Going Dotty: The Distribution and Effects of Rust on Highbush Cranberry

Purpose Every fall, I collect highbush cranberries (Viburnum edule) to make jelly. In 2012, for the first time, I observed highbush cranberry leaves covered in striking patterns of raised purple dots (telia) caused by the pathogenic rust fungus Puccinia linkii. I investigated the distribution and effects of this rust for several reasons: little is known about P. linkii, highbush cranberries are an important food source for wildlife and people, and foliar pathogens may increase with climate change in sub-boreal forests. First, I investigated the patterns of telia within plants. Second, I compared the variation in infection severity among plants, hypothesising that younger plants, those in dense populations, and those in low-elevation riparian areas would be most infected. Finally, I studied the effects of P. linkii on its host, hypothesising that highly infected plants would produce fewer berries and produce berries with less sugar, and that infected leaves would die sooner. Procedures This study investigated P. linkii in mixed coniferous-deciduous forest sites near Smithers, British Columbia. I marked a total of 41 randomly-selected focal V. edule plants in four sites. To examine within-plant patterns of infection, I photographed four leaves of each plant and used a graphic analysis program to examine the size, density and coverage of telia. To assess among-plant patterns, I compared infection severity (5 classes of telia coverage), to three ecological variables: host density within 5m, position on a moisture gradient, and plant maturity. To investigate the effects of P. linkii on its host, I compared infection severity to the number of berries produced, the proportion of malformed and infected berries, and the sugar content of mature berries as measured with a handheld refractometer. I measured leaf mortality in fall. Results P. linkii produced a characteristic pattern within each plant: higher leaves consistently had fewer but bigger telia than lower leaves. Across sites, plants were significantly more infected in areas of high host density. Within sites, young plants and plants and in moister ecosystems were significantly more infected (increases of 1.1 ± 0.2; F1,128=44.8, P

Bio-Active Plants

My Science Fair project last year tested a local native plant for it’s toxic effects on insects (fruit flies), bacteria, fungi, and viruses. The root of the plant Lomatium dissectum, had been used by the Salish People to control lice and other insect pests in horses and cattle. The root was also used to kill fish, which could then be harvested by women and children. The fish killed in this way were not harmful to eat as long as they were consumed soon afterward. I have found also that fishing with the aid of plant toxins was formerly very common in tropical Africa. \r Lomatium dissectum, grows in dry rocky slopes in conjunction with Sagebrush.\r Many desert plants produce toxic substances that inhibit the growth of competing plants\r nearby. This adaptation is called Allelopathy. In a natural ecosystem, Lomatium does not\r kill fish because it does not grow beside creeks. But this raises the question of whether\r allelopathic plants growing outside their natural ecosystem are having a toxic effect on\r animal life. There are introduced invasive weeds that are allelopathic, such as\r Knapweed,growing near streams. And there are crop plants that are allelopathic – Rye and\r Alfalfa. Do these “natural herbicides” also kill fish? Walnut trees are allelopathic and\r compounds from Walnut kill fish.\r If this effect does go beyond toxicity to other plants, it would be an important\r consideration to environmental guidelines for private land bordering on streams and\r rivers. The B.C. Ministry of Environment notes the importance of shade cover for\r spawning streams. It does not recognize the harmful effects of introduced plants. Yet,\r when we were purchasing supplies for our Koi Pond the pet supply company offered a list\r of “Some of the Worst Plants to Have Around Koi”. We do not know if the introduced\r allelopathic plants are poisoning fish or reducing fish stock by poisoning the food that fish\r need.\r Science Fair rules do not allow any research that is expected to have any negative\r impact on vertebrate animals. Because of this, I have decided to test the effect of\r allelopathic plants on fruit flies (Drosophila). Fruit flies are similar to fish since, during\r larva and pupa forms, they live in direct contact with their culture media. I will also be\r testing the effect of allelopathic plants on Planaria (Turbellaria), an aquatic invertebrate.

The Flying Chloroplasts Drug Test

Previously, I studied the acute effects of a common broadleaf herbicide, Killex (by Montsano) and a pesticide, Spidercide (by Wilson), on cytoplasmic streaming in detached leaves from the pond weed, Elodea canadensis. I found that Killex, active ingredient 2-4D, an auxin analog, applied at the recommended dose decreased the rate of cytoplasmic streaming by 64% over a 20 minute observational period. The Spidercide, active ingredient d-trans allethrin, a Na+ channel activator, stopped cytoplasmic streaming after a 5 minute exposure and no recovery was observed during the 20 minute observational period.

