Matching Items (270)
- All Subjects: Biology
- Creators: Arizona State University
The phycologist, M. R. Droop, studied vitamin B12 limitation in the flagellate Monochrysis lutheri and concluded that its specific growth rate depended on the concentration of the vitamin within the cell; i.e. the cell quota of the vitamin B12. The Droop model provides a mathematical expression to link growth rate to the intracellular concentration of a limiting nutrient. Although the Droop model has been an important modeling tool in ecology, it has only recently been applied to study cancer biology. Cancer cells live in an ecological setting, interacting and competing with normal and other cancerous cells for nutrients and space, and evolving and adapting to their environment. Here, the Droop equation is used to model three cancers.
First, prostate cancer is modeled, where androgen is considered the limiting nutrient since most tumors depend on androgen for proliferation and survival. The model's accuracy for predicting the biomarker for patients on intermittent androgen deprivation therapy is tested by comparing the simulation results to clinical data as well as to an existing simpler model. The results suggest that a simpler model may be more beneficial for a predictive use, although further research is needed in this field prior to implementing mathematical models as a predictive method in a clinical setting.
Next, two chronic myeloid leukemia models are compared that consider Imatinib treatment, a drug that inhibits the constitutively active tyrosine kinase BCR-ABL. Both models describe the competition of leukemic and normal cells, however the first model also describes intracellular dynamics by considering BCR-ABL as the limiting nutrient. Using clinical data, the differences in estimated parameters between the models and the capacity for each model to predict drug resistance are analyzed.
Last, a simple model is presented that considers ovarian tumor growth and tumor induced angiogenesis, subject to on and off anti-angiogenesis treatment. In this environment, the cell quota represents the intracellular concentration of necessary nutrients provided through blood supply. Mathematical analysis of the model is presented and model simulation results are compared to pre-clinical data. This simple model is able to fit both on- and off-treatment data using the same biologically relevant parameters.
Sexual and social signals have long been thought to play an important role in speciation and diversity; hence, investigations of intraspecific communication may lead to important insights regarding key processes of evolution. Though we have learned much about the control, function, and evolution of animal communication by studying several very common signal types, investigating rare classes of signals may provide new information about how and why animals communicate. My dissertation research focused on rapid physiological color change, a rare signal-type used by relatively few taxa. To answer longstanding questions about this rare class of signals, I employed novel methods to measure rapid color change signals of male veiled chameleons Chamaeleo calyptratus in real-time as seen by the intended conspecific receivers, as well as the associated behaviors of signalers and receivers. In the context of agonistic male-male interactions, I found that the brightness achieved by individual males and the speed of color change were the best predictors of aggression and fighting ability. Conversely, I found that rapid skin darkening serves as a signal of submission for male chameleons, reducing aggression from winners when displayed by losers. Additionally, my research revealed that the timing of maximum skin brightness and speed of brightening were the best predictors of maximum bite force and circulating testosterone levels, respectively. Together, these results indicated that different aspects of color change can communicate information about contest strategy, physiology, and performance ability. Lastly, when I experimentally manipulated the external appearance of chameleons, I found that "dishonestly" signaling individuals (i.e. those whose behavior did not match their manipulated color) received higher aggression from unpainted opponents. The increased aggression received by dishonest signalers suggests that social costs play an important role in maintaining the honesty of rapid color change signals in veiled chameleons. Though the color change abilities of chameleons have interested humans since the time of Aristotle, little was previously known about the signal content of such changes. Documenting the behavioral contexts and information content of these signals has provided an important first step in understanding the current function, underlying control mechanisms, and evolutionary origins of this rare signal type.
