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Drivers And Consequences Of Carbon Use Efficiency - And Its Measurement In Soil, Grace Pold Oct 2019

Drivers And Consequences Of Carbon Use Efficiency - And Its Measurement In Soil, Grace Pold

Doctoral Dissertations

Soils serve as massive carbon sinks, but their ability to continue this ecological service is contingent on how the resident soil microbial community will respond to the ongoing climate crisis. One key dimension of the microbial response to warming is its carbon use efficiency (CUE), or the fraction of carbon taken up by an organism which is allocated to growth rather than respiration. However, the scientific community is still in the early stages of understanding the drivers, consequences - and even accurate measurements of - CUE. In this dissertation, I first quantified the variability of CUE and its responsiveness to temperature and ...


Patterns Of Morphological Plasticity In Metriaclima Zebra And Danio Rerio Suggest Differently Canalized Phenotypes Due To Form-Function Relationships, Dylan Jockel Oct 2019

Patterns Of Morphological Plasticity In Metriaclima Zebra And Danio Rerio Suggest Differently Canalized Phenotypes Due To Form-Function Relationships, Dylan Jockel

Masters Theses

In order to ascertain the degree of compatibility in developmental restructuring and behavioral plasticity between two fish species frequently made subject of laboratory research (Metriaclima zebra & Danio rerio), alternative trophic niche exposure experiments utilizing novel three-prong feeding treatments were conducted to obtain morphometric data, which demonstrated both species do bear some degree of plasticity. The results are somewhat complicated by differences in locality of detectable restructuring, which may be due to disparity in the form-function relationship for each species’ lineage. Each is notable in the manner of respective species’ jaw protrusion, as it is driven by anterior kinethmoid rotation in ...


Population Viability And Connectivity Of The Federally Threatened Eastern Indigo Snake In Central Peninsular Florida, Javan Bauder Mar 2019

Population Viability And Connectivity Of The Federally Threatened Eastern Indigo Snake In Central Peninsular Florida, Javan Bauder

Doctoral Dissertations

Understanding the factors influencing the likelihood of persistence of real-world populations requires both an accurate understanding of the traits and behaviors of individuals within those populations (e.g., movement, habitat selection, survival, fecundity, dispersal) but also an understanding of how those traits and behaviors are influenced by landscape features. The federally threatened eastern indigo snake (EIS, Drymarchon couperi) has declined throughout its range primarily due to anthropogenically-induced habitat loss and fragmentation making spatially-explicit assessments of population viability and connectivity essential for understanding its current status and directing future conservation efforts.

The primary goal of my dissertation was to understand how ...


Protein Degradation Regulates Phospholipid Biosynthetic Gene Expression In Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, Bryan Salas-Santiago Mar 2019

Protein Degradation Regulates Phospholipid Biosynthetic Gene Expression In Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, Bryan Salas-Santiago

Doctoral Dissertations

Transcriptional regulation of most phospholipid biosynthetic genes in Saccharomyces cerevisiae is coordinated by inositol and choline. Inositol affects phosphatidic acid (PA) intracellular levels. Opi1p interacts physically with PA and is the main repressor of the phospholipid biosynthetic genes. It is localized in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) bound to the ER membrane protein Scs2p. When PA levels drop, Opi1p is translocated into the nucleus repressing most phospholipid biosynthetic genes. The OPI1 locus was identified in a screen looking for overproduction and excretion of inositol (Opi-). Opi- mutants are generally associated with a defect in repression of the ...


