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In Vitro Exploration of Function Acrolein Toxicity with Cortical Neuronal Networks
Acrolein is produced endogenously after traumatic brain injury (TBI) and is considered a primary mechanism for secondary damage occurring after TBI. We are using frontal cortex networks derived from mouse embryos and grown on microelectrode arrays in vitro to monitor the spontaneous activity of networks and the changes that occur after acrolein application. Networks exposed to acrolein exhibit a biphasic response profile. An initial increase in network activity, followed by a decrease to 100% activity loss in applications ≥ 50 µM. In applications below 50 µM, acrolein was not toxic but generated activity instability with coordinated but irregular population busts lasting for up to 6 days. The increase in activity preceding toxicity may be linked to a decrease in free spermine, a free radical scavenger that modulates Na+, K+, Ca+ channels as well as NMDA, Kainate, and AMPA receptors. Action potential wave shape analysis after 20 and 30 µM acrolein application revealed a concentration-dependent 15-33% increase in peak to peak amplitude within minutes after exposure. For the same concentrations of acrolein (50 µM), the time required to reach 100% activity loss (IT100) was longer in serum-free medium than in medium with 5% serum, in which IT100 values were reduced by a factor of 4. The greater toxicity in the presence of serum may be explained by acrolein adducts on serum proteins. These reaction products have been shown by other labs to be toxic in cell culture. This in vitro system could be used to expand biochemical analyses such as acrolein-induced spermine depletion and may provide an effective platform for investigating cell culture correlates of secondary TBI damage.
Population Dynamics and Community Structure of Mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae) Recorded in Denton, Texas from 2005 to 2015
A population survey was conducted on the mosquito species recorded in Denton, Texas for the years of 2005 to 2015. Data used in this project were obtained from an ongoing, long-term surveillance program led by the City of Denton and conducted through the University of North Texas. Research focused on the population dynamics and community structure of mosquitoes collected within urban areas of Denton, Texas in relation to certain environmental variables. A total of 80,837 female mosquitoes were captured and represented 38 species found under the following genera: Aedes, Anopheles, Coquillettidia, Culex, Culiseta, Mansonia, Orthopodomyia, Psorophora, Toxorhynchites, and Uranotaenia. Culex quinquefasciatus was the most abundant species followed by Aedes vexans. Seasonal patterns of the most abundant species revealed high variability throughout the study. Container breeders were most abundant in August and those that breed in floodwaters were most abundant in the months of May and September. Samples were tested for arbovirus presence through the Texas Department of State Health Services in Austin, Texas and multiple pools tested positive for West Nile virus throughout the study. Stepwise multiple regression and Spearman's rank correlation analyses were performed to examine the relationship between the mosquito community and environmental variables. Data revealed that temperature, precipitation, and dew point were the most important variables influencing the mosquito population in the City of Denton.
Simultaneous Electrophysiological and Morphological Assessment of Impact Damage to Nerve Cell Networks
A ballistic pendulum impulse generator was used to impact networks in primary culture growing on microelectrode arrays. This approach has the advantage of imparting pure tangential acceleration insults (50 to 300 g) with simultaneous morphological and electrophysiological multichannel monitoring for days before and after the impact. Action potential (AP) production, network activity patterns, and cell electrode coupling of individual units using AP waveshape templates were quantified. Network adhesion was maintained after tangential impacts up to 300g with minimal loss of pre-selected active units. Time lapse phase contrast microscopy revealed stable nuclei pre-impact, but post impact nuclear rotation in 95% of observations (n= 30). All recording experiments (n=31) showed a repeatable two-phase spike production response profile: recovery to near reference in 1-2 hrs, followed by a slow activity decay to a stable, level plateau approximately 30-40% below reference. Phase 1 consisted of a complex two-step recovery: rapid activity increase to an average 23.6% (range: 11-34%) below reference, forming a level plateau lasting from 5 to 20 min, followed by a climb to within 20% of reference where a second plateau was established for 1 to 2 hrs. Cross correlation profiles showed changes in firing hierarchy after impact, and in spontaneous network oscillatory activity. Native oscillations were found in the Delta band (2 to 3 Hz), and decreased by approximately 20% after impact. Under network disinhibition with bicuculline, oscillations were slower (0.8-1Hz) and decreased 40% after impact. These data link network performance deficits with microscopically observable subcellular changes.
"Superbursts": Investigation of Abnormal Paroxysmal Bursting Activity in Nerve Cell Networks In Vitro
Superbursts (SBs) are large, seemingly spontaneous activity fluctuations often encountered in high density neural networks in vitro. Little effort has been put forth to define and analyze SBs which are paroxysmal bursting discharges. Through qualitative and quantitative means, I have described specific occurrences of superbursting activity. A complex of paroxysmal bursting has been termed a "superburst episode," and each individual SB is a "superburst event" which is comprises a fine burst structure. Quantitative calculations (employing overall spike summations and coefficient of variation (CV) calculations), reveal three distinct phases. Phase 1 is a "build up" phase of increasingly strong, coordinated bursting with an average of a 17.6% ± 13.7 increase in activity from reference. Phase 2, the "paroxysmal" phase, is comprised of massive coordinated bursting with high frequency spike content. Individual spike activity increases by 52.9% ± 14.6. Phase 3 is a "recovery phase" of lower coordination and an average of a 50.1% ± 35.6 decrease in spike production from reference. SBs can be induced and terminated by physical manipulation of the medium. Using a peristaltic pump with a flow rate of 0.4ml/min, superbursting activity ceases approximately 28.3 min after the introduction of flow. Alternatively, upon cessation of medium flow superbursting activity reemerges after approximately 8.5 min. Additionally, this study explored other methods capable of inducing superbursting activity using osmotic shocks. The induction and termination of SBs demonstrates that the cell culture environment plays a major role in generating this phenomenon. The observations that high density multi-layer neuronal networks in culture are more likely to enter paroxysmal bursting also supports the hypothesis that enrichment and depletion layers of metabolites and ionic species are involved in such unusual activity. The dynamic similarity of the SB phenomenon with epileptiform discharges make further quantification on the spike pattern level pertinent and important.
