• Palaeopigment accumulation and implcations for paleolimnology over the lost century for two Ontario lakes

      Han, Xiaozhong.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1993-07-09)
      Crawford Lake is a meromictic lake, which is 24 m deep and has an area of 2.5 ha, and has never been reported to have mixed below 16 m. Lady Evelyn Lake, which became a reservoir when a dam was built in 1916, is dimictic with a maximum depth of about 35 m. 1 My research proved that both native chlorophylls and the ratio of chlorophyll derivatives to total carotenoids were better preserved in the shallower lake (Crawford Lake) because it was meromictic. Thus the anaerobic conditions in Crawford Lake below 16 m (monimolimnion) provide excellent conditions for pigment preservation. Under such conditions, the preservation of both chlorophylls and carotenoids, including oscillaxanthin and myxoxanthophyll, are extremely good compared with those of Lady Evelyn Reservoir, in which anaerobic conditions are rarely encountered at the mud-water interface. During the period from 1500 to 1900 A. D. in Crawford Lake, the accumulation rates of oscillaxanthin and myxoxanthophyll were extremely high, but those of chlorophyll derivatives and total carotenoids were relatively low. This was correlated with the presence of a dense benthic mat of cyanobacteria near the lake's chemocline. Competition for light between the deep dwelling cyanobacteria and overlying phytoplankton in this meromictic lake would have been intensified as the lake became more and more eutrophic (1955-1991 A. D.). During the period from 1955 to 1991 A. D., the accumulation rates of chlorophyll derivatives and total carotenoids in the sediment core from Crawford Lake (0-7.5 cm, 1955-present) increased. During this same period, the accumulation rates of cyanobacterial pigments (Le. oscillaxanthin and myxoxanthophyll) declined as the lake became more eutrophic. Because the major cyanobacteria in Crawford Lake are benthic mat forming Lyngbya and Oscillatoria and not phytoplankton, eutrophication resulted in a decline of the mat forming algal pigments. This is important because in previous palaeolimnological studies the concentrations of oscillaxanthin and myxoxanthophyll have been used as correlates with lake trophic levels. The results of organic carbon a13c analysis on the Crawford Lake sediment core supported the conclusions from the pigment study as noted above. High values of a13c at the depth of 34-48 cm (1500-1760 A. D.) were related to a dense population of benthic Oscillatoria and Lyngbya living on the bottom of the lake during that period. The Oscillatoria and Lyngbya utilized the bicarbonate, which had a high a 13C value. Very low values were found at 0-7 cm in the Crawford sediment core. At this time phytoplankton was the main primary producer, which enriched 12C by photosynthetic assimilation.
    • Paleoindicators of meromixis

      Cheek, Michael Ross.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1979-07-09)
      This study was undertaken to ascertain whether meromictic lakes could be differentiated from holomictic lakes on the basis of their surficial profundal sediments. Surface sediment cores (15 cm long) were collected from both the littoral and profundal zones of four meromictic and six holomictic lakes and analyzed for total number of fossil chironomid headcapsu~es, chlorophyll and carotenoid degradation products as well as \ iron and manganese concentrations. Littoral and profundal comparisons of the surface sediments were made between the two lake types using the Mann-Whitney U test. Iron, manganese and the iron to manganese ratio in the littoral sediments of meromictic lakes were significantly lower than those found in the littoral sediments of holomictic lakes. The observed differences are believed to represent an artifact of the significantly higher carbonate concentrations found in three of the four meromictic lakes studied. Profundal and littoral to profundal ratio comparison between holomictic and meromictic lakes suggest that the significantly lower iron and higher carotenoid concentrations in meromictic profundal sediments were a con~equence of meromixis. However, the overlap in distribution exhibited by both iron and carotenoid degradation products between the two lake types was sufficiently large in this study to nullify their use as a means of differentiating meromictic from holomictic lakes. A long core (4.25 m) was removed from the deepest part of the meromictic Crawford Lake (Ontario), sectioned at 5 cm intervals, and analyzed to assess when meromixis occurred, based on its fossil record. Temporal changes in the total number of chironomid headcapsules, and chlorophyll and carotenoid sediment degradation products were closely correlated with organic matter, indicating in my opinion that extensive redeposition of littoral chironomid headcapsules in the profundal zone has occurred. Temporal variations in carotenoid degradation products, in response to changes in organic matter, obscured increased preservation that may have occurred as a consequence of meromixis. Temporal variations in iron and manganese suggest that relatively stable redox conditions have existed throughout most of the lake's history. Therefore it would appear that Crawford Lake has been meromictic since its inception.
    • Paleolimnology of selected Precambrian Shield lakes /