An Integrative Approach To Understanding Morphological Novelties: Anatomy, Development, Genetics, And Evolution Of An Extreme Craniofacial Trait In East African Cichlids, Moira R. Conith Nov 2018

An Integrative Approach To Understanding Morphological Novelties: Anatomy, Development, Genetics, And Evolution Of An Extreme Craniofacial Trait In East African Cichlids, Moira R. Conith

Doctoral Dissertations

Phenotypic novelties are an important but poorly understood category of morphological diversity that are often associated with elevated rates of diversification and/or ecological success. The aim of this dissertation is to explore a phenotypic novelty at many levels to contribute to our understanding of how these unique traits can arise (e.g., genetically, developmentally, and evolutionarily) as well as their ecological consequences (e.g., trait function). The extreme snout of the Lake Malawi cichlid fish Labeotropheus is used as a case study. The first chapter establishes the Labeotropheus snout as a model of phenotypic novelty by characterizing the gross ...


A Plant Pathology View Of Signaling: A Computational Study Of Fusarium Oxysporum Kinomes And Downy Mildew Resistance In Sweet Basil, Gregory Deiulio Nov 2018

A Plant Pathology View Of Signaling: A Computational Study Of Fusarium Oxysporum Kinomes And Downy Mildew Resistance In Sweet Basil, Gregory Deiulio

Doctoral Dissertations

This dissertation is composed of two projects that focus on pathogen and plant signaling within the framework of plant pathology. The first project targets protein kinases within the species complex Fusarium oxysporum based on genomic information and tracks their presence/absence and copy number variation across evolutionary time. We have predicted the kinomes of 19 Ascomycete fungi using the kinase annotating software Kinannote. Among Fusaria, kinases related to the perception of the environment, such as Histidine kinases, are proliferated. Similarly, I observed the expansion of Target of Rapamycin (TOR) kinase that regulates cell growth and development in responding to environmental ...


Variation And Evolution Of Fruit Ripening Traits In Tomato Species, Ian M. Gillis Oct 2018

Variation And Evolution Of Fruit Ripening Traits In Tomato Species, Ian M. Gillis

Doctoral Dissertations

As angiosperm seeds mature within their ovaries, ovary tissue tends to grow and transform itself into fruit, which aids the success of the seeds. Fruits that are fleshy provide numerous ways to aid in the protection and the dispersal of seeds. First, they keep seeds hidden, encased in hard walls, surrounded by poisons and unpalatable compounds, and second, they undergo developmental changes that facilitate seeds’ release. Tomatoes, a model fleshy fruit, have all these protective traits, and over the course of ripening they become the familiar fruit that is a staple crop around the world. The wild relatives of cultivated ...


Clpxp-Regulated Proteins Suppress Requirement For Reca In Dam Mutants Of Escherichia Coli K-12, Amie Savakis Oct 2018

Clpxp-Regulated Proteins Suppress Requirement For Reca In Dam Mutants Of Escherichia Coli K-12, Amie Savakis

Masters Theses

Double strand breaks (DSB) are a common source of DNA damage in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. If they are not repaired or are repaired incorrectly, they can lead to cell death (bacteria) or cancer (humans). In Escherichia coli, repair of DSB are typically accomplished via homologous recombination and mediated by RecA. This repair pathway, among others, is associated with activation of the SOS response. DNA adenine methyltransferase (dam) mutants have an increased number of DSB and, therefore, are notorious for being RecA-dependent for viability. Here, we show that the synthetic lethality of Δdam/ΔrecA is suppressed when clpP is removed ...


Transposable Elements In Fusarium Oxysporum & Growth Inhibition Of Fusarium Oxysporum Using Pepper Extracts, Taylor Aguiar Jul 2018

Transposable Elements In Fusarium Oxysporum & Growth Inhibition Of Fusarium Oxysporum Using Pepper Extracts, Taylor Aguiar

Masters Theses

The following contains two projects focused on the fungal pathogen, Fusarium oxysporum. The first project was purely computational in the examination of transposable elements (TEs), which are mobile sequences with the ability to multiply and move in their host genome. In F. oxysporum, TEs such as miniature impala elements are associated with the secreted in xylem gene that are related to its virulence over its host. The F. oxysporum species complex can be utilized as a model system for the examination of TE content and TE expression during the infection cycle. To find whether TEs play a role in the ...


