Abstracts (51-60)

51) Elizabeth Beck, Ecology/Colleen Cassady St. Clair, M.S.c, oral presentation
Abstract Title: Exposure to oil sands process-affected water has minimal health effects on domestic mallards (Anas platyrhynchos domestica)

Bitumen extraction from the oil sands of northern Alberta produces large volumes of waste water that contains substances toxic to wildlife. Recent monitoring has shown that tens of thousands of birds land annually on these ponds, creating an urgent need to understand their effects on bird health. We emulated the repeated, short-term exposures to process-affected water migrating water birds experience in the oil sands, by exposing juvenile and adult Pekin ducks (Anas platyrhynchos domestica) to process-affected water without visible contaminants, including bitumen, and comparing a series of health indicators to controls similarly exposed to well water. We assessed toxicity by evaluating body mass and a series of biochemical, endocrinological, hematological, and heavy metal panels. Most notably, birds treated with process-affected water had higher levels of potassium (juveniles), bicarbonate and vanadium (adults) than control birds following the final exposure. Adult females had higher bile acid, globulin and molybdenum levels, while juvenile males had a higher thyroid hormone ratio (T3/T4), and adult males had higher corticosterone than controls. However, none of these measures exceeded available reference ranges for ducks which suggests process-affected water is not necessarily toxic to birds, but more studies are needed to know the generality of this result.

52) Shane Francis Carey, Dr. Rebecca Case, 499, Poster
Abstract Title: Increased chlorophyll production, algal health, and coccolith formation by Emiliania huxleyi 2090 in co-culture with various E.huxleyi 217 bacterial clades.

E. huxleyi CCMP 2090, a bald and diploid strain, was grown in various bacterial co-cultures with hopes of demonstrating increased algal health, chloroplast production, or coccolith formation.  EHUX 2090 is genetically identical to E.hux 1516 except that it has been cultured axenically. EHUX 1516 originally produced coccoliths when it was first cultured, but lost the ability with a change in bacterial flora over time. The identical genomic nature of the two strains strongly suggests that the bacterial flora plays a role in coccolith production. Increased chlorophyll production has been shown in co-cultures with two separate bacterial clades with closest relatives Rhodovulum sp, and Thalassobacter sp. Some evidence of coccolith production has been shown in a separate co-culture with Ehux 3268, a bald haploid swarmer, and a Jannaschia related species. Communication between EHUX and bacterial symbionts has already been demonstrated with senescence signals and Roseobacter  production by Phaeobacter gallaeciensis BS107. These results build on the knowledge of the complex and symbiotic relationships between algae and their consortia. These relationships thus demonstrate the importance of our oceans and the organisms that inhabit them, because of the role E. huxleyi plays in carbon and sulfur cycling.

53) Alethe Kabore, Patrick Hanington, MSc, Poster
Abstract Title: The Immunosuppressive Role of Invadolysin in Successful Infection of Snail by Schistosome Worms

Schistosomiasis is a chronic parasitic tropical disease caused by several trematodes species. It is the second most important parasitic disease in the world after Malaria.
Freshwater snails serve as hosts for Schistosoma worms by releasing the larval form of the parasite, which penetrates the human skin. Learning more about the interaction between snail hosts and infecting trematodes will enlighten and enhance our aptitude to control and prevent further spreading of Schistosomiasis. It has been shown that in the case of successful infection of snail hosts, schistosome parasites release specific factors during early host infection stage. Invadolysin has been shown to be present at an increased proportion during this process of snail infection by Schistosomes. Leishmanolysin (the Invadolysin correspondent in Leishmaniasis) has been showed to actively interact with the host’s macrophage anti-microbial and inflammatory functions. We hypothesize that Invadolysin plays an immunosuppressive role and counters the snail innate immune system, allowing trematodes to successfully infect snails. After isolating Invadolysin gene and realizing a corresponding protein production, Invadolysin anti-bodies will be created. Using Invadolysin anti-bodies, the evolution and interaction of Invadolysin within infected snails will then be studied.