      Smol, J. P. (John P.); Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1979-06-29)
      The analysis of fossil diatoms and Mallomonas assemblages in a 2.85 m sediment core revealed that a series of distinct floristic changes have occurred in the development of Found Lake, a small Shield lake in southern Ontario. Climatic and vegetational changes in the lake's watershed were closely associated with successional changes in the lake's biota. Nutrients released by the deciduous component of the Found Lake watershed appeared to be especially important in determining diatom and Mallomonas standing crop. The top 20 cm of sediment of 3 ,Shield lakes was then investigated using close interval (1 cm) analyses of diatoms, Mallomonas scales, pollen grains and sedimentary phosphorus. Found and Jake Lake are adjacent to Highway 60, whereas Delano Lake has been undisturbed and was used as a control. Dramatic changes in the diatom and Mallomonas communities were recorded in the Found and Jake Lake stratigraphies and could be closely associated with known historical events. Increased turbidity and nutrient enrichment were believed responsible for these successional changes. In addition, diatom and Mallomonas standing crop increased substantially following road construction in Found Lake's drainage basin. Meanwhile, no. sharp changes in diatom or Mallomonas communities were recorded in the recent sediments of the control (Delano) lake. The use£ulness o£ Synuracean scales as paleoindicators, as well as the importance o£ sectioning cores at close intervals during transition periods in a laker's development, was stressed.
    • The pancreatic islet system of the rock bass /|nby Edward Francis Squires. -- 260 St. Catharines, Ont. : [s. n.],

      Squires, Edward Francis.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1972-07-09)
      The endocrine pancreas of the rock bass (Ambloplites rupestris) was examined by light and electron microscopy. Two cell types with staining properties similar to mammalian A and B cells, and a third, non-staining cell type were found in the spherical pancreatic islets that were surrounded by a connective tissue capsule and embedded in two small masses of exocrine tissue. From an analysis of the ultrastructure of the A and B cells, a secretory cycle for each of these cell types was proposed. The secretory cycle of the A cell consisted of three well defined stages: (1) A cell production stage: during which A granule formation occurred in the sacs of the Golgi apparatus and the cell was characterized by the presence of numerous secretory granules, some elements of lamellar endoplasmic reticulum, and a homogeneously granular nucleus. The cytoplasm contained few distended cisternae, variable numbers of free ribosomes, microtubules and small vesicles. (2) A cell release stage: during which the release of A granules occurred and the cell usually contained several large distended cisternae and variable numbers of secretory granules. Granule release mechanisms included exocytosis, by which individual granules were released into the extracellular space after their membranes fused with the plasmalemma, and emiocytosis, by which one or more granules were released into a large cisterna whose membrane fused with the plasmalemma and formed a pore through which the cisternal contents passed out of the cell. (3) A cell reorganization stage: during which the changeover from the release stage to the production stage occurred and the reorganization of organelles and membrane structures took place. The cell contained few secretory granules and numerous small endoplasmic reticular cisternae. The cytoplasm exhibited less electron density than either of the other two stages. The A granule after formation underwent a series of morphological changes which were described in four numerically identified phases. The secretory cycle of the B cell consisred of two stages: (1) B cell production stage: during which the B granule formation occurred in the sacs of the Go1gi apparatus. The cell was characterized by an irregular outline, the presence of numerous secretory granules, and an irregularly shaped nucleus which contained variable amounts of clumped chromatin. The cytoplasm contained moderate amounts of lamellar endoplasmic reticulum studded with ribosomes, several small vesicles, and an active Go1gi apparatus. (2) B cell release stage: during which the release of B granules occurred. The cell contained a rounded nucleus with dispersed chromatin, several distended endoplasmic reticular cisternae and a variable number of secretory granules. Granule release occu~ by emiocytosis and exocytosis similar to that found for the A cell.
    • Parental care in the common tern (Sterna Nirundo): sexual roles in a monogamous seabird

