• The effects of plants(Typha Latifolia)and root-bed medium on the treatment of domestic sewage within a vertical flow constructed wetland /

      Rozema, Lloyd R.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2000-07-14)
      The effect that plants {Typha latifolia) as well as root-bed medium physical and chemical characteristics have on the treatment of primary treated domestic wastewater within a vertical flow constructed wetland system was investigated. Five sets of cells, with two cells in each set, were used. Each cell was made of concrete and measured 1 .0 m X 1 .0 m and was 1.3 m deep. Four different root-bed media were tested : Queenston Shale, Fonthill Sand, Niagara Shale and a Michigan Sand. Four of the sets contained plants and a single type of root-bed medium. The influence of plants was tested by operating a Queenston Shale set without plants. Due to budget constraints no replicates were constructed. All of the sets were operated independently and identically for twenty-eight months. Twelve months of data are presented here, collected after 16 months of continuous operation. Root-bed medium type did not influence BOD5 removal. All of the sets consistently met Ontario Ministry of Environment (MOE) requirements (<25 mg/L) for BOD5 throughout the year. The 12 month average BOD5 concentration from all sets with plants was below 2.36 mg/L. All of the sets were within MOE discharge requirements (< 25 mg/L) for suspended solids with set effluent concentrations ranging from 1.53 to 14.80 mg/L. The Queenston Shale and Fonthill Sand media removed the most suspended solids while the Niagara Shale set produced suspended solids. The set containing Fonthill Sand was the only series to meet MOE discharge requirements (< Img/L) for total phosphorus year-round with a twelve month mean effluent concentration of 0.23 mg/L. Year-round all of the root-bed media were well below MOE discharge requirements (< 20mg/L in winter and < 10 mg/L in sumnner) for ammonium. The Queenston Shale and Fonthill Sand sets removed the most total nitrogen. Plants had no effect on total nitrogen removal, but did influence how nitrogen was cycled within the system. Plants increased the removal of suspended solids by 14%, BOD5 by 10% and total phosphorus by 22%. Plants also increased the amount of dissolved oxygen that entered the system. During the plant growing season removal of total phosphorus was better in all sets with plants regardless of media type. The sets containing Queenston Shale and Fonthill Sand media achieved the best results and plants in the Queenston Shale set increased treatment efficiency for every parameter except nitrogen. Vertical flow wetland sewage treatment systems can be designed and built to consistently meet MOE discharge requirements year-round for BOD5, suspended solids, total phosphorus and ammonium. This system Is generally superior to the free water systems and sub-surface horizontal flow systems in cold climate situations.
    • Effects of reflection and social isolation on crayfish behaviour /

      Drozdz, Joanna K.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2006-06-01)
      Visual stimuli and socialization influence exploratory behaviour in crayfish. The predominant components of spontaneous exploratory behaviour were determined by observing the activity of solitary adult crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) in a glass aquarium containing fresh water and no objects. Five distinct behaviours were observed: rearing up (climbing on the wall), turning around, cornering (facing the comer), backward walking, and crossing (crossing the midline of the aquarium). The frequency of rearing up, cornering and turning around decreased when reflection from the glass wall was blocked with black cardboard, black paint or non-reflective transparent plastic. In a tank containing mirrors on one side and non-reflective plastic on the other, crayfish cornered, reared up, and turned around more in front of the mirrors. Socialization was necessary for crayfish to respond to the reflection. Crayfish that were housed in pairs for two weeks exhibited more rearing up, turning around and cornering in front of the mirrors than in the non-reflective side. Crayfish isolated for two weeks did not show these differences. Socialized crayfish also exhibited more rearing up, turning around and cornering than did isolated crayfish. Thus, crayfish respond to visual stimuli provided by a glass tank, but the responds depends on socialization.
    • The effects of static and diurnally-cycling temperature acclimations on thermal tolerances of rainbow trout, Salmo gairdneri

      Threader, Ronald William Joseph.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1980-07-09)
      :ofiedian lethal temperatures ( LT50' s ) were determined for rainbow trout, Salmo gairdnerii, acclimated for a minimum of 21 days at 5 c onstant temperatures between 4 and 20 0 C. and 2 diel temperature fluctuations ( sinewave curves of amplitudes ± 4 and ± 7 0 C. about a mean temperature of 12 0 C. ) . Twenty-four-, 48-, and 96-hour LT50 estimates were c alculated f ollowing standard flow-through aquatic bioassay techniques and probi t transformation of mortality data. The phenomenon of delayed thermal mortality was also investigated. Shifts in upper incipient lethal temperature occurred as a result of previous thermal conditioning. It was shown that increases in constant acclimation temperature result in proportional l inear increases in thermal tolerances. The increase i n estimated 96-hour LT50's was approximately 0.13 0 c. X 1 0 C:1 between 8 and 20 0 C. The effect of acclimation to both cyclic temperature regimes was an increase in LT50 to values between the mean and maximum constant equivalent daily temperatures of the cycles. Twenty-four-, 48-, and 96-hour LT50 estimates of both cycles corresponded approximately to the LT50 values of the 16 0 C. c onstant temperature equivalent . This increase i n thermal tolerance was further demonstrated by the delayed thermal mortality experiments . Cycle amplitudes appeared to i nfluence thermal resistance through alterations in initi al mortality since mortality patterns characteristic of base temperature acclimations re-appeared after approximately 68 hours exposure to test temperatures for the 12 + 4 0 C. group, whereas mortality patterns stabilized and remained constant for a period greater than 192 hours with the larger therma l cycle ( 12 + 7 0 C. ). NO s ignificant corre lations between s pecimen weight and time-to-death was apparent. Data are discussed in relation to the establishment of thermal criteria for important commercial and sport fishes , such as the salmonids , as is the question whether previously reported values on lethal temperature s may have been under estimated.
    • The effects of temperature on nickel tocicity in goldfish (carassius auratus L.)

