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Alterations in Fatty Acid Amide Hydrolase (Faah) Transcript Levels and Activity Lead to Changes in the Abiotic Stress Susceptibility of Arabidopsis Thaliana

Description: N-Acylethanolamines (NAEs) are a class of bioactive lipids, and FAAH is one of the enzymes responsible for degrading NAEs in both plants and animals. in plants, FAAH appears to be closely associated with ABA, a phytohormone which has long been associated with plant stress responses, since the overexpression of FAAH in Arabidopsis results in ABA hypersensitivity. Therefore, it is reasonable to speculate that alterations in FAAH transcript levels will result in altered stress responses in plants. to investigate this hypothesis experiments were carried out in which wild type (WT), FAAH-overexpressing (OE), and T-DNA insertional FAAH knockouts of Arabidopsis (faah) were grown in MS media under stress conditions. the stress conditions tested included chilling stress, heavy metal stress induced by cadmium or copper, nutrient limitations induced by low phosphorus or low nitrogen, salt stress induced with NaCl, and osmotic stress induced with mannitol. the OE plants were consistently hypersensitive to all stress conditions in relation to wild type plants. Inactive FAAH overexpressors did not have the hypersensitivity to the salt and osmotic stress of the active OE plants and were instead tolerant to these stresses. FAAH2 (faah2) knockouts and FAAH 1 and 2 double knockouts (faah 1+2) were based on some root development parameters somewhat more tolerant than WT plants, but more sensitive in terms of shoot growth. Collectively the data suggests that FAAH activity may interact with stress-responsive pathways in plants, perhaps including pathways involving ABA.
Date: May 2012
Creator: Gonzalez, Gabriel

Beta-adrenergic Blockade Via Atenolol and Its Effects on Blood Pressure, Heart Rate, and Renal Morphology in the Developing Chicken Gallus Gallus Domesticus

Description: 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.
Date: December 2012
Creator: Rossitto Lopez, Josie Jovita

Characterization of Arthrobacter Globiformis Aspartate Transcarbamylase Concentrations of Substrates

Description: 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.
Date: December 2012
Creator: Wright, Jackie

Chronic Hypoxia and Hyperoxia Modifies Morphology and Vegf Expression of the Lungs of the Developing Chicken (Gallus Gallus Domesticus)

Description: 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.
Date: December 2012
Creator: Lewallen, Melissa Anjanette

Clustering Algorithms for Time Series Gene Expression in Microarray Data

Description: 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.
Date: August 2012
Creator: Zhang, Guilin

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

Ecological Significance and Underlying Mechanisms of Body Size Differentiation in White-tailed Deer

Description: Body size varies according to nutritional availability, which is of ecological and evolutionary relevance. The purpose of this study is to test the hypothesis that differences in adult body size are realized by increasing juvenile growth rate for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Harvest records are used to construct growth rate estimates by empirical nonlinear curve fitting. Results are compared to those of previous models that include additional parameters. The rate of growth increases during the study period. Models that estimate multiple parameters may not work with harvest data in which estimates of these parameters are prone to error, which renders estimates from complex models too variable to detect inter-annual changes in growth rate that this simpler model captures
Date: May 2012
Creator: Barr, Brannon

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.

Effects of Layer Double Hydroxide Nanoclays on the Toxicity of Copper to Daphnia Magna

Description: Nanoparticles may affect secondary pollutants such as copper. Layer Double Hydroxides (LDH) are synthetically produced nanoparticles that adsorb copper via cation exchange. Pretreatment of copper test solutions with LDH nanoparticles followed by filtration removal of LDH nanoparticles demonstrated the smallest LDH aggregates removed the most copper toxicity. This was due to increased surface area for cation exchange relative to larger particle aggregates. Co-exposure tests of copper chloride and clay were run to determine if smaller clay particles increased copper uptake by D. magna. Coexposure treatments had lower LC50 values compared to the filtration tests, likely as a result of additive toxicity. LDH nanoclays do reduce copper toxicity in Daphnia magna and may serve as a remediation tool.
Date: May 2012
Creator: Blake, Deanne Renee

