. Exogenously applied AEA, 2-AG and their catabolic inhibition effected biphasic changes in locomotor velocity, analogous to those observed in murines. The genome of a close relative, Schmidtea mediterranea, courtesy of the University of Utah S. med genome database, was explored for cannabinoid receptors, none were found. A putative fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) homolog was found in Schmidtea mediterranea.
Endocrine Disruption of Levonorgestrel in Early-life Stages of Fathead Minnows, Pimephales Promelas
Pharmaceuticals have routinely been detected in the environment resulting in a growing concern about whether these drugs could elicit effects on aquatic organisms. The concerns are centered on the highly conserved nature of mammalian therapeutic targets in fish. These pharmaceuticals are found at very low levels in the environment, which can result in sub-lethal effects in aquatic organisms. Therefore, 28 d early-life stage studies were conducted on six pharmaceuticals to assess their impacts on survival and growth fathead minnow larvae. Two pharmaceuticals tested, carbamazepine and fenofibrate, resulted in no alterations to survival and growth. However, amiodarone, clozapine, dexamethasone, and levonorgestrel (LNG) reduced survival at concentrations tested with LNG being the most potent at 462 ng/L. Survival was increased with amiodarone and clozapine; however LNG significantly decreased growth at 86 ng/L. Therefore, the most potent pharmaceutical tested was the synthetic progestin LNG with survival and growth impacts at concentrations less than 1 μg/L. Further analysis was conducted by measuring specific endocrine related mRNA transcript profiles in FHM larvae following the 28 d ELS exposure to LNG. Transcripts of 3β-HSD, 20β-HSD, and FSH were significantly down-regulated following 28 d exposure to both 16.3 and 86.9 ng/L LNG. Also, CYP19a expression was significantly down-regulated at 86.9 and 2392 ng/L LNG. Subsequently, a second study examined time periods that may be most sensitive (e.g., windows of sensitivity) for FHM larvae exposed to LNG. Larvae were exposed to a single concentration of LNG (i.e. LOECgrowth of 86.2 ng/L as determined in the 28 d ELS study) for different time periods starting with fertilized egg through 28 dph. Growth and mRNA expression of the four differentially expressed transcripts from the first study were measured. Regardless of the duration of exposure, LNG significantly decreased growth in fathead minnow larvae at day 28. For both 20β-HSD and CYP19a, ...
Environmental Modulation of the Onset of Air-breathing of the Siamese Fighting Fish and the Blue Gourami
This study determined the effect of hypoxia on air-breathing onset and physiological and morphological characters in larvae of the air breathing fishes Trichopodus trichopterus and Betta splendens. Larvae were exposed intermittently (12/12 h daily) to 20, 17, and 14 kPa of PO2 from 1 to 40 days post-fertilization. Survival, onset of air breathing, wet body mass, O2, Pcrit were measured every 5 dpf. Hypoxia advanced by 4 days, and delayed by 9 days, the onset of air breathing in Betta and Trichopodus, respectively. Hypoxia increased larval body length, wet mass, and labyrinth organ respiratory surface of Betta, but did not affect these factors in Trichopodus. Hypoxic exposure increased O2 by 50-100% at each day throughout larval development in Betta, but had no effect on larval Trichopodus. Hypoxia decreased Pcrit in Betta by 37%, but increased Pcrit in Trichopodus by 70%. Larval Betta reared in hypoxia showed a modified heart rate:opercular rate ratio (3:1 to 2:1), but these changes did not occur in Trichopodus. Compared to Betta, the blood of Trichopodus had a higher P50 and much smaller Bohr and Root effects. These interspecific differences are likely due to ecophysiological differences: Betta is a non- obligatory air-breather after 36 dpf with a slow lifestyle reflected in its low metabolism, while Trichopodus is an obligatory air-breather past 32 dpf with an athletic fast lifestyle and accompanying high metabolism.