Orbital Forcing: An Astrophysical Solution to the Puzzle of Climate Change

Tree'ting Wood Better:Sunscreen for Trees

The purpose of this experiment is to determine whether or not wood can be used as an alternative testing method for sunscreens and which species of wood are good for this objective. This will be accomplished by applying varying strengths, or SPFs, of sunscreens onto thin wood veneers. They will then be exposed using a weatherometer, in which real light and sun conditions will be simulated. Using a device called a Pulmac, the samples of wood will be pulled apart from the centre at zero span. Based on the consistency of the strengths, it can be determined how the wood reacts to the sunscreen and whether that species of wood is suitable as a testing medium. Trees are an important commodity which enrich the lives of many people, particularly those who live in British Columbia. They provide the means of living and recreation for numerous people, whether it is employment, business, housing, or camping. Since trees are a renewable resource, they are convenient and realistic to use for testing. There are two possible extensions to this project. If the active ingredients in sunscreens can be determined, then we may be able to use these elements to create a new type of stain for fences and other structures. This could make the necessity for painting less frequent, creating cheaper options for the homeowner. The second possible extension of this project is to use the results to as an initiative to reduce the amount of animal and human testing done by manufacturers. This is important, as animal testing not only causes unnecessary pain, but often the results are not very accurate. Overall, I determined that this method of testing sunscreens would work quite well, especially with the following species, listed in decreasing order. 1) Yellow Cedar 2) Yellow Poplar 3) Maple 4) Hemlock These results were based on how tightly grouped together the means of the strength values were for each species. The closer they were, the more consistent that type of wood and therefore the better they are for testing. Overall, I think this method of testing sunscreens would work quite well, particularly with the yellow cedar, maple, yellow poplar and hemlock, as they resulted in fairly consistent strength values. Generally, the sunscreens with a high SPF, or Sun Protection Factor, resulted in a lower strength loss than the sunscreen with SPF 15. In addition to proving that sunscreen is a good method for preventing UV rays from reaching the skin, this experiment has also confirmed that there are other methods of testing sunscreens, which can be researched further. Along with my main presentation I will be showing various graphs, statistics, and pictures. They will be supplemented by a booklet of “Commonly Asked Questions and Answers” and species descriptions for each type of wood.

Biosolids : Bio-transfer Factors of Trace Metals

With an increase in the use of biosolids as a soil replacement and as a fertilizer for crop production, consumers continue to question the safety of crops grown in biosolids.Although past research has shown that there are no adverse affectsin the nutritional value of plants grown in biosolids, I furtherresearched the safety levels of trace metals in crops fertilized using biosolids.

Still Ain't Lichen This

To measure the air quality of the city of Prince George by using lichen as bio-indicators of pollution.

A Novel Procedure to Identify Genes involved in Electron Transfer of Exoelectrogens

