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Research Poster Methods and Materials Draft

Submitted by lcampion on Fri, 04/21/2017 - 12:36

Methods and Materials

Growth Medium:

Two plates containing PpNH4 media were supplied by Professor Bezanilla’s Laboratory. The media contains the following macro nurtients: MgSO4 1.03mM, KH2PO4 1.86 mM, Ca(NO3)2 3.3 mM, Di-ammonium tartrate 2.72 mM, and FeSO4 45 μM. The media also contains the following in trace amounts: H3BO3 9.93 μM, CuSO4 220 nM, MnCl2 1.966 μM, CoCl2 231 nM, ZnSO4 191 nM, KI 169 nM, and NaMoO4 103 nM. The growth solution was mixed with 7 g/L of agar to create a solid growth media. This growth mediate works best with the moss Physcomitrella patens, but was used in this experiment as a good enough growth medium for an unknown species of moss.

 

Temperature Recording Equipment:

An indoor/outdoor thermometer was placed next to the specimens in the appropriate location to accurately collect temperature data for both conditions. Temperatures were recorded in degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature was monitored and recorded throughout the day by various member of the BCRC staff. Monitoring of the temperatures started on the morning of Tuesday, April 18th and ended on Friday, April 21st at 2:00 pm.

 

Moss Specimen:

The moss samples were collected from the Durfee Conservatory on the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus. Permission was granted by the staff member in charge and the collection was conducted by the staff member. The collected moss was placed on the two growth medium plates. Each large moss specimen was further divided into one large piece and five smaller sprouts of varying size of a smaller number of individual moss plants. These smaller pieces were embedded in the agar/growth medium. Each plate was photographed with a quarter as a size reference for evidence of initial size and condition.

One plate was placed in the window sill inside the BCRC and the other was placed just outside on the same window sill. The window was kept closed through the entirety of the experiment. The placement of the two plates was Friday, April, 14th at approximately 2:20 pm.

The experiment ended at 2:00 pm on Friday, April 21st. The moss plates were again photographed with a quarter as a reference for size. Each plate was analyzed for growth and overall condition.

 

PP: New Chemical Makes Plants Transparent for Experimentation

Submitted by lcampion on Fri, 04/21/2017 - 11:26

Janpanese scientists have created a chemical bath to treat plants that reduces the visible chloropasts within the plant. Day to weeks after the treatment, the plant become virtually transparent, allowing scientists to see the inner workings of the plant in a live and real-time manner. Researchers introduce fluorescent proteins that target specifc areas or proteins within the plant while its still alive. The plant is then killed with formaldehye, sectioned, and then frozen. These frozen sections can be further cut into cross section to be examined under the microscope. This method has been tested on rice, tobacco, tomato, cucumber, moss, and other flowering plants. 

 

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/05/explore-transparent-plants/

 

Synthesis of Blood from Stem Cells

Submitted by lcampion on Wed, 04/12/2017 - 21:22

An article was recently published in the scientific journal Nature describing the findings of British researchers investigating how to make blood-shortages disappear by synthesizing red blood cells in the laboratory from stem cells. The team of researchers overcame a major hurdle of creating the red blood cells then maintaining the living and continuously dividing cells for over a year. Previous research teams have been unsucessful in creating viable red blood cells in a large enough supply to be considered useful for the mass production of in vitro synthesized blood. This research team approached the problem differently from previous groups. They first isolated and immortalized erythroblasts, immature red blood cells. In this context, immortalization refers to a process that makes cells able to divide an infinite amout of times safely. They had created a reliable line of these erythroblasts that matured into viable and funtional red blood cells, called reticulocytes. They also found that the mature red blood cells they created did not contain any unexpected or unwanted surface proteins, which could cause a variety of problems if present in blood was transfused into a patient. The reticulocytes were sucessfully isloated from the erythroblasts via filtration. After analysis of data from over a year of continually watching and testing the synthesized red blood cells, the researchers found that the average doubling time of 20 hours. A rate this high provides evidence that after clinical studies take place, this method of in vitro synthesis of red blood cells is promising for mass production. The article discusses the possibility of customizing red blood cells for patients with rare blood types by extracting erythroblasts directly from the patient and completing the process described above to synthetically create as much of the patients own blood as needed. If this process is found to be safe and reliable after more research and clinical trials, the possibility of an endless supply of blood, diminishing the need for donations, could become a reality.

 

Trakarnsanga, Kongtana et al. “An Immortalized Adult Human Erythroid Line Facilitates Sustainable and Scalable Generation of Functional Red Cells.” Nature Communications 8 (2017): 14750. Web.

