UNT Libraries - 627 Matching Results

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The Role of Cysteinyl Leukotriene Receptor 2 in Thrombocyte Aggregation

Description: Cysteinyl leukotriene receptor 2, a G-protein coupled receptor known to be expressed and functional on human platelets. However, it seems that upon ligand activation the cysteinyl leukotriene receptor 2 activates a variety of signaling pathways in multiple cell types among different species. Previously, a former laboratory member Vrinda Kulkarni found cysteinyl leukotriene receptor 2 to be expressed on the surface of adult zebrafish thrombocytes. In this work I studied the characteristics of aggregation in adult zebrafish thrombocytes with the knockdown of cysteinyl leukotriene receptor 2. I used a newly developed knockdown method to study the function of cysteinyl leukotriene receptor 2. Knockdown of the cysteinyl leukotriene was confirmed using RT-PCR results showed p=.001, reduced sell surface level of expression of the cysteinyl leukotriene receptor 2 results showed that p=.002. I found that the knockdown of cysteinyl leukotriene receptor 2 results in prothrombotic thrombocytes by using flow cytometry p=.0001.
Date: December 2015
Creator: Reyna, Julianna

Role of GPR17 in Thrombocyte Aggregation in Adult Zebrafish

Description: GPR17, a uracil nucleotide cysteinyl leukotriene receptor, belongs to the GPCR (G protein coupled receptor) family. It has been shown recently that inhibiting this protein in the nervous system in mice can lead to blockage of oligodendrocyte maturation, which supports myelin repair. Interestingly, our laboratory found GPR17 in thrombocytes. However, we do not know whether it has any function in thrombocyte aggregation or the nature of the ligand. In this paper, we studied the role of GPR17 in hemostasis, which is a fundamental defense mechanism in the event of injury. Using zebrafish as a model system, our laboratory has studied specifically thrombocytes, which play a significant role in hemostasis. The major reasons to use zebrafish as a model system are that their thrombocytes are functionally equivalent to human platelets, the adult fish are amenable to knockdown experiments, and they are readily available in the market. This study was performed by using a piggy back knockdown method where we used a chemical hybrid of control morpholino and an antisense oligonucleotide sequence leads to the degradation the mRNA for GPR17. After knockdown GPR17 in thrombocytes, the percent difference of the thrombocytes aggregation between the control and knockdown blood samples was measured by flow cytometry. We used various thrombocyte agonists to study differences in aggregation between the control and knockdown blood samples. The study showed that knockdown of GPR17 resulted in no significant differences in percent thrombocyte aggregation between control and agonist treated samples except for a slight increase in collagen-treated samples. Thus, it appears that GPR17 has no significant role in hemostasis.
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Date: December 2015
Creator: Bohassan, Maruah Hejey

Thresholds and Legacy Effects of Tropical Floodplain Fish Assemblages in Response to Flood Attributes

Description: Natural flow regimes are critical for sustaining biodiversity and river integrity. Floods and droughts form an important component of river systems and control population sizes and species diversity across space and time. Modification of flow regimes, including disruption of the timing, magnitude and duration of flooding, is a global problem, and many new impoundments are planned for large river-floodplain ecosystems in the tropics. Flow modifications may cause dramatic non-linear responses in population sizes and have lasting effects through time, but such topics are poorly investigated over multi-year scales, especially in highly diverse tropical ecosystems. Using a long-term dataset from the Upper Paraná River floodplain, Brazil, I tested for threshold and legacy effects of fish assemblages to flood attributes, such as timing, magnitude, duration, rate of change and variation. Specifically, I hypothesized that long duration, high magnitude floods would elicit threshold responses in long-distance migratory fish species and these responses result in significant legacy effects detectable over multiple years. Consistent positive threshold responses to increasing flood duration and magnitude were detected for many species and not significantly correlated with reproductive guilds. Legacy effects were prevalent (i.e. identified for more than 90% of species) and including flood attributes from previous years increased variance explained in species abundances by 15-20% compared to contemporary flood attributes alone. Contrary to my hypotheses, flood duration did not elicit strong legacy effects and species from the same reproductive guild did not have similar legacy effects models. The prevalence of legacy effects across almost all species in this diverse study system highlights the need to consider such dynamics in other systems. My results provide targets for management and conservation actions, such as environmental flow releases from upstream reservoirs. Environmental flows releases may play a significant role in sustainability of the floodplain and other tropical floodplain ecosystems affected by ...
Date: December 2015
Creator: Hoeinghaus, Ana Paula Ferrari

