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Understanding Differences Between Susceptibility and Resistance to White-Nose Syndrome in Bats: Methodological Optimization

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White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a fungal disease that infects hibernating bats of multiple species across large portions of eastern North America. To date, WNS has been responsible for the deaths of over seven million bats. It is not yet known

White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a fungal disease that infects hibernating bats of multiple species across large portions of eastern North America. To date, WNS has been responsible for the deaths of over seven million bats. It is not yet known why certain species are able to resist infection. Since the fungus invades the skin and some resistant species show no signs of the characteristic cutaneous lesions, it seems likely that resistant species contain specific defense mechanisms within their skin, such as antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and other immunologically relevant proteins expressed by specific cell types or as secreted soluble components. Proteomics could be a useful tool for understanding differences in susceptibility, and could help identify AMPs that could be synthesized and used as control agents against the spread of the causative fungus. This study is the first to optimize proteomics methods for bat wing tissues in order to compare the skin proteomes of species variably impacted by WNS, including those of two endangered species. Further tests are planned to investigate methods of increasing protein yield without altering the size of the tissue sample collected, as well as the analysis of mass spectrometry data from processed skin tissues of five bat species differentially affected by WNS.

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2018-05

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Xerostomia and the Microbiome of the Mouth

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Is it possible to treat the mouth as a natural environment, and determine new methods to keep the microbiome in check? The need for biodiversity in health may suggest that every species carries out a specific function that is required

Is it possible to treat the mouth as a natural environment, and determine new methods to keep the microbiome in check? The need for biodiversity in health may suggest that every species carries out a specific function that is required to maintain equilibrium and homeostasis within the oral cavity. Furthermore, the relationship between the microbiome and its host is mutually beneficial because the host is providing microbes with an environment in which they can flourish and, in turn, keep their host healthy. Reviewing examples of larger scale environmental shifts could provide a window by which scientists can make hypotheses. Certain medications and healthcare treatments have been proven to cause xerostomia. This disorder is characterized by a dry mouth, and known to be associated with a change in the composition, and reduction, of saliva. Two case studies performed by Bardow et al, and Leal et al, tested and studied the relationships of certain medications and confirmed their side effects on the salivary glands [2,3]. Their results confirmed a relationship between specific medicines, and the correlating complaints of xerostomia. In addition, Vissink et al conducted case studies that helped to further identify how radiotherapy causes hyposalivation of the salivary glands [4]. Specifically patients that have been diagnosed with oral cancer, and are treated by radiotherapy, have been diagnosed with xerostomia. As stated prior, studies have shown that patients having an ecologically balanced and diverse microbiome tend to have healthier mouths. The oral cavity is like any biome, consisting of commensalism within itself and mutualism with its host. Due to the decreased salivary output, caused by xerostomia, increased parasitic bacteria build up within the oral cavity thus causing dental disease. Every human body contains a personalized microbiome that is essential to maintaining health but capable of eliciting disease. The Human Oral Microbiomics Database (HOMD) is a set of reference 16S rRNA gene sequences. These are then used to define individual human oral taxa. By conducting metagenomic experiments at the molecular and cellular level, scientists can identify and label micro species that inhabit the mouth during parasitic outbreaks or a shifting of the microbiome. Because the HOMD is incomplete, so is our ability to cure, or prevent, oral disease. The purpose of the thesis is to research what is known about xerostomia and its effects on the complex microbiome of the oral cavity. It is important that researchers determine whether this particular perspective is worth considering. In addition, the goal is to create novel experiments for treatment and prevention of dental diseases.

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2015-05

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Canine Obesity Awareness and Owner Responsiveness

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Pet obesity is higher than ever in the United States. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 52.5% of dogs and 58.3% of cats were either overweight or obese in 20121. Obesity has been linked to health issues such

Pet obesity is higher than ever in the United States. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 52.5% of dogs and 58.3% of cats were either overweight or obese in 20121. Obesity has been linked to health issues such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, muscular disorders and some cancers to name a few.2 A pet at the recommended healthy weight is important to avoid these diseases. It is important that owners realize this and if their pet is at an unhealthy weight, work with their veterinarian to help the pet lose weight. This study looks at how committed dog owners are to help their pet lose weight and the problems they face while doing so.

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2014-05

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Evaluation of the efficacy of DNA sequencing and microhistological analysis for determining diet composition in ungulates

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An understanding of diet habits is crucial in implementing proper management strategies for wildlife. Diet analysis, however, remains a challenge for ruminant species. Microhistological analysis, the method most often employed in herbivore diet studies, is tedious and time consuming. In

An understanding of diet habits is crucial in implementing proper management strategies for wildlife. Diet analysis, however, remains a challenge for ruminant species. Microhistological analysis, the method most often employed in herbivore diet studies, is tedious and time consuming. In addition, it requires considerable training and an extensive reference plant collection. The development of DNA barcoding (species identification using a standardized DNA sequence) and the availability of recent DNA sequencing techniques offer new possibilities in diet analysis for ungulates. Using fecal material collected from controlled feeding trials on pygmy goats, (Capra hicus), novel DNA barcoding technology using the P6-loop of the chloroplast trnL (UAA) intron was compared with the traditional microhistological technique. At its current stage of technological development, this study demonstrated that DNA barcoding did not enhance the ability to detect plant species in herbivore diets. A higher mean species composition was reported with microhistological analysis (79%) as compared to DNA barcoding (50%). Microhistological analysis consistently reported a higher species presence by forage class. For affect positive species identification, microhistology estimated an average of 89% correct detection in control diets, while DNA barcoding estimated 50% correct detection of species. It was hypothesized that a number of factors, including variation in chloroplast content in feed species and the effect of rumen bacteria on degradation of DNA, influenced the ability to detect plant species in herbivore diets and concluded that while DNA barcoding opens up new possibilities in the study of plant-herbivore interactions, further studies are needed to standardize techniques and for DNA bar-coding in this context.

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2012

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Investigating the Skin Immune Proteome of the White-Nose Syndrome Resistant Gray Bat, Myotis grisescens

Description

White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a cutaneous fungal infection caused by Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd) which was first observed in the United States in 2006. Pd infects bats during hibernation and leads to the development of cutaneous lesions and behavioral changes that

White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a cutaneous fungal infection caused by Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd) which was first observed in the United States in 2006. Pd infects bats during hibernation and leads to the development of cutaneous lesions and behavioral changes that can result in the animal's death. This study generated the first complete bat skin proteome for the WNS resistant gray bat (Myotis grisescens) to optimize sample preparation methods and identify immune proteins that may signal resistance. Wing tissue was collected from a female gray bat and processed in a Barocycler using 4M or 8M urea followed by an in-gel trypsin digestion of pooled samples and processing of separate samples without digestion specifically to capture and identify small antimicrobial peptides. Both undigested and digested samples were analyzed using a Thermo Fisher LTQ Orbitrap Velos mass spectrometer and interpreted using PEAKS software. A total of 29 immune proteins were identified including the antimicrobial peptide dermcidin. This method will be applied to a larger range of samples from five species variably impacted by WNS to compare skin proteomes with the aim of identifying immune proteins that are responsible for resistance at the barrier where Pd invades.

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2017-05