Phenotypic Analysis of Medicago truncatula NPF1.7 Over-Expressing Plants Grown under Different Nitrate Conditions
Plants have many nitrate transporters; in the model legume Medicago truncatula, MtNPF1.7 is among them. MtNPF1.7 is important for M. truncatula growth and it has been established that MtNPF1.7 is a high affinity nitrate transporter. M. truncatula plants with mutations in MtNPF1.7 gene show defects during plants growth, with striking abnormalities in nodule development and root architecture. Nitrogen fixation is an energy expensive process; when legumes have sufficient bioavailable nitrogen like nitrate available, it suppresses nodulation and nitrogen fixation. Previous preliminary results in our lab showed that plants constitutively expressing MtNPF1.7 have a growth phenotype in the absence of nitrate, but no data was available on how M. truncatula plants constitutively expressing MtNPF1.7 are affected by the presence of nitrate. For my research, I confirmed the preliminary results on the growth of M. truncatula plants overexpressing NPF1.7 and examined these plants' phenotypes when nitrate was not provided in the growth media and when it was provided at two different concentrations. Compared with wild type A17, plants constitutively expressing MtNPF1.7 gene grow larger, have more lateral roots and more nodules when grown in the absence of nitrate and when 0.2 mM KNO3 was provided. At 1 mM KNO3, there are fewer differences between wild type A17 and plants constitutively expressing the MtNPF1.7 gene. Compared with wild type A17, plants constitutively expressing the MtNPF1.7 gene flower earlier, which indicates MtNPF1.7 gene may have a function in plant flowering.
Delivery of CRISPR/Cas9 into Blood Cells of Zebrafish: Potential for Genome Editing in Somatic Cells
Factor VIII is a clotting factor found on the intrinsic side of the coagulation cascade. A mutation in the factor VIII gene causes the disease Hemophilia A, for which there is no cure. The most common treatment is administration of recombinant factor VIII. However, this can cause an immune response that renders the treatment ineffective in certain hemophilia patients. For this reason a new treatment, or cure, needs to be developed. Gene editing is one solution to correcting the factor VIII mutation. CRISPR/Cas9 mediated gene editing introduces a double stranded break in the genomic DNA. Where this break occurs repair mechanisms cause insertions and deletions, or if a template oligonucleotide can be provided point mutations could be introduced or corrected. However, to accomplish this goal for editing factor VIII mutations, a way to deliver the components of CRISPR/Cas9 into somatic cells is needed. In this study, I confirmed that the CRISPR/Cas9 system was able to create a mutation in the factor VIII gene in zebrafish. I also showed that the components of CRISPR/Cas9 could be piggybacked by vivo morpholino into a variety of blood cells. This study also confirmed that the vivo morpholino did not interfere with the gRNA binding to the DNA, or Cas9 protein inducing the double stranded break.
Evaluating the Role of UV Exposure and Recovery Regimes in PAH Photo-Induced Toxicity
Polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are contaminants synthesized through incomplete combustion of carbon based substances. PAHs are known to be photodynamic and toxicity increases exponentially when in contact with ultraviolet radiation (UV). The effect of UV absent recovery periods and potential for latent toxicity during photo-induced toxicity are previously unknown and are not included within the toxicity model. Results of equal interval tests further support the current reciprocity model as a good indicator of PAH photo-induced toxicity. Interval test results also indicate a possible presence of time-dependent toxicity and recovery thresholds and should be included into toxicity risk assessments. Moreover, results of latent effects assays show that latent mortality is a significant response to PAH photo-induced toxicity and should be included into toxicity risk assessments. The present research demonstrates that UV exposure time rate is a significant driving force of PAH photo-induced toxicity.
Generating Molecular Biology Tools to Investigate the Ca2+ Binding Ability of Arabidopsis TON2
The position of the cell division plane in plants is determined by the position of the preprophase band. The pre prophase band (PPB) is a ring of microtubules centered around the nucleus on the inner side of plasma membrane that establishes the cortical division site. The PPB forms at the end of G2 and breaks down at the end of prophase leaving behind protein markers of its position that are collectively called the cortical division site. During cytokinesis the phragmoplast expands towards the cortical division site and mediates the fusion of the new cell plate with the mother cell at that position. Several proteins necessary for PPB formation in plants have been identified, including maize DCD1 and ADD1 and Arabidopsis TON2, which are all type 2A protein phosphatase (PP2A)B" regulatory subunits. DCD1, ADD1, and TON2 localize to the PPB and the cortical division site through metaphase. The PP2A subunits each have two EF-hand domains, which are predicted to bind calcium ions. Since calcium ions are important for some aspects of cell division, we designed a series of constructs to test if TON2 binds calcium. TON2 protein was cloned into expression vectors, pET42a, and expression of TON2 protein was confirmed via Western blotting and immunodetection using a GST antibody. Site directed mutagenesis was used to mutate the TON2 EF-hand domains and mutated cDNAs were also cloned into expression vectors. These were then expressed in bacterial systems. Finally, the GST tagged proteins were purified. In the future, wild-type and mutated proteins TON2 proteins will used in calcium binding assays to determine if TON2 binds calcium.
Investigating Human Gut Microbiome in Obesity with Machine Learning Methods
Obesity is a common disease among all ages that has threatened human health and has become a global concern. Gut microbiota can affect human metabolism and thus may modulate obesity. Certain mixes of gut microbiota can protect the host to be healthy or predispose the host to obesity. Modern next-generation sequencing technique allows accessing huge amount of genetic information underlying microbiota and thus provides new insights into the functionality of these micro-organisms and their interactions with the host. Multiple previous studies have demonstrated that the microbiome might contribute to obesity by increasing dietary energy harvest, promoting fat deposition and triggering systemic inflammation. However, these researches are either based on lab cultivation studies or basic statistical analysis. In order to further explore how gut microbiota affect obesity, this thesis utilize a series of machine learning methods to analyze large amount of metagenomics data from human gut microbiome. The publicly available HMP (Human Microbiome Project) metagenomic sequencing data, contain microbiome data for healthy adults, including overweight and obese individuals, were used for this study. HMP gut data were organized based on two different feature definitions: taxonomic information and metabolic reconstruction information. Several widely used classification algorithms: namely Naive Bayes, Random Forest, SVM and elastic net logistic regression were applied to predict healthy or obese status of the subjects based on the cross-validation accuracy. Furthermore, the corresponding feature selection algorithms were used to identify signature features in each dataset that lead to the differences between healthy and obese samples. The results showed that these algorithms perform poorly on taxonomic data than metabolic pathway data though lots of selected taxa are still supported by literature. Among all the combinations between different algorithms and data, elastic net logistic regression has the best cross-validation performance and thus becomes the best model. In this model, several important ...