      Wiggins, David A.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1984-07-09)
      The parental behaviour of male and female Common Terns (Sterna hirundo) was documented throughout two breeding seasons at a colony near Port Colborne , Ontario. Thirteen and fourteen pairs of terns were chosen for intensive study in 1982 and 1983, respectively. The delivery of fish by males to their mates ("courtship feeding") occurred prior-to, during, and following the egg-laying period. Following the laying of the second egg, courtship feeding rates declined significantly. There was a significant, positive correlation bebween courtship feeding rates and subsequent chick feeding rates by males. The incubation rates of females were significantly higher than those of males, especially during the first ten days of incubation. Territorial attendance rates during the incubation stage were similar for males and females. During the chick stage, territorial attendance rates of females were significantly higher than those of males. The size of fish fed to chicks by males increased as the chicks grew older and chick feeding rates of males were approximately three times higher than female rates. Based on these quantitative differences in parental care activities, the cumulative parental time investment by the two sexes was very similar. However, the energetic investment by males was likely greater than that by females, since male parental contributions (e.g. courtship feeding and chick feeding) often entailed extensive foraging behaviour.
    • Partial characterization of the cloned dihydrofolate reductase gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae

      Nagel, Michael G.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1985-07-09)
      The cloned dihydrofolate reductase gene of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (DFR 1) is expressed in Escherichia coli. Bacterial strain JF1754 transformed with plasmids containing DFR 1 is at least 5X more resistant to inhibition by the folate antagonist trimethoprim. Expression of yeast DFR 1 in E. coli suggests it is likely that the gene lacks intervening sequences. The 1.8 kbp DNA fragment encoding yeast dhfr activity probably has its own promotor, as the gene is expressed in both orientations in E. coli. Expression of the yeast dhfr gene cloned into M13 viral vectors allowed positive selection of DFR 1 - M13 bacterial transfectants in medium supplemented with trimethoprim. A series of nested deletions generated by nuclease Bal 31 digestion and by restriction endonuclease cleavage of plasmids containing DFR 1 physically mapped the gene to a 930 bp region between the Pst 1 and Sal 1 cut sites. This is consistent with the 21,000 molecular weight attributed to yeast dhfr in previous reports. From preliminary DNA sequence analysis of the dhfr DNA fragment the 3' terminus of DFR 1 was assigned to a position 27 nucleotides from the Eco Rl cut site on the Bam Hi - Eco Rl DNA segment. Several putative yeast transcription termination consensus sequences were identified 3' to the opal stop codon. DFR 1 is expressed in yeast and it confers resistance to the antifolate methotrexate when the gene is present in 2 - 10 copies per cell. Plasmid-dependent resistance to methotrexate is also observed in a rad 6 background although the effect is somewhat less than that conferred to wild-type or rad 18 cells. Integration of DFR 1 into the yeast genome showed an intermediate sensitivity to folate antagonists. This may suggest a gene dosage effect. No change in petite induction in these yeast strains was observed in transformed cells containing yeast dhfr plasmids. The sensitivity of rad 6 , rad 18 and wild-type cell populations to trimethoprim were unaffected by the presence of DFR 1 in transformants. Moreover, trimethoprim did not induce petites in any strain tested, which normally results if dhfr is inhibited by other antifolates such as methotrexate. This may suggest that the dhfr enzyme is not the only possible target of trimethoprim in yeast. rad 6 mutants showed a very low level of spontaneous petite formation. Methotrexate failed to induce respiratory deficient mutants in this strain which suggested that rad 6 might be an obligate grande. However, ethidium bromide induced petites to a level approximately 50% of that exhibited by wild-type and rad 18 strains.
    • Permissivity of human HeLa cells to bovine adenovirus type 2 (BaV2 infection

