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Jason Rohr co-authors study on restoring contaminated ecosystems
Chemical contamination has, and continues to, impair ecosystems, reducing biodiversity and the availability of natural resources. The abuse of resources has spurred a movement to restore contaminated ecosystems and develop and implement national and international regulations that require resource restoration. Restoration remains a young discipline that is still undergoing development. In a recently published paper, authors Jason Rohr, (USF Integrative Biology), Aïda Farag, (U. S. Geological Survey, Jackson, WY), Marc Cadotte, (Univ. of Toronto-Scarborough, Scarborough, ON), William Clements, (Colorado State Univ., Fort Collins, CO), James Smith, (Indiana Dept. Environmental Management, Indianapolis, IN), Cheryl Ulrich, (Dewberry, Inc., Jacksonville, FL), and Richard Woods, (ExxonMobil Biomedical Sciences, Inc., Annadale, NJ) provide guidance to scientists and practitioners on when, where, and how to restore contaminated ecosystems. Read more about their study and suggestions here.
Christy Foust, Aaron Schrey and Christina Richards co-author chapter on epigenetics in book on plant nuclear biology
Population genetics examines the extent of genetic variation and changes to genetic variation, in response to evolutionary processes that may cause changes in populations. The Modern Synthesis (MS), states that evolutionary change is often equated with genetic divergence, and phenotypic variation is solely dependent on the emergence of random sequence mutations in the germ line. Epigenetic inheritance is a form of variation not addressed by the Modern Synthesis. In their chapter in the book Nuclear Functions in Plant Transcription, Signaling and Development, authors Christy Foust, Aaron Schrey and Christina Richards discuss population epigenetics and the importance of epigenetics research and theory in understanding inheritance and variation. Read more about their contribution here.
Sarah Burgan and Holly Kilvitis receive American Ornithologists' Union grants for their research work
Sarah Burgan and Holly Kilvitis, two USF Integrative Biology graduate students, were awarded 2015 American Ornithologists' Union grants for their research work. Sarah is studying repeat exposure of birds to West Nile virus, and Holly is investigating the effects of early-life immune challenges on avian resistance in adult birds. Read more about their story here.
Mariano Alvarez, Sarah Burgan, Stephen Hesterberg and Holly Kilvitis receive Porter Family Foundation Research Awards
Thomas and Beverly Porter had a daughter who graduated from USF in 2002 with a Master’s Degree in Biology. She did her thesis work in the lab of Dr. Philip Motta. Since her graduation, the Porter family has been a generous and supportive donor to USF, establishing the Porter Family Foundation. They have generously supported research at USF since their daughter graduated. This year, four Integrative Biology graduate students were given Porter Family Foundation research awards. Mariano Alvarez, Sarah Burgan, Stephen Hesterberg and Holly Kilvitis all received awards for their thesis work in the I B Department. Read more about the Porter Foundation donations and about this year’s recipients here.
Stephanie Gervasi, David Civitello, Holly Kilvitis and Lynn (Marty) Martin publish paper on role of plasticity in host-parasite dynamics in infection
Predicting the disease risk to humans, domestic animals and wildlife has become more crucial as the frequency and severity of emergent events continues to increase. Host abundance strongly influences whether a parasite will establish in an area. Host competence, the proficiency with which a host transmits a parasite to another host or vector is also becoming an apparent important factor in the equation of infection dynamics. Competence is governed not only by genetic variation of hosts, parasites, or vectors but also by the environment in which such genetic variants occur. Authors Stephanie Gervasi, David Civitello, Holly Kilvitis, and Lynn (Marty) Martin, (USF Integrative Biology) focused on phenotypic plasticity as a mediator of variation in host competence and environmentally dependent disease risk. The authors argue that variation in phenotypic plasticity among and within species strongly contributes to epidemiological dynamics when parasites are shared among multiple hosts, which is often the case. Read more about their study here.