Dynamics of Stream Fish Metacommunities in Response to Drought and Re-connectivity

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.

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: Duplanty, Anthony A.

Effects of Macrophyte Functional Diversity on Taxonomic and Functional Diversity and Stability of Tropical Floodplain Fish Assemblages

Description: Multiple dimensions of biodiversity within and across producer and consumer guilds in the food web affect an ecosystem’s functionality and stability. Tropical and subtropical aquatic ecosystems, which are extremely diverse, have received much less attention than terrestrial ecosystems in regards to the effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning. We conducted a field experiment that tested for effects of macrophyte functional diversity on diversity and stability of associated fish assemblages in floodplain lakes of the Upper Paraná River floodplain, Brazil. Three levels of macrophyte functional diversity were maintained through time in five floodplain lakes and response variables included various components of fish taxonomic and functional diversity and stability. Components of functional diversity of fish assemblages were quantified using a suite of ecomorphological traits that relate to foraging and habitat use. Response variables primarily distinguished macrophyte treatments from the control. Macrophyte treatments had, on average, double the number of species and total abundance than the control treatment, but only limited effects on stability. The high diversity treatment was essentially nested within the low diversity for assemblage structure and had similar or even slightly lower levels of species richness and abundance in most cases. Gymnotiformes and young-of-year were diverse and relatively abundant in macrophyte treatments contributing to the large differences in diversity between macrophyte and control treatments. Higher fish diversity in structured habitats compared to more homogenous habitats is likely associated with increased ecomorphological diversity to exploit heterogeneous microhabitats and resources provided by the macrophytes.
Date: August 2015
Creator: Treviño, Jessica Marie

Glucose Induces Sensitivity to Oxygen Deprivation and Alters Gene Expression in Caenorhabditis Elegans

Description: 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).
Date: August 2015
Creator: Garcia, Anastacia M.

Metabolism and Action of Polyunsaturated N-acylethanolamines in Arabidopsis thaliana Seedlings

Description: The lipoxygenase (LOX) pathway plays an important role in the oxidative metabolism of polyunsaturated N-acylethanolamines (PU-NAEs). The LOX pathway functions in conjugation with hydrolysis by fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) and to produce oxidized NAEs during seed germination and early seedling development. When Arabidopsis seedlings were grown in low micromolar concentrations of lauroylethanolamide (NAE 12:0), growth retardation and elevated endogenous PU-NAE levels were observed due to the competitive inhibition of LOX by NAE 12:0. The elevated levels of endogenous PU-NAEs were more pronounced in genotypes with reduced NAE hydrolase capacity (faah knockouts), and less evident with overexpression of FAAH. Alterations in PU-NAE metabolism were studied in seedlings of various lox and FAAH mutants. The partitioning of PU-NAEs into oxylipin metabolites was exaggerated in the presence of exogenous linolenoylethanolamide (NAE18:3) and resulted in bleaching of cotyledons. The bleaching phenotype was restricted to a narrow developmental window (3-to-5 days after sowing), and was attributed to a reversible disruption of thylakoid membranes in chloroplasts. Biochemical and genetic evidence suggested that 9-hydro(pero)xy and 13-hydro(pero)xy octadecatrienoylethanolamides (9- and 13-NAE-H(P)OT), but not their corresponding hydro(pero)xy free fatty acids, induced cotyledon bleaching. The LOX-mediated metabolites of NAE18:3 shared some overlapping effects on seedling development with those of linoleoylethanolamide (NAE18:2) such as a reduction in seedling root growth. On the other hand, NAE18:3 oxylipin metabolites also exhibited distinct effects during seedling development such as the inhibition of photomorphogenesis. Biochemical and genetic evidence indicated that a LOX-mediated metabolite of NAE18:2, 9-hydro(pero)xy octadecadienoylethanolamide (9-NAE-H(P)OD), acted as a potent negative regulator of seedling root development, and this depended on an intact abscisic acid (ABA) signaling pathway. Synergistic inhibition of root elongation between 9-NAE-H(P)OD and ABA was restricted to a narrow developmental window (3-to-5 d after sowing) of seedling development. Genetic evidence with Arabidopsis mutants in ABA synthesis (aba1, aba2), perception (pyr1, ...
Date: August 2015
Creator: Keereetaweep, Jantana