      Norris, Stacey L.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1995-07-09)
      Although it is widely assumed that temperature affects pollutant toxicity, few studies have actually investigated this relationship. Moreover, such research as has been done has involved constant temperatures; circumstances which are rarely, if ever, actually experienced by north temperate, littoral zone cyprinid species. To investigate the effects of temperature regime on nickel toxicity in goldfish (Carassius auratus L.), 96- and 240-h LCSO values for the heavy metal pollutant, nickel (NiCI2.6H20), were initially determined at 2DoC (22.8 mg/L and 14.7 mg/L in artificially softened water). Constant temperature bioassays at 10°C, 20°C and 30°C were conducted at each of 0, 240-h and 96-h LCSO nickel concentrations for 240 hours. In order to determine the effects of temperature variation during nickel exposure it was imperative that the effects of a single temperature change be investigated before addressing more complex regimes. Single temperature changes of + 10°C or -10°C were imposed at rates of 2°C/h following exposures of between 24 hand 216 h. The effects of a single temperature change on mortality, and duration of toxicant exposure at high and low temperatures were evaluated. The effects of fluctuating temperatures during exposure were investigated through two regimes. The first set of bioassays imposed a sinewave diurnal cycle temperature (20.±.1DOC) throughout the 10 day exposure to 240-h LeSO Ni. The second set of investigations approximated cyprinid movement through the littoral zone by imposing directionally random temperature changes (±2°C at 2-h intervals), between extremes of 10° and 30°C, at 240-h LC50 Ni. Body size (i.e., total length, fork length, and weight) and exposure time were recorded for all fish mortalities. Cumulative mortality curves under constant temperature regimes indicated significantly higher mortality as temperature and nickel concentration were increased. At 1DOC no significant differences in mortality curves were evident in relation to low and high nickel test concentrations (Le., 16 mg/L and 20 mg/L). However at 20°C and 30°C significantly higher mortality was experienced in animals exposed to 20 mg/L Ni. Mortality at constant 10°C was significantly lower than at 30°C with 16 mg/L and was significantly loWer than each of 2DoC and 39°C tanks at 20 mg/L Ni exposure. A single temperature shift from 20°C to 1DoC resulted in a significant decrease in mortality rate and conversely, a single temperature shift from 20°C to 30°C resulted in a significant increase in mortality rate. Rates of mortality recorded during these single temperature shift assays were significantly different from mortality rates obtained under constant temperature assay conditions. Increased Ni exposure duration at higher temperatures resulted in highest mortality. Diurnally cycling temperature bioassays produced cumulative mortality curves approximating constant 20°C curves, with increased mortality evident after peaks in the temperature cycle. Randomly fluctuating temperature regime mortality curves also resembled constant 20°C tanks with mortalities after high temperature exposures (25°C - 30°C). Some test animals survived in all assays with the exception of the 30°C assays, with highest survival associated with low temperature and low Ni concentration. Post-exposure mortality occurred most frequently in individuals which had experienced high Ni concentrations and high temperatures during assays. Additional temperature stress imposed 2 - 12 weeks post exposure resulted in a single death out of 116 individuals suggesting that survivors are capable of surviving subsequent temperature stresses. These investigations suggest that temperature significantly and markedly affects acute nickel toxicity under both constant and fluctuating temperature regimes and plays a role in post exposure mortality and subsequent stress response.
    • The effects of yeast inoculation rate and acclimatization to juice on icewine fermentation /

      Kontkanen, Derek.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2005-06-29)
      Icewine is an intensely sweet, unique dessert wine fennented from the juice of grapes that have frozen naturally on the vine. The juice pressed from the frozen grapes is highly concentrated, ranging from a minimum of 35° Brix to approximately 42° Brix. Often Icewine fennentations are sluggish, taking months to reach the desired ethanol level, and sometimes become stuck. In 6 addition, Icewines have high levels of volatile acidity. At present, there is no routine method of yeast inoculation for fennenting Icewine. This project investigated two yeast inoculum levels, 0.2 gIL and 0.5 gIL. The fennentation kinetics of inoculating these yeast levels directly into the sterile Icewine juice or conditioning the cells to the high sugar levels using a step wise acclimatization procedure were also compared. The effect of adding GO-FERM, a yeast nutrient, was also assessed. In the sterile fennentations, yeast inoculated at 0.2 gIL stopped fennenting before the required ethanol level was achieved, producing only 7.8% (v/v) and 8.1 % (v/v) ethanol for the direct and conditioned inoculations, respectively. At 0.5 gIL, the stepwise conditioned cells fennented the most sugar, producing 12.2% (v/v) ethanol, whereas the direct inoculum produced 10.5% (v/v) ethanol. The addition of the yeast nutrient GO-FERM increased the rate of biomass accumulation, but reduced the ethanol concentration in wines fennented at 0.5 gIL. There was no significant difference in acetic acid concentration in the final wines across all treatments. Fennentations using unfiltered Icewine juice at the 0.5 gIL inoculum level were also compared to see if the effects of yeast acclimatization and micronutrient addition had the same impact on fennentation kinetics and yeast metabolite production as observed in the sterile-filtered juice fennentations. In addition, a full descriptive analysis of the finished wines was carried out to further assess the impact of yeast inoculation method on Icewine sensory quality. At 0.5 gIL, the stepwise conditioned cells fennented the most sugar, producing 11.5% (v/v) ethanol, whereas the direct inoculum produced 10.0% (v/v) ethanol. The addition of the yeast nutrient GO-FERM increased the peak viable cell numbers, but reduced the ethanol concentration in wines fennented at 0.5 gIL. There was a significant difference 7 in acetic acid concentration in the final wines across all treatments and all treatments affected the sensory profiles of the final wines. Wines produced by direct inoculation were described by grape and raisin aromas and butter flavour. The addition of GO-FERM to the direct inoculation treatment shifted the aroma/flavour profiles to more orange flavour and aroma, and a sweet taste profile. StepWise acclimatizing the cells resulted in wines described more by peach and terpene aroma. The addition of GO-FERM shifted the profile to pineapple and alcohol aromas as well as alcohol flavour. Overall, these results indicate that the addition of GO-FERM and yeast acclimatization shortened the length of fermentation and impacted the sensory profiles of the resultant wines.
    • Elucidation of the Retinoid Signalling Pathway Involved in Axon Guidance in Lymnaea stagnalis and Xenopus laevis