Examination of the state-dependency and consequences of foraging in a low-energy system, the Gila monster, Heloderma suspectum
Foraging has complex effects on whole-organism homeostasis, and there is considerable evidence that foraging behavior is influenced by both environmental factors (e.g., food availability, predation risk) and the physiological condition of an organism. The optimization of foraging behavior to balance costs and benefits is termed state-dependent foraging (SDF) while behavior that seeks to protect assets of fitness is termed the asset protection principle (APP). A majority of studies examining SDF have focused on the role that energy balance has on the foraging of organisms with high metabolism and high energy demands ("high-energy systems" such as endotherms). In contrast, limited work has examined whether species with low energy use ("low-energy systems" such as vertebrate ectotherms) use an SDF strategy. Additionally, there is a paucity of evidence demonstrating how physiological and environmental factors other than energy balance influence foraging behavior (e.g. hydration state and free-standing water availability). Given these gaps in our understanding of SDF behavior and the APP, I examined the state-dependency and consequences of foraging in a low-energy system occupying a resource-limited environment - the Gila monster (Heloderma suspectum, Cope 1869). In contrast to what has been observed in a wide variety of taxa, I found that Gila monsters do not use a SDF strategy to manage their energy reserves and that Gila monsters do not defend their energetic assets. However, hydration state and free-standing water availability do affect foraging behavior of Gila monsters. Additionally, as Gila monsters become increasingly dehydrated, they reduce activity to defend hydration state. The SDF behavior of Gila monsters appears to be largely driven by the fact that Gila monsters must separately satisfy energy and water demands with food and free-standing water, respectively, in conjunction with the timescale within which Gila monsters balance their energy and water budgets (supra-annually versus annually, respectively). Given these findings, the impact of anticipated changes in temperature and rainfall patterns in the Sonoran Desert are most likely going to pose their greatest risks to Gila monsters through the direct and indirect effects on water balance.
Speciation is the fundamental process that has generated the vast diversity of life on earth. The hallmark of speciation is the evolution of barriers to gene flow. These barriers may reduce gene flow either by keeping incipient species from hybridizing at all (pre-zygotic), or by reducing the fitness of hybrids (post-zygotic). To understand the genetic architecture of these barriers and how they evolve, I studied a genus of wasps that exhibits barriers to gene flow that act both pre- and post-zygotically. Nasonia is a genus of four species of parasitoid wasps that can be hybridized in the laboratory. When two of these species, N. vitripennis and N. giraulti are mated, their offspring suffer, depending on the generation and cross examined, up to 80% mortality during larval development due to incompatible genic interactions between their nuclear and mitochondrial genomes. These species also exhibit pre-zygotic isolation, meaning they are more likely to mate with their own species when given the choice. I examined these two species and their hybrids to determine the genetic and physiological bases of both speciation mechanisms and to understand the evolutionary forces leading to them. I present results that indicate that the oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) pathway, an essential pathway that is responsible for mitochondrial energy generation, is impaired in hybrids of these two species. These results indicate that this impairment is due to the unique evolutionary dynamics of the combined nuclear and mitochondrial origin of this pathway. I also present results showing that, as larvae, these hybrids experience retarded growth linked to the previously observed mortality and I explore possible physiological mechanisms for this. Finally, I show that the pre-mating isolation is due to a change in a single pheromone component in N. vitripennis males, that this change is under simple genetic control, and that it evolved neutrally before being co-opted as a species recognition signal. These results are an important addition to our overall understanding of the mechanisms of speciation and showcase Nasonia as an emerging model for the study of the genetics of speciation.
Characterizing retinotopic mapping using conformal geometry and Beltrami coefficient: a preliminary study
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) has been widely used to measure the retinotopic organization of early visual cortex in the human brain. Previous studies have identified multiple visual field maps (VFMs) based on statistical analysis of fMRI signals, but the resulting geometry has not been fully characterized with mathematical models. This thesis explores using concepts from computational conformal geometry to create a custom software framework for examining and generating quantitative mathematical models for characterizing the geometry of early visual areas in the human brain. The software framework includes a graphical user interface built on top of a selected core conformal flattening algorithm and various software tools compiled specifically for processing and examining retinotopic data. Three conformal flattening algorithms were implemented and evaluated for speed and how well they preserve the conformal metric. All three algorithms performed well in preserving the conformal metric but the speed and stability of the algorithms varied. The software framework performed correctly on actual retinotopic data collected using the standard travelling-wave experiment. Preliminary analysis of the Beltrami coefficient for the early data set shows that selected regions of V1 that contain reasonably smooth eccentricity and polar angle gradients do show significant local conformality, warranting further investigation of this approach for analysis of early and higher visual cortex.