Valerie (Jody) Harwood and Bina Nayak co-author paper on novel microarray for pathogen detection and fecal source identification in environmental systems
It is difficult to detect and identify pathogens and fecal contamination in environmental waters. Pathogen diversity and presence of fecal indicator bacteria in the natural environment complicate the assessment of risk and hamper remediation efforts. Authors Xiang Li, (West Virginia Univ., Morgantown, WV), Valerie (Jody) Harwood, (USF Integrative Biology), Bina Nayak, (USF Integrative Biology), Christopher Staley, (Univ. of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN), Michael Sadowsky, (Univ. of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN) and Jennifer Weidhaas, (West Virginia Univ., Morgantown, WV) tested a custom microarray targeting pathogens (viruses, bacteria, protozoa), microbial source tracking (MST) markers, and antibiotic resistance genes against DNA obtained from whole genome amplification (WGA) of RNA and DNA from sewage and animal (avian, cattle, poultry and swine) feces. The purpose of their study was to design and validate an MST microarray for detecting fecal contamination and pathogens in environmental samples, while simultaneously indicating the source of fecal contamination. Further studies were conducted to evaluate the correlation between the microarray fluorescence and more established methods (qPCR and culture based methods). Finally, next generation sequencing was conducted by the authors to determine the relative coverage of the fecal microbiome represented by the microarray-based probes. Read more about their study here
Marta Robertson and Christina Richards write mini-review on the importance of plant studies in evolutionary theory of non-genetic inheritance
In the Modern Synthesis (MS), evolutionary change is often equated with genetic divergence, and phenotypic variation is solely dependent on the emergence of random sequence mutations in the germ line. Current research, however, shows that this simplistic view does not incorporate roles that are played by interaction of individuals with their environment, and the effect of disease and need of adaptation with time. Epigenetic phenomenon, therefore, come into play. Authors Marta Robertson and Christina Richards, (USF Integrative Biology), wrote a mini-review on epigenetics, presenting evidence for a role of epigenetic mechanisms in the evolutionary process and discuss common objections to incorporating epigenetics into evolutionary theory. This review is not exhaustive, but is meant to demonstrate that epigenetic inheritance can be incorporated into current evolutionary theory without overhauling its foundations. Read more about their study here
David Civitello co-authors a paper combining mesocosm and field experiments to predict invasive plant performance
Invasive plant fecundity is at the heart of propagule pressure and ultimately determines range expansion. Predicting plant fecundity across large spatial scales, regions and landscapes, is critical in weed management. In order to accurately predict fecundity, improved models that scale individual plant performance across various environments need to be developed. Authors Chris Wilson, (Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL), T. Trevor Caughlin, (Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL), David Civitello, (USF Integrative Biology), and S. Luke Flory, (Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL) combined two experimental data sets to predict fecundity of a widespread and problematic invasive grass, Japanese stiltgrass, (Microstegium vimineum), over large spatial scales. The authors analyzed seed production as a function of plant biomass while while manipulating light levels in a field experiment, then conducted controlled field introduction experiments in various plots differing in available light and other factors. Read about the results of their study here.
Neal Halstead, David Civitello and Jason Rohr co-author paper comparing toxicity of organophosphate and pyrethroid insecticides on aquatic macroarthropods
Agricultural expansion and intensification has brought with it increased use of insecticides globally. Insecticide runoff poses a particular threat to aquatic macroarthropods such as the crayﬁsh, Procambarus alleni and the water bug, Belostoma ﬂumineum. Authors Neal Halstead, David Civitello and Jason Rohr, (USF Integrative Biology) exposed these two common macroarthropod predators to three insecticides in each of two insecticide classes (three organophosphates and three pyrethroids) to assess their toxicities. They generated 150 simulated environmental exposures and monitored animal response. Read about the findings of their study here.
Angela Sterling, Becky Turke and Suzanne Young present poster on microbial source tracking at Earth Day Open House in Orlando
Walt Disney World Company created and maintains a 25,000 acre development in Central Florida called Reedy Creek Improvement District. The District was set up to house Disney's four theme parks and surrounding accommodations, with the idea of never sacrificing the remarkable wildlife and ecological environment they inherited. RCID scientists constantly monitor the environment in the District to ensure that the environment is maintained. Angela Sterling, Becky Turke and Suzanne Young, (USF Integrative Biology, Harwood lab), were invited to present a poster at the 2015 Reedy Creek Earth Day Open House, April 24, 2015. They presented "Specificity and Sensitivity Testing of Paludibacter propionicigenes for Use as an Alligator-Specific Molecular Marker in Microbial Source Tracking". Read more about their presentation and the Development here.
Bina Nayak and Valerie (Jody) Harwood co-author paper on correlation of LA35 poultry fecal marker persistence with that of indicators and pathogens in environmental waters
Bina Nayak, (USF Integrative Biology), Jennifer Weidhaas, (West Virginia Univ., Morgantown, WV), and Valerie (Jody) Harwood, (USF Integrative Biology) conducted a microbial source tracking (MST) study comparing the persistence of the Brevibacterium sp. LA35 16S rRNA gene (marker) for poultry litter with that of pathogens and FIB under outdoor, environmentally relevant conditions in fresh and marine water and sediments over seven days. Disposal of fecal-contaminated poultry litter by applying the litter to soil can result in pathogens and fecal indicator bacteria flushing into receiving waters via runoff. The authors monitored LA35, pathogens and FIB in water samples and sediment during the seven day time period. LA35 levels correlated well with other bacteria in the water column, but not in sediments. Read more about their research here.