Purpose of research. Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are bioelectrochemical systems that generate electrical energy by exploiting the extracellular electron transport (EET) capabilities of electrochemically active bacteria (EAB) (Logan 2009). This investigation aims to identify genes involved in driving bacterial EET with a new procedure that enables rapid screening of a side array of genes. These insights may lead to improved MFC performance through enhancing reactor design or genetic engineering EABs (Alfonta 2009). Procedures. MFC metagenomic analysis. Twelve MFCs incubated with four different bacterial samples were operated for approximately one year. The bacterial DNA from before and after incubation was extracted and the 16S rRNA regions were PCR amplified and sequenced. The bacterial community changes were analyzed using the QIIME program to identify bacteria that were being selected. Fosmid Clone Isolation. An E. coli fosmid library (Mewis et al. 2013) that contained genes from EAB inferred in the previous step was incubated in three MFCs. After a 48 hour enrichment period, biofilm samples from the MFCs were extracted and individual clones were isolated and screened in the MFCs individually. An E. coli DH5α strain with no insert DNA was incubated separately as the control. DNA sequencing. Fosmid insert DNA from high-performing clones were extracted, purified using gel electrophoresis, constructed into sequencing libraries and sequenced. Bioinformatics Analysis. The sequences were constructed into larger contigs using the Velvet algorithm package. The open reading frames (ORFs) were inferred and translated into amino acid sequences and annotated with proteins identified from the KEGG, and SEEDs databases using Metapathways 2.5. Results. The changes in bacterial communities from the metagenomic analysis revealed increases in relative abundance in numerous genera from Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes. The MFCs incubated with the fosmid clones generated about 4 times more peak power than the MFCs incubated with the E. coli DH5α. Polarization curves generated for the MFCs demonstrated that the fosmid clones were able to sustain a higher current. Incubation of pure cultures of individual clones yielded four clones with significant performance improvements over the control strain. Protein data from Metapathways outputs reveled both novel and previously reported EET genes encoding for Type IV pilus structures, c-type cytochromes, soluble cytochromes, flavoproteins, and porins. Taxonomy inferences of the gene inserts by the Green Genes database reveal the genes most likely came from the same EABs that were inferred from the metagenomic analysis. Conclusions. The increased performance of the fosmid clone-powered MFCs suggest that the clones carried genes that enhanced their performance in the MFCs. This is further confirmed by polarization curves generated for the MFCs. The results of the taxonomy inferences suggest that the bacteria being selected for in the environmental samples carried genes that enhanced their performance in the MFCs, and that these genes were successfully identified in the subsequent steps. The results of this study demonstrate that using a gain of function approach to rapidly screen a wide array of genes in a gene library may be an efficient method to identify genes that enhance power generation of EABs in MFCs.

Waits and Measures

Successful calving is measured by the safe delivery of a healthy calf. Any factors that\r cause dystocia (difficult calving) are undesirable; as it will result in weak or dead calves, stress\r dams and a decrease in profit to the rancher. The most often identified reason for dystocia are\r calves that are too large at birth. Ranchers frequently use sires that will result in calves with\r small birth weights that will be born easy. This is especially true when breeding first calving\r heifers. The selection for small calves at birth results not only in less growth in the uterus but\r also less growth after birth, which means less beef to sell. This means ranchers try to balance\r reasonable growth and reasonable calf size when selecting their sires. Much data has been\r published on birth weight and its selection.

Blood Brain Barrier Breached!

The purpose of this project is to determine if it is possible to use Ascorbic Acid Sodium- Dependent Vitamin C Transporter Type II, SVCT2, as an effective and safe protein to attach to certain brain tumor treatments to bypass the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB). Stemming from this problem, a procedure was created to use in vitro engineering with the aid of a professor at the University of Calgary to combine SVCT2 and three specific tumor treatments; Imatinib Mesylate (STI-571), Temsirolimus (CCI-779), and Suberoylanilide Hydroxamic Acid (SAHA). Following this, a metabolic barrier had to be created to simulate the BBB. To do this, the use of three enzymes were mixed and held together using specific bonds. Finally, a special bio-tracer was placed within the barrier to detect any toxic effects that may be produced. Then two trials were made with each treatment on the barrier at 34°C, 37°C, and 39°C. Once this was done observations could be made. When the newly isolated SVCT2 attaches to the three cancer treatments, they would all be able to connect and form bonds with each other. Once the incubation period is over for the first trial at 34°C, 37°C and 39°C, several things would be observed within the data. When counting the number of cells that were able to get into the engineered metabolic barrier, it could be seen that there was a dramatic increase in the number of cells in the 37°C range. SVCT2 can be a powerful tool in combating cancer. Because of its specificity, it may prove to be more advantageous over the currently used drugs which may have unwanted toxic side effects on the CNS. In the near future, SVCT2 could have the potential to be adopted as a promising therapy against cancer and certain tumors. Furthermore, SVCT2 has the potential to be applied to many situations and can be modified to fit a number of situations that deal with getting past the Blood Brain Barrier. Initially, SVCT2 was only modified with three forms of treatment for Glioblastoma Multiforme, STI-571, CCI-779, and SAHA, however there are countless other treatments that have been developed, but that are not in use due to the BBB. This project was successful in determining an appropriate temperature of 37°C for the procedure to be used. The limitations of this experiment include the fact that this experiment was performed in vitro and so complexity among individuals cannot be analyzed. However, this is an early step for the future of SVCT2 as a treatment, and clinical trials to test SVCT2 in vivo may not be too far off.