      Rand, Christopher; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2012-11-07)
      The vitamin A metabolite, retinoic acid (RA), is known to play a crucial role in several developmental processes including axial patterning and differentiation. More recently, RA has been implicated in the regenerative process acting through its classical signaling pathway, the nuclear receptors, retinoic acid receptor (RAR) and retinoid X receptor (RXR), to mediate gene transcription. Moreover, RA has been shown to act as a guidance molecule for growth cones of regenerating motorneurons of the pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis. Our lab has recently shown that RA can induce this morphological response independent of nuclear transcription, however, the role of the retinoid receptors in RA-induced chemoattraction is still unknown. Here, I show that the retinoid receptors, RXR and RAR, may mediate the growth cones response to the metabolically active retinoic acid isomers, all-trans and 9-cis RA, in Lymnaea stagnalis. Data presented here show that both an RXR and RAR antagonist can block growth cone turning in response to application of both isomers. Because no prior investigations have shown growth cone turning of individual vertebrate neurons, I aimed to show that both retinoic acid isomers were capable of inducing growth cone turning of embryonic spinal cord neurons in the frog, Xenopus laevis. For the first time in Xenopus, I showed that both all-trans and 9-cis RA were able to induce significantly more neurite outgrowth from cultured embryonic spinal cord neurons and induce positive growth cone turning of individual growth cones. In addition, I showed that the presence of the RXR antagonist, HX531, blocked 9-cis RA-induced growth cone turning and the RARβ antagonist, LE135, blocked all-trans RA-induced growth cone turning in this species. Evidence provided here shows for the first time, conservation of retinoic acid-induced growth cone turning in a vertebrate model system. In addition, these data show that the receptors involved in this morphological response may be the same in vertebrates and invertebrates.
    • Engineering an improved adenovirus packaging cell line

      Roberts, Pamela.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2002-07-09)
      Recombinant human adenovirus (Ad) vectors are being extensively explored for their use in gene therapy and recombinant vaccines. Ad vectors are attractive for many reasons, including the fact that (1) they are relatively safe, based on their use as live oral vaccines, (2) they can accept large transgene inserts, (3) they can infect dividing and postmitotic cells, and (4) they can be produced to high titers. However, there are also a number of major problems associated with Ad vectors, including transient foreign gene expression due to host cellular immune responses, problems with humoral immunity, and the creation of replication competent adenoviruses (RCA). Most Ad vectors contain deletions in the E1 region that allow for insertion of a transgene. However, the E1 gene products are required for replication and thus must be supplied in trans by a helper ceillille that will allow for the growth and packaging of the defective virus. For this purpose the 293 cell line (Graham et al., 1977) is used most often; however, homologous recombination between the vector and the cell line often results in the generation of RCA. The presence of RCA in batches of adenoviral vectors for clinical use is a safety risk because tlley . may result in the mobilization and spread of the replication-defective vector viruses, and in significant tissue damage and pathogenicity. The present research focused on the alteration of the 293 cell line such that RCA formation can be eliminated. The strategy to modify the 293 cells involved the removal of the first 380 bp of the adenovirus genome through the process of homologous recombination. The first step towards this goal involved identifying and cloning the left-end cellular-viral jUl1ction from 293 cells to assemble sequences required for homologous recombination. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was performed to clone the junction, and the clone was verified through sequencing. The plasn1id PAM2 was then constructed, which served as the targeting cassette used to modify the 293 cells. The cassette consisted of (1) the cellular-viral junction as the left-end region of homology, (2) the neo gene to use for positive selection upon tranfection into 293 cells, (3) the adenoviral genome from bp 380 to bp 3438 as the right-end region of homology, and (4) the HSV-tk gene to use for negative selection. The plasmid PAM2 was linearized to produce a double strand break outside the region of homology, and transfected into 293 cells using the calcium-phosphate technique. Cells were first selected for their resistance to the drug G418, and subsequently for their resistance to the drug Gancyclovir (GANC). From 17 transfections, 100 pools of G418f and GANCf cells were picked using cloning lings and expanded for screening. Genomic DNA was isolated from the pools and screened for the presence of the 380 bps using PCR. Ten of the most promising pools were diluted to single cells and expanded in order to isolate homogeneous cell lines. From these, an additional 100 G41Sf and GANef foci were screened. These preliminary screening results appear promising for the detection of the desired cell line. Future work would include further cloning and purification of the promising cell lines that have potentially undergone homologous recombination, in order to isolate a homogeneous cell line of interest.
    • Engineering Optogenetic Control of Endocytic Recycling: Controlling Rab11 Function in Drosophila melanogaster using Engineered Light-Responsive Nanobodies