Mary Parrish receives a 2014 USF Outstanding Staff Award
Each year, the University of South Florida's Outstanding Staff Awards Program recognizes a number of exceptional employees who demonstrate a commitment to the pursuit of excellence and a level of performance that exceeds the values and standards of the university. For 2014, Mary Parrish, the Department of Integrative Biology's Office Manager, was selected to receive this honor. Mary has been with USF since 2003, and with the Department since 2003. Read more about her story here
Amber Brace, Sarah Burgan and Holly Kilvitis win Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of research awards
Integrative Biology graduate students Amber Brace, Sarah Burgan and Holly Kilvitis all won Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of research awards for their research in infection and immunity. The three students, working in the Martin lab, study different host and infection systems. This is the second time Holly and Amber have received a Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of research, having received their first award in 2013. The Sigma Xi Grants-in-Aid of Research (GIAR) program has provided undergraduate and graduate students with valuable educational experiences since 1922. By encouraging close working relationships between students and mentors, the program promotes scientific excellence and achievement through hands-on learning. Read more about their story here
Two Hillsborough County Public School students who did their projects in the Harwood IB lab place well at County and State Science Fairs
Margaret Parrish, (Chamberlain High School, 11th grade) and Ruchi Korde, (daughter of Bina Nayak, postdoctoral fellow in the Harwood lab), (Terrace Community Middle School 8th grade), did their science fair projects in the research lab of Dr. Valerie (Jody) Harwood, and won awards at the Hillsborough County Public School Regional STEM Fair and the State Science and Engineering Fair of Florida. On February 4, 2015, Maggie won 1st place in the senior Environmental Science category while Ruchi won second place in the junior Microbiology category at the Hillsborough Regional STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Fair. April 1, 2015, Maggie won 1st place in the senior Environmental Science category and Ruchi won 4th place in the junior Microbiology category at the 60th annual State Science and Engineering Fair (SSEF) of Florida. Read more about their story here
Amber Ferguson, Marc Lajeunesse and Philip Motta publish study on feeding performance of king mackerel
Feeding performance is the ability of a predator to capture and handle prey. Although bite force is a commonly used metric for measuring feeding performance, other factors such as bite pressure and strike speed affect the ability to capture prey. Authors Amber Ferguson, (USF IB graduate, MS, 2014), Daniel Huber, (Univ. of Tampa, Tampa, FL), Marc Lajeunesse, (USF Integrative Biology), and Philip Motta, (USF Integrative Biology) conducted a study to investigate static bite force, dynamic speeds, and predator and prey forces resulting from ram strikes, as well as bite pressure of the king mackerel, Scomberomorus cavalla, in order to examine their relative contributions to overall feeding performance. Their study suggests that king mackerel rely on high velocity chases and high bite pressure generated via sharp, laterally compressed teeth to maximize feeding performance. Read more about their study here
Honors College Junior Kirsti Martinez awarded Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship
USF Honors College junior Kirsti Martinez, with a double major in Environmental Biology and Environmental Science and Policy, was recently awarded a prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, the most prestigious undergraduate award for science research. Kirsti was awarded the scholarship for proposed studies on the possible legacy effect of a Midwestern invasive freshwater plant species, Myriophyllum spicatum that might be affecting present invasive species management practices. Kirsti currently participates in research in the soil analysis lab of Dr. David Lewis, where she works on her Honors College thesis, and Dr. Luanna Prevost (both USF Integrative Biology), where she participates in research on Biology Education, assessing how biology and ecology are taught at the undergraduate level. Read more about her story here
Integrative Biology students form local chapter of Roots and Shoots Environmental outreach group
Dr. Jane Goodall came to USF this past semester for a lecture series. In 1991, a group of 12 local teenagers met with Dr. Goodall on her back porch in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. They were eager to discuss a range of problems affecting the environment around them. With these young people the Roots and Shoots program was born. During Dr. Goodall's visit, a group of USF undergraduate students gave nature walks to students from Pizzo and MOSI Elementary students, which spawned interest in the elementary students to form Roots and Shoots programs at their schools. The USF students also formed a Roots and Shoots program at USF. Kaitlin Deutsch and Talya Rejtman (USF Integrative Biology undergraduate students) are the students who led the initiative to create the USF Roots and Shoots chapter. They are the main contact for undergraduate students, while Karena Nguyen (USF Integrative Biology, Ph.D. program) is acting as the main contact between them, USF administration, Pizzo Elementary School, and is the main graduate student contact. Read more about their story here
Edward Haller co-authors paper on effects of intracellular iron on survival of ovarian cancer cells