Evaluating the Habitat Requirements of the Golden Orb Mussel (Quadrula Aurea) for Conservation Purposes
Many freshwater mussels are imperiled, due to a number of interrelated factors such as habitat alteration, degradation of water quality, and impoundments. The Golden Orb mussel (Quadrula aurea, I. Lea, 1859) is endemic to the state of Texas and is currently a candidate for the endangered species list, as the number of known populations has been declining in recent years. Little is currently known about Q. aurea aside from basic distribution data. This study is focused on evaluating a combination of macro-habitat and micro-habitat variables to determine their influence on the distribution and density of this species. Macro-habitat variables, including dominant land cover, surface geology, and soil erodibility factor, did not have a significant relationship with mussel distributions. The best model of micro-habitat variables that impacts the Q. aurea distributions is comprised of relative substrate stability (RSS) at moderate flows and current velocity at low flows. For all mussel species in this study, current velocity at low flows is the primary variable that influences distribution. Q. aurea are associated with habitats where larger sediment particles (large gravel and cobble) help to stabilize the substrate in areas with higher current velocities. An understanding of the preferred habitats for Q. aurea can be used to help focus conservation efforts and practices.
Evaluating the Role of UV Exposure and Recovery Regimes in PAH Photo-Induced Toxicity
Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are contaminants synthesized through incomplete combustion of carbon based substances. PAHs are known to be photodynamic and toxicity increases exponentially when in contact with ultraviolet radiation (UV). The effect of UV absent recovery periods and potential for latent toxicity during photo-induced toxicity are previously unknown and are not included within the toxicity model. Results of equal interval tests further support the current reciprocity model as a good indicator of PAH photo-induced toxicity. Interval test results also indicate a possible presence of time-dependent toxicity and recovery thresholds and should be included into toxicity risk assessments. Moreover, results of latent effects assays show that latent mortality is a significant response to PAH photo-induced toxicity and should be included into toxicity risk assessments. The present research demonstrates that UV exposure time rate is a significant driving force of PAH photo-induced toxicity.
Examination of the Relationship Between Glucuronic Acid and Vascular Damage in Rats
The goal of this experiment was to examine the role of glucuronic acid in the development of vascular damage in the kidneys and retinas of diabetic individuals. Glucuronic acid was provided to rats in their water at various concentrations in order to increase plasma levels of the compound. Kidneys and retinas were excised and compared to control specimens using microscopy to determine the effect of elevated blood glucuronic acid levels on the occurrence of microaneurysms in renal capillary networks. No differences were seen between the treatment and control groups. Further study needs to be conducted to determine a more suitable time frame for this experiment.
Examining the Shade/flood Tolerance Tradeoff Hypothesis in Bottomland Herbs Through Field Study and Experimentation
While there is growing evidence that shade/flood tolerance tradeoffs may be important in distributions of bottomland hardwood trees and indications that they should apply to herbs, no studies have definitively explored this possibility. Four years of field data following historic flooding were supplemented with a greenhouse experiment designed to identify interactions congruent with tradeoffs. Fifteen bottomland species were grown in two levels of water availability and three levels of shade over 10 weeks. Results indicate responses of Fimbristylis vahlii and Ammannia robusta are consistent with tradeoffs. Modification of classical allometric responses to shade by substrate saturation indicates a potential mechanism for the tradeoff in A. robusta. Responses indicating potential for increased susceptibility to physical flooding disturbance are also discussed.
Exploring the Evolutionary History of North American Prairie Grouse (Genus: Tympanuchus) Using Multi-locus Coalescent Analyses
Conservation biologists are increasingly using phylogenetics as a tool to understand evolutionary relationships and taxonomic classification. The taxonomy of North American prairie grouse (sharp-tailed grouse, T. phasianellus; lesser prairie-chicken, T. pallidicinctus; greater prairie-chicken, T. cupido; including multiple subspecies) has been designated based on physical characteristics, geography, and behavior. However, previous studies have been inconclusive in determining the evolutionary history of prairie grouse based on genetic data. Therefore, additional research investigating the evolutionary history of prairie grouse is warranted. In this study, ten loci (including mitochondrial, autosomal, and Z-linked markers) were sequenced across multiple populations of prairie grouse, and both traditional and coalescent-based phylogenetic analyses were used to address the evolutionary history of this genus. Results from this study indicate that North American prairie grouse diverged in the last 200,000 years, with species-level taxa forming well-supported monophyletic clades in species tree analyses. With these results, managers of the critically endangered Attwater's prairie-chicken (T. c. attwateri) can better evaluate whether outcrossing Attwater's with greater prairie-chickens would be a viable management tool for Attwater's conservation.
