Student Research Symposium 2014
Oral Presentations - Tuesday, March 25 [1:00-4:45p.m.]
Effect of Distance on Turn Alternation in Pill Bugs (Armadillidium vulgare)

Student: Ms. Jessica Lowry
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Borgo

Time: 1:00 - 1:15

Turn alternation has been observed in pill bugs (Armadillidium vulgare) and this behavior serves to increase the efficiency when crossing unfavorable conditions by allowing them to get to a new, more biologically favorable area when there are obstacles in the way. The hypotheses tested were (1) there would be a relationship between the direction of a forced turn and the direction of a following free turn if the distance between the turns is 6 cm, and (2) if the distance from the forced turn to the choice turn was increased to 12 cm, the direction at the choice turn would be random, showing no relationship between the directions of the two turns. Sixty pill bugs were tested, half in mazes with 6 cm runways from the forced turn to the choice turn, and half in mazes with 12 cm runways. The results indicated that in both maze types the direction of the choice turn was dependent on the direction of the forced turn. There was significant turn alternation in both mazes, regardless of the distance between the forced turn and the choice turn or the direction of the forced turn, which indicates increased distance does not affect the frequency of turn alternation.

Identification and characterization of genes regulating conidiogenesis in the maize pathogen Fusarium graminearum.

Students: Ms. Hazel Osunga Buyu and Mr. Atticus Lum
Faculty Mentors: Drs. R.L. Hirsch
and J.E. Flaherty
Time: 1:20 - 1:45

Fusarium graminearum is an agronomically important plant pathogen that causes major yield limiting diseases like head blight of wheat, and ear and stem rot of maize. During recurrent cycles of infection, F. graminearum reproduces asexually through the production of conidia. When the environment is conducive for disease development, conidia are dispersed by wind and rain to adjacent plants leading to severe disease epidemics. Despite the importance of conidia production and dissemination in the cycle of infection, the genetic mechanisms underlying conidiogenesis are complex and remain largely undefined. Recently, a microarray experiment conducted in our laboratory identified 39 genes putatively involved in conidiation, and subsets of those genes were selected for targeted deletion and functional characterization. The genes targeted for deletion were predicted to be involved in protein transport, DNA modification, transcriptional activation, or had unknown functions based on similarity to previously characterized proteins in related organisms. Through a split-marker triple homologous recombination approach, six genes were successfully deleted and the resulting gene-deletion events were confirmed by PCR. In order to characterize the regulatory functions of the targeted genes, the deletion strains were assayed for deficiencies in growth, development, and conidiation compared to the wild-type strain. Results of the phenotypic assays revealed that many of the genes might serve to regulate aspects of conidiogenesis, conidia morphology, and both primary and secondary metabolism during growth in axenic media. The development of a collection of gene deletion mutants of F. graminearum impaired in important biological functions lays a foundation for future molecular research in this system and promises to facilitate the discovery of novel regulatory pathways involved in dissemination and pathogenesis.

Bacterial Growth Inhibition of the Uropygial Glands Secretions of Passerines in South Carolina.

Student: Ms. Kristen Oliver
Faculty Mentors: Drs. Jennifer Borgo
and Rebecca Heiss
Time: 1:50 - 2:00

We examined whether secretions of the uropygial gland inhibit growth of the feather degrading bacterium Bacillus licheniformis or E. coli differently depending on environment. Birds were mist netted monthly at three trapping sites located near Hartsville (inland), Georgetown (coastal), and Awendaw (coastal), SC from May to August, 2013. Captured birds were identified to species, and uropygial samples were collected and placed in solutions of PBS. Bacterial assays were conducted using techniques modified from French and Neuman-Lee (2012). Using a 96-well plate, each sample was distributed into 4 wells. B. licheniformis was added to two of those wells. E. coli was added to the other two. After incubation, dilution series were prepared for each well, and samples were plated onto TSA. The plates were incubated overnight and counted. The average growth inhibition of B. licheniformis for all samples was -6902% indicating an increase in reproducing colonies. However, values ranged from -219344% to >99%. No significant differences were found in the ability of gland secretions to inhibit growth of either bacterium when comparing between coastal and inland birds or between the sexes. Finally, no correlation was found in the ability of uropygial secretions to inhibit growth of B. licheniformis and E. coli (r=-0.27, P=0.15). Individuals within a species differed appreciably in their abilities to inhibit the growth of B. licheniformis and further investigation is necessary to determine the reason for this variability.

The Biggest Party Place In The World

Student: Ms. Heidrun Kristmundsdottir
Faculty Mentors: Professor Richard Puffer
and Dr. Peter Gloviczki
Time: 1:55 - 2:05

This paper examines how integrated marketing communication looks in a real life business environment, using a case study from the telecom industry in Iceland.