The role of intracellular iron in the development of cancer remains unclear. Iron (in the form of ferratin) may act as a source of reactive oxygen species (ROS) in cells, damaging cell organelles and genetic material. Authors Kyle Bauckman, (Mofﬁtt Cancer Center and Research Institute, Tampa, FL), Edward Haller, (USF Integrative Biology), Nicholas Taran, (USF Dept. of Cell Biology, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology), Stephanie Rockﬁeld, (USF Dept. of Cell Biology, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology), Abigail Ruiz-Rivera, (USF Dept. of Cell Biology, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology), and Meera Nanjundan, (USF Dept. of Cell Biology, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology), using a model of treating cells with ferric ammonium citrate (FAC) to produce intracellular iron overload to study the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway of cell survival, previously reported that iron reduces cell survival in a Ras/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)-dependent manner in ovarian cells; however, the underlying downstream pathway leading to reduced survival was unclear. In their current study, although levels of intracellular iron, ferritin/CD71 protein and reactive oxygen species did not correlate with iron-induced cell survival changes, the authors identiﬁed mitochondrial damage (via TEM) and reduced expression of outer mitochondrial membrane proteins in ovarian cancer cells in cell lines sensitive to iron. The results of their study implicate iron in modulating cell survival in a mitochondria-dependent manner in ovarian cancer cells. Read about their findings here
Jennifer Peterson and Susan Bell publish a paper on the effect of biotic boundary composition on the dispersion of mangrove propagules
Few studies have been conducted on the mechanisms that underlie the distribution shifts exhibited by organisms as a result of climate change. With increasing temperatures and predicted rise in sea level, mangrove forests are predicted to encroach on saltmarsh plants inhabiting higher elevations. Mangrove propagules are transported by tidal waters, and propagule dispersal may be influenced by the type of ground cover they encounter. Authors Jennifer Peterson, (USF Integrative Biology graduate, Ph.D., Bell lab, 2013) and Susan Bell, (USF Integrative Biology) recorded landward and seaward dispersal and subsequent establishment of mangrove propagules that encounter biotic boundaries composed of two types of saltmarsh taxa: succulents and grasses. Their findings revealed that propagules placed within saltmarsh vegetation immediately landward of the extant mangrove fringe boundary frequently dispersed in the seaward direction, and that propagules moved seaward less frequently and over shorter distances upon encountering boundaries composed of saltmarsh grasses versus succulents. Read more about their study here
Maria (Laura) Habegger and Philip Motta co-author paper on the role of billfish rostrum in feeding behavior from a biomechanical standpoint
The exact role and use of the rostrum of billfish in their feeding behavior is still controversial. Authors Maria Habegger, (USF Integrative Biology graduate, PhD, Motta lab, 2014), Mason Dean, (Max Planck Institute, Potsdam, DE), John Dunlop, (Max Planck Institute, Potsdam, DE), Gray Mullins, (USF Dept of Civil and Environmental Engineering), Michael Stokes, (USF Dept of Civil and Environmental Engineering), Daniel Huber, (Univ. of Tampa, Tampa, FL), Daniel Winters, (USF Dept of Civil and Environmental Engineering) and Philip Motta, (USF Integrative Biology) conducted a study to investigate the use of the rostrum of blue marlin and swordfish from a functional, biomechanical and morphological standpoint to ultimately infer their possible role during feeding. The authors employed geometrical, histological and stress analysis, as well as CT scans, to rostrum from the fish to determine the structure of the rostrum and stresses that they could maintain during feeding behavior. Their study demonstrated clear differences in the capabilities of the rostrum of the two billfish. Read more about their study here
David Civitello co-authors study on the mechanisms that drive variation in fungal infection in Daphnia populations
Parasites can have a profound effect on host populations and ecological communities. Authors David Civitello, (USF Integrative Biology post-doctoral scholar), Rachel Penczykowski, (Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA), Aimee Smith, (Indiana Univ., Bloomington, IN), Marta Shocket, (Indiana Univ., Bloomington, IN), Meghan A. Duffy, (Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI), and Spencer R. Hall, (Indiana Univ., Bloomington, IN), conducted a study of the host-parasite relationship of the zooplankton host Daphnia dentifera and the fungus Metschnikowia bicuspidate parasite which it harbors. The authors mapped resource-trait-epidemic connections to explain variation in fungal outbreaks in lakes in Indiana where Daphnia normally grows, sampling 12 natural epidemics. They predicted epidemics would grow larger in lakes with more phytoplankton via three energetic mechanisms. Epidemics grew larger in more dense Daphnia populations, but host density was unrelated to host fecundity (thus breaking its link to resources). Read about their findings here
David Lewis co-authors study on the importance of geographically isolated wetlands as biogeochemical reactors on the landscape
Wetlands provide many essential ecosystem services, including sediment and carbon retention, nutrient transformation, water quality improvement and replenishment of the aquifer. Geographically isolated wetlands (GIWs) receive fewer legal protections than other wetlands because of their isolation from judicial waters. Authors John Marton, (Indiana Univ., Bloomington, IN), Irena Creed, (Western Univ., Ontario, CN), David Lewis, (USF Integrative Biology), Charles Lane, (U. S. E. P. A., Cincinnati, OH), Nandita Basu, (Univ. of Waterloo, Ontario, CN), Matthew Cohen, (Univ. of Florida, Gainesville, FL), and Christopher Craft, (Indiana Univ., Bloomington, IN) examined controls on biogeochemical functions that influence water quality, and estimated changes in ecosystem service delivery that would occur if these landscape features were lost following recent US Supreme Court decisions (i.e., Rapanos, SWANCC). Read about their study here
David Civitello is awarded a 3 year NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award to study Schistosoma infectivity
Diseases caused by flatworms in the genus Schistosoma are responsible for 200,000 deaths annually, and the worms infect approximately 200 million people worldwide, causing disease second only to malaria in economic impact. David Civitello, USF Integrative Biology postdoctoral researcher, working in the Rohr lab, has been awarded a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award to study the human parasite Schistosoma mansoni. This parasite cycles between humans and snails (Biomphalaria spp.). David plans on building and testing new theory to predict the production of Schistosoma cercariae (the free-living, infectious stage of the parasite) by monitoring the dynamics of the snail population. Read more about his work here.