Hypoxia and the Development of Endothermic Capacity in Chickens (Gallus Gallus)

Description: 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 .
Date: August 2012
Creator: Neely, Aaron Mackallan

Identification of Three Symbiosome Targeting Domains in the MtENOD8 Protein and Cell-to-cell MtENOD8 mRNA Movement in Nodules

Description: The model legume, Medicago truncatula, is able to enter into a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria, known as rhizobia. This relationship involves a carbon for nitrogen exchange in which the plant provides reduced carbon from photosynthesis in exchange for reduced, or “fixed” atmospheric nitrogen, which allows the plant to thrive in nitrogen depleted soils. Rhizobia infect and enter plant root organs, known as nodules, where they reside inside the plant cell in a novel organelle, known as the symbiosome where nitrogen fixation occurs. the symbiosome is enriched in plant proteins, however, little is known about the mechanisms that direct plant proteins to the symbiosome. Using the M. truncatula ENOD8 (MtENOD8) protein as a model to explore symbiosome protein targeting, 3-cis domains were identified within MtENOD8 capable of directing green fluorescent protein (GFP) to the symbiosome, including its N-terminal signal peptide (SP). the SP delivered GFP to the vacuole in the absence of nodules suggesting that symbiosome proteins share a common targeting pathway with vacuolar proteins. a time course analysis during nodulation indicated that there is a nodule specific redirection of MtENOD8-SP from the vacuole to the symbiosome in a MtNIP/LATD dependent manner. GFP expression by the MtENOD8 promoter revealed spatial discrepancy between promoter activity and protein localization. in situ localization of MtENOD8 mRNA showed localization to infected cells, where the protein is found, suggesting mRNA cell-to-cell movement. Expression of MtENOD8 in Arabidopsis showed that the SP did not direct GFP to the vacuole indicating that vacuolar targeting of MtENOD8’s SP may be legume specific. Taken together, the research presented here indicates that the MtENOD8 symbiosome protein has evolved redundant domains for targeting, which has part of a common pathway with vacuolar proteins. Observed spatial discrepancy between the MtENOD8 promoter and protein shows additional mechanisms of gene regulation through cell-to-cell mRNA ...
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Date: May 2012
Creator: Meckfessel, Matthew Harold

Investigating Realistic Scenarios of Biodiversity Loss on Ecosystem Functioning: Extirpation of Rare Species and Food Web Collapse in Tropical Floodplain Lagoons

Description: This thesis investigates the influence of nonrandom species loss on the structure and functioning of trophic floodplain lagoons. Two experiments were conducted based on different realistic scenarios of biodiversity loss using multitrophic fish assemblages derived from long-term survey data. Loss of fish diversity influenced overall ecosystem multifunctionality of these lagoons through complex multitrophic interactions throughout the aquatic food web. These results indicate that biodiversity loss from diverse multitrophic ecosystems can influence ecosystem structure and function and likely deviate from simplified food chain dynamics or patterns that emerged from single trophic level studies.
Date: May 2012
Creator: Pendleton, Richard McCall

Modeling the Relationship Between Golden Algae Blooms in Lake Texoma, Usa, Versus Nearby Land Use and Other Physical Variables

Description: Pyrmnesium parvum, commonly known as golden algae, is an algal species that under certain circumstances releases toxins which can lead to fish kills and the death of other economically and ecologically important organisms. One of the major objectives of the study was to investigate whether a relationship exists between land use and Prymnesium parvum abundance in littoral sites of Lake Texoma, USA. Another objective was to investigate whether a relationship exists between other physical variables and counts of P. parvum. Lastly, developing a valid model that predicts P. parvum abundance was an objective of the study. Through stepwise regression, a small but highly significant amount of the variation in P. parvum counts was found to be explained by wetlands, soil erodibility and lake elevation. The developed model provides insight for potential golden algae management plans, such as maintaining wetlands and teaching land owners the relationship between soil erosivity and golden algae blooms.
Date: August 2012
Creator: Ware, Trudy M.