Molecular elucidation of conidiation in the maize and wheat pathogen Fusarium graminearum.

Students: Ms. Zoe Bilton and Ms. Christina Rivera
Faculty Mentors: Drs. R.L. Hirsch
and J.E. Flaherty
Time: 2:10 - 2:20

Fusarium graminearum is a major pathogen of wheat and maize prevalent throughout all agricultural regions of the world, causing billions of dollars in crop losses annually. Between planting seasons, F. graminearum survives in the soil and emerges in the spring to infect new hosts. Prior to infection, F. graminearum forms asexual propagules called conidia, which are readily dispersed by wind and rain onto nearby plants. The production of conidia initiates a repeating cycle of pathogen dissemination resulting in widespread disease epidemics. Despite the importance of conidia in the disease cycle, very little is known regarding the molecular regulation of conidiogenesis. In order to elucidate novel regulatory pathways underlying conidiation, the objective of this study was to characterize genes putatively involved in the production of conidia. Based on previous gene-expression studies, two hypothesized transcriptional repressors were selected for functional characterization. The selection of repressors as targets for characterization is highly relevant because they represent an understudied but crucial class of regulatory components conserved across most eukaryotes. Multiple independent gene-deletion strains of each of the two transcriptional repressors were inoculated into a liquid medium conducive for conidiation. Conidia concentrations were quantified by hemocytometer and compared to the wild-type strain to determine the effect of the genes on conidiation. Consistent with the hypothesized function of the targeted genes, results from the conidiation assays revealed that the putative transcriptional repressors regulated aspects of conidiogenesis. The results generated by this study will inform future research directions in the Flaherty lab and will be utilized in the preparation of scholarly publications.

Objective-C Programming with XCode: Creating an app for the iPad

Student: Mr. David Thompson
Co-author: Mr. James Jacobs
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Ze Zhang

Time: 2:25 - 2:40

The iOS based devices, like Mac, iPod, iPhone, or iPad, are the most popular gadgets to have and to play with today. In this project we investigated app (applications) development process for this mobile operating system. We found that among various development platforms, Apple’s XCode IDE (Integrated Development Environment) is most robust and widely used. For creating an app, it has a fully color coded Objective-C language editor, a very efficient debugger, and a vividly visualized “storyboard”, making programming an easy and fun experience. With XCode installed on a Mac computer, we created a game, “Simon Says”, in which a player tries to follow the computer and press flashing color rectangles in correct order. The iOS objects such as buttons, labels, and display fields were used to simulate those that are on a real “Simon Says” player. The Grand Central Dispatch (GCD) feature and the sound playing methods were readily incorporated into the game’s algorithm design, making it an enjoyable addition to iOS devices. Our presentation consists of using XCode to program applications. We will explain the algorithm of the app and the reason for using Grand Central Dispatch queues. We will show how to use an iPad simulator on a Mac first, and then load the final version into an actual iPad device. Last but not least, we will bring an iPad loaded with our Simno Say game; and it’s going to be fun!

BREAK - 2:45
Microwave Spectrum and Ab Initio Calculations of 2-Chloro-6-Fluoropyridine and 2-Chloro-3-Fluoropyridine

Students: Mr. Sean Arnold and Mr. Chase Chewning
Faculty Mentor: Dr. Gordon Brown

Time: 3:00 - 3:10

The rotational spectra of the molecules 2-chloro-6-fluoropyridine and 2-chloro-3-fluoropyridine were measured on a chirped-pulsed Fourier transform microwave (CP-FTMW) spectrometer in the frequency range from 8000 to 18500 MHz. This experiment is used to find the shape of a molecule, including bond angles and bond lengths of the molecule. This is important information because the shape of the molecule determines its chemical and biological function. The raw data was analyzed to find the rotational constants and quadrupole coupling constants of the molecules, for both the 35Cl and the 37Cl isotopologues. Ab initio calculations were performed on a quad-core desktop computer and results were compared to experimental data. The hyperfine splitting of the rotational spectrum, due to the presence of nitrogen and chlorine atoms in the compounds, will be discussed. The instrumentation, a home-built CP-FTMW spectrometer, will also be presented.