Neurological Responses to a Glucose Diet in Caenorhabditis elegans
TRPV channels play a role in both mammalian insulin signaling, with TRPV1 expression in pancreatic beta-cells, and in C. elegans insulin-like signaling through expression of OSM-9, OCR-1, and OCR-2 in stress response pathways. In response to a glucose-supplemented diet, C. elegans are know to have sensitivity to anoxic stress, exhibit chemotaxis attraction, and display reduced egg-laying rate. Transcriptome analysis reveals that glucose stimulates nervous system activity with increased transcript levels of genes regulating neurotransmitters. Ciliated sensory neurons are needed for a reduced egg-laying phenotype on a glucose-supplemented diet. Egg-laying rate is not affected when worms graze on glucose-supplemented Delta-PTS OP50 E. coli, which is defective in glucose uptake. This suggests a possible sensory neuron obstruction by exopolysaccharides produced by standard OP50 E. coli on glucose, eliciting a starvation response from the worm and causing reduced egg-laying rate. Glucose chemotaxis is affected in specific TRPV subunit allele mutants: ocr-2(vs29) and osm-9(yz6), serotonin receptor mutants: ser-1(ok345) and mod-1(ok103), and G-alpha protein mutant: gpa-10(pk362). TRPV deletion mutants had no effect on glucose chemotaxis, alluding to the modality role pf TRPV alleles in specific sensory neurons. The role of serotonin in a reduced egg-laying rate with glucose remains unclear.
Respiratory Responses in the Freshwater Snail (Pomacea Bridgesii) are Differently Affected by Temperature, Body Mass,and Oxygen Availability
Pomacea bridgesii is a snail species native to tropical and sub-tropical regions, where it usually faces variability in water, temperature and oxygen level. This study of the effect of temperature on mass-specific oxygen consumption (ṀO2) and its relation to body weight shows that the ṀO2 of juvenile snails in normoxia (18-21 kPa) acclimated at temperature of 25°C ranged from 5 to 58 µMol O2/g/h, with a mean of 41.4 ± 18.3 µMol O2/g/h (n=7). Adult snails in normoxia at 25°C show less variation, ranging from 13 to 23 µMol O2/g/h , with a mean of 24.4± 6.1 µMol O2/g/h (n=12). The Q10 value for juvenile snails was higher in the interval 25-30°C (Q 10=5.74) than in the interval 20-25°C (Q10= 0.286). In adult snails, Q10 was higher in the interval 20-25°C (Q10=3.19). ṀO2 of P. bridgesii in relation to body weight showed a negative linear correlation between metabolic rate and body weight with b values between 0.23 and 0.76. Also, both juvenile and adult snails exhibited weak O2 regulation. In general, the different respiratory characteristics between juvenile and adult snails might be related to the differences of individual life history, which caused them to perform differently in face of temperatures change. Additionally, Pomacean snails species originated in tropical habitats where there is a lack of thermal fluctuation. For this reason, Pomacean snails may be less likely to have evolved effective thermal acclimation capabilities.
The Effect of Post-exercise Ethanol Consumption on the Acute Hormonal Response to Heavy Resistance Exercise in Women
The purpose of this study was to examine the hormonal response to acute ethanol ingestion following a bout of heavy resistance exercise in women. Eight resistance trained women completed two identical acute heavy resistance exercise tasks (AHRET). From 10-20 minutes post-AHRET, participants consumed either a grain ethanol or a placebo beverage. Blood was collected before (PRE) and immediately after the AHRET (IP) and then every 20 minutes for five hours. Blood collected after beverage ingestion was pooled into 3 batches (phases: 20-40 minutes, 60-120 minutes, and 140-300 minutes post-exercise) and analyzed for serum total testosterone (TT), free testosterone (FT), insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), human growth hormone (GH), cortisol (COR), and estradiol (E2) concentrations. Circulating concentrations of TT were significantly greater at P20-40 than at PRE, P60-120, and P140-300. Circulating concentrations of FT were significantly greater at P20-40 than at all other times. Circulating concentrations of GH were significantly greater at IP than at PRE, P60-120, and P140-300. Circulating concentrations of COR were significantly greater at P20-40 than at all other times. Additionally, COR concentrations at P140-300 were significantly lower than at all other times. Circulating concentrations of IGF-1 were significantly greater at P20-40 than at P60-120 and P140-300. Circulating concentrations of E2 were significantly greater at P20-40 than at all other times. In summary, the present study demonstrated an acute modulation of the neuroendocrine milieu following a heavy resistance exercise bout in women. Ethanol ingestion appeared to have no significant effect on the characteristics of acute hormonal augmentation in TT, FT, GH, COR, IGF-1, or E2.
A High-fat Meal Alters Post-prandial mRNA Expression of SIRT1, SIRT4, and SIRT6
Sirtuins (SIRT) regulate the transcription of various genes involved in the development of diet-induced obesity and chronic disease; however, it is unknown how they change acutely following a high-fat meal. The purpose of this study was to determine the effect of a high-fat meal (65% kcals/d; 85% fat recommendation), on SIRT1-7 mRNA expression in blood leukocytes at 1, 3, and 5-h post-prandial. Men and women (N=24) reported to the lab following an overnight fast (>12H). Total RNA was isolated and reverse transcribed prior to using a Taqman qPCR technique with 18S rRNA as a normalizer to determine SIRT1-7 mRNA expression. An additional aliquot of serum was used to measure triglycerides. Data was analyzed using a RM ANOVA with P<0.05. Triglycerides (P<0.001; 124%) peaked at 3-h. SIRT 1 (P=0.004; 70%), and SIRT 6 (P=0.017; 53%) decreased expression at 3-h. SIRT4 (P=0.024) peaked at 5H relative to baseline (70%) and 3-h (68%). To our knowledge, this is the first study to report that consumption of a high-fat meal transiently alters SIRT mRNA expression consistent in a pattern that mirrors changes in serum triglycerides. Decrease in expression of SIRT1 and SIRT6 combined with an increased SIRT4 would be consistent with an increase in metabolic disease risk if maintained on a chronic basis.
Phenotypic Morphological Plasticity Induced by Environmental Salt Stress in the Brine Shrimp, Artemia franciscana
Phenotypic plasticity is the ability of an organism to express different phenotypes in response to biotic or abiotic environmental cues. The ability of an organism to make changes during development to adjust to changes in its environment is a key to survival. Sexually reproducing organisms that have short life cycles and that are easy to raise in the laboratory are more conducive for developmental phenotypic plasticity. Considerable research has already been carried out on the brine shrimp, Artemia franciscana, regarding its morphology due to changing salinities. There is, however, little research considering subsequent generations and how there morphology might be affected by parental experiences. This study has examined: 1) the morphological effects of different rearing regimes of different salinity levels, and 2) the epigenetic transgenerational transfer of these morphological traits in A. franciscana. Measurements included rate of growth (as measured by instar), body size, body length, and other morphological traits. A gradual increase to more hyperosmotic conditions during development produced brine shrimp that were larger in size and also more developmentally advanced. Salinity stress experienced by adults had increased the growth rate in the F1 offspring of A. franciscana. Collectively, these data indicate that Artemia franciscana is a tractable model for investigating phenotypic plasticity. These findings have added to the ever-growing field of developmental phenotypic plasticity while also providing more information on the natural history and adaptive abilities of A. franciscana.