Research Proposal Introduction Final

Submitted by lcampion on Wed, 04/12/2017 - 20:30

In the Spring 2017 class, Writing in Biology, moss is being studied and experimented on. The goal of this project is to determine whether moss grows more in height in warmer or colder climates. Moss growth can be greatly affected by the environment in which it is found. Due to this, this research project focuses on the effects of temperature on moss when all other variables are controlled, such as time of day.

Moss is the main topic of this experiment because moss is a novel model organism. Scientists use moss to investigate plant growth, development, and functions. Moss spends most of its life in haploid form, allowing similar techniques that are used for yeast, to be applied to moss, since yeast also spends its life switching between haploid and diploid (Cove, 2009). Since gametophytic cells of moss are haploid, this allows for easy identification of mutant phenotypes. Moss also has a simple development, as it produces few tissues and is very simple to culture since moss cells are totipotent (Perroud, 2010).  Furthermore, it is an innovative model organism because moss can undergo gene targeting that is efficient and allows for exploration of a gene’s function by mutating it (Cove, 2009).

    There are numerous types of mosses. The most common four moss strains are haircap, rock cap, sheet, and cushion moss (Baessler, 2015). Haircap moss is found along the bark of trees and usually grow relatively tall (Baessler, 2015). Rock cap mosses solely cling to stone. Furthermore, sheet mosses are found on soil in shaded areas (Baessler, 2015). Fern mosses can be discovered in backyards that contain a lot of shade (Baessler, 2015).

The research proposal is based on a paper titled, The Effect of Temperature on Growth and Competition Between Sphagnum Species, which compares Sphagnum being grown at four temperatures, 11.2℃, 14.7℃, 18.0℃, and 21.4℃(Breeuwer, 2008). The goal of the experiment described in the paper was to see which temperature caused the greatest height increment in Sphagnum during a two week period. The findings were that Sphagnum grew the most in height at 11.2℃ (Breeuwer, 2008).

    Bryophytes are C3 plants(Proctor, M. C. F., Raven, J. A. and Rice, S. K., 1992). These plants thrive in relatively cool and wet conditions because of the carbon-fixing enzyme rubisco, which they use in the Calvin Cycle of photosynthesis. Rubisco works the most efficiently when it is able to fix CO2. Rubisco is inefficient when in the presence of both CO2 and O2 because it does not differentiate between the two and will fix oxygen instead of carbon, creating products that have to be further modified by the plant to become useful for the plant. At higher temperatures, O2 is more soluble within the plant and is more easily used by rubisco for fixation rather than CO2. Therefore, in cooler, wetter climates, CO2 is more soluble and fixed by rubisco. The use of O2 creates a greater problem for the plant and photosynthesis becomes less efficient resulting in lower growth and reproductive rates (Sharwood, R. E., Ghannoum, O. and Whitney, S. M., 2016). Since rubisco fixes CO2 more readily during cooler climates, an expected outcome is that mosses will grow more in height in cooler climates.

    Overall, this experiment will identify the temperature at which each species is most efficient in growing in height. This experiment also identifies the variants between species from a single family of plants.

 

Reflection on writing from Henry Beston

Submitted by lcampion on Wed, 04/05/2017 - 20:12

On an excerppt from “The Outermost House” by Henry Beston.

I really enjoyed this excerpt from “The Outermost House.” In the first section “Autumn, Ocean, and Birds,” Beston describes the flocks of birds he witnesses and makes observations about their behavior and where they seem to come from and leave off too. He describes the changing weather and the changing scenery around him. He admires the birds and is curious about them and the other animals that inhabit the beaches and surrounding dunes.

I found the last two sections the most memorable. The section, “Night on the Great Beach” really resonated with me. I often find peace in nature and especially at the beach. There is something so calming about the silence and the waves crashing. Beston describes these experiences and the wonders of the night world. It is evident that he feels very passionate about the night and the fact that society seems to be afraid of the night. We use lights and houses to escape the darkness and the predators that could out at night. He feels that we are doing ourselves, and nature, a disservice by advoiding the night. Beston sees the beneficial aspects of the night that force humans to be humble yet trusting, adventurous yet careful, and observant of the miniscule part humans take in the night-time activities of nature. I love going for walks at night and seeing the stars. I have always enjoyed sitting around the campfire until the early morning hours, just listening and taking in nature at its sounds. I really enjoyed this section.

In the final section, “Orion Rises on the Dunes,” Beston brings his year-long adventure to a close. He reflects upon what he has learned and how people react to his telling of his solitary experience. He comes to the conclusion that we are still in an age of creation in nature; there are still things to observe and learn about and from. We, as humans, need to realize this and take into consideration the ways our actions effect nature. We should not disregard nature. It is beautiful, respectable, dignifying, and humbling. Everyone should experience nature and have the same respect for the Earth that Beston has. It is ridiculous to me that there are people who cannot see nature this way; they only see it as a stepping stone to get where they want to be.