      Dobric, Nikolina.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1998-07-09)
      Infection of hUlnan cells by bovine adenovirlls type 2 (BAV2) is abortive. To obtain a better understanding of this pllenomel1011, and in particular to identify Wllich steps in the viral replicative cycles are altered dllring this virlls-host cells interaction, we have llndertaken a detailed study of BAV2 infections of the nonpennissive hUlnan IIeLa cells. Using autoradiography and 3H-thymidine-labeled vvhole virus particles for infection of HeLa cells, vve determined that viral attachluent appears normal. Furthermore, Southern analysis revealed that internalization and transport to the nuclells occurs in BAV2 infected HeLa cells. To investigate viral DNi\ synthesis, infectivity assays involving hydroxyllrea, a viral DN-A synthesis inhibitor, were carried out. The results revealed that Bft:LV2 DNA synthesis does not occur in HeLa cells. Fllrtller investigations into viral early gene expression by northern blotting analyses indicated that HeLa cells fail to support expression of EIA. This suggested that abortive infection by BAV2 could be attributed to faiiure of EIA to express. To test the possibility that the failure to express ElA was due to the inability of the host cell to recognize the E lA prOlTIoter, ,ve carried out transient expression transfection experiments using plaslnids \vith the bacterial lacZ linder the control of either BAV2 or i\d5 EIA promoter. X-gal histochelIlical assays sho\ved expression of lacZ from the Ad5 ElA prOlnoter but no expression of lacZ [rOln the BAV2 EIA prOlTIoter. This further suggests that the abortive infection b:y BAV2 could be attributed to failure of EIA to express dlle to a nonfllnctional prOlTIoter in hlunan cells. Thus we speClllated that abortive infection of HeLa cells by adenoviruses may be averted by providing EtA functions in trans. To demonstrate this, we coinfected HeLa cells with Ad5 and BAV2, reasoning that Ad5 could cOlnpensate for EIA deficiency in BAV2. OUf results showed that BAV2 DNA synthesis was indeed Sllpported in HeLa cells coinfected with Ad5dlE3 as revealed by Southern analysis. In contrast, coinfection of HeLa cells \vith BAV2 and Ad5dlElE3 mutallt did not support BLt\V2 DNA synthesis. Interestingly, BAV2 failed to replicate in 293 cells which are constitlltively expressing the El genes. This could ilnply that El is necessary but not sufficient to avert the failllre ofBAV2 to undergo productive infection ofhulnan cells.
    • Perturbing the impulse activity of a single identified neuron augments the formation of long-term memory in a molluscan semi-intact preparation /

      Lowe, Michael R.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2004-06-29)
      The aim of this study was to investigate the neural correlates of operant conditioning in a semi-intact preparation of the pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis. Lymnaea learns, via operant conditioning, to reduce its aerial respiratory behaviour in response to an aversive tactile stimulus to its open pneumostome. This thesis demonstrates the successful conditioning of na'ive semiintact preparations to show learning in the dish. Furthermore, these conditioned preparations show long-term memory that persists for at least 18 hours. As the neurons that generate this behaviour have been previously identified I can, for the first time, monitor neural activity during both learning and long-term memory consolidation in the same preparation. In particular, I record from the respiratory neuron Right Pedal Dorsal 1 (RPeD 1) which is part of the respiratory central pattern generator. In this study, I demonstrate that preventing RPeDl impulse activity between training sessions reduces the number of sessions needed to produce long-term memory in the present semi-intact preparation.
    • Pharmacological analysis of 50 kHz vocalizations in the male rat

