Matching Items (110)

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A Review of the Human Vermiform Appendix and its Proposed Function

Description

Since its discovery in 1524, many people have characterized the vermiform appendix. Charles Darwin considered the human appendix to be a vestige and a useless structure. Others at the time opposed this hypothesis. However, Darwin's hypothesis became prevalent one until

Since its discovery in 1524, many people have characterized the vermiform appendix. Charles Darwin considered the human appendix to be a vestige and a useless structure. Others at the time opposed this hypothesis. However, Darwin's hypothesis became prevalent one until recently when there became a renewed interest in the appendix because of advancements in microscopes, knowledge of the immune system, and phylogenetics. In this review, I will argue that the vermiform appendix, although still not completely understood, has important functions. First, I will give the anatomy of the appendix. I will discuss the comparative anatomy between different animals and also primates. I will address the effects of appendicitis and appendectomy. I will give background on vestigial structures and will discuss if the appendix is a vestige. Following, I will review the evolution of the appendix. Finally, I will argue that the function of the appendix is as an immune organ, including discussion of gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), development of lymphoid follicles in GALT and their comparison within different organs, Immunoglobulin A (IgA) function in the gut, biofilms as evidence that the appendix is a safe-house for beneficial bacteria, re-inoculation of the bowel, and protection against recurring infection. I will conclude with future studies that should be conducted to further our understanding of the vermiform appendix.

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Date Created
2018-05

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A survey of cancer prevalence within birds (the clave Aves).

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Cancer is a disease that occurs in many and perhaps all multicellular organisms. Current research is looking at how different life history characteristics among species could influence cancer rates. Because somatic maintenance is an important component of a species' life

Cancer is a disease that occurs in many and perhaps all multicellular organisms. Current research is looking at how different life history characteristics among species could influence cancer rates. Because somatic maintenance is an important component of a species' life history, we hypothesize the same ecological forces shaping the life history of a species should also determine its cancer susceptibility. By looking at varying life histories, potential evolutionary trends could be used to explain differing cancer rates. Life history theory could be an important framework for understanding cancer vulnerabilities with different trade-offs between life history traits and cancer defenses. Birds have diverse life history strategies that could explain differences in cancer suppression. Peto's paradox is the observation that cancer rates do not typically increase with body size and longevity despite an increased number of cell divisions over the animal's lifetime that ought to be carcinogenic. Here we show how Peto’s paradox is negatively correlated for cancer within the clade, Aves. That is, larger, long-lived birds get more cancer than smaller, short-lived birds (p=0.0001; r2= 0.024). Sexual dimorphism in both plumage color and size differ among Aves species. We hypothesized that this could lead to a difference in cancer rates due to the amount of time and energy sexual dimorphism takes away from somatic maintenance. We tested for an association between a variety of life history traits and cancer, including reproductive potential, growth rate, incubation, mating systems, and sexual dimorphism in both color and size. We found male birds get less cancer than female birds (9.8% vs. 11.1%, p=0.0058).

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Date Created
2019-05

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A Life History Model of Mammary Neoplasia Across Mammals

Description

Cancer rates vary significantly across tissue type and location in humans, driven by clinically relevant distinctions in the risk factors that lead to different cancer types. Despite the importance of cancer location in human health, little is known about tissue-specific

Cancer rates vary significantly across tissue type and location in humans, driven by clinically relevant distinctions in the risk factors that lead to different cancer types. Despite the importance of cancer location in human health, little is known about tissue-specific cancers in non-human animals. A comparison of cancer prevalence across the tree of life can give insight into how evolutionary history has shaped various mechanisms of cancer suppression. Here, we explore whether species-level life history strategies are associated with differences in mammary neoplasia rates across mammals. We propose that the same patterns of cancer prevalence that have been reported across species will be maintained at the tissue-specific level. We used a phylogenetic regression on 15 life history traits across 112 mammalian species to determine the correlation between a life history trait and how it relates to mammary neoplasia prevalence. A greater risk of mammary neoplasia was found in the characteristics associated with fast life history organisms and a lower risk of mammary neoplasia was found in the characteristics associated with slow life history organisms. With this analysis, a framework is provided for how different life history modalities can influence cancer vulnerability.

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2020-05

Why are People People? An Illustrated Guide to Human Evolution

Description

I was a curious child who grew up to be a curious adult. Ever since I learned how to read, I have had a passion for science and learning new things. I chose to watch the Discovery channel over any

I was a curious child who grew up to be a curious adult. Ever since I learned how to read, I have had a passion for science and learning new things. I chose to watch the Discovery channel over any other network on TV, and I was drawn to the non-fiction section of the Phoenix Public Library. My parents encouraged my curiosity and helped me learn in any way they could. My mom took me to Juniper Library every weekend while my dad sat through countless episodes of Mythbusters, How It’s Made, and Shark Week specials. Eventually, there came a time when they could no longer answer the endless questions I would throw their way. My mom likes to remind me of one question in particular that I would ask that she was unable to form any kind of answer to. This question ended up shaping my scientific interests and became the basis for my chosen college major. The question was “why are people people?”