Optimizing Scientific and Social Attributes of Pharmaceutical Take Back Programs to Improve Public and Environmental Health

Description: Research continues to show that pharmaceutical environmental contamination has caused adverse environmental effects, with one of the most studied effects being feminization of fish exposed to pharmaceutical endocrine disruptors. Additionally, there are also public health risks associated with pharmaceuticals because in-home reserves of medications provide opportunities for accidental poisoning and intentional medication abuse. Pharmaceutical take back programs have been seen as a remedy to these concerns; however a thorough review of peer-reviewed literature and publicly available information on these programs indicates limited research has been conducted to validate these programs as a purported solution. Furthermore, there are significant data gaps on key factors relating to take back program participants. The purpose of this dissertation was therefore to address these gaps in knowledge and ultimately determine if take back programs could actually improve public and environmental health. This was accomplished by conducting social and scientific research on a take back program called Denton Drug Disposal Day (D4). Socioeconomic, demographic, and geographic characteristics of D4 participants were investigated using surveys and geographic analysis. Impacts on public health were determined by comparing medications collected at D4 events with medications reported to the North Texas Poison Center as causing adverse drug exposures in Denton County. Impacts to environmental health were determined by monitoring hydrocodone concentrations in wastewater effluent released from Denton’s wastewater treatment plant before and after D4 events. Data collected and analyzed from the D4 events and the wastewater monitoring suggests D4 events were successful in contributing to improvements in public and environmental health; however there was insufficient evidence to prove that D4 events were exclusively responsible for these improvements. An additional interesting finding was that willingness to travel to participate in D4 events was limited to a five to six mile threshold. This geographic information, combined with other findings related to socioeconomic, ...
Date: August 2012
Creator: Stoddard, Kati Ireland

Proteomic Responses in the Gill of Zebrafish Following Exposure to Ibuprofen and Naproxen

Description: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) are among the most abundant environmental pharmaceutical contaminants. In this study, a proteomic analysis was conducted to identify proteins differentially expressed in gill tissue of zebrafish (Danio rerio) after a 14-day exposure to the NSAIDs ibuprofen or naproxen. A total of 104 proteins with altered expression as indicated by 2-dimensional electrophoresis were analyzed by liquid chromatography with ion trap mass spectrometry (MS/MS). A total of 14 proteins fulfilled our requirements for identification which included consistency among replicate gels as well as successful MS/MS ion searches with the MASCOT database. The most prominent feature of the differential protein expression observed after NSAID exposure was an up-regulation of proteins belonging to the globin family which are involved in the transport of oxygen from gills and availability of heme molecules required for synthesis of cyclooxygenase. Differential expression was observed at exposure concentrations as low as 1-10 µg/L indicating that altered gene expression may occur in fish subjected to environmentally realistic levels of NSAID exposure.
Date: August 2012
Creator: Adhikari, Prem R.

A Socio-ecological Assessment of Watershed Ecosystem Services in Southern Patagonia

Description: This thesis utilizes a theoretical framework which links biophysical and social domains of ecosystems via ecosystem services (ES), in order to conduct a socio-ecological assessment of urban watersheds in three communities in Chilean and Argentine regions of southern Patagonia. Results from this study show that expanding urban areas may be undermining the ability of local watersheds to provide for high quality ES posing potential risks to community wellbeing. Secondly, researchers and decision makers influencing regional natural resource management share similar values to general community members but do not capture the diversity of values that exist within the broader community, and dialogue between these groups on management issues is poor. A community-based management structure is recommended for the creation of adaptive and locally relevant management strategies.
Date: August 2012
Creator: Zagarola, Jean-Paul Aguirre

