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Aging Is a Determinant in Anoxia Stress Tolerance in Caenorhabditis Elegans

Description: 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 ...
Date: May 2013
Creator: Goy, Jo M.

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

Description: 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.
Date: December 2011
Creator: Contador Mejías, Tamara Andrea

Cardiovascular Fetal Programming in Quail (Colinus virginianus), An Avian Comparative Model

Description: 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.
Date: December 2016
Creator: Flores Santin, Josele

Characteristics of Primary Cilia and Centrosomes in Neuronal and Glial Lineages of the Adult Brain

Description: 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 ...
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Date: May 2015
Creator: Bhattarai, Samip Ram

Characterization of Triclocarban, Methyl- Triclosan, and Triclosan in Water, Sediment, and Corbicula Fluminea (Müller, 1774) Using Laboratory, in Situ, and Field Assessments

Description: In the last decade emerging contaminants research has intensified in a bid to answer questions about fate, transport, and effects as these chemicals as they get released into the environment. The chemicals of interest were the antimicrobials; triclocarban (TCC) and triclosan (TCS), and a metabolite of triclosan, methyl triclosan (MTCS). This research was designed to answer the question: what is the fate of these chemicals once they are released from the waste water treatment plant into receiving streams. Three different assessment methods; field monitoring, in-situ experiments, and laboratory studies were used to answer the overall question. TCS, TCC, and MTCS levels were measured in surface water, sediment and the Asiatic clam Corbicula fluminea. Field studies were conducted using four sites at Pecan Creek, Denton TX. Levels of all three chemicals in clams were up to fives orders of magnitude the water concentrations but an order of magnitude lower than in sediment. Highest sediment levels of chemicals were measured in samples from the mouth of Pecan Creek (highest organic matter). TCC was the most and TCS was the least accumulated chemicals. In-situ and lab studies both indicated that uptake of these chemicals into the clams was very rapid and measurable within 24hours of exposure. The after clams were transferred into clean water most of the compounds were depurated within 14 days.
Date: May 2011
Creator: Edziyie, Regina E.

A Comparison of Mercury Localization, Speciation, and Histology in Multiple Fish Species From Caddo Lake, a Fresh Water Wetland

Description: This work explores the metabolism of mercury in liver and spleen tissue of fish from a methylmercury contaminated wetland. Wild-caught bass, catfish, bowfin and gar were collected. Macrophage centers, which are both reactive and primary germinal centers in various fish tissues, were hypothesized to be the cause of demethylation of methylmercury in fish tissue. Macrophage centers are differentially expressed in fish tissue based on phylogenetic lineage, and are found primarily in the livers of preteleostean fish and in the spleen of teleostean fish. Histology of liver and spleen was examined in both control and wild-caught fish for pathology, size and number of macrophage centers, and for localization of mercury. Total mercury was estimated in the muscle tissue of all fish by direct mercury analysis. Selenium and mercury concentrations were examined in the livers of wild-caught fish by liquid introduction inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS). Total mercury was localized in histologic sections by laser ablation ICP-MS (LA-ICP-MS). Mercury speciation was determined for inorganic and methylmercury in liver and spleen of fish by bas chromatography-cold vapor atomic fluorescence spectroscopy (GC-CVAFS). Macrophage center tissue distribution was found to be consistent with the literature, with a predominance of centers in preteleostean liver and in spleens of teleostean fish. Little evidence histopathology was found in the livers or spleens of fish examined, but differences in morphology of macrophage centers and liver tissue across species are noted. the sole sign of liver pathology noted was increased hepatic hemosiderosis in fish with high proportions of liver inorganic mercury. Inorganic mercury was found to predominate in the livers of all fish but bass. Organic mercury was found to predominate in the spleens of all fish. Mercury was found to accumulate in macrophage centers, but concentrations of mercury in this compartment were found to vary less in relation ...
Date: May 2012
Creator: Smith, James Durward

Determination of Bioconcentration Potential of Selected Pharmaceuticals in Fathead Minnow, Pimephales promelas, and Channel Catfish, Ictalurus punctatus

Description: 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 ≥ 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.
Date: December 2010
Creator: Nallani, Gopinath C.