The Role of Cysteinyl Leukotriene Receptor 2 in Thrombocyte Aggregation
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.
Cytotoxicity and Functional Toxicity of Mefloquine and the Search for Protective Compounds
Mefloquine hydrochloride is an antimalarial agent that has been used for the past 40 years. Numerous reports of neurological side effects have recently led the FDA to issue a strong warning regarding long-term neurological effects. This warning lead to the U.S. Army’s Special Forces and other components to discontinue its use in July of 2013. Despite reported adverse side effects, mefloquine remains in circulation and is recommended to travelers going to specific Asian countries. Mefloquine has been used as a treatment for those already infected with the malaria parasite (blood concentrations ranging from 2.1 to 23 µM), and as prophylaxis (blood concentrations averaging 3.8 µM) (Dow 2003). The purpose of this study was to quantify Mefloquine’s toxicity using spontaneously active nerve cell networks growing on microelectrode arrays in vitro and to identify compounds that alleviate or reduce toxic effects. The current literature on mefloquine toxicity is lacking electrophysiological data. These data will contribute to research on the mechanism of adverse side effects associated with mefloquine use. Sequential titration experiments were performed by adding increasing concentrations of mefloquine solution to cultured neurons. Network responses were quantified and reversibility was examined. In each network, activity decreases were normalized as a percent of reference activity yielding a mean IC50 value of 5.97 ± 0.44 (SD) µM (n=6). After total activity loss, no activity was recovered with two successive medium changes. To test for network response desensitization resulting from sequential applications over 5-6 hr periods, one-point titrations at varying concentrations were conducted with fresh networks. These experiments yielded a single concentration response curve with an IC50 value of 2.97 µM. This represents a statistically significant shift (p < 0.0001) to lower concentrations of mefloquine, demonstrating that sequential applications result in network desensitization. After mefloquine exposures, cells were evaluated for irreversible cytotoxic damage. Over a ...
Neurotoxicity of the Industrial Solvent 4-Methylcyclohexanemethanol: Involvement of the GABA Receptor
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.
Acute Effects of the Antibiotic Streptomycin on Neural Network Activity and Pharmacological Responses
The purpose of this study is to find out that if antibiotic streptomycin decreases neuronal network activity or affects the pharmacological responses. The experiments in this study were conducted via MEA (multi-electrode array) technology which records neuronal activity from devices that have multiple small electrodes, serve as neural interfaces connecting neurons to electronic circuitry. The result of this study shows that streptomycin lowered the spike production of neuronal network, and also, sensitization was seen when neuronal network pre-exposed to streptomycin.
Effects of Sertraline Exposure on Fathead Minnow (Pimephales promelas) Steroidogenesis
Sertraline is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that is widely used for the treatment of depression and anxiety. Due to the abundant therapeutic use of sertraline, low levels have been detected in municipal wastewater effluents suggesting that aquatic organisms may be exposed. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the steroidogenic effects of sertraline on larval (FHM) and adult female fathead minnows (FFHM), Pimephales promelas. Larval FHM were exposed to 0.1, 1, and 10 µg/L sertraline for 28 days and analyzed via RT-qPCR for differential expression of 11β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (11β-HSD), 20β-Hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (20β-HSD), aromatase (CYP19), and nuclear thyroid receptor alpha (TRα). FFHM were exposed to 3 or 10 µg/L sertraline for 7 days with the brain and ovary excised at exposure termination. Juvenile FHM exposed to 0.1 μg/L sertraline had a significant upregulation of both 20β-HSD and TRα. FFHM exposed to 10 µg/L sertraline had a significant upregulation of 11β-HSD expression in brain tissue, while no steroidogenic changes were observed in the FFHM ovary. Similarly, in FFHM brain tissue, CYP19 and 20β-HSD expression levels were significantly higher in fish exposed to 10µg/L sertraline compared to control. The significance of these findings with respect to survival, growth and reproduction are currently unknown, but represent future research needs.
In Vitro Investigations of Antibiotic Influences on Nerve Cell Network Responses to Pharmacological Agents
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 ...
Measuring Biomarkers From Dried Blood Spots Utilizing Bead-based Multiplex Technology
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.
Monitoring Monocyte Oxldl Phagocytosis As a Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factor Following a High-fat Meal
Macrophage-derived foam cells play a predominant role in the deposition of arterial plaques during the early stages of atherosclerosis. The deposition of arterial plaques is known to be effected by several factors, including a person’s dietary habits. The consumption of a high-fat (>60% of calories from fat) meal is known to elevate serum LDL and triglycerides, which have been previously implicated in the formation pf foam cells. One limitation of current research models is that it is not possible to directly measure foam cells in vivo. Thus, the purpose of the present study was to validate the use of blood derived monocytes as a proxy measure of foam cells. In order to complete this objective, we evaluated monocyte oxLDL phagocytosis capacity following consumption of a high-fat meal. Eight men and women participated in the present study and venous blood samples were collected prior to the meal, 1-h, 3-h, and 5-h post-meal. Monocytes (CD14+/16- and CD14+/16+) were evaluated for adhesion molecule expression (CD11a, CD11b, and CD18), scavenger R (CD36) expression, and oxLDL phagocytosis using an image-based flow cytometry method developed in our laboratory for this purpose. Data was statistically analyzed for significance using a single-factor ANOVA with repeated measures and a p < 0.05. Consumption of a high-fat meal caused an increase significant increase in the proportion of pro-inflammatory monocytes (CD14+/16+) and a decrease in classic monocytes (CD14+/16-), with the greatest difference occurring at 5 h post prandial (p = 0.038). We also found that pro-inflammatory monocyte expression of adhesion molecules and CD36 increased in a manner that would promote in vivo movement of monocytes into the subendothelial space. Finally, over the course of the 5 h postprandial period, the majority of oxLDL uptake occurred in pro-inflammatory compared to classic monocytes. These results suggest that consuming a high-fat meal increases the ...
Optimization of Novel Culturing and Testing Procedures for Acute Effects on Acartia Tonsa and Tisbe Biminiensis
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.