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

Cytotoxicity and Functional Toxicity of Mefloquine and the Search for Protective Compounds

Description: 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 ...
Date: May 2015
Creator: Holmes, Katelyn

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

Improving Processing Efficiency for Forensic DNA Samples

Description: The goal of this project was to reduce processing time for forensic DNA testing without incurring significant added costs and/or the need for new instrumentation, while still generating high quality profiles. This was accomplished by: 1) extraction normalization using the ChargeSwitch® Forensic DNA Purification Kit such that a small range of DNA concentrations was consistently obtained, eliminating the need for sample quantification and dilution; 2) developing fast PCR protocols for STR primer sets using shorter amplification methods, low volume reactions and non-fast thermal cyclers; and 3) developing a quicker 3130xl Genetic Analyzer detection method using an alternative polymer/array length combination. Extraction normalization was achieved through a reduction in bead quantity, thereby forcing an increase in bead binding efficiency. Four products (AmpliTaq Gold® Fast PCR Master Mix, KAPA2G™ Fast Multiplex PCR Kit, SpeedSTAR™ HS DNA Polymerase and Type-it Microsatellite PCR Kit) were evaluated for low volume (3μl) fast PCR on a 384-well Veriti® thermal cycler with the Identifiler primer set. KAPA2G™ was selected for 3μl fast PCR protocols using PowerPlex 16 HS and Identifiler Plus primer sets (42-51min), as well as 5μl and 6μl Identifiler fast reactions on a 9700 thermal cycler (51-60min). Alternative detection (POP-6™/22cm) achieved 24-28min run times, but with decreased resolution as compared to traditional POP-4®/36cm detection for alleles >200bp; however, 1bp resolution was still obtainable for alleles <300bp. These modifications resulted in robust databasing processes with up to a 37% reduction in processing time for buccal swabs and Buccal DNA Collectors™ using the three primer sets evaluated (3μl fast PCR reactions) and generated high quality STR profiles with ≥90% pass rates.
Date: May 2015
Creator: Connon, Catherine Cupples

Manipulations of Sucrose/Proton Symporters and Proton-pumping Pyrophosphatase Lead to Enhanced Phloem Transport But Have Contrasting Effects on Plant Biomass