Developing a Forest Gap Model to Be Applied to a Watershed-scaled Landscape in the Cross Timbers Ecoregion Using a Topographic Wetness Index

Description: A method was developed for extending a fine-scaled forest gap model to a watershed-scaled landscape, using the Eastern Cross Timbers ecoregion as a case study for the method. A topographic wetness index calculated from digital elevation data was used as a measure of hydrologic across the modeled landscape, and the gap model modified to have with a topographically-based hydrologic input parameter. The model was parameterized by terrain type units that were defined using combinations of USDA soil series and classes of the topographic wetness index. A number of issues regarding the sources, grid resolutions, and processing methods of the digital elevation data are addressed in this application of the topographic wetness index. Three different grid sizes, 5, 10, and 29 meter, from both LiDAR-derived and contour-derived elevation grids were used, and the grids were processed using both single-directional flow algorithm and bi-directional flow algorithm. The result of these different grids were compared and analyzed in context of their application in defining terrain types for the forest gap model. Refinements were made in the timescale of gap model’s weather model, converting it into a daily weather generator, in order to incorporate the effects of the new topographic/hydrologic input parameter. The precipitation model was converted to use a Markov model to initiate a sequence of wet and dry days for each month, and then daily precipitation amounts were determined using a gamma distribution. The output of the new precipitation model was analyzed and compared with a 100-year history of daily weather records at daily, monthly, and annual timescales. Model assumptions and requirements for biological parameters were thoroughly investigated and questioned. Often these biological parameters are based on little more than assumptions and intuition. An effort to base as many of the model’s biological parameters on measured data was made, including a new ...
Date: August 2014
Creator: Goetz, Heinrich

Development of Enabling Technologies to Visualize the Plant Lipidome

Description: Improvements in mass spectrometry (MS)-based strategies for characterizing the plant lipidome through quantitative and qualitative approaches such as shotgun lipidomics have substantially enhanced our understanding of the structural diversity and functional complexity of plant lipids. However, most of these approaches require chemical extractions that result in the loss of the original spatial context and cellular compartmentation for these compounds. To address this current limitation, several technologies were developed to visualize lipids in situ with detailed chemical information. A subcellular visualization approach, direct organelle MS, was developed for directly sampling and analyzing the triacylglycerol contents within purified lipid droplets (LDs) at the level of a single LD. Sampling of single LDs demonstrated seed lipid droplet-to-droplet variability in triacylglycerol (TAG) composition suggesting that there may be substantial variation in the intracellular packaging process for neutral lipids in plant tissues. A cellular and tissue visualization approach, MS imaging, was implemented and enhanced for visualizing the lipid distributions in oilseeds. In mature cotton seed embryos distributions of storage lipids (TAGs) and their phosphatidylcholine (PCs) precursors were distribution heterogeneous between the cotyledons and embryonic axis raising new questions about extent and regulation of oilseed heterogeneity. Extension of this methodology provides an avenue for understanding metabolism in cellular (perhaps even subcellular) context with substantial metabolic engineering implications. To visualize metabolite distributions, a free and customizable application, Metabolite Imager, was developed providing several tools for spatially-based chemical data analysis. These tools collectively enable new forms of visualizing the plant lipidome and should prove valuable toward addressing additional unanswered biological questions.
Date: August 2013
Creator: Horn, Patrick J.

DNA Degradation as an Indicator of Post-Mortem Interval

Description: The question of post-mortem interval (PMI) or time since death is often the most sought after piece of information associated with a medical death investigation. Based on the observation that DNA degradation disproportionately affects the analysis of larger genetic loci, it was proposed that DNA degradation, as a result of autolysis or putrefaction, could prove suitable as a potential rate-of-change indicator of PMI. Nine randomly amplified polymorphic DNA (RAPD) analysis primers and three sets of directed amplification primers were evaluated to determine their suitability for use in assessing the degree of DNA fragmentation in tissue samples. They were assessed for amplicon specificity, total DNA target sensitivity, allele monomorphism and the observance of degradation-based profile changes. Markers meeting the requisite criteria were then used to assess a range samples degraded under controlled and uncontrolled conditions. Tissue samples collected from seven domestic pigs (Sus scrofa) were incubated under controlled laboratory or uncontrolled field conditions to produce samples simulating those potentially collected in a forensic case. DNA samples isolated from these specimens were then analyzed at those loci which had been determined to meet the requisite criteria. Collectively, data generated from these analyses indicate that genetic profiles generated by this approach can provide information useful for estimating the post-mortem interval, with the locus and amplicons used being most useful during the first 72 hours after death.
Date: August 2010
Creator: Watson, William H.