Jason Rohr, David Civitello and Neal Halstead co-author paper on predator diversity, intraguild predation and the indirect effects of parasite transmission
In the last century, there has been a marked increase in infectious diseases globally. This has occurred concurrently with a decrease in biodiversity in various ecospheres. The theory of dilution effect suggests that these two phenomena may be linked, suggesting that biodiversity reduces disease risk. Authors Jason Rohr, (USF Integrative Biology), David Civitello, (USF Integrative Biology), Patrick Crumrine, (Rowan Univ., Glassboro, NJ), Neal Halstead, (USF Integrative Biology), Andrew Miller, (Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore, MD), Anna Schotthoefer, (Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, WI), Carl Stenoien, (Univ. of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN), Lucinda Johnson, (Univ. of Minnesota, Duluth, MN) and Val Beasley (Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA) explored how predator diversity shapes parasite transmission. Using an experimental model that manipulated predator (larval dragonflies and damselflies) density and diversity, non-intraguild (damselfly larva, non-IG) predators that only consume free-living cercariae (parasitic trematodes) reduced meta-cercarial infections in tadpoles, whereas intraguild (dragonfly larva, IG) predators that consume both parasites and tadpole hosts did not. Read more about their study here
IB Postdoc David Civitello publishes study on phenotypic effects of spontaneous mutations in Daphnia pulex raised in different environments
Integrative Biology Postdoctoral scholar David Civitello joined five other researchers in a study on Daphnia pulex, conducting phenotypic assays on the microcrustaceans raised in four different environments, using a set of Daphnia mutation accumulation lines to examine the context dependence of mutation. They compared the rate of accumulation of mutation in life-history traits vrs morphological traits in the different environments. Their study determined that life-history traits exhibited higher levels of mutational variability than morphological traits in Daphnia. Read more about their paper here
Eva Chase, Suzanne Young and Valerie (Jody) Harwood publish study on reservoirs of Vibrio vulnificus in Tampa Bay estuary and the Gulf of Mexico
Vibrio vulnificus occurs naturally in estuarine habitats and is readily culturable from water and oysters under warm water conditions, but infrequently at temperatures <15°C. The presence of the bacteria in habitats such as sediments and aquatic vegetation has not been extensively studied. Authors Eva Chase, Suzanne Young and Valerie (Jody) Harwood, (USF Integrative Biology) investigated the ecology of V. vulnificus in water by culture and quantitative PCR (qPCR), and in sediment, oysters, and aquatic vegetation by culture. They report on the effects of both temperature and salinity on the recovery of culturable bacteria from different habitat. Read about their findings here
Integrative Biology Graduate Student Samuel Wright interviewed for special edition of the Plant Conservation newsletter
In the summer of 2013, a group of five journalism students from the University of Missouri accompanied their professor on a tour of the state of Florida, from the Keys to the panhandle, to interview botanists, scientists and conservation workers dealing with the state's imperiled native plant population. Among the people interviewed for their publication was USF Integrative Biology's Master's Degree candidate Samuel Wright. At the time of the interview, Sam worked at the Fairchild Botanical Gardens in Coral Gables, Florida, studying the endangered beach clustervine (Jacquemontia reclinata). Find out more about Sam's work and the recently published newsletter here
Mariano Alvarez and Christina Richards coauthor paper reviewing 10 years of transcriptomics studies in wild populations
The interaction between organisms and their environment is one of the central focuses in the study of ecology. Examination of physical traits and behavior play a part in these studies. In the past decade, the use of molecular techniques has come into play in examining genomes and comparing changes in genetic code in response to the environment. Authors Mariano Alvarez, (USF Integrative Biology), Aaron Schrey, (former USF IB postdoctoral scholar, now Dept. of Biology, Armstrong State Univ., Savannah, GA) and Christina Richards, (USF Integrative Biology) found that in the last 10 years, 575 studies used microarrays or RNAseq in ecology. They noted in their review paper that these studies fell into three broad categories of study. In their paper, they discuss technical aspects of RNAseq and microarray technology, and a framework that leverages the advantages of both and highlight future directions of research, particularly related to moving beyond correlation and the development of additional annotation resources. Read more about their paper here
Gordon Fox edits and coauthors book on statistics for ecologists
The application and interpretation of statistics are essential in the study of ecology. Ecologists are now asking more sophisticated questions about how climate, natural resources and life on earth interact. In a book inspired by after dinner conversations at a course on statistics for graduate students, Gordon Fox, (USF Integrative Biology) joined Simoneta Negrete-Yankelevich, and Vinicio J. Sosa (both Instituto de Ecología A. C., Mexico) in putting together Ecological Statistics: Contemporary Theory and Application, a book aimed specifically at the needs of modern ecologists and scientists in related environmental science fields. They join eight other authors, including USF Integrative Biology's Earl McCoy and Marc Lajeunesse, to explain and illustrate that if ecologists learn the concepts enabling them to understand the overarching themes of statistics, they will be able to properly select the powerful tools to collect analyze and interpret their data. The 13 chapter, 400 page book is published by Oxford University Press, and will be available later in February 2015.
Gordon Fox publishes paper on differential impact of seasonal climate change on co-occurring species of trees
Co-occurring species of plants may have differing growth responses to the seasonal timing of climatic events. In a study, authors Tammy Foster, (USF IB graduate, PhD, 2014, now InoMedic Health Applications, Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island FL), Paul Schmalzer, (InoMedic Health Applications, Kennedy Space Center, Merritt Island FL) and Gordon Fox used dendrochronology to examine the importance of seasonal climate on radial stem growth of three co-occurring species in Florida scrub, myrtle oak (Quercus myrtifolia), Chapman oak (Quercus chapmanii), and south Florida slash pine (Pinus elliottii Engelmann var. densa). The different species each responded quite differently to the observed changes in seasonal moisture availability. The authors interpreted this in terms of the differences in timing of when each species undergoes growth. Read about their findings here
Emeritus Associate Professor Frederick Essig writes book on plant life
Emeritus Associate Professor Frederick Essig recently wrote a book titled Plant Life, A Brief History, published by Oxford University Press. The 280 page book is available now in the States, and in the U. K. in April, 2015. In the 9 chapters of the book, Dr. Essig moves from the origins of photosynthesis to eukaryotic plant life, plant life developing on land, the development of vascular plants and trees, seeds and gymnosperms, and moves through pollination, seed dispersal, dicots and monocots. His book is written as a chronological narrative of plant origin, development and diversification. The book contains an abundance of illustrations, with accurate, clear and life-like botanical line drawings. A more detailed description of the book can be found on the Oxford Press website , where the book can be ordered.