Field and Laboratory Fish Tissue Accumulation of Carbamazepine and Amiodarone
The goals of this dissertation work were to assess the bioaccumulation potential of carbamazepine and amiodarone, two widely used ionizable pharmaceutical compounds that possess mid-range and high LogD values, respectively, and to evaluate alternative methods to assess chemical accumulation in bluntnose minnows, catfish, and tilapia. Results indicated that carbamazepine does not appreciably bioaccumulate in fish tissue with BCFk and BAF carbamazepine values < 10. Amiodarone, however, with a log D of 5.87 at pH 7.4, accumulated in fish tissues with kinetic BCF values <2,400. Collectively, the data suggest that full and abbreviated laboratory-derived BCFs, BCFMs derived from S9 loss-of-parent assays, as well as field BAF values are similar for each of the two drugs. In summary, the results from this dissertation indicated: 1) The reduced design BCF test is a good estimate for the traditional OECD 305 test. 2) In vitro S9 metabolism assays provide comparable BCF estimates to the OECD 305 test. 3) Metabolism may play a large role in the accumulation of drugs in fish. 4) Reduced BCF tests and in vitro assays are cost effective and can reduce vertebrate testing.
Functional Neural Toxicity and Endocrine Responses in Mice Following Naphthalene Exposure
Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a well studied and diverse class of environmental toxicants. PAHs act via the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), and studies have suggested that PAHs may elicit neurological and estrogenic effects. Doses of PAHs between 50 to 150 ppm may elicit neurotoxicity in rodent models. The present study investigated the effects of naphthalene on in vivo steroidogenesis in Swiss Webster male mice, and in vitro neural function of Balb-C/ICR mice frontal cortex neurons. These data suggest that naphthalene may not elicit steroidogenic effects at concentrations ranging from 0.2 to 25 mg/kg/day, following a 7 day subcutaneous dosing regime. In addition, naphthalene may cause functional toxicity of frontal cortex neurons at concentrations of 32 to 160 ppm naphthalene.
Generating Molecular Biology Tools to Investigate the Ca2+ Binding Ability of Arabidopsis TON2
The position of the cell division plane in plants is determined by the position of the preprophase band. The pre prophase band (PPB) is a ring of microtubules centered around the nucleus on the inner side of plasma membrane that establishes the cortical division site. The PPB forms at the end of G2 and breaks down at the end of prophase leaving behind protein markers of its position that are collectively called the cortical division site. During cytokinesis the phragmoplast expands towards the cortical division site and mediates the fusion of the new cell plate with the mother cell at that position. Several proteins necessary for PPB formation in plants have been identified, including maize DCD1 and ADD1 and Arabidopsis TON2, which are all type 2A protein phosphatase (PP2A)B" regulatory subunits. DCD1, ADD1, and TON2 localize to the PPB and the cortical division site through metaphase. The PP2A subunits each have two EF-hand domains, which are predicted to bind calcium ions. Since calcium ions are important for some aspects of cell division, we designed a series of constructs to test if TON2 binds calcium. TON2 protein was cloned into expression vectors, pET42a, and expression of TON2 protein was confirmed via Western blotting and immunodetection using a GST antibody. Site directed mutagenesis was used to mutate the TON2 EF-hand domains and mutated cDNAs were also cloned into expression vectors. These were then expressed in bacterial systems. Finally, the GST tagged proteins were purified. In the future, wild-type and mutated proteins TON2 proteins will used in calcium binding assays to determine if TON2 binds calcium.