      Ward, Devin; Department of Biological Sciences
      The regulated transport of materials in cells is an essential function of all living organisms. In eukaryotes, one main family of transport regulators is the Rab GTPases. Rab GTPases utilize GTP to move materials throughout the cell by binding to the membrane of vesicles or endosomes, and trafficking distinct, membrane-associated components throughout the cell. One member of this large family of proteins is Rab11. Rab11 is responsible for endosome recycling: returning membrane proteins and receptors from intracellular recycling endosomes to the cell membrane, where these membrane proteins and receptors may be reused. Although the exact mechanism of Rab11 trafficking is not known, Rab11 appears to be critical for the development and survival of many organisms. Drosophila mutants for the Rab11 gene are not viable, where lethality manifests during embryonic development. This early lethality has imposed significant limitations on elucidating the immediate effects of Rab11 inhibition. Thus, the goal was to engineer a novel method of inhibiting Rab11 in vivo in Drosophila melanogaster. Specifically, the goal was to generate a genomically non-invasive construct (Opto-Nanobody) utilizing an optogenetic, light-sensitive Cryptochrome 2 (Cry2) fused to YFP-targeting nanobodies to bind functional, endogenous, YFP-tagged Rab11. This system promises to provide precise light-responsive spatio-temporal control of Rab11 function in response to blue-light exposure through homo-oligomeric clustering, which has been shown to inhibit Rab-dependent trafficking. Using the Drosophila embryo as a model system, these tools were applied to directly determine the effects of Rab11 inhibition on Notch signaling, and to determine the mechanisms that govern Rab11 trafficking. The Opto-Nanobody was tested in vitro in S2 cells, and was shown to form homo-oligomeric clusters in the presence of blue light and demonstrated the ability to bind to YFP-Rab11. This Opto-Nanobody construct has been inserted into a D. melanogaster injection vector, so that the Opto-Nanobody may be inserted into the D. melanogaster genome, and used to control YFP::Rab11 activity in vivo to elucidate the role of Rab11 in Notch signalling.
    • Epidemiology and phylogenetic analysis of West Nile virus in Ontario, Canada, 2002-2003 /

      Condotta, Stephanie Anne.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2005-06-29)
      Since the discovery of West Nile (WN) virus in the Western Hemisphere many surveillance programs have been implemented to monitor the epidemiology and genetic variation of WN virus in North America. This project was based on the WN virus Adult Mosquito Identification and Diagnostic Program conducted at Brock University for Ontario, Canada, during the 2002 and 2003 transmission seasons. There are three sections to this thesis. The first section investigated which mosquito species carry WN virus in Ontario, Canada throughout the 2002-2003 transmission seasons. It was found that from the 2002 data, eight mosquito species were detected with WN virus (Aedes vexans, Anopheles punctipennis, Coquilleltidia perlurbans, Culex salinarius, Cx. pipiens, Cx. resluans, Ochlerolalus Irivillalus and Och. Iriserialus) and 7.19% of the total mosquito pools tested were found to be WN virus positive (129 positive poolsll, 793 total pools tested). In 2003, WN virus was detected in only five mosquito species (Ae. vexans, Cx. salinarius, Och. Iriserialus, Cx. pipiens and Cx. resluans) and 1.42% of the total mosquito pools tested were WN virus positive (101 positive poolsl7,1 01 total pools tested). WN virus positive mosquito pools were detected 3-4 weeks earlier in 2002 compared to 2003 data. The second section investigated the actual infection rate (IR) of clearly identified Cx. pipiens and Cx. resluans from the 2002 outbreak. It was found that significantly more ex. resluans were infected with WN virus compared to ex. pipiens. The third section investigated the degree of variability of the WN virus genome. A 879 nucleotide section of the WN virus genome was amplified from 21 American Crows and 20 adult female mosquitoes from Ontario, Canada, and compared to the homologous region of the original New York 1999 Chilean Flamingo sequence (NY99FL). Seventy-two nucleotides from Ontario WN virus sequences showed variability compared to NY99FL with 10 synapotypic changes. Phylogenetic analysis revealed a close relationship between Ontario and US WN virus sequences.
    • The establishment of two novel bovine cell lines by transfection with the putative transforming region of bovine adenovirus type 3