Women Have Higher Skin Temperature on the Back during Treadmill Exercise in a Hot, Humid Environment
A common measurement of body temperature during exercise in a hot, humid environment is mean skin temperature collected from 3-12 sites on the body. However, such an approach fails to demonstrate localized differences in skin temperature that are likely to exist as a function of gender. The purpose of this study was to examine potential differences in skin temperature between men and women at 17 different locations on the body. Young women (21 ± 1 y; n = 11) and men (23 ± 3; n = 10) were recruited to complete a 60-min walk/jog interval protocol in a hot (34 ± 1 °C), humid (64 ± 8%) environment while skin temperature was measured. Data was analyzed using a repeated-measures ANOVA (p < 0.05) and location of interaction effects determined using a Fisher’s least squares difference test. We observed a higher change (p < 0.05) from baseline skin temperatures (ΔTsk) for women in three locations: left upper back (women: avg. ΔTsk = 4.12 ± 0.20 °C; men: avg. ΔTsk = 2.70 ± 0.10 °C), right upper back (women: avg. ΔTsk = 4.19 ± 0.07 °C; men: avg. ΔTsk = 2.92 ± 0.05 °C), and right mid-back (women: avg. ΔTsk = 4.62 ± 0.14 °C; men: avg. ΔTsk =3.55 ± 0.09 °C). Individual time differences between genders occurred after 7- (left upper back) and 15-min (right upper back, right mid-back) of exercise and were maintained until the end of exercise. Women have a greater increase in skin temperature at three locations on the back following the onset of exercise in a hot, humid environment. This report provides important information regarding the implications of women exercising in a hot, humid environment.
The Effect of Menthol on Nicotine Metabolism: a Cross Species Evaluation
The effect of menthol on nicotine metabolism was examined in liver S9 fractions of four different species and in the in vivo mouse model. The purpose of this study was to investigate three parameters: (1) biotransformation of nicotine to cotinine in various species (human, mouse, rat and trout) using in vitro methods; (2) to determine if the addition of menthol with nicotine altered biotransformation of nicotine to cotinine; (3) and to assess similar parameters in an in vivo mouse model. The major findings of this study include: (1) mice appear to metabolize nicotine, over time, in a manner similar to humans; (2) menthol decreased cotinine production, over time, after a single dose in mice; and (3) menthol increased cotinine production, over time, after repeated doses, in mice.
Effects of Airway Pressure, Hypercapnia, and Hypoxia on Pulmonary Vagal Afferents in the Alligator (Alligator Misssissippiensis)
The American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) is an aquatic diving reptile with a periodic breathing pattern. Previous work has identified pulmonary stretch receptors (PSR), both rapidly- and slowly-adapting, and intrapulmonary chemoreceptors (IPCs) that modulate breathing patterns in alligators. The purpose of the present study was to identify the effects of prolonged lung inflation and deflation (simulated dives) on PSR and/or IPC firing characteristics in the alligator. The effects of airway pressure, hypercapnia, and hypoxia on dynamic and static responses of pulmonary stretch receptors (PSR) were studied in juvenile alligators (mean mass = 246 g) at 24°C. Receptor activity appeared to be a mixture of slowly-adapting PSRs (SARs) and rapidly-adapting PSRs (RARs) with varying thresholds and degrees of adaptation, but no CO2 sensitivity. Dives were simulated in order to character receptor activity before, during, and after prolonged periods of lung inflation and deflation. Some stretch receptors showed a change in dynamic response, exhibiting inhibition for several breaths after 1 min of lung inflation, but were unaffected by prolonged deflation. For SAR, the post-dive inhibition was inhibited by CO2 and hypoxia alone. These airway stretch receptors may be involved in recovery of breathing patterns and lung volume during pre- and post-diving behavior and apneic periods in diving reptiles. These results suggest that inhibition of PSR firing following prolonged inflation may promote post-dive ventilation in alligators.
Immunohistochemistry of the Gills of the Channel Catfish Ictalurus Punctatus: Cells and Neurochemicals That May Be Involved in the Control of Cardioventilatory Reflexes
In teleost fishes the neurochemicals involved in sensing and responding to hypoxia are unresolved. Serotonergic branchial neuroepithelial cells (NECs) are putative O2 chemoreceptors believed to be homologous to the neural crest (NC) derived APUD (amine-precursor uptake and decarboxylation) pulmonary NECs and carotid body type-1 glomus cells. Branchial NECs contain serotonin (5-HT), thought to be central to the induction of the hypoxic cardioventilatory reflexes. However, application of 5-HT in vivo does not elicit cardioventilatory reflexes similar to those elicited by hypoxia. But previous in vitro neural recordings from glossopharyngeal (IX) afferents innervating O2 chemoreceptors in the trout gill show the same discharge response to hypoxic conditions as does that of acetylcholine (ACh) application. This evidence strongly supports the cholinergic hypothesis of chemoreceptor impulse origin rather than a serotonergic-induced impulse origin model. We therefore hypothesized that NECs contain ACh among other neurochemicals in cells belonging to the APUD series. Although serotonergic branchial NECs did not colocalize with ACh using immunohistochemical methods, several populations of ACh and/or tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) (catecholaminergic) positive, dopamine (DA) negative, cells were found throughout the second gill arch of the channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus. In addition, the NC derivation marker zn-12 labelled the HNK-1-like epitope (Human natural killer) expressed by lamellar pillar cells’ collagen column-associated pillar cell adhesion molecules (CC-PCAMs), evidence confirming their hypothesized NC origin.
Phototoxic Effects of Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles on Daphnia Magna
Titanium dioxide nanoparticles (TiO2-NP) are one of the most abundantly utilized nanomaterials in the world. Studies have demonstrated the mechanism of acute toxicity in TiO2-NP to be the production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) leading to oxidative stress and mortality in exposed organisms. It has also been demonstrated that the anatase crystalline conformation is capable of catalyzing the cleavage of water molecules to further increase the concentration of ROS in the presence of ultraviolet radiation. This photoenhanced toxicity significantly lowers the toxicity threshold of TiO2-NP to environmentally relevant concentrations (ppb). The goal of this study was to determine whether dietary uptake and accumulation of TiO2-NP in the aquatic filter feeder Daphnia magna resulted in photoenhanced toxicity. D. magna and S. caprincornatum were exposed to aqueous solutions of 20ppm and 200ppm TiO2-NP for 24hrs and then transferred to clean moderately hard water. Samples were taken at various time points, dried, and TiO2 quantified using ICP-MS. Toxicity assays were run on D. magna using three TiO2-NP (20ppm, 200ppm) exposure protocols and two ultraviolet radiation treatments. The first exposure group was exposed to aqueous solutions of TiO2-NP for the duration of the test. The second exposure group was exposed to TiO2-NP for an hour and then transferred to clean water. The third exposure group was fed S. capricornatum that had been allowed to adsorb TiO2-NP. All samples were then placed in an outdoor UV exposure system and exposed to either full spectrum sunlight (with UV) or filtered sunlight (no UV). Here we show that TiO2 uptake peaked at one hour of exposure likely due to sedimentation of the particles out of suspension, thus decreasing bioavailability for the duration of the test. Interetsingly, when D. magna were moved to clean water, aqueous concentrations of TiO2 increase as a result of depuration from the gut ...