      Woodford, Timothy; Department of Biological Sciences
      The production of 50 kHz ultrasonic vocalizations in rats has been associated with both positive social interactions and appetitive behavioural situations. Furthermore, there is significant evidence showing that these vocalizations are controlled by the meso-limbic dopamine system. The purpose of this study was to perform a pharmacological analysis of 50 kHz calls by using dopamine and two dopamine agonists amphetamine and apomorphine, to induce calls. The acoustic parameters of the different call types were compared across each agonist. All three agonists were able to significantly induce more 50 kHz vocalizations compared to the vehicle control. Furthermore, calls elicited by apomorphine had a significantly higher bandwidth compared to those elicited by dopamine and amphetamine. All three agonists also had significantly different pharmacokinetic properties. These observations suggest that the D2 receptor sub-type is involved in the length of call bandwidths.
    • Photogrammetric Exploration of Demographic Change in Juvenile Rhizocarpon geographicum Thalli

      Bukovics, Theresa; Department of Biological Sciences
      Lichens, although ubiquitous and morphologically diverse, are one group of organisms that remains under-represented in life history and demographic studies, especially in early years. A photographic time series and image analysis were used to identify, track, and quantify morphological and demographic changes of the smallest, observable Rhizocarpon geographicum cohorts over a four-year period (2009 to 2013) at Illecillewaet Glacier, BC. Two objectives were examined: (a) quantify mortality, recruitment, and survivorship, and (b) examine trends correlated with thallus survival and visual, morphological changes in areole formation. Two general predictions were tested: (a) thallus survivorship is positively correlated with average areole area, and (b) there is a linear increase in the number of areoles per year per thallus. Results revealed age-specific mortality was highly variable among different years (8 to 44%), and recruitment occurred in every year. Thallus coalescence was found in every cohort and gradually increased over time. Results also showed that thalli that coalesced had a higher survivorship than solitary thalli. Survivorship was independent of areole area, and areole accumulation did not increase linearly in the number of areoles per year. Overall, this study demonstrates the use of a photographic time series to track and examine demographic patterns and quantify visual changes in morphology in small, newly found R. geographicum thalli. This thesis marked the first attempt at creating an age-specific cohort life table (up to 4 years) and tracking age-specific changes in morphology and survival in R. geographicum thalli.
    • The Physiological and Behavioural Consequences of Reduced Scalation in Captive-bred Phenotypes of the Bearded Dragon (Pogona vitticeps Ahl 1926)

      Sakich, Nicholas; Department of Biological Sciences
      Lepidosaurs as a group are known for their tough, scaled integument and low rates of evaporative water loss. Whether or not there is a causal relationship between the two has been a contentious issue. There also remains the question of whether the lepidosaur scale forms a barrier to ultraviolet (UV) light. Thirdly, there is evidence to suggest that rate of evaporative water loss influences behavioural thermoregulation in lepidosaurs. Lepidosaurs with higher rates of evaporative water loss should be expected to choose cooler temperatures than lepidosaurs with lower rates of evaporative water loss in order to reduce water loss. To investigate these ideas, I used three captive-occurring phenotypes of the bearded dragon (Pogona vitticeps Ahl 1926): Wild Type, animals exhibiting scales of reduced prominence (“Leatherback”), and scaleless animals (“Silkback”). I a priori expected that Silkbacks would have the highest rates of evaporative water loss, the lowest thermal preferences, and the lowest UV light intensity preferences. By the same token, I expected Wild Types to be at the opposite end of the spectrum from Silkbacks for each of these measurements, and I expected Leatherbacks to be intermediate between the two. I used respirometry to measure the animals’ rates of evaporative water loss, a thermal gradient to measure their thermal preferences, and a UV light intensity gradient to measure their UV light intensity preferences. Silkbacks on average lost water at about twice the rate that Wild Types did, with Leatherbacks being intermediate in their water loss rates. The three phenotypes did not visibly differ in their thermal preference. Silkbacks had lower UV light intensity preferences than either Leatherbacks or Wild Types. These results suggest that the lepidosaur scale is indeed a barrier to evaporative water loss and suggest that it is also a barrier to UV light. However, the lack of obvious difference in thermal preference suggests that thermal preference in bearded dragons is not plastic enough to respond to a phenotype that increases the animal’s rate of evaporative water loss. In addition to answering basic questions about lepidosaur biology, my data have relevance to the fields of animal welfare and conservation.
    • Phytoplankton species diversity of 27 lakes and ponds of Costa Rica (Central America)