      White, Donald E.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1996-07-09)
      Human adenoviruses (Ads), members of the family adenoviridae, are medium-sized DNA viruses which have been used as valuable research tools for the study of RNA processing, oncogenic transformation, and for the development of viral vectors for use in gene delivery and immunization technology. The left 12% of the linear Ad genollle codes for products which are necessary for the efficient replication of the virus, as well as being responsible for the forlllation of tumors in animallllodels. The establishlllent of the 293 cell line, by immortalization of human embryonic kidney cells with th~ E1 region of Ad type S (AdS), has facilitated extensive manipulation of the Ads and the development of recombinant Ad vectors. The study of bovine adenoviruses (BAVs), which cause mild respiratory and gastrointestinal infections in cattle has, on the other hand, been limited primarily to that of infectivity, immunology and clinicallllanifestations. As a result, any potential as gene delivery vehicles has not yet been realized. Continued research into the molecular biolo~gy of BAVs and the development of recolllbinant vectors would benefit from the development of a cell line analogous to that of the 293 cells. In an attelllpt to establish such a cell line, the recombinant plaslllid pKC-neo was constructed, containing the left 0-19.7% of the BAV type 3 (BAV3) genome, and the selectable marker for resistance to the aminoglycoside G418, a neomycin derivative. The plasmid construct was then used to transfect both the Madin-Darby bovine kidney (MDBK) -iicell line and primary bovine lung cells, after which G418-resistant foci were selected for analysis. Two cell lines, E61 (MDBK) and E24 (primary lung), were subsequently selected and analysed for DNA content, revealing the presence of the pKC-neo sequences in their respective genomes. In addition, BAV3 RNA transcripts were detected in the E61 cells. Although the presence of E1 products has yet to be confirmed in both cell lines, the E24 cells exhibit a phenotype characteristic of partial transformation by E1. The apparent immortalization of the primary lung cells will permit exploitation of their ability to take up exogenous DNA at high efficiency.
    • An examination of transcriptional and translational regulation of the 70kDa heat shock proteins following amputation of the tail and forelimb in the newt Notophthalmus viridescens

      Limoges, Nathalie.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1995-11-04)
      Several stresses to tissues including hyperthermia, ischemia, mechanical trauma and heavy metals have been demonstrated to affect the regulation of a subset of the family of heat shock proteins of70kOa (hsp70). In several organisms following some of these traumas, the levels of hsp70 mRNA and proteins are dramatically upregulated. However, the effects of the stress on limb and tail amputation in the newt Notophthalmus viridescens, involving mechanical tissue damage, have not adequately been examined. In the present study, three techniques were utilized to quantitate the levels of hsp70 mRNA and protein in the tissues of the forelimbs and tails of newts during the early post-traumatic events following surgical resection of these:: appendages. These included quantitative Western blotting of proteins separated by both one and twodimensional SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and quantitative Northern blot analysis of total RNA. In tissues of both the limb and tail one hour after amputation, there were no significant differences in the levels of hsp70 protein measured by one-dimensional SOSPAGE followed by Western blotting, when compared to the levels measured in the unamputated limb. A 30 minute heat shock at 35°C failed to elicit an increase in the levels of hsp70 protein in these tissues. Further analysis using the more sensitive 20 PAGE separation of stump tissue proteins revealed that at least some of the five hsp70 isoforms of the newt may be differentially regulated in limbs and tails in response to trauma. It appears also that amputation of the tail and limb tissues leads to slight 3 elevation in the levels of HSP70 mRNA when compared to those of their respective unstressed tissues.
    • Examining the cell cycle regulator, p21, in the regeneration competent newt species, Notophthalmus viridescens

      Nottrodt, Rachel E.; Department of Biological Sciences
      Adult newts are capable of completely regenerating lost structures including limb, tail, and spinal cord tissues after injury. A unique mammal capable of similar epimorphic regeneration is the Murphy Roths Large (MRL) mouse with the ability to fully close ear hole punctures. Examination of these mice revealed that they do not express the protein p21, a cyclin dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitor, which controls cell cycle progression from G1 to S phase by monitoring the cell for DNA damage. Knockout p21 mice were also able to fully close ear hole punctures validating the role of p21 in this phenomenon. Based on these findings, my research seeks to examine p21 during newt tail and caudal spinal cord regeneration. Since a lack of p21 allows for regeneration in these mice, otherwise considered regeneration-incompetent, it is of interest to study p21 in the regeneration-competent newt, Notophthalmus viridescens. Using qPCR, I demonstrated that transcripts of a p21-like gene are significantly down-regulated at 14 and 21 days post amputation. Initial Western blots indicated temporal changes in p21 expression across regeneration time points, but at a molecular weight smaller than the predicted 21kDa. The discrepancy in molecular weight led to mass spectrometry protein identification analysis that detected a p16-interacting protein in newt tail that shares 87.5% identity with the Xenopus p16- interacting protein. p16 is also a CDK inhibitor, acting at the G1-S transition to specifically inhibit cyclin D and CDK4/6. Continued survey for p21 protein expression was unable to detect p21 within newt tissues tested. This outcome suggests either the tested antibodies are unable to cross-react with the newt p21 protein, or that it is expressed at very low levels in the newt making it virtually undetectable, or the newt lacks p21 protein like the MRL mouse. 5’-3’ RACE was unable to determine the newt-specific p21 sequence, but the newt Histone H3a gene was amplified and found to contain some sequence similarity to p21 in other species. This work represents the first attempt to study p21 gene and protein expression in regenerating newt caudal tail and spinal cord tissue. The novel finding of p16-interacting protein suggests the potential for alternative cell cycle regulation methods, via p16, previously thought to be lost in the newt.
    • Examining the Roles of Octopamine and Proctolin as Co-Transmitters in Drosophila melanogaster