54) Candace Grant, Dave Pilgrim, 499, oral
Abstract Title: Muscle maintenance and the effects of stress on gene expression in Danio rerio

Sarcomeres, the basic contractile units of muscle, are highly structured protein complexes that are subjected to constant stress through physical activity. Some of the proteins (chaperones) that cells normally use to help fold cellular components during development are also used to help cells recover from environmental stresses, such as heat. This is particularly true of a set of proteins in muscle that are essential for allowing the thick filaments, which are comprised of myosin, to properly assemble into their contractile form. I am interested in understanding whether the two roles of this set of proteins are distinct. Our lab has studied a set of zebrafish genes in muscle development and patterning genes that overlap the developmental and stress response pathways.  My project will measure how expression of these factors is affected by developmental defects of the sarcomere, and how the responses to compromised development differ from those induced by stress. I will use zebrafish in which these factors are knocked down (by use of mutants or by chemical means, singly or in combinations) in the presence or absence of environmental stresses and measure expression of a set of stress response genes and protein chaperones via quantitative PCR.

55) Michelle A. Gordy, Patrick C. Hanington, Ph.D. in Environmental Health, poster presentation
Abstract Title: Unveiling the intricacies of snail and trematode relationships

Of the over 18,000 known species of digenetic trematode, most undergo larval development within a snail host. Commonly, trematodes display a high degree of specificity for the snail hosts that they can infect. This specificity is, at least in part, dictated by immunological interactions that appear to have established over the long co-evolutionary history of these two groups of organisms. Recent evidence has revealed the presence of specific immunological and environmental factors that are determinants of infection susceptibility. However, much remains unknown about the factors that influence compatibility between snails and trematodes, especially within their natural environments. To better understand the driving factors of host and parasite specificity, diversity, and compatibility, we are conducting a field surveillance study of snail and trematode species across different lakes in Alberta. As part of this study, we are collecting data related to snail and trematode presence and prevalence. In addition, molecular and environmental data is being gathered to assess the impact of physical environment and known compatibility determinants on the observed patterns in snail/trematode distribution and infection.

56) Tetsuto Miyashita, A.R. Palmer; Ph.D; oral
Abstract Title: The cranial anatomy of living jawless fishes and the interrelationships of early vertebrates

No other structure better characterizes vertebrates than the head, with its massive skull, highly specialized muscles, and intricate innervations by cranial nerves. Did the first vertebrate possess all of those traits, or did early vertebrates acquire them in steps? Answers may lie in the basal grade of jawless vertebrates. Based on dissections, a histological analysis, and micro-CT imaging of cartilages, muscles, and nerves in hagfish and lampreys, we demonstrate that the biomechanics of the jawless vertebrate head differs from that of jawed vertebrates in two distinct ways: linear muscle antagonism and elastic recoiling of the skeleton. Homologues in the cranial musculature of hagfish and lampreys are established at more than one level of organization. That is, a group of muscles may withstand a test of homology, but individual muscles may or may not be compared. To highlight examples, we emphasize the muscle groups controlled by the trigeminal and facial nerves. After incorporating the nested patterns of homologues in coding of the characters, the cranial musculature neither supports nor rejects the hypothesis that hagfish and lampreys are each other’s sister group. The solution to this problem lies in identifying possible correlates of the cranial muscles in fossil jawless vertebrate lineages. A phylogenetic bracket approach potentially changes the basal vertebrate phylogeny from the modern view of successive acquisition of gnathostome-like characteristics to a highly divergent, mosaic pattern of character evolution among the lineages.

57) Van Ortega, Dr. Greg Goss – Cell biology/physiology
Abstract Title: Changes in receptor-mediated signal transduction and the functional capacity of immune cell degranulation following exposure to metal-oxide nanoparticles.

The response of the vertebrate immune system to nanomaterials (NM) has not been examined to a great extent despite its importance to overall organism health and the successful use of NMs in consumer products. Organisms may internalize NMs via inadvertent environmental exposure when products are disposed, leading to exposure of the immune system. This raises concerns that NMs may cause unintended harmful consequences to the cells of the immune system and to the functional capacity of these cells. Nanomaterials are also being increasingly developed for in vivo use in nanomedicines, the success of which may be affected by host immune response. Current data indicate that NMs can induce both immunosuppression and immunoactivation in fish and mammals, and we have recently shown that some NMs may inhibit degranulation (the release of granular inflammatory mediators to combat infections) of RBL-2H3 cells, a rat mast cell line. Thus, there is concern that NMs could promote pro-inflammatory and auto-immune disorders, and/or conversely, increase a host’s susceptibility to infections. However, to date there has been limited comprehensive research dedicated to understanding these critical immunological interactions, and especially the mechanisms that govern these observations. Therefore, the aim of this study was to determine whether the mechanism that decreased degranulation in RBL-2H3 cells in our previous study was related to changes in the signal transduction of intracellular kinases that activate and mediate cellular degranulation. Cells were exposed to polymer-coated metal-oxide NMs at various concentrations for up to 24 hours and protein expression measured using Western blotting techniques. In addition, we measured cell degranulation with and without pre-exposure to NMs. Our results show significant suppression of the degranulatory response at the signal transduction, receptor binding and functional output of the immune cells.