Impacts Of Genome And Nuclear Architecture On Molecular Evolution In Eukaryotes, Xyrus Maurer-Alcalá Mar 2018

Impacts Of Genome And Nuclear Architecture On Molecular Evolution In Eukaryotes, Xyrus Maurer-Alcalá

Doctoral Dissertations

The traditional view of genomes suggests that they are static entities changing slowly in sequence and structure through time (e.g. evolving over geological time-scales). This outdated view has been challenged as our understanding of the dynamic nature of genomes has increased. Changes in DNA content (i.e. polyploidy) are common to specific life-cycle stages in a variety of eukaryotes, as are changes in genome content itself. These dramatic genomic changes include chromosomal deletions (i.e. paternal chromosome deletion in insects; Goday and Esteban 2001; Ross, et al. 2010), developmentally regulated genome rearrangements (e.g. the V(D)J system ...


Uncovering Tasselsheath3. A Genomic And Phenotypic Analysis Of A Maize Floral Mutant., Thompson Zhang Oct 2017

Uncovering Tasselsheath3. A Genomic And Phenotypic Analysis Of A Maize Floral Mutant., Thompson Zhang

Masters Theses

In the modern era, maize has become the most successful crop grown in the United States. According to the USDA over 90 million acres of land are planted to corn and 96.2% of the U.S feed grain production is made up of the cereal. Part of the success of maize is due to its floral architecture, and its pollination technique in which the flower opens, exposing stamens containing pollen into the air. A unique organ called the lodicule functions as a release mechanism, forcing the flower to open. Lodicules from grasses and eudicot petals are homologous, yet there ...


Multiple Testing Correction With Repeated Correlated Outcomes: Applications To Epigenetics, Katie Leap Oct 2017

Multiple Testing Correction With Repeated Correlated Outcomes: Applications To Epigenetics, Katie Leap

Masters Theses

Epigenetic changes (specifically DNA methylation) have been associated with adverse health outcomes; however, unlike genetic markers that are fixed over the lifetime of an individual, methylation can change. Given that there are a large number of methylation sites, measuring them repeatedly introduces multiple testing problems beyond those that exist in a static genetic context. Using simulations of epigenetic data, we considered different methods of controlling the false discovery rate. We considered several underlying associations between an exposure and methylation over time.

We found that testing each site with a linear mixed effects model and then controlling the false discovery rate ...


Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate Reduces Fat Accumulation In Caenorhabditis Elegans, Jinning Liu Jul 2017

Epigallocatechin-3-Gallate Reduces Fat Accumulation In Caenorhabditis Elegans, Jinning Liu

Masters Theses

Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), also known as epigallocatechin-3-gallate, is a polyphenol that is most abundant in tea. It has been shown from many studies that consumption of EGCG can contribute to weight loss, however, the underlying mechanism is not fully understood. To determine how EGCG acts to reduce fat, an organism model Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) is introduced, which is a useful animal system in exploring crucial biological mechanisms that are readily applicable to humans. In this study, different strains were raised for two days on a diet with or without 100µM and 200µM EGCG treatment: N2 (i.e., wild type ...


The Key Question In Symbiotic Nitrogen Fixation: How Does Host Maintain A Bacterial Symbiont?, Onur Oztas Jul 2017

The Key Question In Symbiotic Nitrogen Fixation: How Does Host Maintain A Bacterial Symbiont?, Onur Oztas

Doctoral Dissertations

The fact that plants cannot use nitrogen in the gaseous form makes them dependent on the levels of usable nitrogen forms in the soil. Legumes overcome nitrogen limitation by entering a symbiotic association with rhizobia, soil bacteria that convert atmospheric nitrogen into usable ammonia. In root nodules, bacteria are internalized by host plant cells inside an intracellular compartment called the symbiosome where they morphologically differentiate into nitrogen-fixing forms by symbiosome-secreted host proteins.

In this project, I explained the host proteins required to maintain bacterial symbionts and described their delivery to the symbiosome. I showed that the SYNTAXIN 132 (SYP132) gene ...