Somatostatin Receptors on Neuronal Cilia: Evidence for Neuroprotection

Description: Primary cilia are essential in brain development, as mediators of sonic hedgehog signaling. However, their role in mature neurons remains elusive. One means to elucidate their function may be to investigate the function of the somatostatin type 3 receptor (SstR3), which is concentrated on the primary cilia of neurons. The inhibitory and anticonvulsant properties of somatostatin suggest that ciliary SstR3 might protect neurons against excitotoxicity, as seen in epileptic seizures. C57BL/6 wild type (wt) and SstR3 knockout mice were administered vehicle or epileptogenic agents kainic acid (KA) or pentylenetetrazole. Seizure behaviors were rated on seizure severity scales. KA-induced seizure behaviors were more severe in SstR3 mutants than in wt. Correspondingly, the mutants showed greater reactive gliosis, as indicated by increased numbers of GFAP immunoreactive (GFAP(+)) astrocyte processes. In addition, seizure severity was associated with a greater percentage of neural stem cells having an ACIII(+) cilium. Following injections of pentylenetetrazole, SstR3 mutants reached maximum seizure levels faster than wt. These results support the hypothesis that ciliary SstR3 are neuroprotective in mature neurons, and may provide a new avenue for the treatment of seizures.
Date: December 2012
Creator: Evans, Shakila K.

Studies on Plant-aphid Interactions: a Novel Role for Trehalose Metabolism in Arabidopsis Defense Against Green Peach Aphid

Description: Myzus persicae (Sülzer), commonly known as the green peach aphid (GPA), is a polyphagous insect that can infest over 100 families of economically important plants and is major pest for vegetable crops. This study utilizes the Arabidopsis-GPA model system with the aim to elucidate the role of the plant disaccharide trehalose in providing defense against GPA. This study demonstrates a novel role for TPS11 in providing defense against GPA. TPS11 expression was found to be transiently induced in Arabidopsis plants in response to GPA infestation and the TPS11 gene was required for curtailing GPA infestation. TPS11, which encodes for trehalose phosphate synthase and phosphatase activities, contributes to the transient increase in trehalose in the GPA infested tissues. This work suggests that TPS11-dependent trehalose has a signaling function in plant defense against GPA. in addition, trehalose also has a more direct role in curtailing GPA infestation on Arabidopsis. This work also shows that TPS11 is able to modulate both carbohydrate metabolism and plant defenses in response to GPA infestation. the expression of PAD4, an Arabidopsis gene required for phloem-based defenses against GPA, was found to be delayed in GPA infested tps11 mutant plants along with increased sucrose levels and lower starch levels as compared to the GPA infested wild type plants. This work provides clear evidence that starch metabolism in Arabidopsis is altered in response to GPA feeding and that TPS11-modulated increase in starch contributes to the curtailment of GPA infestation in Arabidopsis.
Date: May 2012
Creator: Singh, Vijay

Zebrafish Von Willebrand Factor

Description: In humans, von Willebrand factor (vWF) is a key component in hemostasis and acts as a 'cellular adhesive' by letting the circulating platelets bind to exposed subendothelium. It also acts as a carrier and stabilizer of factor VIII (FVIII). A dysfunction or reduction of vWF leads to von Willebrand disease (vWD), resulting in bleeding phenotype which affects 1% of the population. Currently there are a variety of animal models used for the study of vWF and vWD; however, they do not possess the advantages found in zebrafish. Therefore, we set out to establish zebrafish as a model for the investigation of vWF and vWD through the use of bioinformatics and various molecular techniques. Using bioinformatics we found that the vWF gene is located on chromosome 18, that the GPIb? protein sequence is conserved. Confirmation of vWF production was shown by means of immunostaining and by RT-PCR, in thrombocytes as well as in veins and arteries. Evidence of vWF involvement in hemostasis and thrombosis was shown using MO and VMO technology to produce a vWD like phenotype, resulting in an increase in TTO and TTA, as well as a reduction in FVIII when blood was tested using the kPTT assay, coinciding with a decrease in vWF. Stimate treatment provided opposite results of MO and VMO, showing a decrease in TTO and TTA. Investigation of the role of microparticles in hemostasis and their interaction with vWF resulted in a conclusion that the GPIb? receptor should exist on MPs and that it may interact not only with zebrafish vWF but also with human UL-vWF. Agglutination of MPs in the presence of UL-vWF but in the absence of ristocetin and plasma, treatment with ADAMTS-13 abolishing the interaction between MPs and UL-vWF provided evidence that vWF interacts with MPs probably with the GPIb?. We also ...
Date: August 2012
Creator: Carrillo, Maira M.