      Kornel, Amanda; Department of Biological Sciences
      The nervous system is a highly complex and intricate system that interacts with and controls nearly all the other body systems. The basic functions of nerve cells are conserved across most species and are very similar between vertebrates and invertebrates. Chemical transmitters (neurotransmitters) facilitate communication between nerve cells and their targets. The effects of these signals can be modified by co-transmitters that are released from neurons in conjunction with neurotransmitters, and by neuromodulators that are released as hormones. This thesis examines the effect of two neuromodulators on neuromuscular junctions of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. Two modulators, proctolin and octopamine, have been identified in motor nerve terminals and are thought to be released as co-transmitters to modify the effects of glutamate, the neurotransmitter that depolarizes muscle cells and triggers contraction. The neuropeptide proctolin (Arg-Tyr-Leu-Pro-Thr) was found to increase the amplitude of body wall muscle contractions elicited by glutamate in the absence of nerve stimulation. Thus, proctolin appears to enhance contractions by acting postsynaptically. Previous work reported that increasing neural activity lowers the threshold and EC50 for proctolin’s ability to enhance nerve-evoked contractions by two orders of magnitude. To determine whether such activity-dependence is caused by increased release of glutamate, effects of varying glutamate concentrations on the effectiveness of proctolin are examined here. The threshold for proctolin to increase body wall contractions decreased from 100 nM to 10 nM when glutamate concentration increased from 5 mM to 7 mM, but the threshold increased again to 100 nM for glutamate concentrations of 10-20 nM. Thus, although the effectiveness of proctolin shows some dependence on glutamate concentration, alterations in glutamate levels do not appear to account entirely for the more substantial and more consistent changes in proctolin threshold that occur with increasing neural activity, reported elsewhere. Since octopamine in known to be present in motor neurons innervating most of the body wall muscles of 3rd instar larvae, it was hypothesized that stimulating the motor neurons should release octopamine together with glutamate, and that increasing motor neuron activity should increase the release of both octopamine and glutamate. This hypothesis led to the prediction that an octopamine antagonist, phentolamine, should reduce the amplitude of nerve-evoked contractions, and that the antagonist should be more effective when the motor neurons are stimulated at higher frequencies. Phentolamine, however, did not alter the amplitude of body wall muscle contractions elicited by stimulating the motor axons using impulse bursts with intraburst stimulus frequencies of 5, 32 and 50 Hz. Surprisingly, exogenously applied octopamine did enhance the amplitude of nerve-evoked contractions, and, this effect was antagonized by phentolamine when contractions were elicited by impulse bursts with frequencies of 5 and 50 Hz. At a concentration of 1x10-6 M, octopamine did not induce contractions or alter the amplitude of glutamate-evoked contractions. These results do not support the hypothesis that endogenous octopamine is released onto muscle fibers as a co- transmitter to augment contraction amplitude. One possible explanation for these findings is the octopamine may be released at higher concentrations at neuromuscular synapses, and the effects of octopamine on nerve-evoked contractions are mediated presynaptically, by increasing transmitter release. Overall, the results of this thesis indicate that both octopamine and proctolin modulate muscle contractions in an activity-dependent manner; the level of external nerve-stimulus or exogenous glutamate concentration alter the effectiveness of the contransmitters. However, further work is needed to elucidate the mechanisms of such activity-dependence.
    • Exploring Diversified Vineyard Ecological Soil Management Strategies: Impacts of cover cropping, Spanish River Carbonatite, and smooth pigweed (Amaranthus hybridus) interactions on an agroecosystem

      VanVolkenburg, Heather; Department of Biological Sciences
      Agroecosystems are one of the most heavily managed ecosystems that provide essential services for human well being. Intense management of agroecosystems has led to global degradation of soil and reduced biodiversity, two of the major challenges faced by agriculture today. Soil, the foundation of an agroecosystem, forms the base for cropping systems and how it is managed matters. My research focused on investigating how two ecologically-based soil management techniques, cover cropping (using a species mixture of Cichorium intybus, Raphanus sativus, Medicago sativa, Trifolium pratense, and a monoculture of Lolium multiflorum) and agromineral amendment application (using Spanish River Carbonatite – SRC), affect both biotic and abiotic variables such as soil nutrients, plant growth, and plant and soil invertebrate community composition over time. My study included control greenhouse trials and trials in an operational vineyard. In greenhouse trials, SRC was found to be especially effective for growth of leguminous species, M. sativa and T. pratense while forb species, R. sativus and C. intybus, tended to grow better in synthetic fertilizer. Residual effects on a second period of growth were minimal. This suggests that, depending on species used, cover crops when combined with SRC may be able to support an operational system in a similar way to when synthetic inputs are used. Trials were also conducted in an operational vineyard. While the added complexity of a field setting did not significantly affect any of the measured variables between amendment treatments, cover crop type mattered with significantly higher vegetation-index diversity and total abundance values found in cover crop mixture plots than in monoculture. Annual weather and farm management practises were most likely the main driver of the variation found in soil invertebrate community diversity. An additional experiment aimed to determine whether Amaranthus hybridus, a known allelopathic plant species present in the vineyard, affects the same cover crop species germination and growth using an A. hybridus tea extract treatment in controlled conditions. Here, A. hybridus was found to inhibit germination and growth of M. sativa and T. pratense yet stimulate growth in R. sativus and L. multiflorum. Careful consideration should be given to which weeds can be found in an agroecosystem and how they may influence management outcomes. Long-term investigations are needed to truly understand how to best manage the various components found in an agroecosystem.
    • Factors affecting DNA uptake by mammalian cells