Expansion Of And Reclassification Within The Family Lachnospiraceae, Kelly N. Haas Nov 2016

Expansion Of And Reclassification Within The Family Lachnospiraceae, Kelly N. Haas

Doctoral Dissertations

Many of the taxa in the family Lachnospiraceae are currently misclassified as Clostridium spp. Here attempt to rectify many of these issues, beginning with an in-depth genomic and physiologic analysis of Clostridium methoxybenzovorans, culminating in the assertion that is a heterotype of Clostridium indolis, followed by reclassification of the broader group in which this organism resides. We propose two novel genera, Lacriformis and Enterocloster, to reclassify this clade, this includes reclassification of Clostridium sphenoides, Clostridium indolis, Clostridium saccharolyticum, Clostridium celerecrescens, Clostridium xylanolyticum, Clostridium algidixylanolyticum, Clostridium aerotolerans, Clostridium amygdalinum, and Desulfotomaculum guttoideum as Lacriformis sphenoides, comb. nov., Lacriformis indolis, comb. nov ...


A Genetic Analysis Of Cichlid Scale Morphology, Kenta C. Kawasaki Nov 2016

A Genetic Analysis Of Cichlid Scale Morphology, Kenta C. Kawasaki

Masters Theses

Epidermal appendages are found on every vertebrate this world has to offer. In fish, these are commonly represented by scales. While we have a solid grasp of how scales develop, little is known about the underlying genetic mechanisms behind these phenotypic changes. Using two species of African cichlids (Labeotropheus fuelleborni and Tropheops “red cheek”) with varying scale phenotypes, we sought to examine their F2 hybrid offspring and statistically link the responsible genetic elements to their respective parental phenotypes through Quantitative Loci Trait (QTL) analysis.

Scales were removed from six different locations across the midline of each individual. Then, numerous traits ...


Novel Advancements For Improving Sprout Safety, Kyle S. Landry Jul 2016

Novel Advancements For Improving Sprout Safety, Kyle S. Landry

Doctoral Dissertations

All varieties of bean sprouts (mung bean, alfalfa, broccoli, and radish) are classified as a “super-food” and are common staples for health conscious consumers. Along with the proposed health benefits, there is also an inherent risk of foodborne illness. When sprouts are cooked, there is little risk of illness. The purpose of this dissertation was to explore novel techniques to minimize or prevent the incidence of foodborne illness associated with the consumption of sprouts. Three areas were investigated: 1) the use of a biocontrol organism, 2) the use of a novel spontaneous carvacrol nanoemulsion, and 3) the influence of the ...


Population Genetic Analysis Of Atlantic Horseshoe Crabs (Limulus Polyphemus) In Coastal Massachusetts., Katherine T. Johnson Mar 2016

Population Genetic Analysis Of Atlantic Horseshoe Crabs (Limulus Polyphemus) In Coastal Massachusetts., Katherine T. Johnson

Masters Theses

Atlantic horseshoe crabs (Limulus polyphemus) have endured decades of intense harvest pressure. Genetics studies have shown evidence of distinct sub-groups spanning the coast, although few fine-scale studies have been done to delineate these groups on a local level. Massachusetts lies directly between two of these sub-groups. With documented differences in prosomal widths of horseshoe crabs from either side of Cape Cod, it is possible that Cape Cod is a barrier to gene flow and that there are two distinct genetic groups within Massachusetts. Regulations currently consider all horseshoe crabs to be of one stock. I examined 6 microsatellite loci from ...


