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Bio. Sci. Undergraduate Seminar - Tessa Steenwinkel, Emma Byrne & Katri Studtmann

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Thursday, December 12, 2019 3:00pm to 4:00pm

This is a past event.


Tessa Steenwinkel
Undergraduate Student
Major: Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Presentation Title: The influence of nutrition on the interplay of fertility, fecundity, and longevity in Drosophila

Abstract: A healthy diet is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. However, diseases such as obesity and Type 2 diabetes have reached epidemic levels, with more than one-third of the U.S. population being obese in 2012. Much of this can be attributed to hectic lifestyles and a lack of a proper diet. One of the things majorly affected by an unhealthy lifestyle is the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) signaling pathway. This pathway integrates environmental cues into organismal growth and homeostasis. Here we used model and non-model Drosophila species to show the influence of diet on the mTOR regulated processes of fertility, fecundity, and longevity. Overall, we determined a significant increase in Drosophila fitness with an increase in favored nutrition across both sex and species. We are now focused on the direct manipulation of the mTOR complex with the drug rapamycin to gain further understanding of the direct implications of reduced mTOR activity in combination with nutrition.


Emma Byrne
Undergraduate Student
Major: Applied Ecology & Environmental Science

Presentation Title: Seasonal Freshwater Microbial Community Variation in Response to Crude and Refined Oil Exposure

Abstract: The Great Lakes are the largest freshwater bodies on earth, accounting for one fifth of the global surface freshwater. The waters of Lake Michigan and Huron in particular are subject to oil-spill risk from the Line 5 pipeline that crosses the Straits of Mackinac. Past research indicates that microbial hydrocarbon biodegradation plays a significant role in the elimination of oil contaminants in the environment. Microbial communities are interacting assemblages that are responsive to environmental and anthropogenic pressures such as oil spills, nutrient runoff, and temperate climate shifts. Our current work is assessing changes in hydrocarbon biodegradation rates and microbial community composition across seasons and exposure to various oil types in freshwater environments. Understanding how these processes change under various conditions is essential for understanding the impact oil spills have on different environments.


Katri Studtmann
Undergraduate Student
Major: Biology-Ecology

Presentation Title: Implications of Removing the Upper Maxillae Bone in Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) for Microchemistry Determination of Migratory Life Histories

Abstract: The life histories of many salmonids (salmon and trout) are very complex involving variations from resident to migratory forms. Migratory brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis – “coasters)” are of conservation concern because of their low numbers in Lake Superior. Research at Michigan Tech is being conducted to detect and identify brook trout populations that display the migratory life history. Microchemistry analysis of the otolith bones has given researchers important information about habitat use, migration patterns, and natal origin of other species of salmonids, but this technique is also fatal. Recently, research has shown the same information can be collected from the upper maxilla bone in salmonids, which can be removed nonfatally. Our laboratory experiment was a simple control and treatment experiment with four replicas where half of the brook trout had one maxilla surgically removed and the other half was left intact. Over the course of 148 days, mortality, weight, and length where recorded to determine potential negative implications to brook trout having their maxillae removed. We found there to be no significant effect on mortality or growth between control and treatment fish therefore indicating that maxillae microchemistry analysis has the potential to be a nonlethal alternative method to otolith microchemistry analysis that can be applied to migratory species of conservation concern. 

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