Consideration of both biological and human-use dynamics in coupled social-ecological systems is essential for the success of interventions such as marine reserves. As purely human institutions, marine reserves have no direct effects on ecological systems. Consequently, the success of a marine reserve depends on managers` ability to alter human behavior in the direction and magnitude that supports reserve objectives. Further, a marine reserve is just one component in a larger coupled social-ecological system. The social, economic, political, and biological landscape all determine the social acceptability of a reserve, conflicts that arise, how the reserve interacts with existing fisheries management, accuracy of reserve monitoring, and whether the reserve is ultimately able to meet conservation and fishery enhancement goals. Just as the social-ecological landscape is critical at all stages for marine reserve, from initial establishment to maintenance, the reserve in turn interacts with biological and human use dynamics beyond its borders. Those interactions can lead to the failure of a reserve to meet management goals, or compromise management goals outside the reserve. I use a bio-economic model of a fishery in a spatially patchy environment to demonstrate how the pre-reserve fisheries management strategy determines the pattern of fishing effort displacement once the reserve is established, and discuss the social, political, and biological consequences of different patterns for the reserve and the fishery. Using a stochastic bio-economic model, I demonstrate how biological and human use connectivity can confound the accurate detection of reserve effects by violating assumptions in the quasi-experimental framework. Finally, I examine data on recreational fishing site selection to investigate changes in response to the announcement of enforcement of a marine reserve in the Gulf of California, Mexico. I generate a scale of fines that would fully or partially protect the reserve, providing a data-driven way for managers to balance biological and socio-economic goals. I suggest that natural resource managers consider human use dynamics with the same frequency, rigor, and tools as they do biological stocks.
Proteomic, genetic, and biochemical analyses of two-component regulatory systems in Porphyromonas gingivalis and Escherichia coli
Pathogenic Gram-negative bacteria employ a variety of molecular mechanisms to combat host defenses. Two-component regulatory systems (TCR systems) are the most ubiquitous signal transduction systems which regulate many genes required for virulence and survival of bacteria. In this study, I analyzed different TCR systems in two clinically-relevant Gram-negative bacteria, i.e., oral pathogen Porphyromonas gingivalis and enterobacterial Escherichia coli. P. gingivalis is a major causative agent of periodontal disease as well as systemic illnesses, like cardiovascular disease. A microarray study found that the putative PorY-PorX TCR system controls the secretion and maturation of virulence factors, as well as loci involved in the PorSS secretion system, which secretes proteinases, i.e., gingipains, responsible for periodontal disease. Proteomic analysis (SILAC) was used to improve the microarray data, reverse-transcription PCR to verify the proteomic data, and primer extension assay to determine the promoter regions of specific PorX regulated loci. I was able to characterize multiple genetic loci regulated by this TCR system, many of which play an essential role in hemagglutination and host-cell adhesion, and likely contribute to virulence in this bacterium. Enteric Gram-negative bacteria must withstand many host defenses such as digestive enzymes, low pH, and antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). The CpxR-CpxA TCR system of E. coli has been extensively characterized and shown to be required for protection against AMPs. Most recently, this TCR system has been shown to up-regulate the rfe-rff operon which encodes genes involved in the production of enterobacterial common antigen (ECA), and confers protection against a variety of AMPs. In this study, I utilized primer extension and DNase I footprinting to determine how CpxR regulates the ECA operon. My findings suggest that CpxR modulates transcription by directly binding to the rfe promoter. Multiple genetic and biochemical approaches were used to demonstrate that specific TCR systems contribute to regulation of virulence factors and resistance to host defenses in P. gingivalis and E. coli, respectively. Understanding these genetic circuits provides insight into strategies for pathogenesis and resistance to host defenses in Gram negative bacterial pathogens. Finally, these data provide compelling potential molecular targets for therapeutics to treat P. gingivalis and E. coli infections.