Evolvability Of The Skull: A Study Of Genetic Basis And Integration In The Teleost Craniofacial Skeleton, Yinan Hu Mar 2016

Evolvability Of The Skull: A Study Of Genetic Basis And Integration In The Teleost Craniofacial Skeleton, Yinan Hu

Doctoral Dissertations

As the field of evolutionary biology pivots away from a gene-centric view of how adaptive evolution proceeds, renewed emphasis is placed on the origin of phenotypic variation. Understanding the developmental processes that underlie the production of novel traits, and how they might influence evolvability, is considered a primary goal in the on-going “extended evolutionary synthesis”. The following dissertation explores these questions in the context of adaptive radiations in fish, with a focus on morphological variation in the craniofacial skeleton. Specifically, the first chapter investigates the genetic and developmental basis of shape (co-)variation in the feeding apparatus of African cichlid ...


Uncovering The Genetic Basis For Biofuel-Related Traits In Brachypodium Distachyon, Scott J. Lee Jan 2016

Uncovering The Genetic Basis For Biofuel-Related Traits In Brachypodium Distachyon, Scott J. Lee

Doctoral Dissertations

Biofuels derived from plant biomass present a promising avenue to address the negative aspects of fossil-fuel dependence. The sustainability of biofuel production relies in part on the efficient degradation of lignocellulosic feedstocks. In order to capitalize on the potential of lignocellulosic biofuels, the genes underlying natural genetic variation for conversion efficiency must be determined. We have developed a robust and high-throughput assay to measure feedstock quality using the anaerobic bacterium Clostridium phytofermentans. We have measured biomass accumulation phenotypes and utilized this assay to perform quantitative trait locus (QTL) mapping and a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in the model grass species ...


Utilizing In Silico And/Or Native Esi Approaches To Provide New Insights On Haptoglobin/Globin And Haptoglobin/Receptor Interactions, Ololade Fatunmbi Nov 2015

Utilizing In Silico And/Or Native Esi Approaches To Provide New Insights On Haptoglobin/Globin And Haptoglobin/Receptor Interactions, Ololade Fatunmbi

Doctoral Dissertations

Haptoglobin (Hp), an acute phase protein, binds free hemoglobin (Hb) dimers in one of the strongest non-covalent interactions known in biology. This interaction protects Hb from causing potentially severe oxidative damage and limiting nitric oxide bioavailability. Once Hb/Hp complexes are formed, they proceed to bind CD163, a cell surface receptor on macrophages leading to complex internalization and catabolism. Myoglobin, (Mb) a monomeric protein, that is normally found in the muscle but can be released into the blood in high concentrations during myocardial injury, is homologous to Hb and shares many conserved Hb/Hp interface residues. Both monomeric Hb and ...


Experimental Test Of Genetic Rescue In Isolated Populations Of Brook Trout, Zachary L. Robinson Jul 2015

Experimental Test Of Genetic Rescue In Isolated Populations Of Brook Trout, Zachary L. Robinson

Masters Theses

Translocations are an important aspect of the management of natural populations in an increasingly fragmented landscape. Maintaining connectivity and gene flow is beneficial for both contemporary fitness and adaptive potential in the face of environmental change. Genetic rescue (GR) can alleviate inbreeding depression, genetic load, and increase adaptive potential of populations. Here, I have translocated 10 (5 of each sex) brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) to four geographically proximate and environmentally similar fragmented stream-dwelling populations of brook trout in Virginia to test for genetic rescue. The translocated brook trout contributed to more families than would be expected under neutral introgression, and ...


Understanding The Transcriptional Regulation Of Secondary Cell Wall Biosynthesis In The Model Grass Brachypodium Distachyon, Pubudu Handakumbura Nov 2014

Understanding The Transcriptional Regulation Of Secondary Cell Wall Biosynthesis In The Model Grass Brachypodium Distachyon, Pubudu Handakumbura

Doctoral Dissertations

Secondary cell wall synthesis occurs in specialized cell types following completion of cell enlargement. By virtue of mechanical strength provided by a wall thickened with cellulose, hemicelluloses, and lignin, these cells can function as water-conducting vessels and provide structural support. Several transcription factor families regulate genes encoding wall synthesis enzymes. Certain NAC and MYB proteins directly bind upstream of structural genes and other transcription factors. The most detailed model of this regulatory network is established predominantly for a eudicot, Arabidopsis thaliana. In grasses, both the patterning and the composition of secondary cell walls are distinct from that of eudicots. These ...