Shortened in Vivo Bioconcentration Factor Testing in Cyprinus Carpio
Bioconcentration factor testing serves as the most valuable surrogate for the assessment of bioaccumulation. The assessment of potentially harmful chemicals is crucial to not only the health of aquatic environments, but to humans as well. Chemicals that possess the ability to persist in the environment or that have the potential to bioaccumulate, pose a greater risk to organisms that are exposed to these chemicals. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development Guideline 305 outlines specific protocols to run an accurate and reliable aquatic flow-through test. However, since its adoption in 1996, very few changes have been made to accommodate the endeavor to lowering the amount of test species to run one of these said tests. Running an aquatic flow-through test, according to 305, takes much time and money as well as numerous amounts of fish. Such burdens can be eliminated through simple modifications to the standard protocols. In this study, we propose an abbreviated study design for aquatic bioconcentration testing which effectively alleviates the burdens of running a flow-through test. Four chemicals were used individually to evaluate the usefulness of the proposed shortened design; 4-Nonyphenol, Chlorpyrifos, Musk Xylene, and DDT. The study consisted of exposing Cyprinus carpio for 7 days followed by 7 days of depuration, for a total of a 14-day study. Our results for each of the four compounds are consistent with literature values, thus, demonstrating that BCFk can be accurately predicted in an abbreviated in vivo test.
Developing a Collection Digitization Workflow for the Elm Fork Natural Heritage Museum
Natural history collections house immense amounts of data, but the majority of data is only accessible by locating the collection label, which is usually attached to the physical specimen. This method of data retrieval is time consuming and can be very damaging to fragile specimens. Digitizing the collections is the one way to reduce the time and potential damage related to finding the collection objects. The Elm Fork Natural Heritage Museum is a natural history museum located at the University of North Texas and contains collections of both vertebrate and invertebrate taxa, as well as plants. This project designed a collection digitization workflow for Elm Fork by working through digitizing the Benjamin B. Harris Herbarium. The collection was cataloged in Specify 6, a database program designed for natural history collection management. By working through one of the museum’s collections, the project was able to identify and address challenges related to digitizing the museum’s holdings in order to create robust workflows. The project also produced a series of documents explaining common processes in Specify and a data management plan.
Bioconcentration and Morphological Effects of Triclosan on Three Species of Wetland Plants
Triclosan (TCS) is an antimicrobial compound found in several types of common household products. After being washed down the drain, TCS will then end up in the local watershed. Although numerous studies have been conducted to evaluate the fate and effects of TCS in aquatic environments, there have been no studies evaluating the role arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AM) play in a plants response to TCS exposure. Three species of wetland plants native North Texas were inoculated with AM spores and exposed to 0, 0.4 g/L and 4.0 g/L TCS concentrations. Root morphology of E. prostrata and S. herbacea showed AM and exposure responses. S. herbacea produced the greatest amounts biomass and TCS bioaccumulation, in all but one treatment. It also displayed opposing results to E. prostrata in measures of root length, root surface area, relative root mass, relative shoot mass and shoot:root ratio. TCS root tissue concentrations increased with increased exposures for both E. prostrata and S. herbacea. Even though E. prostrata had the lowest levels in each measure of biomass production, it had the highest amount of root TCS bioaccumulation in the AM inoculated 4.0 g/L treatment. H. laevis was between the other two species in terms of biomass production, and did not demonstrate any exposure or inoculation effects in morphology or TCS accumulation. Overall, no clear patterns were detected, which highlights the fact that further study is required to completely understand the effects compounds like TCS can have on plant community structure, and ultimately ecosystem function.
Evaluating the Habitat Requirements of the Golden Orb Mussel (Quadrula Aurea) for Conservation Purposes
Many freshwater mussels are imperiled, due to a number of interrelated factors such as habitat alteration, degradation of water quality, and impoundments. The Golden Orb mussel (Quadrula aurea, I. Lea, 1859) is endemic to the state of Texas and is currently a candidate for the endangered species list, as the number of known populations has been declining in recent years. Little is currently known about Q. aurea aside from basic distribution data. This study is focused on evaluating a combination of macro-habitat and micro-habitat variables to determine their influence on the distribution and density of this species. Macro-habitat variables, including dominant land cover, surface geology, and soil erodibility factor, did not have a significant relationship with mussel distributions. The best model of micro-habitat variables that impacts the Q. aurea distributions is comprised of relative substrate stability (RSS) at moderate flows and current velocity at low flows. For all mussel species in this study, current velocity at low flows is the primary variable that influences distribution. Q. aurea are associated with habitats where larger sediment particles (large gravel and cobble) help to stabilize the substrate in areas with higher current velocities. An understanding of the preferred habitats for Q. aurea can be used to help focus conservation efforts and practices.
Examination of the Relationship Between Glucuronic Acid and Vascular Damage in Rats
The goal of this experiment was to examine the role of glucuronic acid in the development of vascular damage in the kidneys and retinas of diabetic individuals. Glucuronic acid was provided to rats in their water at various concentrations in order to increase plasma levels of the compound. Kidneys and retinas were excised and compared to control specimens using microscopy to determine the effect of elevated blood glucuronic acid levels on the occurrence of microaneurysms in renal capillary networks. No differences were seen between the treatment and control groups. Further study needs to be conducted to determine a more suitable time frame for this experiment.
Exploring the Evolutionary History of North American Prairie Grouse (Genus: Tympanuchus) Using Multi-locus Coalescent Analyses
Conservation biologists are increasingly using phylogenetics as a tool to understand evolutionary relationships and taxonomic classification. The taxonomy of North American prairie grouse (sharp-tailed grouse, T. phasianellus; lesser prairie-chicken, T. pallidicinctus; greater prairie-chicken, T. cupido; including multiple subspecies) has been designated based on physical characteristics, geography, and behavior. However, previous studies have been inconclusive in determining the evolutionary history of prairie grouse based on genetic data. Therefore, additional research investigating the evolutionary history of prairie grouse is warranted. In this study, ten loci (including mitochondrial, autosomal, and Z-linked markers) were sequenced across multiple populations of prairie grouse, and both traditional and coalescent-based phylogenetic analyses were used to address the evolutionary history of this genus. Results from this study indicate that North American prairie grouse diverged in the last 200,000 years, with species-level taxa forming well-supported monophyletic clades in species tree analyses. With these results, managers of the critically endangered Attwater's prairie-chicken (T. c. attwateri) can better evaluate whether outcrossing Attwater's with greater prairie-chickens would be a viable management tool for Attwater's conservation.