      Umana Villalobos, Gerardo.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1985-10-02)
      The literature on species diversity of phytoplankton of tropical lakes is scarce, and for the main part comes from studies of the big lakes in Africa, or deep lakes in South America, leaving a gap in the information about small shallow tropical lakes. In the present work the phytoplankton species composition and diversity of 27 shallow lakes and ponds in Costa Rica (Central America) was studied. The species composition was found to agree with other studies of tropical lakes, with a dominance of Chlorophyta, Cyanophyta, or in some cases Bacillariophyta or Euglenophyta; and a general paucity of Chrysophyta and Cryptophyta. Species richness varied considerably among the lakes, and tended to decrease with an increase in lake elevation. A low evenness in the species abundances was found, with one or more species outnumbering the rest by several orders of magnitude. Individual species abundances and species composition was found to vary with time in Rio Cuarto Lake, a meromictic lake situated in a region with low seasonal change in precipitation. In comparison with the phytoplankton of temperate lakes, the phytoplankton of the tropical lakes studied tended to have a lower evenness of species abundances, although species richness may be similar to temperate figures in some cases. Diversity indices sensitive to changes in the abundance of rare species tend to be higher in the tropical lakes studied; diversity indices sensitive to changes in the numbers of abundant species tend to be similar between the temperate and tropical lakes examined.
    • Pigment orientation changes detected by low temperature linear dichroism spectroscopy: cold-hardening transition in phycobilisome-containing organisms

      Homer-Dixon, Jill A.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1992-10-02)
      Low temperature (77K) linear dichroism spectroscopy was used to characterize pigment orientation changes accompanying the light state transition in the cyanobacterium, Synechococcus sp. pee 6301, and cold-hardening in winter rye (Secale cereale L. cv. Puma). Samples were oriented for spectroscopy using the gel squeezing method (Abdourakhmanov et aI., 1979) and brought to 77K in liquid nitrogen. The linear dichroism (LD) spectra of Synechococcus 6301 phycobilisome/thylakoid membrane fragments cross-linked in light state 1 and light state 2 with glutaraldehyde showed differences in both chlorophyll a and phycobilin orientation. A decrease in the relative amplitude of the 681nm chlorophyll a positive LD peak was observed in membrane fragments in state 2. Reorientation of the phycobilisome (PBS) during the transition to state 2 resulted in an increase in core allophycocyanin absorption parallel to the membrane, and a decrease in rod phycocyanin parallel absorption. This result supports the "spillover" and "PBS detachment" models of the light state transition in PBS-containing organisms, but not the "mobile PBS" model. A model was proposed for PBS reorientation upon transition to state 2, consisting of a tilt in the antenna complex with respect to the membrane plane. Linear dichroism spectra of PBS/thylakoid fragments from the red alga, Porphyridium cruentum, grown in green light (containing relatively more PSI) and red light (containing relatively more PSll) were compared to identify chlorophyll a absorption bands associated with each photosystem. Spectra from red light - grown samples had a larger positive LD signal on the short wavelength side of the 686nm chlorophyll a peak than those from green light - grown fragments. These results support the identification of the difference in linear dichroism seen at 681nm in Synechococcus spectra as a reorientation of PSll chromophores. Linear dichroism spectra were taken of thylakoid membranes isolated from winter rye grown at 20°C (non-hardened) and 5°C (cold-hardened). Differences were seen in the orientation of chlorophyll b relative to chlorophyll a. An increase in parallel absorption was identified at the long-wavelength chlorophyll a absorption peak, along with a decrease in parallel absorption from chlorophyll b chromophores. The same changes in relative pigment orientation were seen in the LD of isolated hardened and non-hardened light-harvesting antenna complexes (LHCII). It was concluded that orientational differences in LHCII pigments were responsible for thylakoid LD differences. Changes in pigment orientation, along with differences observed in long-wavelength absorption and in the overall magnitude of LD in hardened and non-hardened complexes, could be explained by the higher LHCII monomer:oligomer ratio in hardened rye (Huner et ai., 1987) if differences in this ratio affect differential light scattering properties, or fluctuation of chromophore orientation in the isolated LHCII sample.
    • Pleiomorphic deterioration in entomopathogenic fungi : biochemical and genetic analyses /