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2020-05

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The Effects of Natural Selection, Drift, and Genetic Background on Phenotypic Variation and Correlation in E. coli

Description

Phenotypic evolution is an essential topic within the general field of evolution. Theoretically, the outcome of phenotypic evolution may be influenced by factors such as genetic background and the interaction of natural selection and genetic drift. To gain empirical evidence

Phenotypic evolution is an essential topic within the general field of evolution. Theoretically, the outcome of phenotypic evolution may be influenced by factors such as genetic background and the interaction of natural selection and genetic drift. To gain empirical evidence for testing the effects of those factors, we used eight long-term evolved Escherichia coli populations as a model system. These populations differ in terms of genetic background (different mutation rates) as well as bottleneck size (small- and large-magnitude). Specifically, we used a plate reader to measure three growth-related traits: maximum growth rate (umax), carrying capacity (Kc), and lag time (Lt) for 40 clones within each population. For each trait we quantified the change in mean per generation, the change in variance per generation, and the correlation coefficient between pairs of traits. Interestingly, we found that the small and large bottleneck populations of one background displayed clear, distinguishing trends that were not present within the populations of the other background. This leads to the conclusion that the influence of selection and drift on a population’s phenotypic outcomes is itself influenced by the genetic background of that population. Additionally, we found a strong positive correlation between umax and Kc within each of the high-mutation populations that was not consistent with our neutral expectation. However, the other two pairs did not exhibit a similar pattern. Our results provide a novel understanding in the relationship between the evolution of E. coli growth-related phenotypes and the population-genetic environment.

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2020-05

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The Evolution of Social Media: Its Effect on Various Facets of Society

Description

Social media has evolved so quickly in the past two decades and continues to grow and change at a rapid pace. This way of connecting and communicating with others has become so ingrained in daily life and can have a

Social media has evolved so quickly in the past two decades and continues to grow and change at a rapid pace. This way of connecting and communicating with others has become so ingrained in daily life and can have a major influence on people's actions. Social media and social networking look vastly different today than it did in the past, and will continue to change for the future. The sports and travel industries are no exception to the integration of social media. Both entities understand the importance of being prominent in the online domain and connecting to the Millennial generation. It is crucial for young people to learn how to positively use social media in the classroom and in the workplace as their lives become consumed by this digital world. The emphasis on social media in different facets of society can bring both positive and negative connotations along with it, depending on how, when, and why people decide to use it. Social media is not meant to replace all interactions and forms of contact, but rather enhance these relationships. By analyzing the history of social media, current trends and effects, this project seeks to forecast the impact that social media will continue to have in the future. In the fast paced world today, social media and other forms of electronic communication will only continue to increase and be intensified. This project explores how social media has impacted society, most importantly, the travel industry and the sports industry. Social media will continue to expand knowledge, connect people all over the world, and enhance experiences as it inevitably becomes even more integrated into everyday life.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
2017-05

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Beginning to investigate Lactase Persistence in Turkana

Description

Lactase persistence is the ability of adults to digest lactose in milk (Segurel & Bon, 2017). Mammals are generally distinguished by their mammary glands which gives females the ability to produce milk and feed their newborn children. The new born

Lactase persistence is the ability of adults to digest lactose in milk (Segurel & Bon, 2017). Mammals are generally distinguished by their mammary glands which gives females the ability to produce milk and feed their newborn children. The new born therefore requires the ability to breakdown the lactose in the milk to ensure its proper digestion (Segurel & Bon, 2017). Generally, humans lose the expression of lactase after weaning, which prevents them being able to breakdown lactose from dairy (Flatz, 1987).
My research is focused on the people of Turkana, a human pastoral population inhabiting Northwest Kenya. The people of Turkana are Nilotic people that are native to the Turkana district. There are currently no conclusive studies done on evidence for genetic lactase persistence in Turkana. Therefore, my research will be on the evolution of lactase persistence in the people of Turkana. The goal of this project is to investigate the evolutionary history of two genes with known involvement in lactase persistence, LCT and MCM6, in the Turkana. Variants in these genes have previously been identified to result in the ability to digest lactose post-weaning age. Furthermore, an additional study found that a closely related population to the Turkana, the Massai, showed stronger signals of recent selection for lactase persistence than Europeans in these genes. My goal is to characterize known variants associated with lactase persistence by calculating their allele frequencies in the Turkana and conduct selection scans to determine if LCT/MCM6 show signatures of positive selection. In doing this, we conducted a pilot study consisting of 10 female Turkana individuals and 10 females from four different populations from the 1000 genomes project namely: the Yoruba in Ibadan, Nigeria (YRI); Luhya in Webuye, Kenya; Utah Residents with Northern and Western European Ancestry (CEU); and the Southern Han Chinese. The allele frequency calculation suggested that the CEU (Utah Residents with Northern and Western European Ancestry) population had a higher lactase persistence associated allele frequency than all the other populations analyzed here, including the Turkana population. Our Tajima’s D calculations and analysis suggested that both the Turkana population and the four haplotype map populations shows signatures of positive selection in the same region. The iHS selection scans we conducted to detect signatures of positive selection on all five populations showed that the Southern Han Chinese (CHS), the LWK (Luhya in Webuye, Kenya) and the YRI (Yoruba in Ibadan, Nigeria) populations had stronger signatures of positive selection than the Turkana population. The LWK (Luhya in Webuye, Kenya) and the YRI (Yoruba in Ibadan, Nigeria) populations showed the strongest signatures of positive selection in this region. This project serves as a first step in the investigation of lactase persistence in the Turkana population and its evolution over time.