Dynamics of Stream Fish Metacommunities in Response to Drought and Reconnectivity

Description: This dissertation investigates the spatio-temporal dynamics of intermittent stream fish metacommunities in response drought-induced fragmentation and re-connectivity using both field and experimental approaches. A detailed field study was conducted in two streams and included pre-drought, drought, and post-drought hydrological periods. Fish assemblages and metacommunity structure responded strongly to changes in hydrological conditions with dramatic declines in species richness and abundance during prolonged drought. Return of stream flows resulted in a trend toward recovery but ultimately assemblages failed to fully recover. Differential mortality, dispersal, recruitment among species indicates species specific responses to hydrologic fragmentation, connectivity, and habitat refugia. Two manipulative experiments tested the effects of drought conditions on realistic fish assemblages. Fishes responded strongly to drought conditions in which deeper pools acted as refugia, harboring greater numbers of fish. Variability in assemblage structure and movement patterns among stream pools indicated species specific habitat preferences in response predation, resource competition, and desiccation. Connecting stream flows mediated the impacts of drought conditions and metacommunity dynamics in both experiments. Results from field and experimental studies indicate that stream fish metacommunities are influenced by changes in hydrological conditions and that the timing, duration, and magnitude of drought-induced fragmentation and reconnecting stream flows have important consequences metacommunity dynamics.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Driver, Lucas J.

The Ecology and Paleobiogeography of Freshwater Mussels (Family: Unionidae) from Selected River Basins in Texas

Description: 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.
Date: May 2011
Creator: Randklev, Charles R.

Ecology and Recolonization of Benthic Macroinvertebrates in a Groundwater-dependent Stream in North Central Texas During a Supra-seasonal Drought

Description: 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 ...
Date: May 2012
Creator: Burk, Rosemary A.

Effect of Acute Alcohol Ingestion on Resistance Exercise Induced Mtorc1 Signaling in Human Muscle

Description: 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.
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Date: August 2015
Creator: Anthony A. Duplanty

The Effect of Curcumin Supplementation on Physical and Biological Indices of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness and Inflammation Following Muscle Injury

Description: 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.
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Date: May 2015
Creator: Venable, Adam Steven

Effect of Rancher’s Management Philosophy, Grazing Practices, and Personal Characteristics on Sustainability Indices for North Central Texas Rangeland

Description: To assess sustainability of privately owned rangeland, a questionnaire was used to gathered data from ranches in Cooke, Montague, Clay, Wise, Parker, and Jack counties in North Central Texas. Information evaluated included: management philosophy, economics, grazing practices, environmental condition, quality of life, and demographics. Sustainability indices were created based on economic and land health indicator variables meeting a minimum Cronbach‘s alpha coefficient (α = 0.7). Hierarchical regression analysis was used to create models explaining variance in respondents’ indices scores. Five predictors explained 36% of the variance in rangeland economic sustainability index when respondents: 1) recognized management inaction has opportunity costs affecting economic viability; 2) considered forbs a valuable source of forage for wildlife or livestock; 3) believed governmental assistance with brush control was beneficial; 4) were not absentee landowners and did not live in an urban area in Texas, and; 5) valued profit, productivity, tax issues, family issues, neighbor issues or weather issues above that of land health. Additionally, a model identified 5 predictors which explained 30% of the variance for respondents with index scores aligning with greater land health sustainability. Predictors indicated: 1) fencing cost was not an obstacle for increasing livestock distribution; 2) land rest was a component of grazing plans; 3) the Natural Resource Conservation Service was used for management information; 4) fewer acres were covered by dense brush or woodlands, and; 5) management decisions were not influenced by friends. Finally, attempts to create an index and regression analysis explaining social sustainability was abandoned, due to the likely-hood of type one errors. These findings provide a new line of evidence in assessing rangeland sustainability, supporting scientific literature concerning rangeland sustainability based on ranch level indicators. Compared to measuring parameters on small plots, the use of indices allows for studying replicated whole- ranch units using rancher insight. Use ...
Date: December 2011
Creator: Becker, Wayne