Leah Johnson authors study on temperature dependence of malaria transmission
Malaria is a vector-borne disease that infects millions and kills hundreds of thousands of people annually, especially prevalent in developing countries. The dynamics of the spread of the disease are greatly affected by environmental factors such as temperature and rainfall. As climate changes with time, the distribution of malaria will also change. Authors Leah Johnson, (USF Integrative Biology), Tal Ben-Horin, (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, CA), Kevin Lafferty, (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, CA), Amy McNally, (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, CA), Erin Mordecai, (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, CA), Krijn Paaijmans, (Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, ES), Samraat Pawar, (Univ. of Chicago, Chicago, IL), and Sadie Ryan, (State Univ. of New York, Syracuse, NY) conducted a study of the measure of transmission, R0, to show how a Bayesian approach can help identify critical uncertainties in components of R0 and how this uncertainty is propagated into the estimate of R0. They examined the effect of temperature regimes on bite rates, fecundity, mortality and parasite development rate, all key factors in the spread of the disease. Read about their findings here
Christina Richards publishes study on environmentally induced phenotypic plasticity and epigenetic expression observed in an Alpine herb
Christina Richards joined researchers from Armstrong University in Georgia, from Australia and the Netherlands in an investigation of the effects of variation of temperature and elevation on the seedling emergence, growth rate, plant size (height, rosette diameter, leaf number), time to produce flowers and capsules in a small Alpine herb, the waxy bluebell (Wahlenbergia ceracea). Seeds from plants at various elevations were collected and planted in greenhouses and grown at two different controlled temperatures to simulate early and summer growing seasons. Using Ampliﬁed Fragment Length Polymorphism (AFLP), they found low but signiﬁcant genetic differentiation between low- and high-elevation seedlings, and seedlings originating from low elevations grew faster and showed stronger temperature responses (more plasticity) than those from medium and high elevations. Although the authors did not ﬁnd signiﬁcant direct correlations between MS-AFLP loci and phenotypes, their results demonstrated that adaptive plasticity in temperature response to warming varied over ﬁne spatial scales and suggests the involvement of epigenetic mechanisms in this response. Read more about their study here
Jason Rohr joins former Integrative Biology graduate Brittany Sears in study of host life-history and host-parasite syntopy predicting resistance and tolerance of parasites
There is a growing interest in research into life history traits such as the pace of life of hosts and how the overlap of territories of hosts and parasites (syntopy) play a role in the development of resistance and tolerance to parasites. Jason Rohr recently conducted a study along with Brittany Sears (USF IB graduate, PhD, 2013), and Paul Snyder, (former USF IB postdoctoral scholar, now Univ. of Georgia, Athens, GA.), in the host life-history and host-parasite syntopy of 7 species of tadpoles, predicting resistance and tolerance of the tadpoles to Plagiorchiidae cercarae parasites. Their study found that all 7 species of tadpoles exhibit anti-cercarial behavior, which increased with increased parasite exposure. Fast-paced tadpole species exhibited strong behavioral resistance to infection, while slow-paced species exhibited tolerance to infection. Read more about their study here
Leah Johnson co-authors study on current and future approaches of mapping the distribution of malaria
Malaria is a major source of morbidity and mortality through much of the developing world, affecting an estimated 219 million people in 2010, resulting in 660,000 deaths. About 90 percent of those affected live in sub-Saharan Africa. Accurate prediction of transmission risk through modeling is a key public health goal that is complicated by environmental and socioeconomic factors, compounded by political unrest in the region. Authors Leah Johnson, (USF Integrative Biology), Kevin Lafferty, (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, CA), Amy McNally, (Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, CA), Erin Mordecai, (Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC), Krijn Paaijmans, (CRESIB, Hospital Clinic-Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, ES), Samraat Pawar, (Imperial College London, UK), and Sadie Ryan, (State Univ. of New York, Syracuse, NY) conducted a study titled "Mapping the distribution of malaria: current approaches and future directions" on the subject, published in the book Analyzing and Modeling Spatial and Temporal Dynamics of Infectious Diseases. Their study discusses various types of data necessary in constructing models of malaria transmission and approaches in constructing the models. Read about their study here
Chantale Bégin joins researchers from Eckerd College and Simon Fraser University in study of increased sediment loads over coral reefs in Saint Lucia
Increased sedimentation of Caribbean coral reefs has been widely acknowledged as an important stressor to the coral communities. For most of the reef locations, accurate records of changes of rate of sediment accumulation and change of land use are lacking. Authors Chantale Bégin, (USF Integrative Biology), Gregg Brooks, (Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL), Rebekka Larson, (Eckerd College, St. Petersburg, FL), Suzana Dragićević, (Simon Fraser Univ., Burnaby, BC, CN), Carlos Ramos Scharrón, (Univ. of Texas, Austin, TX), and Isabelle Côté, (Simon Fraser Univ., Burnaby, BC, CN) address this gap by conducting a quantitative study of these processes for two watersheds in the island of Saint Lucia in the West Indies. They used sediment cores collected near downstream coral reefs to examine changes in sediment composition and accumulation rate over the past several decades and relied upon a GIS-based sediment budget model to estimate recent sediment yields in the two focal watersheds and determine the likely source of increased sedimentation. Read about the findings of their study here
Biology students gain varied experiences on field trips from 2014 Fish Biology class
On September 18, Dr. Philip Motta and his Fish Biology class took a field trip to Fort DeSoto Beach, where they observed a fisherman catch a 5 foot long blacktip shark. The class students were able to assist the fisherman in successfully reviving and releasing the shark back into the Gulf waters. The Fish Biology class is offered every fall in the Department of Integrative Biology. See more photos from Dr. Motta and the Fish Biology Class lab field trips of 2014 here.