Description: Delivery of photoassimilate, mainly sucrose (Suc) from photoautotrophic source leaves provides the substrate for the growth and maintenance of sink tissues such as roots, storage tissues, flowers and fruits, juvenile organs, and seeds. Phloem loading is the energized process of accumulating solute in the sieve element/companion cell complex of source leaf phloem to generate the hydrostatic pressure that drives long-distance transport. In many plants this is catalyzed by Suc/Proton (H+) symporters (SUTs) which are energized by the proton motive force (PMF). Overexpression of SUTs was tested as means to enhance phloem transport and plant productivity. Phloem specific overexpression of AtSUC2 in wild type (WT) tobacco resulted in enhanced Suc loading and transport, but against the hypothesis, plants were stunted and accumulated carbohydrates in the leaves, possibly due to lack of sufficient energy to support enhanced phloem transport. The energy for SUT mediated phloem loading is provided from the PMF, which is ultimately supplied by the oxidation of a small proportion of the loaded photoassimilates. It was previously shown that inorganic pyrophosphate (PPi) is necessary for this oxidation and overexpressing a proton-pumping pyrophosphatase (AVP1) enhanced both shoot and root growth, and augmented several energized processes like nutrient acquisition and stress responses. We propose that AVP1 localizes to the PM of phloem cells and uses PMF to synthesize PPi rather than hydrolyze it, and in doing so, maintains PPi levels for efficient Suc oxidation and ATP production. Enhanced ATP production in turn strengthens the PMF via plasma membrane (PM) ATPase, increasing phloem energization and phloem transport. Phloem-specific and constitutive AVP1 overexpressing lines showed increased growth and more efficiently moved carbohydrates to sink organs compared to WT. This suggested changes in metabolic flux but diagnostic metabolites of central metabolism did not show changes in steady state levels. This research focuses on fundamental aspects ...
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Date: May 2015
Creator: Khadilkar, Aswad S

The Microbial Retting Environment of Hibiscus Cannabinus and Its Implications in Broader Applications

Description: Fiber-yielding plants is an area of increased interest due to the potential use in a variety of green-based materials. These biocomposites can be incorporated into multiple uses; for example, to replace building materials and interior vehicular paneling. The research here aims to focus in on the crop Hibiscus cannabinus for utilization into these functions. H. cannabinus is economically attractive due to the entire process being able to be accomplished here in the United States. The plant can be grown in a relatively short growth period (120-180 days), and then processed and incorporated in a biocomposite. The plant fiber must first be broken down into a useable medium. This is accomplished by the retting process, which occurs when microbial constituents breakdown the heteropolysaccharides releasing the fiber. The research aims to bridge the gap between the primitive process of retting and current techniques in molecular and microbiology. Utilizing a classical microbiological approach, which entailed enrichment and isolation of pectinase-producing bacteria for downstream use in augmented microbial retting experiments. The tracking of the bacteria was accomplished by using the 16S rRNA which acts as “barcodes” for bacteria. Next-generation sequencing can then provide data from each environment telling the composition and microbial diversity of each tested variable. The main environments tested are: a natural environment, organisms contributed by the plant material solely, and an augmented version in which pectinase-producing bacteria are added. In addition, a time-course experiment was performed on the augmented environment providing data of the shift to an anaerobic environment. Lastly, a drop-in set was performed using each isolate separately to determine which contributes to the shift in microbial organization. This research provided a much needed modernization of the retting technique. Previous studies have been subject to simple clone libraries and growth plate assays and next-generation sequencing will bring the understanding of ...
Date: May 2015
Creator: Visi, David K.

Neurotoxicity of the Industrial Solvent 4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol: Involvement of the GABA Receptor

Description: A recent chemical spill of 4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol (4-MCHM) in West Virginia left 300,000 people without water. Officials claimed that this compound is not lethally toxic, but potentially harmful if swallowed or inhaled, and can cause eye and skin irritation. Sittig's Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemical Carcinogens reports high exposures from skin contact or inhalation may cause damage to the heart, liver, kidneys, and lungs, and may result in death. However, no quantitative data seem to exist and no references can be found on neurotoxicity. We have investigated the neurotoxicity of 4-MCHM using mammalian nerve cell networks grown on microelectrode arrays. Network spontaneous activity from multiple units (range 48 – 120 per network) were used as the primary readout. Individual units were followed based on spike waveforms digitized at 40 kHz (Plexon MNAP system). Dose response curves show the effective inhibitory concentration at 50 percent decrease (EC50) to average 27.4 microM SD±6.17. However, in the presence of 40 microM bicuculline, a competitive GABAA antagonist, the EC50 shifts to 70.63uM SD ±4.3; implying that early, low concentration exposures to 4-MCHM involve GABA activation. Initial activity loss occurs without active unit loss (defined as 10 or more template threshold crossing per min), indicating functional interference with spike production. Full recovery has not been seen at concentrations above 130 microM, unless the culture was given bicuculline. Direct exposure to 400uM results in immediate, irreversible loss of spike production, followed by necrosis of glia and neurons.
Date: May 2015
Creator: Gibson, Jason