Genetic Interest Assessment
Genetics is becoming increasingly integrated into peoples' lives. Different measures have been taken to try and better genetics education. This thesis examined undergraduate students at the University of North Texas not majoring in the life sciences interest in genetic concepts through the means of a Likert style survey. ANOVA analysis showed there was variation amongst the interest level in different genetic concepts. In addition age and lecture were also analyzed as contributing factors to students' interest. Both age and lecture were evaluated to see if they contributed to the interest of students in genetic concepts and neither showed statistical significance. The Genetic Interest Assessment (GIA) serves to help mediate the gap between genetic curriculum and students' interest.
Glucose and Altered Ceramide Biosynthesis Impact the Transcriptome and the Lipidome of Caenorhabditis elegans
The worldwide rise of diabetes and obesity has spurred research investigating the molecular mechanisms that mediate the deleterious effects associated with these diseases. Individuals with diabetes and/or obesity are at increased risk from a variety of health consequences, including heart attack, stroke and peripheral vascular disease; all of these complications have oxygen deprivation as the central component of their pathology. The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans has been established as a model system for understanding the genetic and molecular regulation of oxygen deprivation response, and in recent years methods have been developed to study the effects of excess glucose and altered lipid homeostasis. Using C. elegans, I investigated transcriptomic profiles of wild-type and hyl-2(tm2031) ( a ceramide biosynthesis mutant) animals fed a standard or a glucose supplemented diet. I then completed a pilot RNAi screen of differentially regulated genes and found that genes involved in the endobiotic detoxification pathway (ugt-63 and cyp-25A1) modulate anoxia response. I then used a lipidomic approach to determine whether glucose feeding or mutations in the ceramide biosynthesis pathway or the insulin-like signaling pathway impact lipid profiles. I found that gluocose alters the lipid profile of daf-2(e1370) (an insulin-like receptor mutant) animals. These studies indicate that a transcriptomic approach can be used to discover novel pathways involved in oxygen deprivation response and further validate C. elegans as a model for understanding diabetes and obesity.
Glucose Induces Sensitivity to Oxygen Deprivation and Alters Gene Expression in Caenorhabditis Elegans
An organisms’ diet represents an exogenous influence that often yields colossal effects on long-term health and disease risk. The overconsumption of dietary sugars for example, has contributed to significant increases in obesity and type-2 diabetes; health issues that are costly both economically and in terms of human life. Individuals who are obese or are type-2 diabetic often have compromised oxygen delivery and an increased vulnerability to oxygen-deprivation related complications, such as ischemic strokes, peripheral arterial disease and myocardial infarction. Thus, it is of interest to identify the molecular changes glucose supplementation or hyperglycemia can induce, which ultimately compromise oxygen deprivation responses. By utilizing the Caenorhabditis elegans genetic model system, which is anoxia tolerant, I determined that a glucose-supplemented diet negatively impacts responses to anoxia and that the insulin-like signaling pathway, through fatty acid and ceramide biosynthesis and antioxidant activity, modulates anoxia survival. Additionally, a glucose-supplemented diet induces lipid accumulation. Use of RNA-sequencing analysis to compare gene expression responses in animals fed either a standard or glucose-supplemented diet revealed that glucose impacts the expression of genes involved with multiple cellular processes including lipid and carbohydrate metabolism, stress responses, cell division, and extracellular functions. Several of the genes we identified are homologous to human genes that are differentially regulated in response to metabolic diseases, suggesting that there may be conserved gene expression responses between C. elegans supplemented with glucose and a diabetic and/or obese state observed in humans. These findings support the utility of C. elegans to model specific aspects of the T2D disease process (e.g., glucose-induced sensitivity to oxygen deprivation) and identify potentially novel regulators of common complications seen in hyperglycemic and T2D patients (e.g., macrovascular complications).