Julie Schwartz, Nick Curtis and Sidney Pierce find evidence of algal gene transferred to sea slug chromosome
Some varieties of sea slugs are capable of kleptoplasty, digesting algae and incorporating algae chloroplasts in their cytoplasm. These slugs go on to use the chloroplasts to conduct photosynthesis as a source of energy for the animals. In order to maintain the chloroplasts over a period of months in their cytoplasm, it has been found that the slugs must also synthesizing proteins to maintain the chloroplasts. Authors Julie Schwartz, (USF Integrative Biology), Nicholas Curtis, (USF IB graduate, PhD, 2006, now Ave Maria Univ., Ave Maria, FL), and Sidney (Skip) Pierce, (USF Integrative Biology) used ﬂuorescent in situ hybridization to localize an algal nuclear gene, prk, found in both larval and adult slug DNA by PCR and in adult RNA by transcriptome sequencing and RT-PCR. The prk probe hybridized with a metaphase chromosome in slug larvae, conﬁrming gene transfer between alga and slug. Read about their discovery here.
Valerie (Jody) Harwood joined researchers from CSIRO in Australia in evaluating three water sampling methods for pathogenic virus
Obtaining meaningful statistical measurements of the concentration of pathogenic viruses in environmental waters has been a historically difficult task due to their low concentration in water and uneven distribution in human populations. Filtration of large volumes of water (in the order of 100 liters) in the field is often impractical, and samples may not survive transport to a lab for analysis. Methods are under development of concentrating small (1-2 liter) volumes of water for analysis using membranes, but few comparisons have been conducted of the methods. Authors Warish Ahmed, (CSIRO Land and Water, Queensland, Australia), Valerie (Jody) Harwood, (USF Integrative Biology), Pradip Gyawali, (CSIRO Land and Water, Queensland, Australia), Jatilander Sidhu, (CSIRO Land and Water, Queensland, Australia), and Simon Toze, (CSIRO Land and Water, Queensland, Australia), compared the efficiency of virus recovery for three rapid methods of concentrating two microbial source tracking (MST) viral markers human adenoviruses (HAdVs) and polyomaviruses (HPyVs) from one liter tap water and river water samples on HA membranes (90 mm diameter). Read about their findings here.
Neal Halstead and Jason Rohr publish paper on effects of temperature and humidity variability on fungal infection in red-spotted newts
Neal Halstead and Jason Rohr (USF Integrative Biology) joined researchers from three other Universities in a study of the effects of temperature and moisture variability on the rate of Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) growth on red-spotted newts (Notophthalmus viridescens). Climate change is being observed in regions around the globe. A recent study confirmed that increased temperature variability could exacerbate disease progression because of lags in the ability of the disease host to acclimate to the temperature changes. Using chytridiomycosis in red-spotted newts as the experimental model, the team of researchers exposed the newts to varying temperatures and levels of humidity and observed disease progression. Read about their climate change study here.
Lynn (Marty) Martin joins 14 authors in international study of genetic variation of avian malaria pathogen Plasmodium relictum
The genetic variation of a pathogen is essential information in studies of pathogen populations and how pathogens are distributed across geographic areas. Genetic variation provides key insight into parasite epidemiology, local patterns of virulence and the development of host-resistance, as well as identifying populations of pathogens that are genetically independent from each other, and "free" to adapt to new hosts and environments. Author Lynn (Marty) Martin joined 14 other investigators from 8 countries in an international investigation of the genetic variations of the globally distributed, highly invasive avian malaria parasite Plasmodium relictum. Their research demonstrates genetic independence between strains from Africa and temperate regions of Europe and Asia, as well as differences in parasites from the Hawaiian Islands. Read about their interesting findings here.
Jason Rohr publishes study on the effects of zooplankton and phytoplankton on tadpole growth in the presence of a pathogenic fungus
Free-living stages of parasites are consumed by a variety of predators. This may have important consequences for predators, parasites and hosts. Jason Rohr, (USF Integrative Biology) joined Julia Buck, (Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, OR), Katharina Scholz, (Univ. of Hohenheim, Stutgart, DE), and Andrew Blaustein, (Oregon State Univ., Corvallis, OR) to investigate such a relationship, using Cascades frog (Rana cascadae) tadpoles, zooplankton, and the amphibian chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd) in a manmade environment in outdoor mesocosms. They measured the growth, development, survival and infection of the tadpoles as well as monitored the abundance of zooplankton, phytoplankton and periphyton in the holding tanks weekly. Read about their findings here.