Influence Of Lipoteichoic Acid On Listeria Monocytogenes Biofilm Formation And Cellular Stress, Imelda T. Brooks Nov 2014

Influence Of Lipoteichoic Acid On Listeria Monocytogenes Biofilm Formation And Cellular Stress, Imelda T. Brooks

Doctoral Dissertations

Lipoteichoic acid (LTA) is an important polymer on the surface of Gram-positive organisms, including the foodborne, biofilm-forming pathogen Listeria monocytogenes, and is connected to the cell membrane through a glycolipid backbone. Previous results have shown the importance of LTA in cell viability and biofilm formation. The purpose of this research is to further investigate the influence of LTA in L. monocytogenes biofilm formation and how the bacterium responds to environmental stress caused by antimicrobial exposures, and a combination of low temperature and high osmolarity. We created in frame deletion mutants along the operon lmo-2555-lmo2554-lmo2553, which have been shown to reduce ...


Sequence Analysis Of Maize Yellow Stripe3 Candidate Genes, Dennis B. Depaolo Nov 2014

Sequence Analysis Of Maize Yellow Stripe3 Candidate Genes, Dennis B. Depaolo

Masters Theses

The work presented here focuses on the molecular mechanism of phytosiderophore secretion in graminaceous plants. In maize, yellow stripe3 (ys3) is a mutant that is deficient in its ability to secrete iron-chelating compounds of the mugineic acid family known as phytosiderophores. Phytosiderophores are specific to grasses and are used for the acquisition of iron. Genetic linkage mapping of the ys3 locus lead to a region of interest on chromosome 3 defined by marker UMC1773. The sequence of eleven candidate genes (GRMZM2G390345, GRMZM2G390374, GRMZM2G342821, GRMZM5G800764, GRMZM2G502560, GRMZM5G849435, GRMZM2G105766, GRMZM5G876835, GRMZM2G036976, GRMZM2G502563, miR167g) revealed several small deletions and point mutations within the ...


Rapid Method Of Processing Sperm For Nucleic Acid Extraction In Clinical Research, Matthew K. De Gannes Aug 2014

Rapid Method Of Processing Sperm For Nucleic Acid Extraction In Clinical Research, Matthew K. De Gannes

Masters Theses

Background: Sperm contain highly compact nuclei, inhibiting DNA extraction using traditional techniques. Current methods extracting sperm DNA involve lengthy lysis and no means of stabilizing DNA, hindering clinical research.

Objective: We sought to optimize an efficient method of extracting high quality human sperm DNA.

Methods: Sperm from three volunteers were isolated using PureCeption. We tested 1) proteinase K with DNA/RNA Shield, 2) DTT and TCEP as reducing agents, 3) QIAshredder homogenization, and 4) stability of sperm DNA fresh (baseline) or after 4 weeks of storage at 4OC in DNA/RNA Shield using modified Quick-gDNA MiniPrep. DNA was ...


Evolution Of Hybrid Incompatibilities In Gene Regulatory Networks, Alexander Y. Tulchinsky Sep 2013

Evolution Of Hybrid Incompatibilities In Gene Regulatory Networks, Alexander Y. Tulchinsky

Open Access Dissertations

Under the Dobzhansky-Muller model, postzygotic isolation results from incompatibility between interacting genes. Evidence points to regulatory networks as a rich source of incompatibilities that impact hybrid fitness. Pleiotropy is a natural feature of regulatory networks because regulatory elements generally have multiple targets. Both pleiotropy and hybrid incompatibility arise due to genetic interactions; therefore we can expect an intimate association between them. In the following chapters, I investigate the relationship between pleiotropy and hybrid incompatibility in the context of regulatory networks.

In chapter one, I extend a general network-based study of hybrid incompatibility by incorporating a sequence-based thermodynamic model of transcriptional ...