The journey begins

For our first year in the TIME class me and Jasmine decided to brave unknown territory. We both became interested in the subject of cancer and began looking at our own interests. After joining together we started down a path filled with articles upon articles about Molluscs, cancer, and carcinogens. We settled on the topic of cancer models in bivalve molluscs , and that’s where our journey began. We came to a slight dilemma, neither of us knew anything about clams, how durable they were, or how to care for them. We decided to order a “warm-up” group of clams. We wanted tnoaho learn how to care for them, Dissect them, mark them, and take their blood. We’ve drilled holes in them, marked them with fingernail polish, fed them algae tablets, and monitored their health daily. As of right now we’ve lost 3 of our original 22 due to our experimennoah1bts on how to take blood. When we finally expose them to our carcinogens, Glyphosate,ethanol, and chewing tobacco extract, they will be in a larger permanent containment. We look forward to our continued experiment throughout the year and we hope for spectacular results.

Mosquito Group: the Y-tube Olfactometer

emmaIn order to find out what flower scents attract mosquitoes, we had to make a version of an y-tube olfactometer, which is a device used by many scientists to test attractiveness of certain scents to insects.  The olfactometer we made is designed specifically for mosquitoes.  Air is generated from an air pump.  It is pushed through a charcoal filter and then splits in two directions.  On each side, the air flows into a glass chamber, which will eventually hold the flowers we are testing.  Due to air pressure building up in the chamber, the air (now picking up the scent of the flower) is forced back up into another tube.  This tube carries it into a glass vial filled with water.  The purpose of this is to moisturize the water (keep in mind that this is happening on both legs of the olfactometer).  After this, the air is pumped into a thick glass tube with a diameter of one inch.  The two glass tubes are connected to another piece of glass tubing (only about six inches long) by a 3D-printed three-way connector.  A jar is connected to the six-inch piece of glass and serves as a “release chamber” for the mosquitoes.

Amoeba on your mind? We hope not!


hannah
After the recent media attention Naegleria fowleri, better known as “the brain eating amoeba” has become a serious concern for people around the world. N. fowleri is an amoeba that is found in soil and waterways (natural and man made) around the globe. The amoeba enters the body through the nasal cavity when water is forced into the nose and then moves into the brain. When the amoeba does not find bacteria to feed on it begins eating the brain. N. fowleri are thermophilic amoeba, which means they thrive in warmer waters. Since the amoeba prefer warmer waters previous scientists have investigated the presence of N. fowleri in thermally polluted lakes. In our project we are going to investigate local lakes (2 thermally polluted, 2 not) for the presence of N. fowleri. The two thermally polluted lakes we will test are Lake Keowee and Lake Julian. The two non-thermally polluted lakes we will test will be Lake Jocassee and Fawn Lake. Right now we are working on perfecting PCR and gel electrophoresis (we will test for the presence of N. fowleri DNA) methods before we take our samples from the lakes. We are also waiting on a positive control, already identified N. Fowleri DNA, for our experiment which has proven to be a lot harder and more expensive than we thought. We are also still evaluating the risks of our projects. We believe we have eliminated all of them by not culturing the N. fowleri and just work with it’s DNA. We are all excited and also nervous to see if N. fowleri will be found in our local lakes!hannah1b

Testing Kudzu bug attractions to plant volatiles

Kudzu covers over 7,400,000 acres in the southeastern United States. It is covering most of our state, and national forests, and its destroying wanted vegetation. Because of this problem, we need to get rid of Kudzu.
Our project is to test the levels of E-2- Hexenal of different ages of the kudzu and also test the preferences between kudzu and soybeans of the Megacopta Cribraria (kudzu bug). We think that the bug will be more attracted to the older kudzu and the older soybeans.
By testing the amounts of E-2- Hexenalwe hope to reduce the amount of E-2 hexenal in the soybeans over all to make the bugs less attracted to them. This will save farmers money, so they do not lose as many crops. Forgetting rid of the Kudzu we hope to increaselevels of E-2- Hexenal so they will be more attracted to it and decrease the amount of kudzu in the US.lilly

Attention!Attention!It’s kudzu bug TIME.

carlyOur project is to see kudzu bug attraction to plant volatiles. Kudzu bugs are native to china and came over to the US in 2009 by plane.You can find Kudzu bugs mostly eating on soybeans and Kudzu plant. We are testing to see will  Kudzu bugs well be more attracted to plants with more or no E-2 Hexenal. E-2 Hexenal is a green odor that is found in most plant stems.So far we have grown our soybeans and they have germinated .We went to the Kudzu patch outside of the football  field at and BHS. We have tested Kudzu and have gotten a variety of Kudzu and control(water).We have found out that we have been turning on a light in the air vent which means that your test are wrong. I bet you are wondering WHY,well Kudzu bugs like light!All the Kudzu bugs that I tested went to water…the water was right over the light! Keeping looking for the next update!

