Aidoo, Emmanuel*, and Nicholas Sizemore University of Scranton, Scranton, PA 18510. Transannular cyclizations of medium-ring amido alkenes – A computational study.- Transannular cyclization reactions are an important method for transforming macrocyclic molecules into fused bicyclic structures. This type of reaction using amido alkenes as substrates has been reported, though the current scope is limited. The products formed through this type of transannular cyclization (indolizidones and related fused heterocycles) are useful synthetic intermediates for many biologically active molecules. Therefore, a better understanding of the factors governing the stereochemical and regiochemical outcomes of this sub-class of transannular cyclizations would be beneficial. As such, a computational study was undertaken to investigate the cyclization of amido alkene-derived bromonium ions. Both E and Z alkene geometries were modeled in an effort to determine their effect on the stereochemistry of the fused bicyclic products. Additionally, the spacing between the alkene and amide functionalities were varied to investigate the regioselectivity of cyclization. Initial conformational analysis calculations of halonium intermediates, transition state estimates, and bicyclic ammonium products using Merck molecular force field (MMFF) were performed in Spartan’18. Subsequent optimization and frequency calculations were performed in Gaussian’16 using density functional theory (DFT) at the B3LYP 6-31G+(d) level of theory. The results of this computational study will be described herein.   (17) Poster Link
Pikal, Claire *, and Nicholas Sizemore University of Scranton, Scranton, PA 18510. Computational analysis of intermolecular Diels-Alder reactions of α-amido acrylates with furan and 2-(trimethylsiloxy)-1,3-cyclohexadiene.- The Diels–Alder reactions are an important organic transformation that have found utility in a variety of fields such as medicinal chemistry and material design. The intermolecular version of this reaction can bring together cyclic dienes and dienophiles to create bridged bicyclic products. While a number of different diene/dienophile reaction pairs exist, α-amido acrylates dienophiles remain an underused substrate. When paired with cyclic dienes, like furan or 2-(trimethylsiloxy)-1,3-cyclohexadiene, the resulting structures resemble molecules which are known to have interesting biological activity. A computational study to specifically look at the cyclization between these species was done, in an effort to increase understanding about the Diels–Alder cyclization of α-amido acrylates dienophiles, and hopefully, expand the utility of this class of substrates. Initial conformational analysis in Spartan’18 was carried out on starting materials, transition state estimates, and cyclizations products using Merck molecular force field (MMFF) calculations. These conformations were then subjected to optimization and frequency calculations using density functional theory (DFT) at the B3LYP 6-31G+(d) level of theory in Gaussian18. The results of this computational study, including endo/exo selectivity analysis, will be described herein. (19) Poster Link
Zarilla, Alexandria*, Daniel Oar*, and Quyen Aoh Gannon University, Erie, PA 16541. Secretory carrier membrane protein 3’s (SCAMP3) role in beta-amyloid production and secretion.- Alzheimer’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease associated with loss of memory and cognitive function. The aggregation of extracellular plaques containing beta-amyloid is related to the processing of the amyloid precursor protein (APP). When endocytosed to the early endosome, APP will either be degraded by the lysosome or sent back to the trans-Golgi network. Degradation of APP is regulated by endosomal sorting complexes required for transport (ESCRTs). Disruption of ESCRT function leads to accumulation of beta-amyloid. The secretory carrier membrane protein 3 (SCAMP3) interacts and opposes the function of the ESCRT proteins. We hypothesize then that SCAMP3 may regulate APP trafficking by promoting or inhibiting trafficking of APP to the lysosome. As shown with our poster, we will test this hypothesis by examining the effects of RNA interference of SCAMP3 in two assays: (1) an immunofluorescence colocalization assay with full length APP and (2) and ELISA assay to measure beta-amyloid levels. Both assays will use H4 neuroglioma cells that have been stably transfected with APP-EGFP. In the immunofluorescence assay, the cells will be fluorescently labeled with