Over the past two decades there has been much discussion surrounding the potential of zoos as conservation institutions. Although zoos have clearly intensified their rhetorical and programmatic commitment to conservation (both ex situ and in situ), many critics remain skeptical of these efforts. This study was comprised of two parts: 1) an investigation of the general relationship between U.S. zoological institutions and the conservation agenda, and 2) a more specific single case study of conservation engagement and institutional identity at the Phoenix Zoo. Methods included extensive literature review, expert interviews with scholars and zoo professionals, site visits to the Phoenix Zoo and archival research. I found that the Phoenix Zoo is in the process of consciously creating a conservation-centered institutional identity by implementing and publicizing various conservation initiatives. Despite criticism of the embrace of conservation by zoos today, these institutions will be increasingly important agents of biodiversity protection and conservation education in this century.
Microalgae represent a potential sustainable alternative for the enhancement and protection of agricultural crops. The dry biomass and cellular extracts of Scenedesmus dimorphus were applied as a biofertilizer, a foliar spray, and a seed primer to evaluate seed germination, plant growth, and crop yield of Roma tomato plants. The dry biomass was applied as a biofertilizer at 50 g and 100 g per plant, to evaluate its effects on plant development and crop yield. Biofertilizer treatments enhanced plant growth and led to greater crop (fruit) production. Timing of biofertilizer application proved to be of importance - earlier 50 g biofertilizer application resulted in greater plant growth. Scenedesmus dimorphus culture, growth medium, and different concentrations (1%, 5%, 10%, 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%) of aqueous cell extracts were used as seed primers to determine effects on germination. Seeds treated with Scenedesmus dimorphus culture and with extract concentrations higher than 50 % (0.75 g ml-1) triggered faster germination - 2 days earlier than the control group. Extract foliar sprays of 50 ml and 100 ml, were obtained and applied to tomato plants at various extract concentrations (10%, 25%, 50%, 75% and 100%). Plant height, flower development and number of branches were significantly enhanced with 50 % (7.5 g ml-1) extracts. Higher concentration sprays led to a decrease in growth. The extracts were further screened to assess potential antimicrobial activity against the bacterium Escherichia coli ATCC 25922, the fungi Candida albicans ATCC 90028 and Aspergillus brasiliensis ATCC 16404. No antimicrobial activity was observed from the microalga extracts on the selected microorganisms.
This study aims to unearth monological and monocultural discourses buried under the power of the dominant biomedical model governing the HIV/AIDS debate. The study responds to an apparent consensus, rooted in Western biomedicine and its "standardizations of knowledge," in the production of the current HIV/AIDS discourse, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. As a result, biomedicine has become the dominant actor (in) writing and rewriting discourse for the masses while marginalizing other forms of medical knowledge. Specifically, in its development, the Western biomedical model has arguably isolated the disease from its human host and the social experiences that facilitate the disease's transmission, placing it in the realm of laboratories and scientific experts and giving full ownership to Western medical discourse. Coupled with Western assumptions about African culture that reproduce a one-sided discourse informing the social construction of HIV/AIDS in Africa, this Western monopoly thus constrained the extent and efficacy of international prevention efforts. In this context, the goal for this study is not to demonize the West and biomedicine in general. Rather, this study seeks an alternative and less monolithic understanding currently absent in scientific discourses of HIV/AIDS that frequently elevates Western biomedicine over indigenous medicine; the Western expert over the local. The study takes into account the local voices of Sub-Saharan Africa and how the system has affected them, this study utilizes a Foucauldian approach to analyze discourse as a way to explore how certain ways of knowledge are formed in relation to power. This study also examines how certain knowlege is maintaned and reinforced within specific discourses.