Rippin’ it in the River

img_3121It has been a couple of weeks since my partner and I last collected T. tubifex samples from the Davidson River. After a “fishy” attempt to collect these oligochaetes from various sections of the Davidson River via the “Coon Tree Picnic Area”, we found that we just weren’t having any luck. So, after we decided that we couldn’t feel our legs from the cold water anymore, we drove down to the local Pisgah Fish Hatchery — in the hopes that someone would be able to give us an idea of where we might find a good sampling site to collect some T. tubifex. Luckily for us, we managed to find an employee, who very kindly described which access points the hatchery typically finds T. tubifex worms on a daily basis. So my partner and I went down through a small patch of woods, and found one of the drainage pipes that connects from the racing wells (where the hatchery fish are kept), to the Davidson River. As expected, we found numerous tubifex worms! Unfortunately, we must not have planned on any success, seeing as though we did not have a tool that could be used to efficiently collect the worms to take back to the lab. Luckily for John and I, we absolutely love digging through fish waste (who doesn’t?), so we just dove right mattin…using sticks that we broke off of trees to pick up some clusters of the worms. They were everywhere! Thousands — likely millions of worms were all gathered in one small area of the Davidson. By 5:45, my partner and I decided it was time to go home, but we did not leave unsuccessful. John took the worms back to his place to sort through them, and the next day I worked on some DNA extraction.

Why the Lab Smells Like Garlic

saraThe blame goes to my project for the strong smell of garlic floating around in the TIME room this semester. The lab smells like garlic because I’m testing the antifungal effectiveness of garlic and four other plant extracts (goldenseal, echinacea, and olive) on two fungi: Candida albicans and Aspergillus niger. I’ve been performing disc diffusion assays to see what plant extracts can fight which fungus. Disc diffusion assays involve placing extract-soaked discs on plates of fungus. Any anti-fungal extracts on the plates will have a “Zone of Inhibition” around them where no fungus is growing. Goldenseal has really put Candida in the danger zone: it worked better than fungicide! Garlic has proven to be a fighter against Aspergillus. You know what that means: my future is full of garlic. After the assays, any extracts that have antifungal activity will be tested on wax moth larvae. Wax moth larvae are baby moths that look like little grubs. They are often incorrectly named “worms”. I am going to infect wax moth larvae with Aspergillus and then inject them with garlic to see if having having garlic inside of them will protect the larvae from the fungus. I’ll do the same with Candida and goldenseal.

Where are the Mosquitoes???

Over the past two months my group has been working on hatching mosquitoes from eggs we collected over the summer. Unfortunately, none of our eggs have hatched. At first we assumed the eggs could simply be re hydrated but have now learned that is not the case. Mosquito eggs need nutrients in the water to be able to grow and eventually hatch.

We have had even morecullen issue with our nutrient solution. We have tried three different solutions but so far none have been effective(all eggs remained unhatched and dissolved oxygen levels were extremely high). We have contacted Western North Carolina and are hoping they are able to help us create a successful nutrient broth so we can start our tests.

Once our mosquitoes have hatched we will run them through a y-tube olfactometer to see scent attractiveness to local flowers.

Bean Weevils + Kudzu = Oil?

nicoleThis year BAJONI is down to 2 members. Bain and I are screening the B. ademptus (a bean weevil specific to kudzu seeds) and fungus isolated from the outside of the kudzu seeds for the presence of lipases and proteases. Lipases are enzymes that break down oil and proteases are enzymes that break down proteins. If the fungus or bean weevils test positive for lipases, proteases, or both, then they could later be used in enzymatic oil extraction and produce better, more efficient oil to be used as a biodiesel.

Beaver eight Beaver nine STOP!! its Beaver TIME

aidanOver the past couple weeks we have all been working to narrowed down our research topics and ideas into a feasible project.  Hannah, Bryce and I have decided to work with the deadly brain eating amoeba, Naegleria fowleri.  This summer there was a reported case of this amoeba infecting someone at the Whitewater Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, proving this amoeba lives in North Carolina. Although It is extremely rare for this amoeba to infect humans (under forty cases in the US over the past ten years) it is very fatal and causes death between four and seven days after symptoms appear.  The presence of this amoeba in Western North Carolina has not been previously reported.  The purpose of our project is to determine whether or not this amoeba is living in our local waters.  We will be doing this two different ways, one of which is the screening for antibodies to the genus Naegleria in beaver blood.  This will be done by adding extracted blood from locally trapped beavers on the French Broad to a culture of the amoeba N. lovaniensis, which is closely related to N. fowleri.  If the amoeba is lysed (broken apart) when the blood is added then we can conclude that there are antibodies to the amoeba present.  Beaver blood will be donated to the program and no beavers will be harmed for the purpose of this project.