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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 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 . 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.
The use of DNA testing has been focused primarily on biological samples such as blood or saliva found at crime scenes. These types of evidence in the forensic field are sometimes difficult to come by, especially when there is no body to find to verify things such as identity or status of a person. In the case of the burial of a body, they can be remote and relocated multiple times depending on each situation. Clandestine burials are not uncommon especially in the Arizona desert by the United States and Mexico border. Since there is no physical body to find the next best avenue to finding a clandestine burial is through search teams which can take weeks to months or other expensive technology such as ground penetrating radar (GPR). A new more interesting avenue to search for bodies is using the most found material–soil. Technology has allowed the possibility of using soil DNA microbiome testing initially to study the varieties of microbes that compose in soil. Microbiomes are unique and plentiful and essentially inescapable as humans are hosts of millions of them. The idea of a microbiome footprint at a crime scene seems out of reach considering the millions of species that can be found in various areas. Yet it is not impossible to get a list of varieties of species that could indicate there was a body in the soil as microbiomes seep through from decomposition. This study determines the viability of using soil microbial DNA as a method of locating clandestine graves by testing 6 different locations of a previous pig decomposition simulation. These two locations give two different scenarios that a body may be found either exposed to the sun in an open field or hidden under foliage such as a tree in the Sonoran Desert. The experiment will also determine more factors that could contribute to a correlation of microbiome specific groups associated with decomposition in soil such as firmicutes. The use of soil microbial DNA testing could open the doors to more interpretation of information to eventually be on par with the forensic use of biological DNA testing which could potentially supplement testimonies on assumed burial locations that occurs frequently in criminal cases of body relocation and reburial.
Bats are a highly diverse mammal species with a dense virome and fascinating immune system. The following project utilizes metagenomics in order to identify DNA viruses present in populations of silver-haired bats and Mexican free-tailed bats from southern Arizona. A significant number of DNA viruses and novel viruses were identified in the Cressdnaviricota phylum and Microvirdae family.
I, Christopher Negrich, am the sole author of this paper, but the tools described were designed in collaboration with Andrew Hoetker. ConstrictR (constrictor) and ConstrictPy are an R package and python tool designed together. ConstrictPy implements the functions and methods defined in ConstrictR and applies data handling, data parsing, input/output (I/O), and a user interface to increase usability. ConstrictR implements a variety of common data analysis methods used for statistical and subnetwork analysis. The majority of these methods are inspired by Lionel Guidi's 2016 paper, Plankton networks driving carbon export in the oligotrophic ocean. Additional methods were added to expand functionality, usability, and applicability to different areas of data science. Both ConstrictR and ConstrictPy are currently publicly available and usable, however, they are both ongoing projects. ConstrictR is available at github.com/cnegrich and ConstrictPy is available at github.com/ahoetker. Currently, ConstrictR has implemented functions for descriptive statistics, correlation, covariance, rank, sparsity, and weighted correlation network analysis with clustering, centrality, profiling, error handling, and data parsing methods to be released soon. ConstrictPy has fully implemented and integrated the features in ConstrictR as well as created functions for I/O and conversion between pandas and R data frames with a full feature user interface to be released soon. Both ConstrictR and ConstrictPy are designed to work with minimal dependencies and maximum available information on the algorithms implemented. As a result, ConstrictR is only dependent on base R (v3.4.4) functions with no libraries imported. ConstrictPy is dependent upon only pandas, Rpy2, and ConstrictR. This was done to increase longevity and independence of these tools. Additionally, all mathematical information is documented alongside the code, increasing the available information on how these tools function. Although neither tool is in its final version, this paper documents the code, mathematics, and instructions for use, in addition to plans for future work, for of the current versions of ConstrictR (v0.0.1) and ConstrictPy (v0.0.1).