      Kamp, Andrena M.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2002-05-19)
    • Polyglutamine monomer structure and its implications for molecular self-assembly

      VanSchouwen, Bryan.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2009-01-28)
      Polyglutamine is a naturally occurring peptide found within several proteins in neuronal cells of the brain, and its aggregation has been implicated in several neurodegenerative diseases, including Huntington's disease. The resulting aggregates have been demonstrated to possess ~-sheet structure, and aggregation has been shown to start with a single misfolded peptide. The current project sought to computationally examine the structural tendencies of three mutant poly glutamine peptides that were studied experimentally, and found to aggregate with varying efficiencies. Low-energy structures were generated for each peptide by simulated annealing, and were analyzed quantitatively by various geometry- and energy-based methods. According to the results, the experimentally-observed inhibition of aggregation appears to be due to localized conformational restraint placed on the peptide backbone by inserted prolines, which in tum confines the peptide to native coil structure, discouraging transition towards the ~sheet structure required for aggregation. Such knowledge could prove quite useful to the design of future treatments for Huntington's and other related diseases.
    • A possible role for chemokine signalling through CXCR4 as a downstream effector of retinoic acid signalling in the regenerating tail and spinal cord of Notophthalmus viridescens

      Ricci, Anthony; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2011-05-17)
      The newt, Notopthalmus viridescens is one of the few tet rapod vertebrates capable of extensive regeneration of the central nervous system, however, the factors involved in this process are still unknown. Chemokine signalling through the receptor CXCR4, has been found to be involved in the development of the central nervous system of mammals and more recently in epimorphic fin regeneration in zebrafish. We have hypothesized that the CXCR4 signalling pathway is involved in spinal cord and tail regeneration in the adul t newt , possibly as a downstream target of retinoic acid signalling. We found that CXCR4 mRNA expression was observed in the brain, spinal cord, heart, gut, liver and regenerating tail blastemas. CXCR4 expression increased over the f i rst 12 days of tail regeneration and returned to basal expression levels at day 21 of regeneration. Inhibition of CXCR4 wi th AMD3100, a specific receptor antagonist, led to a decrease in CXCR4 mRNA in the regenerating tail 14 days post amputation. Histological analysis suggests a delay in the early stages of tail and spinal cord regeneration. Spinal cord explants t reated wi th CXCL12, the ligand to CXCR4, displayed enhanced neurite outgrowth in vitro. Explants t reated wi th AMD3100 abolished any retinoic acid enhanced neurite outgrowth effects suggesting a link between these signalling pathways.
    • A possible role for intrinsic calcium buffers in the long- term adaptation of crayfish neurons