      Cheikha-Douaihy, Saiid; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1998-07-09)
      The ability to introduce DNA and express custom DNA sequences in bacteria opened the door for improvements in a large number of fields including agriculture, pharmacology, medicine, nutrition, etc. The ability to introduce foreign DNA sequences into mammalian cells in an efficient manner would have a large impact on therapeutic applications especially gene therapy. The methods in use today suffer from low efficiencies and sometimes toxicity. In this work a number of factors were evaluated for their effect onONA uptake efficiency. The factors studied included exposure to sublethal concentration of hydrogen peroxide which have been show to lead to destabilisation ofthe lysosomes. These exposures have proven to be very toxic to cells when combined with either the calcium phosphate or the lipofectAMINE® transfection methods. Another factor evaluated was exposure to Electro-Magnetic Fields (EMF). This was fuelled by the fact that EMF have been shown to mediate a number of effects on cell structure and/or physiology. EMF exposure by itself was not sufficient to induce the cells to pick up the DNA, therefore its effect on calcium phosphate and lipofectAMINE® was tested. Although some positive results were obtained, the variability of these results exceeded by far any observed enhancements which discouraged any further work on EMF. Also tested was the possible effect the presence of the cytomegalovirus (CMV) sequence might have on DNA uptake (based on previous results in this lab). It was found that the presence ofCMV in the DNA sequence does not enhance uptake or slow down degradation of the internalised DNA. The final factor tested was the effect of basic amino acids on transfection efficiency. It was found that arginine can enhance DNA uptake by about 170% v/ith calcium phosphate and about 200% with LipofectAMINE®. A model was proposed to explain the effect of arginine as well as the lack of effect from other amino acids.
    • Factors influencing the seasonal changes in primary productivity of the photosynthetic bacteria of Crawford Lake, Ontario

      Severn, Shawn R. T.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1981-07-09)
      A naturally occurring population of photosynthetic bacteria, located in the meromictic Crawford Lake, was examined during two field seasons (1979-1981). Primary production, biomass, light intensity, lake transparency, pH and bicarbonate concentration were all monitored during this period at selected time intervals. Analysis of the data indicated that (l4C) bacterial photosynthesis was potentially limited by the ambient bicarbonate concentration. Once a threshold value (of 270 mg/l) was reached a dramatic (2 to 10 fold) increase in the primary productivity of the bacteria was observed. Light intensity appeared to have very little effect on the primary productivity of the bacteria, even at times when analyses by Parkin and Brock (1980a) suggested that light intensity could be limiting (i.e., 3.0-5.0 ft. candles). Shifts in the absorption maxima at 430 nrn of the .bacteriochlorophyll spectrum suggested that changes in the species or strain composition of the photosynthetic bacteria had occurred during the summer months. It was speculated that these changes might reflect seasonal variation in the wavelength of light reaching the bacteria. Chemocline erosion did not have the same effect on the population size (biomass) of the photosynthetic bacteria in Crawford Lake (this thesis) as it did in Pink Lake (Dickman, 1979). In Crawford Lake the depth of the chemocline was lowered with no apparent loss in biomass (according to bacteriochlorophyll data). A reverse current was. proposed to explain the observation. The photosynthetic bacteria contributed a significant proportion (10-60%) of the lake1s primary productivitya Direct evidence was obtained with (14C) labelling of the photosynthetic bacteria, indica.ting that the zooplankton were grazing the photosynthetic bacteria. This indicated that some of the photosynthetic bacterial productivity was assimilated into the food chain of the lake. Therefore, it was concluded that the photosynthetic bacteria made a significant contribution to the total productivity of Crawford Lake.
    • Feeding and oviposition preferences of the diamondback moth Plutella xylostella (Lepidoptera: Plutellidae) on six Brassicaceae host plant species

      Newman, Kiera; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 2014-10-10)
      Plutella xylostella (diamondback moth, DBM) is a globally distributed Lepidopteran that feeds and oviposits almost exclusively on plants in the Brassicaceae family. DBM disperses from the southern United States and Mexico into Canada in the spring and summer. Establishment of DBM in Ontario is partially dependent upon the quantity and quality of host plants available and the preference of DBM for different hosts. Host plants include many crops such as broccoli, canola and cabbage, as well as landscape ornamentals and wild plants. It has previously been established that DBM are attracted to host plants by chemicals, specifically glucosinolates. I examined the preference of DBM among crop, wild and ornamental host plant species and how preference varies with insect life stage (3rd and 4th instar larvae and adults). Experiments included exposing DBM larvae from five populations coming from different locations in Canada to six Brassicaceae species and evaluating the preferences and weight gain over one hour. Then adult females were exposed to these same plant species and their oviposition preferences were examined. Populations from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario were compared to assess differences in preference associated with geographic region or species of host plant. The ultimate goal of my study was to understand the potential of various Brassicaceae species to act as reservoirs to sustain and promote population growth of DBM, as well as sinks that may decrease DBM abundance. Results showed that garden cress (Lepidium sativum) was highly preferred over other species (wintercress, black mustard, aubretia, broccoli and ornamental kale) for both food and oviposition sources. Previous studies report that garden cress contains saponins, chemicals shown to be toxic to developing DBM larvae, however no studies have yet shown a preference for garden cress. These results provide information on a novel host plant with the potential to control DBM population growth. No difference in preferences was found among populations of DBM from various sources in Canada.
    • Feeding rates, parental investment, and brood reduction in Caspian terns (Sterna caspia)