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Created

Date Created
2019-05

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High School Biology Teacher Knowledge Governing the Laws Related to the Teaching of Evolution and Creationism

Description

This project examined the relationship of science teachers' knowledge about the laws relating to the teaching of creationism/evolution in public schools using multiple demographic factors. Overall, teachers correctly identified only 7 out of 10 "yes" or "no" answers about the

This project examined the relationship of science teachers' knowledge about the laws relating to the teaching of creationism/evolution in public schools using multiple demographic factors. Overall, teachers correctly identified only 7 out of 10 "yes" or "no" answers about the laws, this score is only slightly better than the expected 5 out of 10 that would be obtained from guessing. Statistically significant results in differences in the overall score on the survey were found for three major variables. Teachers who say creationism should be taught in the classroom have a lower score than those who say it should not be taught in the classroom, with a large effect size. Teachers who teach biology or a life science had significantly higher scores than those who do not, with a small/medium effect size. Older teachers had significantly higher scores than younger teachers, with a small effect size. Identifying the demographic variables that effect teacher knowledge about the laws is the first step to determining how to educate teachers on the legality teaching of creationism/evolution in public school classrooms to avoid violations of the First Amendment.

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Created

Date Created
2018-05

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Strong Episodic Selection for Natural Competence for Transformation due to Host-Pathogen Dynamics

Description

Many bacteria actively import environmental DNA and incorporate it into their genomes. This behavior, referred to as transformation, has been described in many species from diverse taxonomic backgrounds. Transformation is expected to carry some selective advantages similar to those postulated

Many bacteria actively import environmental DNA and incorporate it into their genomes. This behavior, referred to as transformation, has been described in many species from diverse taxonomic backgrounds. Transformation is expected to carry some selective advantages similar to those postulated for meiotic sex in eukaryotes. However, the accumulation of loss-of-function alleles at transformation loci and an increased mutational load from recombining with DNA from dead cells create additional costs to transformation. These costs have been shown to outweigh many of the benefits of recombination under a variety of likely parameters. We investigate an additional proposed benefit of sexual recombination, the Red Queen hypothesis, as it relates to bacterial transformation. Here we describe a computational model showing that host-pathogen coevolution may provide a large selective benefit to transformation and allow transforming cells to invade an environment dominated by otherwise equal non-transformers. Furthermore, we observe that host-pathogen dynamics cause the selection pressure on transformation to vary extensively in time, explaining the tight regulation and wide variety of rates observed in naturally competent bacteria. Host-pathogen dynamics may explain the evolution and maintenance of natural competence despite its associated costs.

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Date Created
2016-05

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Heritability of Elaborate Coloration in the Pipevine Swallowtail, Battus philenor

Description

Two primary contexts for the adaptive evolution of bright coloration are competition for mates (i.e. mate choice) and avoiding predator attacks (i.e. warning coloration). Bright animal coloration can be iridescent, in which the surface appears to change color with changing

Two primary contexts for the adaptive evolution of bright coloration are competition for mates (i.e. mate choice) and avoiding predator attacks (i.e. warning coloration). Bright animal coloration can be iridescent, in which the surface appears to change color with changing viewing or illumination angle. Bright animal coloration can also be produced by pigments, which do not appear to change color with changing viewing or illumination angle. The Pipevine Swallowtail, Battus philenor, is unique in having both sexual signals and warning coloration that include iridescent and pigment components, both of which are variable in color. The aim of our study was to examine the role genes play in producing this variation, providing us a sense of potential indirect benefits of female choice. We tested the hypothesis that color variation has a genetic component. We predicted that in a full-sib analysis there should be greater variation in the coloration of the sexual and warning signal among families than within families. We reared B. philenor under standard laboratory conditions and analyzed heritability using a full-sib analysis. We collected reflectance measurements for components of the sexual and warning signal iridescence using a spectrophotometer and used CLR (color analysis software) to extract brightness, hue, and chroma values. We used a multivariate ANOVA (IBM SPSS, v. 21) to analyze the warning signal variation, and a generalized linear mixed model (IBM SPSS, v. 21) to analyze the sexual versus warning signal variation in males. A significance value of 0.05 was used for both analyses. Our results indicated a genetic component to coloration, implicating indirect benefits in B. philenor female mate bias. Further research on bright coloration in B. philenor indicates that there may also be direct benefits of female mate choice.

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2014-12