Lynn (Marty) Martin, Andrea Liebl and Holly Kilvitis study whether and how covariation in gene expression affecting regulation of inflammation may have impacted house sparrow colonization of Kenya
The enemy release hypothesis (ERH) proposes that hosts encounter fewer infectious parasites in new areas of range than in established range, allowing the newcomers to adjust their immune system most effectively to allocate resources to thrive in the new environment and even expand their range. The immune response of inflammation is an important aspect of vertebrate immune defense, providing rapid defense against parasites. Authors Lynn (Marty) Martin, (USF Integrative Biology), Andrea Liebl, (USF IB graduate, PhD, 2013, now University of Exeter, Cornwall, UK), and Holly Kilvitis, (USF Integrative Biology) conducted a study investigating whether and how covariation in the expression of genes affecting the regulation of inflammation have impacted the ability of house sparrows (Passer domesticus) to invade and colonize Kenya, Africa. Read more about their study here.
Amber Brace, Sam Sheikali and Lynn (Marty) Martin publish study on sex-related differences in immune response in brown anoles (Anolis sagrei)
Amber Brace, Sam Sheikali and Lynn (Marty) Martin, (USF Integrative Biology), conducted a study on sex-related differences in immune response. Using the brown anole (Anolis sagrei) as their study subject, they challenged the anoles with varying doses of Salmonella lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and observed the induced immune responses. Their study tracked the exposure-dependent cost to the lizards by tracking the allocation of isotopically (carbon-13) labeled leucine (an essential amino acid) in the animals. Their study found both dose-dependent and sex-related differences in the immune responses of the animals. Read more about their study here.
Maria Laura Habegger and Stephen Hesterberg receive 2014 Mushinsky Graduate Student Research Awards
Maria Laura Habegger, Ph. D. and Stephen Hesterberg, Master's degree candidate (Bell lab), graduate students in Integrative Biology, were awarded 2014 Mushinsky Graduate Student Research Award. This award, to be given annually to one PhD and one MS student, recognizes the research productivity and creativity of USF IB graduate students. A student can win an award only once, but a student can apply at any time and as many times as s/he would like during her or his USF IB career. Laura recently graduated from the Department. Her work focused on top marine predators, shark scale morphology and whale shark feeding behavior. Stephen is pursuing his Master's degree, with studies investigating the interaction between predator-prey dynamics and habitat complexity in oyster reef habitat. He has also participated in studying the predatory gastropod the King helmet (a shellfish valued for its large shell) and is participating in isotope studies of oysters in shell middens at Crystal River, Florida. Read more about their story here.
David Lewis studies soil nutrient retention in young and old-growth forests
Using heavy nitrogen (N (15)) as a tracer for soil retention studies, David Lewis, (USF Integrative Biology) joined researchers Michael Castellano, (Iowa State Univ., Ames, Iowa) and Jason Kaye, (Penn State Univ., University Park, PA) to investigate nitrogen storage in young and old growth forests. The study found that mature forests stored nitrogen quickly and more efficiently in their soil bed and released it slowly due to the buildup of organic matter on the forest floor. Young forests lacked such organic matter and the capacity to retain nitrogen. Read more about their interesting findings here.
Henry Mushinsky and Earl McCoy write editorial on recent advances in reptile translocations
Translocation of endangered species are occurring at ever-increasing rates, including reintroduction, reinforcement and ecological replacement with assisted colonization. Authors Henry Mushinsky and Earl McCoy, (USF Integrative Biology) joined authors Jennifer Germano, (Institute for Conservation Research, San Diego Zoo Global, Escondido, CA), John Ewen, (Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, London, UK) and Luis Ortiz-Catedral, (Massey Univ., Auckland, NZ) in writing an editorial titled "Moving toward greater success in translocations: recent advances from the herpetofauna." In the editorial, the authors discussed past attempts at relocation and repopulation, current examples of studies and needs for future work, as well as reviewed articles covered in the publication accompanying their editorial. Read their editorial and the research articles in the special issue on recent advances in relocating herpetofauna here.
Jason Rohr discovers neonicotinoid insecticide disrupts biological control of non-target pests, decreasing soya bean yield
Jason Rohr (USF Integrative Biology) conducted a study along with Margaret Douglas, (Dept of Entomology, Penn State Univ., University Park, PA), and John Tooker, (Dept of Entomology, Penn State Univ., University Park, PA), of the inﬂuence of the neonicotinoid thiamethoxam, applied as a coating to soya bean seeds, on interactions among the beans, non-target molluscan herbivores and their insect predators. Working both in the laboratory and in the field, the authors examined the susceptibility of the pest grey garden slug Deroceras reticulatum to the insecticide. Their study showed the snails resistant to the chemical. However, the snails retained and concentrated the chemical in their bodies and transmitted the toxin at levels high enough to impair or kill ground-dwelling predaceous beetles, thus reducing the number of natural predators of the garden slugs, affecting crop yield. The implications of this discovery need to be considered in the application of insecticides in farming environments. Read more about their findings here.
Look here for more interesting news from our Department.
The IB Seminar Series will be held in CMC 147, (the Advanced Visualization Center Auditorium, in the Physics building, see LINK for a map) at 3:30 on Thursdays.