Restoration Techniques for Northern Bobwhites

Description: Isolated populations of northern bobwhites (Colinus virginianus) have declined causing many quail managers to attempt population restoration by releasing captive-reared bobwhites or translocating wild bobwhites. I evaluated three restoration techniques: (1) release of captive-reared bobwhites, (2) translocation of bobwhites from high densities to low densities, and (3) release of captive-reared and translocated bobwhites acclimated on site prior to release. These results show that captive-reared birds have reduced survival and fewer nesting attempts when compared to translocated birds and that acclimation time was not a factor. I hypothesized that high mortality rates were caused by captive-reared birds exhibiting different predator avoidance behavior than wild birds. Captive-reared and wild-trapped bobwhites were subjected to independent predator simulations and their responses were recorded on high definition video. Threat recognition time, reaction type, and reaction time was recorded for comparative analysis. Pen-reared birds recognized the simulated raptorial and terrestrial predator threats quicker than wild-trapped birds, but reaction times were not different among groups. However, the type of reaction was different among groups where pen-reared birds typically flushed immediately upon recognizing either simulated predator as compared to wild-trapped birds which typically ran or held when subjected to the raptorial threat and showed little to no observable reaction to the terrestrial threat. These results reveal a potential loss of a holding trait in pen-reared birds, resulting in a quicker revealing of their position in the presence of a threat, thereby increasing their risk of predation.
Date: May 2015
Creator: Newman, William L.

Stress Response by Alternative σ-factor, RpoH, and Analysis of Posttranslational Modification of the Heat Shock Protein, Dnak, in Escherichia coli

Description: Bacteria have developed specialized responses that involve the expression of particular genes present in a given regulon. Sigma factors provide regulatory mechanisms to respond to stress by acting as transcriptional initiation factors. This work focuses on σ32 during oxidative stress in Escherichia coli. The differential response of key heat shock (HS) genes was investigated during HS and oxidative stress using qPCR techniques. While groEL and dnaJ experienced increases in transcriptional response to H2O2 (10 mM), HS (42°C), and paraquat (50 mM) exposure, the abundance of dnaK over the co-chaperones was apparent. It was hypothesized that DnaK undergoes oxidative modification by reactive carbonyls at its Lys-rich C-terminus, accounting for the differential response during oxidative stress. A σ32-mediated β-galactosidase reporter was devised to detect the activity of wild-type DnaK and DnaKV634X modified to lack the Lys-rich C-terminus. Under unstressed conditions and HS, σ32 was bound at the same rate in both strains. When subjected to H2O2, the WT DnaK strain produced significantly higher β-galactosidase than DnaKV634X (one-tailed Student’s t test p=0.000002, α=0.05) and approached the same level of output as the lacZ positive control. The β-galactosidase assay indicates that DnaK undergoes Lys modification in the WT strain, preventing the protein from binding σ32, increasing the activity of σ32, and resulting in higher β-galactosidase activity than the DnaKV634X strain. In the DnaKV634X strain DnaK continues to bind σ32 so that σ32 could not promote the production of β-galactosidase. These findings demonstrate how DnaK is oxidatively modified, hindering the interaction with σ32 in manner distinct from HS.
Date: May 2015
Creator: Martinez, Sarah N.