Identification and Characterization of Pythium Species Associated with Cotton field soil in South Carolina

Student: Ms. Jasmine Bodison-Frasier
Faculty Mentor: Dr. M. Valeria Avanzato

Time: 3:15 - 3:30

Seedling diseases cause the largest yield losses of any cotton disease in the United States. In South Carolina, seed and seedling mortality of cotton have been mainly attributed to Pythium ultimum. Other Pythium spp., even reported, has been poorly characterized. During the summer of 2012-2013, 103 isolates of Pythium were recovered from a field yearly planted with cotton in Hartsville, SC. Pythium isolates were identified by means of morphological features and molecular tools (DNA sequence). Eighty-seven Pythium isolates were successfully identified to species level. Pythium irregulare was the dominant species recovered from cotton soil. Representative isolates of P. irregulare were further characterized by the pathogenic ability on cotton seeds and sensitivity to the fungicide treatment, metalaxyl. Fifty-eight percent of the total isolates of P. irregulare were highly pathogenic to cotton seeds. Seed rot and root rot symptoms were observed. Sensitivity to metalaxyl varied among isolates. Sensitivity was observed for both sub-lethal doses of the fungicide. Stimulation of mycelial growth was also observed in some isolates. The main goal of this project was to better understand and possibly expand the knowledge on the number of Pythium species potentially associated with poor seed germination in cotton fields in South Carolina.

Molecular characterization of genes regulating conidiogenesis, salt tolerance and virulence in the maize pathogen Fusarium graminearum.

Students: Ms. Ashley Thompkins and Ms. Sara Atkinson
Faculty Mentors: Drs. R.L. Hirsch
and J.E. Flaherty
Time: 3:35 - 3:55

Fusarium graminearum is an important phytopathogenic fungus that causes wheat head blight and maize ear and stalk rot in most agricultural production areas of the world. F. graminearum overwinters on plant debris in the soil and disseminates onto susceptible plants in the spring with specialized asexual propagules called conidia. Due to the major economic impact of crop losses caused by F. graminearum, identifying the molecular regulation of asexual reproduction and overwintering survival are key factors in developing improved disease control and loss-mitigation strategies. The objective of this study was to create a collection of green fluorescent protein (GFP)-tagged random insertional mutants of F. graminearum utilizing Agrobacterium-mediated transformation and perform a forward genetics screen in a variety of conditions to identify strains with unique phenotypes differing from the wild-type strain. Each of the 67 strains in the mutant collection created for this study was tested for defects in conidia production, conidial morphology, pH tolerance, growth under osmotic and oxidative stress conditions, and qualitative changes in GFP expression. Through the course of each phenotypic assay, seven mutants exhibiting abnormal growth and development compared to the wild-type strain were identified and catalogued for future study. The mutant strains identified in this screen represent a powerful genetic resource that will be utilized in the immediate future to identify specific genes involved in saprophytic survival, dissemination, and pathogenesis of an agronomically important plant pathogen.

Heart Rate Application Validation Study

Student: Ms. Stacy Burr
Faculty Mentor: Dr. James McLaughlin

Time: 4:00 - 4:15

Heart rate is widely used to monitor and prescribe exercise intensity. A new mobile app (Instant Heart Rate by Azumio, Inc.) allows people to measure and track their heart rate using a smart phone or other mobile device. PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine the accuracy of the Instant Heart Rate app for measuring heart rate at rest and during exercise. METHODS: Thirty-eight subjects had their HR measured simultaneously using a Polar HR monitor and the Instant Heart Rate app on an iPhone. Measurements were made at rest and while subjects exercised at light (40% age-predicted HRmax), moderate (60% HRmax), and high (80% HRmax) intensity on a treadmill. RESULTS: There were no significant differences between the HR measured using the Polar monitor and the app at rest (73.9±12.2 vs. 74.5±12.6 beats•min-1, p=0.83) or during exercise at 40% HRmax (81.7±14.7 vs. 83.1±15.1 beats·min-1, p=0.70), 60% HRmax (106.6±17.9 vs. 108.4±21.0 beats·min-1, p=0.69), and 80% HRmax (143.3±22.2 vs. 140.4±19.6 beats·min-1, p=0.54). The measured HR was significantly lower than the target HR at 60% HRmax (107 vs. target of 118 beats•min-1, p=0.0004) and 80% HRmax (143 vs. target of 157 beats·min-1, p=0.0005). CONCLUSION: The results show that the Instant Heart Rate app accurately measured HR at rest and during exercise compared to the Polar HR monitor. However, in some cases the app did not detect HR during moderate or vigorous exercise, so the subjects had to reduce speed or stop moving in order to measure HR. This allowed their heart rate to drop, resulting in a value that was not within their target heart rate range.


Sparrow Scholars: A Spotlight on Service

Students: Ms. Holly Evans, Ms. Jubilee Smith and Mr. Kendrick Reed
Mentor: Ms. Sarah Fraser

Time: 4:20 - 4:45

The purpose of the Sparrow Scholars Program is to identify and support emerging leaders in the Coker College student body by providing three, three-year scholarships. It is our goal that Sparrow Scholars will bring prestige and excellence to the campus community. Our presentation today will highlight our current Sparrow Scholars and their service projects over the past semester.

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