Effects of a Water Conservation Education Program on Water Use in Single-family Homes in Dallas, Texas

Description: The City of Dallas Environmental Education Initiative (EEI) is a hands-on, inquiry-based, K-12 water conservation education program that teaches students concepts about water and specific water conservation behaviors. Few descriptions and evaluations, especially quantitative in nature, of water conservation education programs have previously been conducted in the literature. This research measured the quantitative effects and impacts of the education program on water use in single-family homes in Dallas, Texas. A total of 2,122 students in 104 classrooms at three schools in the Dallas Independent School District received hands-on, inquiry-based water conservation education lessons and the average monthly water use (in gallons) in single-family homes was analyzed to measure whether or not there was a change in water use. The results showed that over a period of one calendar year the water use in the single-family homes within each school zone and throughout the entire research area in this study experienced a statistically significant decrease in water use of approximately 501 gallons per home per month (independent, t-test, p>0.001). Data from this research suggests that EEI is playing a role in decreasing the amount of water used for residential purposes. Additionally, this research demonstrates the use of a quantitative tool by which a water conservation education program’s effect on behavior change can be measured. This research shows great promise for reducing use and increasing the conservation of our world’s most precious resource.
Date: December 2014
Creator: Serna, Victoria Faubion

Effects of Brain Brain Injury on Primary Cilia of Glial Cells and Pericytes

Description: 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 ...
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Date: December 2016
Creator: Coronel, Marco Vinicio

The Effects of Inbreeding on Fitness Traits in the Critically Endangered Attwater’s Prairie-chicken

Description: 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.
Date: August 2014
Creator: Hammerly, Susan C.

Effects of Natural/anthropogenic Stressors and a Chemical Contaminant on Pre and Post Mycorrhizal Colonization in Wetland Plants

Description: Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, colonizing over 80% of all plants, were long thought absent in wetlands; however, recent studies have shown many wetland plants harbor arbuscular mycorrhizae (AM) and dark septate endophytes (DSE). Wetland services such as biodiversity, shoreline stabilization, water purification, flood control, etc. have been estimated to have a global value of $14.9 trillion. Recognition of these vital services is accompanied by growing concern for their vulnerability and continued loss, which has resulted in an increased need to understand wetland plant communities and mycorrhizal symbiosis. Factors regulating AM and DSE colonization need to be better understood to predict plant community response and ultimately wetland functioning when confronting natural and human induced stressors. This study focused on the effects of water quality, hydrology, sedimentation, and hurricanes on AM and DSE colonization in three wetland species (Taxodium distichum, Panicum hemitomon, and Typhal domingensis) and plant communities of coastal wetlands in Southeast Louisiana and effects of an antimicrobial biocide, triclosan (TCS), on AM (Glomus intraradices) spore germination, hyphal growth, hyphal branching, and colonization in fresh water wetland plants (Eclipta prostrata, Hibiscus laevis, and Sesbania herbacea) from bottom land hardwood forest in north central Texas. The former, mesocosm studies simulating coastal marsh vegetation ran for five years. In the latter studies, AM spores and wetland plants were exposed to 0 g/L, 0.4 g/L, and 4.0 g/L TCS concentrations in static renewal and flow through exposures for 21 and 30 days, respectively. AM and DSE colonization was significantly affected by individual and interactions of four independent variables in mesocosm experiments. Similarly, spore germination, hyphal growth, hyphal branching, and AM colonization in selected wetland plants were significantly lowered by exposure to the TCS at environmentally relevant concentrations. However, levels of effects were plant species and fungal propagules specific. My results showed that natural and human ...
Date: August 2013
Creator: Twanabasu, Bishnu Ram

Endocrine Disruption of Levonorgestrel in Early-life Stages of Fathead Minnows, Pimephales Promelas

Description: 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, ...
Date: August 2013
Creator: Overturf, Matthew D.