      Quinn, James Scott.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1980-07-09)
      Fresh egg-weights and feeding rates to chicks were related to chick survival as one means of quantifying apportionment of parental investment wi thin broods of Caspian Terns (SterDI casRla) at a colony in Georgian Bay. Lake Huron, during 1978 and 1979. Ftrst-laid eggs from 2-egg clutches were Significantly heavier and usually hatched one to three days earlier than second-laid eggs in both years of the study. In both years, first-hatched chicks were larger and generally better fed than second-hatched siblings. The disparity between feedIng rates of first- and second-hatched ehicks was greater in 1979. Brood feeding I rates correlated positively with the percentage of food fed to the least-fed sibUng through the period of B-chick ages zero to 10 days in 1978. I suggest that after this age period, parental control over whlcb cbick was fed diminished. In 1978, 10 of 16 secondhatched chicks were fed more than their older siblings during their first 5 days. 'lb.is is interpreted as a parental response to reduce the competitive advantage of the larger first-hatched chicks. Most chick losses were apparently caused by starvation or preda. tion. In 1979, seeorvl-hatched chick disappearance (due to predation) was -related to low feeding rates, whereas first-hatched chick disappearance was related to low fresh egg-weights.. First-hatched chicks survived better than second-hatched chicks both years, and more pairs fledged two chicks in 1978. Maximum estimated feeding rates at the nest and fledging ages suggested that food was more avatlable in 1978 than in 1979. In 1979, second eggs apparently functioned as "insurance" eggs. When the first-laid egg falled to hatch, or the first-hatched chick died, the second-hatched chick was often successfully fledged. When first-hatched chicks survived, the second-hatched chick usually starved or was preyed upon, reducing the brood to one chick. Parental investment patterns favored first-hatched chicks. Brood reduction, when employed, discouraged total nest failure, however, under appropriate conditions, brood reduction was avoided and full broods (or two chicks) were fledged.
    • Fimbriae of coprinus cinereus, schizophyllum commune and ustilago violacea = structural aspects and a role in conjugation

      Boulianne, Robert P.; Department of Biological Sciences (Brock University, 1990-07-09)
      Surface fibrils (fimbriae) have been observed on fungi from every major group. Fimbriae are thought to be involved in the following cell to cell interactions: conjugation, flocculation and adhesion. Several higher fungi exibit two other types of interactions: hyphal fusion (anastomosis) and clamp connection formation. As a prelude to examining the role of fimbriae in these processes, the fimbriae of two fungi that undergo these fusion events were examined. Electron microscopy studies revealed that Coprinus cinereus and Schizophyllum commune are fimbriated. C. cinereus fimbriae were 5 nm in diameter and 0.5 to 20 11m in length. Fimbriae of C. cinereus oidia were more numerous and longer than those of the hyphal stage. S. commune fimbriae were also 5 nm in diameter, but were only 0.5 to 2 11m in length. There was an unequal distribution of fimbriae on the hyphal surfaces of S. commune . Fimbriae were sparsely distributed over the entire hyphal surface, with higher densities of fibrils present on the side growths of the hyphae found in the older sections of the mycelium. Antiserum raised against Ustilago violacea fimbrial protein (AU) crossreacted strongly with 37 and 39 kd C. cinereus mycelial proteins. In contrast, AU bound very weakly to 89 and 92 kd S. commune mycelial proteins. Since AU cross-reacted poorly with S. commune fimbrial proteins, it was impossible to further characterize the fimbriae of this specIes. The 37 and 39 kd C. cinereus proteins, were isolated by electroelution and were shown to be able to form fibrils the same diameter as oidial fimbriae. The 37 kd protein was shown to be composed of several proteins with isoelectric points ranging from pH 6.1 to 7.63. Furthermore, the 37 kd protein was found to be multimeric, while the 39 kd protein was not. These results strongly suggested that the 37 kd protein is the structural fimbrial protein of C. cine reus . Finally, a series of experiments were designed to determine whether fimbriae are required for conjugation in U. violacea Conjugation was inhibited significantly with AU, but not with pre-immune serum or AU preincubated with purified fimbrial protein. Thus, it was concluded that fimbriae play a central role in mating in this organism.
    • Flood Survival Strategies of Overwintering Snakes

      Yagi, Anne .R.; Department of Biological Sciences
      This thesis investigates snake flood survival during hibernation and how anthropogenic habitat alteration and climate variability may affect habitat quality and overwintering survival. Chapter one reviews the current understanding of ecophysiology of hibernation in snakes. In chapter two, I introduce a winter habitat model of a subterranean space that remains flood and frost-free, referred to as the “life zone,” where snakes survive winter. I analyzed 11- winters of hibernation habitat data and 18-yrs of population mark-recapture data to assess the effects of the first flood event on an endangered Massasauga population. Following the flood event, snake observations declined despite hundreds of hours of search-effort. At the population level this was evidence of poor winter survival and recruitment post flood. The direct cause of mortality was not determined but poor winter survival in areas with a depleted life zone was statistically supported. In the third chapter, I measured the metabolic rate (M ̇_(O_2 )) at 5°C for three snake species that inhabit my study area. I varied water level conditions and measured activity and dive behaviours continuously during experiments. I found differences between species in their resting metabolic rate, which I attributed to body size differences. I confirmed, cutaneous respiration occurs at a low rate and was significantly upregulated during a forced dive (flood event). Therefore, there is an intrinsic physiological response to a flood event in neonatal snakes. However, post-flood recovery indicated a greater oxygen demand after the short-forced dive. An oxygen debt was incurred during a short-forced dive under normoxic conditions. My conclusions are, 1) hibernation habitat (i.e., life zone) must include a non-freezing, non-flooding aerobic space throughout winter to maintain snake survival. 2) cutaneous respiration is a short-term flood survival strategy. I found no support for a complete aquatic hibernation strategy 3) the energy costs of a full-dive is additive to the recovery energetic costs of a flood event. A neonatal snake wintering energy budget is proposed, and winter mortality conservation issues are discussed in chapter 4.