antibodies to the lysosomal proteins LAMP1/2 or the early endosomal protein EEA1. Colocalization of EGFP-APP with EEA1 and LAMP1/2 will be observed under the microscope and quantitatively analyzed to determine the degree of colocalization. We then will use a well-established ELISA assay to measure intracellular and extracellular levels of beta-amyloid. We predict that if SCAMP3 promotes APP trafficking to the lysosome, then a knockdown of SCAMP3 will result in decreased colocalization of APP with lysosomal markers in our immunofluorescence assay and increased intracellular accumulation of beta-amyloid in our ELISA assay. On the contrary, if SCAMP3 inhibits APP trafficking to the lysosome, then there will be increased colocalization on the lysosome and decreased beta-amyloid accumulation. (20) Poster Link
Chiang, Angelika*, Samantha Valaitis, and Quyen Aoh Gannon University, Erie, PA 16541. Role of SCAMP3 Regulating CXCR4 Trafficking.- The CXC-Chemokine Receptor Type 4 is a G-protein coupled receptor. The functions of CXCR4 is to regulate the growth, division, differentiation, and migration of cells. The overexpression of CXCR4 is connected to metastasis in over twenty-three types of cancer along with promoting HIV infection. Under normal conditions, CXCR4 binds to its agonist CXCL12 and is endocytosed into the cell and transported to the early endosomes. At the early endosomes, the CXCR4 is ubiquitinated by the ubiquitin ligase ITCH and is sorted into multivesicular bodies (MVBs) by Endosomal Sorting Complexes Required for Transport (ESCRTs). The MVBs buds off the early endosomes and are targeted for degradation in the lysosomes. The disruption of protein functions during this pathway can inhibit lysosomal degradation and lead to CXCR4 being overexpressed. In this research, we will investigate the role of SCAMP3, a Secretory Carrier Membrane Protein, which regulates CXCR4 trafficking and is known to interact with the ESCRT protein Hs and ubiquitin ligase ITCH. For our experiments, Hela cells, an immortal cell line derived from cervical cancer, were used. We will first do a knockdown of SCAMP3 to silence the SCAMP3 gene and then use RNA interference to examine CXCR4 trafficking in the absence of SCAMP3 while using a well-characterized immunofluorescence assay. The immunofluorescence used to determine the colocalization of CXCR4 in the lysosomes are the lysosomal markers LAMP1/2 and CXCR4 antibodies and in the early endosomes are the early endosomal markers EEA1 and CXCR4 antibodies. ImageJ colocalization program will be used to determine the colocalization between CXCR4 and organelle markers. A trafficking time course will be used to ensure that CXCR4 has arrived in the early endosomes between 30-60 minutes and in the lysosomes at 180 minutes. We anticipate that SCAMP3 could either inhibit or promote the degradation of CXCR4 transportation to the lysosomes. (22) Poster Link
Ogrodniczuk, Marcin*, and René Fuanta East Stroudsburg University, East Stroudsburg, PA 18301. Shikimate kinase; searching for potential novel anti-Tubercular agents.- Tuberculosis is a respiratory infection with over 10 million reported cases each year. This infection rate is responsible for over two million deaths annually, second only to HIV in fatalities among infectious diseases. Since 1960 tuberculosis rates have steadily declined worldwide as medical technology has advanced to produce more effective antibiotics. However, studies in the last decade have shown that tuberculosis rates continue to increase. This observation suggests that there is an alarming increase in the prevalence of drug‐resistant strains of tuberculosis, thus the need for the discovery of novel anti‐tubercular agents. When searching for potential enzymatic pathways for drug discovery it its vital that the pathway possesses minimal overlap with the host. The shikimate pathway is a seven‐step metabolic route that produces aromatic amino acids and other cellular metabolites. This pathway is found in microorganisms and has no mammalian counterpart, making any of the enzymes in this pathway suitable targets for screening of potential anti‐tubercular agents. The target enzyme in this project, Mycobacterium tuberculosis Shikimate Kinase (MtSK), catalyzes the 5th step of this pathway. MtSK converts shikimate to shikimate‐3‐phosphate. The overall goal of this project is to express and characterize MtSK in order to screen for potential anti‐tubercular agents. Initial methods included a bacterial transformation of XL‐1 blue competent E.coli cells. This