A High-fat Meal Alters Post-prandial mRNA Expression of SIRT1, SIRT4, and SIRT6
Sirtuins (SIRT) regulate the transcription of various genes involved in the development of diet-induced obesity and chronic disease; however, it is unknown how they change acutely following a high-fat meal. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of a high-fat meal (65% kcals/d; 85% fat recommendation), on SIRT1-7 mRNA expression in blood leukocytes at 1, 3, and 5-h post-prandial. Men and women (N=24) reported to the lab following an overnight fast (>12H). Total RNA was isolated and reverse transcribed prior to using a Taqman qPCR technique with 18S rRNA as a normalizer to determine SIRT1-7 mRNA expression. An additional aliquot of serum was used to measure triglycerides. Data was analyzed using a RM ANOVA with P<0.05. Triglycerides (P<0.001; 124%) peaked at 3-h. SIRT 1 (P=0.004; 70%), and SIRT 6 (P=0.017; 53%) decreased expression at 3-h. SIRT4 (P=0.024) peaked at 5H relative to baseline (70%) and 3-h (68%). To our knowledge, this is the first study to report that consumption of a high-fat meal transiently alters SIRT mRNA expression consistent in a pattern that mirrors changes in serum triglycerides. Decrease in expression of SIRT1 and SIRT6 combined with an increased SIRT4 would be consistent with an increase in metabolic disease risk if maintained on a chronic basis.
Hypoxia and the Development of Endothermic Capacity in Chickens (Gallus Gallus)
Adult chickens employ endothermy – internal generation of heat that maintains a constant body temperature (Tb). Prior to hatching, chicken embryos are ectothermic - controlling Tb by external heat sources. Upon hatching, the hatchling transitions from an ectotherm to an endotherm that has been shown to be delayed by hypoxia. In this study, whole animal oxygen consumption () and liver, heart, and skeletal muscle citrate synthase activity (CSA) and were measured during this transition to endothermy in chickens incubated in normoxia and hypoxia (15% O2). The only significant differences in occurred in 48 hour old hatchlings where was lower in normoxic hatchlings. There were no differences in CS activity between age and incubation oxygen levels. Additionally, preliminary 2-D protein gels of embryo and hatchling liver show changes in the proteome upon hatching. Results suggest that hypoxia had no significant effect on CSA and a minimal effect on .
Immunohistochemistry of the Gills of the Channel Catfish Ictalurus Punctatus: Cells and Neurochemicals That May Be Involved in the Control of Cardioventilatory Reflexes
In teleost fishes the neurochemicals involved in sensing and responding to hypoxia are unresolved. Serotonergic branchial neuroepithelial cells (NECs) are putative O2 chemoreceptors believed to be homologous to the neural crest (NC) derived APUD (amine-precursor uptake and decarboxylation) pulmonary NECs and carotid body type-1 glomus cells. Branchial NECs contain serotonin (5-HT), thought to be central to the induction of the hypoxic cardioventilatory reflexes. However, application of 5-HT in vivo does not elicit cardioventilatory reflexes similar to those elicited by hypoxia. But previous in vitro neural recordings from glossopharyngeal (IX) afferents innervating O2 chemoreceptors in the trout gill show the same discharge response to hypoxic conditions as does that of acetylcholine (ACh) application. This evidence strongly supports the cholinergic hypothesis of chemoreceptor impulse origin rather than a serotonergic-induced impulse origin model. We therefore hypothesized that NECs contain ACh among other neurochemicals in cells belonging to the APUD series. Although serotonergic branchial NECs did not colocalize with ACh using immunohistochemical methods, several populations of ACh and/or tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) (catecholaminergic) positive, dopamine (DA) negative, cells were found throughout the second gill arch of the channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus. In addition, the NC derivation marker zn-12 labelled the HNK-1-like epitope (Human natural killer) expressed by lamellar pillar cells’ collagen column-associated pillar cell adhesion molecules (CC-PCAMs), evidence confirming their hypothesized NC origin.