Engineered Microbial Consortium for the Efficient Conversion of Biomass to Biofuels

Description: Current energy and environmental challenges are driving the use of cellulosic materials for biofuel production. A major obstacle in this pursuit is poor ethanol tolerance among cellulolytic Clostridium species. The first objective of this work was to establish a potential upper boundary of ethanol tolerance for the cellulosome itself. The hydrolytic function of crude cellulosome extracts from C. cellulolyticum on carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) with 0, 5, 10, 15, 20 and 25% (v/v) ethanol was determined. Results indicated that the endoglucanase activity of the cellulosome incubated in 5% and 10% ethanol was significantly different from a control without ethanol addition. Furthermore a significant difference was observed in endoglucanase activity for cellulosome incubated in 5%, 10%, 15%, 20% and 25% ethanol in a standalone experiment. Endoglucanase activity continued to be observed for up to 25% ethanol, indicating that cellulosome function in ethanol will not be an impediment to future efforts towards engineering increasing production titers to levels at least as high as the current physiological limits of the most tolerant ethanologenic microbes. The second objective of this work was to study bioethanol production by a microbial co-culture involving Clostridium cellulolyticum and a recombinant Zymomonas mobilis engineered for the utilization of oligodextrans. The recombinant Z. mobilis ZM4 pAA1 and wild type ZM4 were first tested on RM medium (ATCC 1341) containing 2% cellobiose as the carbon source. Ethanol production from the recombinant Z. mobilis was three times that observed from the wild type Z. mobilis. Concomitant with ethanol production was the reduction in OD from 2.00 to 1.580, indicating the consumption of cellobiose. No such change in OD was observed from the wild type. The recombinant ZM4 was then co-cultured with C. cellulolyticum using cellobiose and microcrystalline cellulose respectively as carbon sources. Results indicate that the recombinant ZM4 acted synergistically with C. cellulolyticum ...
Date: August 2014
Creator: Anieto, Ugochukwu Obiakornobi

Environmental Modulation of the Onset of Air-breathing of the Siamese Fighting Fish and the Blue Gourami

Description: 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.
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Date: December 2015
Creator: Mendez Sanchez, Jose Fernando

Evaluation of the Developmental Effects and Bioaccumulation Potential of Triclosan and Triclocarban Using the South African Clawed Frog, Xenopus Laevis

Description: Triclosan (TCS) and triclocarban (TCC) are antimicrobials found in U.S. surface waters. This dissertation assessed the effects of TCS and TCC on early development and investigated their potential to bioaccumulate using Xenopus laevis as a model. The effects of TCS on metamorphosis were also investigated. For 0-week tadpoles, LC50 values for TCS and TCC were 0.87 mg/L and 4.22 mg/L, respectively, and both compounds caused a significant stunting of growth. For 4-week tadpoles, the LC50 values for TCS and TCC were 0.22 mg/L and 0.066 mg/L; and for 8-week tadpoles, the LC50 values were 0.46 mg/L and 0.13 mg/L. Both compounds accumulated in Xenopus. For TCS, wet weight bioaccumulation factors (BAFs) for 0-, 4- and 8-week old tadpoles were 23.6x, 1350x and 143x, respectively. Lipid weight BAFs were 83.5x, 19792x and 8548x. For TCC, wet weight BAFs for 0-, 4- and 8-week old tadpoles were 23.4x, 1156x and 1310x. Lipid weight BAFs were 101x, 8639x and 20942x. For the time-to-metamorphosis study, TCS showed an increase in weight and snout-vent length in all treatments. Exposed tadpoles metamorphosed approximately 10 days sooner than control tadpoles. For the hind limb study, although there was no difference in weight, snout-vent length, or hind limb length, the highest treatment was more developed compared to the control. There were no differences in tail resorption rates between the treatments and controls. At relevant concentrations, neither TCS nor TCC were lethal to Xenopus prior to metamorphosis. Exposure to relatively high doses of both compounds resulted in stunted growth, which would most likely not be evident at lower concentrations. TCS and TCC accumulated in Xenopus, indicating that the compound has the potential to bioaccumulate through trophic levels. Although TCS may increase the rate of metamorphosis in terms of developmental stage, it did not disrupt thyroid function and metamorphosis in ...
Date: December 2010
Creator: King, Marie Kumsher