Understanding Microbial Biodegradation of Environmental Contaminants

Description: The accumulation of industrial contaminants in the natural environments have rapidly become a serious threat for human and animal life. Fortunately, there are microorganisms capable of degrading or transforming environmental contaminants. The present dissertation work aimed to understand the genomic basis of microbial degradation and resistance. The focus was the genomic study of the following bacteria: a) Pseudomonas fluorescens NCIMB 11764, a unique bacterium with specific enzymes that allow cyanide adaptation features. Potential cyanide degradation mechanisms found in this strain included nit1C cluster, and CNO complex. Potential cyanide tolerance genes found included cyanide insensitive oxidases, nitric oxide producing gene, and iron metabolism genes. b) Cupriavidus sp. strain SK-3 and strain SK-4. The genome of both bacteria presented the bph operon for polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) degradation, but we found differences in the sequences of the genes. Those differences might indicate their preferences for different PCB substrates. c) Arsenic resistant bacterial communities observed in the Atacama Desert. Specific bacteria were found to thrive depending on the arsenic concentration. Examples were Bacteroidetes and Spirochaetes phyla whose proportions increased in the river with high arsenic concentrations. Also, DNA repair and replication metabolic functions seem to be necessary for resistance to arsenic contaminated environments. Our research give us insights on how bacteria communities, not just individually, can adapt and become resistant to the contaminants. The present dissertation work showed specific genes and mechanisms for degradation and resistance of contaminants that could contribute to develop new bioremediation strategies.
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Date: May 2015
Creator: Vilo Muñoz, Claudia Andrea

Acute Effects of the Antibiotic Streptomycin on Neural Network Activity and Pharmacological Responses

Description: 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.
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Date: December 2014
Creator: Zeng, Wei Rong

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

Evidence for Multiple Functions of a Medicago Truncatula Transporter

Description: Legumes play an important role in agriculture as major food sources for humans and as feed for animals. Bioavailable nitrogen is a limiting nutrient for crop growth. Legumes are important because they can form a symbiotic relationship with soil bacteria called rhizobia that results in nitrogen-fixing root nodules. In this symbiosis, rhizobia provide nitrogen to the legumes and the legumes provide carbon sources to the rhizobia. The Medicago truncatula NPF1.7/NIP/LATD gene is essential for root nodule development and also for proper development of root architecture. Work in our lab on the MtNPF1.7/MtNIP/LATD gene has established that it encodes a nitrate transporter and strongly suggests it has another function. Mtnip-1/latd mutants have pleiotropic defects, which are only partially explained by defects in nitrate transport. MtNPF1.7/NIP/LATD is a member of the large and diverse NPF/NRT1(PTR) transporter family. NPF/NRT1(PTR) members have been shown to transport other compounds in addition to nitrate: nitrite, amino acids, di- and tri-peptides, dicarboxylates, auxin, abscisic acid and glucosinolates. In Arabidopsis thaliana, the AtNPF6.3/NRT1.1( CHL1) transporter was shown to transport auxin as well as nitrate. Atchl1 mutants have defects in root architecture, which may be explained by defects in auxin transport and/or nitrate sensing. Considering the pleiotropic phenotypes observed in Mtnip-1/latd mutant plants, it is possible that MtNPF1.7/NIP/LATD could have similar activity as AtNPF6.3/NRT1.1(CHL1). Experimental evidence shows that the MtNPF1.7/NIP/LATD gene is able to restore nitrate-absent responsiveness defects of the Atchl1-5 mutant. The constitutive expression of MtNPF1.7/NIP/LATD gene was able to partially, but not fully restore the wild-type phenotype in the Atchl1-5 mutant line in response to auxin and cytokinin. The constitutive expression of MtNPF1.7/NIP/LATD gene affects the lateral root density of wild-type Col-0 plants differently in response to IAA in the presence of high (1mM) or low (0.1 mM) nitrate. MtNPF1.7/NIP/LATD gene expression is not regulated by nitrate ...
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Date: December 2014
Creator: Huang, Ying-Sheng

In Vitro Investigations of Antibiotic Influences on Nerve Cell Network Responses to Pharmacological Agents