Genetic Interest Assessment
Genetics is becoming increasingly integrated into peoples' lives. Different measures have been taken to try and better genetics education. This thesis examined undergraduate students at the University of North Texas not majoring in the life sciences interest in genetic concepts through the means of a Likert style survey. ANOVA analysis showed there was variation amongst the interest level in different genetic concepts. In addition age and lecture were also analyzed as contributing factors to students' interest. Both age and lecture were evaluated to see if they contributed to the interest of students in genetic concepts and neither showed statistical significance. The Genetic Interest Assessment (GIA) serves to help mediate the gap between genetic curriculum and students' interest.
Primary Cilia in the Oligodendrocyte Lineage
oligodendrocytes migrate from the corpus callosum into the overlying cortex. The incidence of cilia did not change markedly across age groups, and did not vary consistently with the number of processes per cell, which was used as an indication of the maturation stage of OPCs and young OLs. The mean percent of Olig1 immunopositive (Olig1+) cells having cilia across ages was 33.1% + 16.5%, with all ages combined. In O4+ cells of these mice, 56.7 + 3.6% had primary cilia. If it is the case that adult OLs do not have cilia, the point in the lineage when primary cilia are lost is still unknown. Adult mice that had been injected with cyclopamine to block cilia-dependent Shh signaling were examined to determine whether the rate of generating new OPCs was influenced. In the CC of control mice, the numerical density of Olig1+/BrdU+ cells was 1.29 + 0.07/mm2 was reduced to 0.68 + 0.38/mm2 in the cyclopamine-injected group, and the numerical density of all BrdU+ cells (including both Olig1+ and Olig1- cells) of 4.55 + 1.50/mm2 in the control group was reduced to 3.14 + 1.27/mm2 in the cyclopamine-injected group. However, there were only 2 mice in each group and the differences were not statistically significant.
Beta-adrenergic Blockade Via Atenolol and Its Effects on Blood Pressure, Heart Rate, and Renal Morphology in the Developing Chicken Gallus Gallus Domesticus
Chicken embryos were chronically exposed to the ?1- blocker atenolol during one of three stages: mesonephros (E7-E9), mesonephros-metanephros (E11-E13), or metanephros (E15-E17). Mesonephros group hearts were larger than all other groups (P < 0.01). Mesonephros and metanephros group kidneys were larger than all remaining groups (P < 0.0001). The mesonephros group nephron number was ~40% lower than control values (P = 0.002). Glomerular areas were 26% and 18% larger than the control group in the mesonephros and metanephros groups, respectively (P < 0.001). These data suggest an E7-E9 critical window of cardiovascular and renal development for atenolol. Acute atenolol exposure in E15 embryos showed an increase in mean arterial pressure with all but the highest dose. All doses significantly decreased heart rate.
Characterization of Arthrobacter Globiformis Aspartate Transcarbamylase Concentrations of Substrates
This thesis consists of one major section with two subsections. The first subsection investigates the activity of Arthrobacter globiformis aspartate transcarbamylase's specific activity with increasing concentrations of the enzyme's substrate. Dihydroorotase (DHOase) activity was also measured with increasing concentrations of the substrate dihydroorotate. The second subsection collected data in order to classify the enzyme, resulting in a classification into the category of class A ATCases with bifunctional ATCase-DHOase complexes. The thesis provides evidence to broaden understanding of the ATCase and DHOase enzymes for members of the family that Arthrobacter belongs to.
Chronic Hypoxia and Hyperoxia Modifies Morphology and Vegf Expression of the Lungs of the Developing Chicken (Gallus Gallus Domesticus)
This study determines effects of oxygen levels on morphology and VEGF expression of developing chicken lungs following incubation in normoxia (21% O2), hypoxia (15% O2) or hyperoxia (30% O2), until developmental days 16 or 18. Lung morphology was assessed using light microscopy, while VEGF expression was determined with ELISA. In hypoxia, the proportion of parabronchial tissue and parabronchi including lumina increased from day 16 to 18 (61 to 68% and 74.2 to 82.2%, respectively). Non-parabronchial tissue was higher in hypoxia than in hyperoxia on day 16 (26 to 20%). However, by day 18, there were no differences between groups. VEGF expression was 33% higher in hypoxia than in hyperoxia on day 16 (736 vs. 492 pg/ml). On day 18, VEGF expression was 43% higher in hyperoxia than in normoxia (673 to 381pg/ml), and remained elevated by 40% in hypoxia over normoxia (631 pg/ml). VEGF may be a mechanism by which parabronchial tissue is stimulated from day 16 to 18 following exposure to chronic hypoxia.
Somatostatin Receptors on Neuronal Cilia: Evidence for Neuroprotection
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.
Clustering Algorithms for Time Series Gene Expression in Microarray Data
Clustering techniques are important for gene expression data analysis. However, efficient computational algorithms for clustering time-series data are still lacking. This work documents two improvements on an existing profile-based greedy algorithm for short time-series data; the first one is implementation of a scaling method on the pre-processing of the raw data to handle some extreme cases; the second improvement is modifying the strategy to generate better clusters. Simulation data and real microarray data were used to evaluate these improvements; this approach could efficiently generate more accurate clusters. A new feature-based algorithm was also developed in which steady state value; overshoot, rise time, settling time and peak time are generated by the 2nd order control system for the clustering purpose. This feature-based approach is much faster and more accurate than the existing profile-based algorithm for long time-series data.
Hypoxia and the Development of Endothermic Capacity in Chickens (Gallus Gallus)
Adult chickens employ endothermy – internal generation of heat that maintains a constant body temperature (Tb). Prior to hatching, chicken embryos are ectothermic - controlling Tb by external heat sources. Upon hatching, the hatchling transitions from an ectotherm to an endotherm that has been shown to be delayed by hypoxia. In this study, whole animal oxygen consumption () and liver, heart, and skeletal muscle citrate synthase activity (CSA) and were measured during this transition to endothermy in chickens incubated in normoxia and hypoxia (15% O2). The only significant differences in occurred in 48 hour old hatchlings where was lower in normoxic hatchlings. There were no differences in CS activity between age and incubation oxygen levels. Additionally, preliminary 2-D protein gels of embryo and hatchling liver show changes in the proteome upon hatching. Results suggest that hypoxia had no significant effect on CSA and a minimal effect on .