58) Valerie Phillips; Emmanuel Pila, and Dr. Patrick Hanington; BSc Specialization Immunology and Infection; BIOL 498; Poster Presentation
Abstract Title: Examination of the role of granulin in Biomphalaria glabrata hematopoiesis in response to the digenean fluke infection

Granulins are small 6kD proteins that have been found in a wide range of species including mammals and various invertebrates. These factors have been observed acting in inflammation, wound healing, hematopoiesis and development in a variety of species. The multiple processes that granulin functions in stems from the proteins repetitive structure that consists of multiple ß-sheet motifs comprised of a conserved 12-cysteine repeat that can be proteolytically cleaved to form variations of the pro-granulin protein. Of interest to us is the role that granulin plays in the immune response of gastropod mollusks. Snails serve, almost exclusively, as the intermediate host for a large family of medically significant parasitic organisms, the digenetic trematodes. It is known that granulins are up regulated during the course of trematode infections in snails and are thought to play a role in hematopoiesis, producing more immune cells that serve to encapsulate the developing parasite. The goal of this experiment is to monitor the levels of granulin expression over time in response to infection with Schistosoma mansoni or Echinostoma paraensei in two strains of Biomphalaria glabrata (M-line and BS-90). Expression will also be monitored in response to infection with the bacteria Aeromonas hydrophilia to see if there is a difference in granulin expression in response to various types of pathogens. The presence of granulin will be detected over the course of infection using PCR amplification of granulin mRNA at 1, 3, 6, 12, 48, and 72 hours after initial infection. This experiment will hopefully improve the overall understanding of the importance and role of granulin during parasitic infection and their role in gastropod hematopoiesis.

59) Bogdan Zakarlyuka, Tierney, BIOL299, poster
Abstract Title: Physiological Resilience of Arctic Char to Simulated Diurnal Temperature Fluctuations

In the summers of 2012 and 2013 we recorded large diurnal temperature fluctuations (>10°C) in Nulahuyuk Creek, a migratory pathway of historically valuable arctic char. We examined the physiological resilience of arctic char to these potentially detrimental fluctuations by exposing char to simulated diurnal fluctuations and assessing their endurance swimming performance (U-crit), their ability to sprint following a brief recovery from exhaustive exercise, and their relative packed red blood cell volume (PCV). Arctic char that we warmed to the daily temperature maxima (21°C) had reduced recoverability and lower PCV relative to control fish that we held at the minimum daily temperature (11°C). Char that experienced a complete diurnal cycle (11 to 21 to 11°C) had an intermediate recovery performance and PCV relative to the warmed and control groups. We found no differences in U-crit of char tested under the different temperature treatments. To allow for comparison with a more southerly distributed salmonid, we conducted the same tests on rainbow trout. Trout had elevated U-crit and PCV at warm temperatures and showed no change in recoverability. These results suggest that current temperature conditions may impair the recovery of migratory arctic char from exercise and may favour more warm adapted species.

60) Erin Campbell; Supervisor: Dr. Lien Luong;  Biol 399, oral presentation
Abstract Title: Host choice in the facultatively parasitic mite Macrocheles subbadius (Acari: Mesostigmata)

In this study, I investigated the role of host choice in the mite Macrocheles subbadius, a facultative parasite of the fruit fly Drosophila hydei. This study has broad implications for the behavioral ecology of parasites, particularly facultative parasites, within the spectrum of parasitism. M. subbadius inhabits highly ephemeral environments where it typically feeds on free-living bacteriophagic nematodes. Once a habitat degrades and food becomes less abundant, M. subbadius parasitizes D. hydei hosts, both as a means of dispersing to a new habitat and as a food source, feeding on the hemolymph. Specifically, I tested whether the mites showed a sex-biased infection when presented with either male or female hosts. I also examined whether feeding status (i.e. starvation) influenced the mite’s choice of male or female hosts. I predicted that female flies would be preferentially infected over males regardless of feeding status. My results show that mites actively show preference with regard to host sex, and that the outcome was modified by the feeding status of the mites.