      McMahon, John Christopher.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1993-07-09)
      Increasing the impulse activity of neurons in vivo over 3 or more days causes a reduction in transmitter release that persists for days or weeks (eg. Mercier and Atwood, 1989). This effect is usually accompanied by decreased synaptic fatigue. These two changes involve presynaptic mechanisms and indicate "long-term adaptation" (LTA) of nerve terminals. Previous experiments have shown that LTA requires extracellular calcium and protein synthesis (eg. Hong and Lnenicka, Soc. Neurosci. Abstr. 17:1322) and appears to involve communication between the cell body and the nerve terminals. The present study examines the possibility that the reduction in transmitter release is caused by an -increase in the calcium buffering ability within the nerve terminals. It examines the responses of adapted and control nerve terminals to exogenously applied calcium buffer, BAPTA-AM, which decreases transmitter release (Robitialle and Charlton, 1992). If LTA increases intrinsic Ca2+-buffering, the membrane permeant form of BAPTA should have less effect on adapted nerve terminals than on controls. Experiments are performed on the phasic abdominal extensor motor neurons of the crayfish, Procambarns clarkii. BAPTA-AM decreases excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSP's) of the phasic extensor muscles in a dosedependent manner between 5 and 50 JLM. LTA is elicited by in vivo stimulation at 2.5 Hz for 2-4 h per day over 3 days, which reduces EPSP's by over 50%. Experiments indicate that BAPTA-AM produces no significant change in EPSP reduction in adapted neurons when compared to controls. These results do not support the hypothesis that increased daily activity alters rapid intrinsic calcium buffers, that are able to reduce transmitter output in the same manner as BAPTA.
    • Postglacial variations in aquatic productivity in Found Lake, Ontario

      Earle, John Christopher.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1979-07-09)
    • Preliminary characterization of VmTPT2, a putative monoterpene indole alkaloid (MIA) transporter from Vinca minor L. (Apocynaceae)

      Woolfson, Kathlyn; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2014-09-10)
      The various steps of monoterpene indole alkaloid (MIA) biosynthesis are known to occur in specialized cell types and subcellular compartments. Numerous MIAs display powerful biological activities that have led to their use as pharmaceutical treatments for cancer, hypertension and malaria. Many of these compounds accumulate on the leaf surface of medicinally important Apocynaceae plants, which led to the recent discovery and characterization of an ABC transporter (CrTPT2) that was shown to mobilize catharanthine from its site of biosynthesis in epidermal cells to the leaf surface of Catharanthus roseus. Bioinformatic analysis of transcriptomes from several geographically distant MIA-producing species led to the identification of proteins with high amino acid sequence identity to CrTPT2. Molecular cloning of a similar transporter (VmTPT2) from Vinca minor was carried out and expressed in a yeast heterologous system for transport experiments and functional characterization. In planta studies involved transcript expression analysis of the early MIA biosynthetic gene VmTDC and putative transporter VmTPT2, and alkaloid profile analyses. RT-qPCR results showed that VmTPT2 expression increased 15-fold between the first two leaf pairs, and high levels were maintained across older leaves. The alkaloid accumulation profile on leaf surfaces matched that of VmTPT2 expression, especially for the MIAs vincadifformine and vincamine. Gene expression and alkaloid profile analyses suggest that the functional protein may act as a similar transporter to CrTPT2. However, although VmTPT2 had 88.4% identity at the amino acid level to CrTPT2, it displayed an altered expression pattern in planta across developing leaves, and functional characterization using a previously developed yeast heterologous system was unsuccessful due to difficulties with reproducibility of transport assays.
    • A preliminary study of the MDH variability in Lemna minor - Lemna turionifera /

      Giles, Barbara Elizabeth.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1977-06-15)
      Lemna minor is a small aquatic polyploid angiosperm which reproduces apomictically and has a worldwide distribution. This study was vmdertaken to characterize the extent and nature of phenotypic variability. The techniques of starch gel electrophoresis were used in this investigation and. MDH phenotypes of several populations from Ontario, USA and Africa were examined and compared. Heat stability, molecular weight and cell fractionation analyses were also done to identify locus specific MDH bands. The results of the population surveys suggest that there is little genetic variability present both within and between Lemna minor/Lemna turionifera . Evidence of correlation of physiological and seasonal variation patterns was found.