Description: Neuronal networks, derived from mouse embryonic frontal cortex (FC) tissue grown on microelectrode arrays, were used to investigate effects of gentamicin pretreatment on pharmacological response to the L-type calcium channel blocker, verapamil. Gentamicin is a broad spectrum antibiotic used to control bacterial contamination in cell culture. The addition of gentamicin directly to medium affects the pharmacological and morphological properties of the cells in culture. A reproducible dose response curve to verapamil from untreated cultures was established and the mean EC50 was calculated to be 1.5 ± 0.5 μM (n=10). 40 μM bicuculline was added to some cell cultures to stabilize activity and verapamil dose response curves were performed in presence of bicuculline, EC50 1.4 ± 0.1 μM (n=9). Statistical analysis showed no significant difference in verapamil EC50s values obtained in presence of bicuculline and hence the data was combined and a standard verapamil EC50 was calculated as 1.4 ± 0.13 μM (n=19). This EC50 was then used to compare verapamil EC50s obtained from neuronal cell cultures with chronic and acute exposures to gentamicin. FC cultures (21- 38 days old) were found to be stable in presence of 2300 μM gentamicin. The recommended concentration of gentamicin for contamination control is 5uL /1 ml medium (108 μM). At this concentration, the verapamil EC50 shifted from 1.4 ± 0.13 μM to 0.9 ± 0.2 μM. Given the limited data points and only two complete CRCs, statistical comparison was not feasible. However, there is a definite trend that shows sensitization of cells to verapamil in presence of gentamicin. The cultures exposed to 108 μM gentamicin for 5 days after seeding showed loss of adhesion and no data could be collected for pharmacological analysis. To conclude, acute gentamicin exposure of neuronal cell cultures causes increased sensitivity to verapamil and chronic or long term exposure to ...
Date: December 2014
Creator: Sawant, Meera

Measuring Biomarkers From Dried Blood Spots Utilizing Bead-based Multiplex Technology

Description: Dried blood spots is an alternative method to collect blood samples from research subjects. However, little is known about how hemoglobin and hematocrit affect bead-based multiplex assay performance. The purpose of this study was to determine how bead-based multiplex assays perform when analyzing dried blood spot samples. A series of four experiments outline the study each with a specific purpose. A total of 167 subject samples were collected and 92 different biomarkers were measured. Median fluorescence intensity results show a positive correlation between filtered and non-filtered samples. Utilizing a smaller quantity of sample results in a positive correlation to a larger sample. Removal of hemoglobin from the dried blood spot sample does not increase detection or concentration of biomarkers. Of the 92 different biomarkers measured 56 were detectable in 100-75% of the attempted samples. We conclude that blood biomarkers can be detected using bead-based multiplex assays. In addition, it is possible to utilize a smaller quantity of sample while avoiding the use of the entire sample, and maintaining a correlation to the total sample. While our method of hemoglobin was efficient it also removed the biomarkers we wished to analyze. Thus, an alternative method is necessary to determine if removing hemoglobin increases concentration of biomarkers. More research is necessary to determine if the biomarkers measured in this study can be measured over time or within an experimental model.
Date: December 2014
Creator: Prado, Eric A.

Optimization of Novel Culturing and Testing Procedures for Acute Effects on Acartia Tonsa and Tisbe Biminiensis

Description: Copepods comprise an ecologically important role in freshwater and marine ecosystems, which is why they are often considered an important ecotoxicological model organism. The International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) 14669 protocol is the only guideline for the determination of acute toxicity in three European marine copepod species: Acartia tonsa. The goal of this project was to assess the feasibility of establishing and maintaining cultures of Acartia tonsa, as well as to refine current culturing and egg separation methods. Initial culture methodology proved difficult for consistent production of eggs and collection of nauplii. The development of an airlift system for the separation of eggs from nauplii and adults, based on size, successfully increased the availability of eggs, nauplii and adults. The sensitivity and relative conditions of the copepod species was assessed by running a series of 48h acute toxicity tests with the reference toxicants 3,5-dichlorophenol, 4,4’-methylenebis(2,6-di-tert-butylphenol. The acute 48 hour median lethal dose concentration (LC50), the no observed effect concentration (NOEC), and the lowest observed effect concentration (LOEC) was analyzed for the three reference compounds for of A. tonsa.
Date: December 2014
Creator: Ussery, Erin J.