Reflection on writing from John Hay

Submitted by lcampion on Wed, 04/05/2017 - 20:11

“The Dovekie and the Ocean Fish” by John Hay 

Hay opens the piece with a description of the weather and the ocean scene in front of him. He describes the lightly falling snow and the birds, dovekies, floating on the water. He then goes into details about the dovekies and some historical facts about them. He explains how they were a very important food source for the Eskimos. He also explains that dovekies are also vital to the artic ecosystem from which they migrate to and from. They provide food for prey animals like ravens and the artic fox and also provide fertilizer for the rocky soil through their guano. This plant life that thrives from the dovekie fertilized soil provide further food sources for other animals. The dovekie is an essential part of the artic ecosystem yet their numbers have been depleted by humankind. Hay dramatically and passionately expresses his opinion about the careless actions of humans. He hates the way nature and natural processes are being hindered by our collective actions. I completely agree with Hay and his words are increasingly relevant when we look at what we know now about global climate change and the extreme events its causing.

At the end of the piece Hay describes a solemn scene. A dovekie washes ashore with the waves. It is evident that the bird is injured and barely makes an effort to escape as Hay walks over to it. He notices the oil on its feathers and notes that oil causes the bird to lose feathers, their insulation, which weakens them. The poor bird probably got “flung against a rock by a wave” and is not bleeding. Hay picks up the bird and takes it to his warm car in hopes of helping it. To Hay’s horror, the bird only starts to bleed out more. He has not hope of saving it anymore  and brings it to the calmer, bay side of the Cape. He lets the bird go knowing that he left it worse than he found it. Realizing that he thought he was better than nature and could heal the bird, Hay is sickened by his actions.

Hay’s take on humanity and human actions really spoke to me because of its relevance in today’s discussions about the environment and global warming. It is crazy that we have let some much happened. I hope that there will always be untouched nature for us to explore and take in but not exploit and ruin for our own gain. 

Reflection on Writing from Rachel Carson

Submitted by lcampion on Fri, 03/31/2017 - 13:13

I was wowed by the descriptive and passionate nature of this piece. After having to read so many scientific papers, this different type of informational science-based writing was refreshing. I didn’t really except it to be so different yet still informative. Carson’s passion and detailed observation is evident in her almost poetic description of the marginal world- the space between the high and low tides that is thriving with many different forms of life. It is easily seen why her publications were received well by the public and received multiple awards and recognitions. Her writing style is true unique and inspiring.

Although the excerpt as a whole blew me away, the last paragraph resonated with me very much. She sums up the narrative with, almost philosophically, pointing out the significance of each and every life and how it is necessary for the life of the others around it. Although it may be taken in the end, or forgotten by the processes off nature over time, the life of each organism is vital for the ecosystem and the complexity of the marginal world. I find it almost reassuring that she points this out in such a delicate manner. It is easy to go through life with out fully appreciating the simplicity and necessity of nature and the natural world that we are still a part of. Now, more than ever, we need to appreciate and protect the natural world and the environment that makes our lived possible. On a different note, it can also be easy to feel like you can’t make an impact in this world with social media and big government, when in reality we have recently seen the impactful nature that protests and activism can have on our government. Just recently thousands of calls to our representatives to vote against the repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare), have both raised awareness for important issues and resulted in advancement towards a discussion towards a better health care system without putting those currently receiving the benefits of the current system which would have occurred if the proposed bill from the Trump administration had gone to vote and passed. We really can make a difference and Carson points out how important every organism, including humans, is important for the proliferation of the world we live in.

Reflection on Writing from Charles Darwin

Submitted by lcampion on Fri, 03/31/2017 - 13:12

            Charles Darwin’s writing is quite different from that of Rachel Carson’s and more closely mimic the writing of Joseph Bank’s from his travels to Tahiti. In the section, “From Voyage on H.M.S. Beagle,” he records the behaviors of the tortoises he had found in the Archipelago and on almost every island in the Galapagos. He often notes that he has asked the locals about these behaviors and any information that they could give him about the creatures. He also notes the different environments that the tortoises can live in, varying greatly between islands and the main land.  He explains that the tortoises must have a bladder that acts like a reservoir for water because each differs in the frequency in which it visits the water source and there are tortoises on islands that do not have water sources at all. This whole description reminded me of Bank’s initial observation of the Tahitian people and the collection of the exotic plants and animals found on the island.

