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Immunological Responses to the White-Nose Syndrome Pathogen and their Potential Use as Control

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White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a fungal infection devastating bat populations throughout eastern North America. WNS is caused by a fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), that invades the skin of hibernating bats. While there are a number of treatments being researched, there

White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a fungal infection devastating bat populations throughout eastern North America. WNS is caused by a fungus, Pseudogymnoascus destructans (Pd), that invades the skin of hibernating bats. While there are a number of treatments being researched, there is currently no effective treatment for WNS that is deployed in the field, except a few being tested on a limited scale. Bats have lowered immune function and response during hibernation, which may increase susceptibility to infection during the winter months. Antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) are a crucial component of the innate immune system and serve as barriers against infection. AMPs are constitutively expressed on skin and facilitate wound healing, stimulate other immune responses, and may also stay active on bat skin during hibernation. AMPs are expressed by all tissues, have direct killing abilities against microbes, and are a potential treatment for bats infected with Pd. In this investigation, the fungicidal activity of several readily available commercial AMPs were compared, and killing assay protocols previously investigated by Frasier and Lake were replicated to establish a control trial for use in future killing assays. Another aim of this investigation was to synthesize a bat-derived AMP for use in the killing assay. Sequences of bat-derived AMPs have been identified in bat skin samples obtained from a large geographic sampling of susceptible and resistant species. Contact was made with GenScript Inc., the company from which commercially available AMPs were purchased, to determine the characteristics of peptide sequences needed to synthesize an AMP for lab use. Based on recommendations from GenScript Inc., peptide sequences need to have a hydrophobicity of less than 50% and a sequence length of less than 50 amino acids. These criteria serve as a potential barrier because none of the known bat-derived sequences analyzed satisfy both of these requirements. The final aim of this study was to generate a conceptual model of the immune response molecules activated when bats are exposed to a fungal pathogen such as Pd. Overall, this work investigated sources of variability between trials of the killing assay, analyzed known bat-derived peptide sequences, and generated a conceptual model that will serve as a guideline for identification of immune response molecules on the skin of bats in future proteomics work.

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2019-05

Tell It to the Frogs: Fukushima’s nuclear disaster and its impact on the Japanese Tree Frog

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“Tell It to the Frogs: Fukushima’s nuclear disaster and its impact on the Japanese Tree Frog” is a representation of the work from Giraudeau et. al’s “Carotenoid distribution in wild Japanese tree frogs (Hyla japonica) exposed to ionizing radiation in

“Tell It to the Frogs: Fukushima’s nuclear disaster and its impact on the Japanese Tree Frog” is a representation of the work from Giraudeau et. al’s “Carotenoid distribution in wild Japanese tree frogs (Hyla japonica) exposed to ionizing radiation in Fukushima.” This paper looked to see if carotenoid levels in the tree frog’s vocal sac, liver, and blood were affected by radiation from Fukushima’s power plant explosion. Without carotenoids, the pigment that gives the frogs their orange color on their necks, their courtship practices would be impacted and would not be as able to show off their fitness to potential mates. The artwork inspired by this research displayed the tree frog’s degradation over time due to radiation, starting with normal life and ending with their death and open on the table. The sculptures also pinpoint where the carotenoids were being measured with a brilliant orange glaze. Through ceramic hand building, the artist created larger than life frogs in hopes to elicit curiosity about them and their plight. While the paper did not conclude any changes in the frog’s physiology after 18 months of exposure, there are still questions that are left unanswered. Why did these frogs not have any reaction? Could there be any effects after more time has passed? Is radiation leakage as big of a problem as previously thought? The only way to get the answers to these questions is to be aware of these amphibians, the circumstances that led them to be involved, and continued research on them and radiation.

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2019-05

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Can the phytohemagglutinin challenge be used to predict disease severity in a host?

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Phytohemagglutinin (PHA) is a plant lectin commonly used to stimulate and test responses of the immune system and is known to induce T cell proliferation, agglutinate human leukocytes, and yield adjustments in lymphocyte populations. What is not well know is

Phytohemagglutinin (PHA) is a plant lectin commonly used to stimulate and test responses of the immune system and is known to induce T cell proliferation, agglutinate human leukocytes, and yield adjustments in lymphocyte populations. What is not well know is how responses to PHA correlate with a host's ability to resist or recover from pathogen invasion. This study uses information from previously published studies to determine whether or not PHA can be a good indicator of disease severity or disease resistance in a host. With PHA having the abilities that it does, immune responses to PHA may correlate with responses important for pathogen resistance and clearance. Such a relationship could only be uncovered if in vivo or in vitro responses to PHA are measured and, independent from the PHA challenge, symptoms and/or mortality rates of hosts are documented after pathogen exposure. An in vitro response can be detected by measuring cellular proliferation in response to PHA followed by separate cell cultures exposed to a pathogen. While an in vivo response can be detected by measuring variation in swelling in response to an injection of PHA. In reviewing a broad range of articles that meet my criteria, the majority of articles failed to show a strong relationship between PHA and disease severity or disease resistance. Therefore, immunologists must consider the usefulness of the PHA tests as a measure of immunocompetence, which is a host's ability to predict response to a pathogen. According to the literature, using PHA does not predict responses to pathogen invasion. However, it is possible that with carefully designed experiments, it could be determined that PHA does provide an indication of pathogen resistance in certain host species exposed to specific pathogen.

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2017-05

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Expressing Equilibrium

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The study of broad therapeutic advantages of dance is a growing field of interdisciplinary study. Yet, direct health benefits of dance from a molecular standpoint are still largely unknown. Literature review of dance performance displays in birds as well as

The study of broad therapeutic advantages of dance is a growing field of interdisciplinary study. Yet, direct health benefits of dance from a molecular standpoint are still largely unknown. Literature review of dance performance displays in birds as well as other creatures and use of creative tools to analyze the diverse, lifelong experiences of dancers helped shed some light on the subject. Although dance experience exposes harms tied to the social constraints of how the form is experiences buried under joyful takeaways of dance, research supports overall health benefits from moderate amounts of dance maintained in perfect equilibrium.

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2022-05