A Socio-ecological Assessment of Watershed Ecosystem Services in Southern Patagonia
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.
Detection of Mercury Among Avian Trophic Levels at Caddo Lake and Lake Lewisville, TX
Mercury (Hg) is a globally distributed toxicant that has been shown to have negative effects on birds. in the United States, avian taxa have been shown to possess high Hg concentrations in the northeast, Great Lakes and Everglades ecosystems; however, few studies have measured avian Hg concentrations in other geographic regions. Previous studies have documented high Hg concentrations in multiple organisms in east Texas, but birds were not included in these studies. the main objective of the present study was to quantify Hg concentrations in birds in differing trophic levels at Caddo Lake and Lake Lewisville, TX. Results suggest that Hg concentrations may be high enough to negatively impact some bird taxa, particularly those at high trophic levels, residing at both Caddo Lake and Lake Lewisville.
Examining the Shade/flood Tolerance Tradeoff Hypothesis in Bottomland Herbs Through Field Study and Experimentation
While there is growing evidence that shade/flood tolerance tradeoffs may be important in distributions of bottomland hardwood trees and indications that they should apply to herbs, no studies have definitively explored this possibility. Four years of field data following historic flooding were supplemented with a greenhouse experiment designed to identify interactions congruent with tradeoffs. Fifteen bottomland species were grown in two levels of water availability and three levels of shade over 10 weeks. Results indicate responses of Fimbristylis vahlii and Ammannia robusta are consistent with tradeoffs. Modification of classical allometric responses to shade by substrate saturation indicates a potential mechanism for the tradeoff in A. robusta. Responses indicating potential for increased susceptibility to physical flooding disturbance are also discussed.
Investigating Realistic Scenarios of Biodiversity Loss on Ecosystem Functioning: Extirpation of Rare Species and Food Web Collapse in Tropical Floodplain Lagoons
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.
Life History And Secondary Production Of Cheumatopsyche Lasia Ross (Trichoptera: Hydropsychidae) With Respect To A Wastewater Treatment Facility In A North Texas Urban Stream
This study represents the first shift in multivoltine life history of Cheumatopsyche species from a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) in North America. Populations of C. lasia were examined upstream and downstream of the Denton’s Pecan Creek WWTP August 2009 through November 2010. C. lasia is multivoltine in Pecan Creek with three cohorts observed upstream of the WWTP and four possible cohorts downstream. A fourth generation was possible downstream as thermal inputs from WWTP effluent resulted in elevated water temperatures that allowed larval development to progress through the winter producing a cohort ready to emerge in spring. Production of C. lasia was 5 times greater downstream of the WWTP with secondary production estimates of 1.3 g m-2 yr-1 and 4.88- 6.51 g m-2 yr-1, respectively. Differences in abundance were due to increased habitat availability downstream of the WWTP in addition to continuous stream flow from inputs of wastewater effluent. Results also suggest that C. lasia is important for energy transfer in semiarid urban prairie streams and may serve as a potential conduit for the transfer of energy along with emergent contaminants to terrestrial ecosystems. These finding highlight the need for more quantitative accounts of population dynamics (voltinism, development rates, secondary production, and P/B) of aquatic insect species to fully understand the ecology and energy dynamics of urban systems.
Effects of CFT Legumine™ Rotenone on Macroinvertebrates in Four Drainages of Montana and New Mexico
Rotenone is considered essential in the restoration of native fish populations; however, the technique is contentious and criticized, specifically concerning impacts to invertebrates. Knowledge of effects to non-target organisms is important for the management and conservation of fish populations. This thesis has two general objectives: (1) demonstrate the influence CFT Legumine™ rotenone has on benthic macroinvertebrates for restoration projects in Montana and New Mexico and (2) evaluate the immediate response by means of invertebrate drift. Chapters 2 and 4 incorporate results from four different restoration projects that examine benthic macroinvertebrate response. Results indicate treatment effects are minimal for Specimen and Cherry Creek projects in Montana. New Mexico projects, Comanche and Costilla Creek suggest a greater influence. Potassium permanganate used to neutralize rotenone, influenced communities in three of the four projects. Regardless, invertebrates in all four projects recovered one-year after treatment. Chapter 3 examines macroinvertebrate drift during rotenone treatment. Results suggest a delayed response compared to previous literature. Rotenone appears to have the greatest immediate influence on the early life stages of Ephemeroptera and Plecoptera. To reduce impacts of rotenone to invertebrates, managers should apply CFT Legumine and use the minimal dosage and duration to complete the projects goal of removing non-indigenous fish species.
Anatomical and Morphological Responses of Cardiospermum Halicacabum L. (Balloon Vine), to Four Levels of Water Availability
C. halicacabum (Sapindaceae) is an invasive plant that is considered a nuisance species in Texas riparian environments. Little is known of the tolerance of C. halicacabum to flooding and drought; however, this information may provide insight into the characteristics that contribute to C. halicacabum purported invasiveness. C. halicacabum seedlings (n = 92) were exposed to one of four levels of water availability (flooded, saturated, intermediate and dry) over six weeks under greenhouse conditions. Plant performance was affected by water availability; however, there was no effect on survivorship. Flooded and saturated plants exhibited morphological adaptations; producing adventitious roots, hypertrophy, and aerenchyma tissue. Morphological measures, anatomical responses, and patterns of biomass allocation all indicate that C. halicacabum is able to survive periodic inundation, perform in saturation, and establish and thrive on the drier end of a moisture gradient.
Retinoic acid Treatment Affects Kidney Development and Osmoregulatory System in the Developing Chicken (Gallus Gallus)
Development is a dynamic process characterized by critical periods in which organ systems are sensitive to changes in the surrounding environment. In the current study, critical windows of embryonic growth and kidney development were assessed in the embryonic chicken. All&#8208;trans retinoic acid (tRA) influences not only organogenesis and cell proliferation, but also targets metanephric kidney nephrogenesis. Embryonic chickens were given a single injection of tRA on embryonic day 8. tRA decreased embryo, kidney, and heart mass from day 16 to day 18. However, mass specific kidney and heart masses showed no differences. Whole blood, plasma, and allantoic fluid osmolality were altered in tRA treated embryos from day 16 to day 18. In addition, hematocrit, red blood cell count, and hemoglobin concentration were altered in tRA treated embryos. The results suggest that although nephrogenesis was not affected by tRA, the developing osmoregulatory system was altered in tRA treated embryos.