            I am finding a theme across all those have endure the endeavor of traveling to an unknown land for exploration and study: the experience is both worth-wild and damaging. Darwin goes into great detail about the advice he would provide to one considering a similar journey around the world, like a pros and cons list. It includes the wonder and awe of seeing things for the first time. How amazing it is to discover new lands, new plants and animals, new people, and new cultures. The travels also have its drawbacks: the growing desire to return to the place you once called home, the desire to see and talk to friends, the societal pleasures that you have left behind, the craving for the solidarity of having your own room and belongings. All of these things are also paired with the realization that traveling is a dangerous journey that always feels hastened and unsafe. I think Darwin is pointing all of these things out to show just how much of a sacrifice it is to be a man in his position even though he is truly paving the way for history and scientific advancement, yet he did not know it at the time. He ends with ensuring the reader that travel is the single act that improves one’s understanding of the natural world the greatest and teach one to be both humble and brave.

            In the section, “From On the Origin of Species by Means on Natural Selection,” Darwin explains how he came to the conclusion of evolution as a more logical theory of the creation of new species, not from some individual event of creation, but from a linear change upon species of the same family that came before it. He describes that each species is an improvement upon the one that cam before it, although some species, or whole groups of species, have undoubtedly gone extinct. He elaborates that even species that are present today will undergo such improvements and lead to newer species in the future. He describes that only the species and variations within a species that are most fit for survival under the present environmental conditions will prevail, reproducing to pass on its traits, and eventually lead to a new species over a large amount of time. I thought this excerpt was very important and eye-opening to my understanding about how Darwin came up with his theory of evolution. I think everyone who has to take evolution should at least be required to read the excerpt.

            In the section, “From The Descent of Man, And Selection in Relation to Sex,” Darwin addresses some questions about whether or not humans are included in his theory. Simply put, he states that man no longer adheres to the logical process of natural selection. He warns against this and suggests that humans should be concerned with the inheritable traits of their partner’s. What he suggests is that only humans with the most advantageous qualities should “marry” (mate).  Of course, from a biological, and certainly an evolutionary, standpoint, this makes complete sense. However, there is something more to humans that is not seen in animal behaviors. We love and have personalities that are apart of attraction, not just physical attributes. We also have both social and economic status within a society that has a large influence on the “marrying” process that Darwin discusses. He himself realizes that his views are of that of a Utopian society where humans strive for the perfection of the human species from a biological perspective that is in action in the natural selection process in every other species.

PP: Intro to Research Proposal

Submitted by lcampion on Wed, 03/29/2017 - 20:34

Most plants found in this climate are C3 plants. These plants thrive in relatively cool and wet conditions because of the carbon-fixing enzyme rubisco, which they use in the Calvin Cycle of photosynthesis, works the most efficiently when it is able to fix CO2. Rubisco is an inefficient when in the presence of both CO2 and O2 because it does not differentiate between the two and will fix oxygen instead of carbon creating products that have to be further modified by the plant to become useful for the plant. It is know that at higher temperatures O2 is more soluble within the plant and is more easily used by rubisco for fixation rather than CO2. Therefore, in cooler, wetter climates, CO2 is more soluble and fixed by rubisco. The use of O2 creates a greater problem for the plant and photosynthesis becomes less efficient resulting in lower growth and reproductive rates.

Introduction for Research Proposal: Draft

Submitted by lcampion on Wed, 03/29/2017 - 20:33

Moss growth can be greatly affected by the environment in which it is found. This particular research project focuses on the effects of temperature when all other variables are held constant. We aim to identify the temperature at which each species experiences the greatest growth. Four different moss types were collected from the area surround the University of Massachusetts Amherst campus and examined.

    Most plants found in this climate are C3 plants. These plants thrive in relatively cool and wet conditions because of the carbon-fixing enzyme rubisco, which they use in the Calvin Cycle of photosynthesis, works the most efficiently when it is able to fix CO2. Rubisco is an inefficient when in the presence of both CO2 and O2 because it does not differentiate between the two and will fix oxygen instead of carbon creating products that have to be further modified by the plant to become useful for the plant. It is know that at higher temperatures O2 is more soluble within the plant and is more easily used by rubisco for fixation rather than CO2. Therefore, in cooler, wetter climates, CO2 is more soluble and fixed by rubisco. The use of O2 creates a greater problem for the plant and photosynthesis becomes less efficient resulting in lower growth and reproductive rates.

    This experiment identifies the temperature at which each species is most efficient by measuring the growth of the moss tissues. It also identifies the variants between species from a single family of plants. This information can be used to perfect agricultural growth of mosses and indicate the effects of global warming on different species within the moss family.

 

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