preliminary transformation was performed using a pET-21b plasmid with an aroK gene inserted into the multiple cloning site. Successfully transformed XL-1 blue cells were cloned. A second transformation of  BL21 DE3 competent cells was performed. Initial small scale expression showed the presence of a band around 20 kDa. The theoretical mass of the enzyme is 19.6 kDa which suggests MtSK was successfully expressed within the transformed cells. Expression analysis for large-scale supported data from small scale as a band of 20 kDa once again appeared in the verification SDS-PAGE gel. Purification of MtSK was carried out through nickel affinity chromatography. Subsequently, kinetic characterization and inhibitors studies will be performed using inhibitors like avarone and hymenidin.   (24) Poster Link
Vyas, Khushali*, Carly Wood*, and Andre Walther Cedar Crest College, Allentown, PA 18104. The effect of Replication Protein A phosphorylation on telomere shortening in Saccharomyces cerevisiae using a PCR amplification-based protocol.- Replication Protein A (RPA) is a highly conserved, heterotrimeric, single-stranded DNA binding protein that is essential for many DNA maintenance pathways such as DNA replication, DNA damage repair, cell cycle regulation, and telomere maintenance. RPA is phosphorylated in a cell-cycle dependent manner and in response to DNA damage, suggesting that phosphorylation may play a vital role in regulating its function. We hypothesized that phosphorylation may regulate RPA functions in telomere synthesis, and our lab has previously shown that mutations in RPA that effect phosphorylation cause changes in telomere length in the baker’s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae (S. cerevisiae).  However, the mechanism for RPA phosphorylation’s regulation of telomere synthesis is unclear. As a result, we have been measuring telomere length of various S. cerevisiae mutants, including those with phosphorylated and dephosphorylated states of RPA. After isolating genomic DNA from S. cerevisiae, telomere lengths were amplified using Endpoint Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and measured through gel electrophoresis. We are currently analyzing the telomere lengths of S. cerevisiae mutants and seeing positive and negative effects on telomere length caused by the addition of different mutations. We have confirmed our Endpoint PCR protocol using a control and have been able to verify our protocol in terms of amplifying telomere lengths. By comparing telomere lengths of RPA phosphorylated mutants to known telomere synthesis mutants, we will have a better understanding of the role RPA phosphorylation plays in regulating telomere synthesis.  Since the abnormal regulation of telomere synthesis is required for cancer cell formation and cancer progression, our research may provide insights into novel treatment targets for cancer. (26) Poster Link
Tabaku, Elsa*, Kathryn Sarachan, and Brad Engle Wilson College, Chambersburg, PA 17201. Ceramide and azacytidine in combination as an alternative treatment for triple-negative breast cancer.- Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a subtype of breast cancer defined by the lack of expression of estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) proteins. It represents approximately 10–15% of breast cancers and has a poor prognosis and very limited treatment options. Chemotherapy is one of the most common treatment options being used to treat breast cancer, including TNBC, but the effective dosages often cause damage to healthy cells and tissues. Azacytidine (AzaC) is one commonly used chemotherapeutic drug which functions as a demethylation agent to reduce growth and proliferation of cancer cells. Ceramides (CER) are bioactive lipids which function as tumor suppressors, regulating cell proliferation, differentiation, senescence and apoptosis. Both of these agents have shown to be effective treatment when used on other subtypes of breast cancer. In this literature review, the potential efficacy of a combination of these chemotherapeutic drugs on TNBC is explored. It is proposed that AzaC and CER combined may induce higher rates of cancer cell apoptosis than either agent alone while having no effect or minimal negative effect on the healthy cells and the combined approach would suggest an improvement to current treatment for TNBC. (27) Poster Link
Morningwake, Megan*, Brad Engle, Adam Cooke, and Kathryn Sarachan Wilson College, Chambersburg, PA 17201. The overexpression of the eyes absent gene, EYA1, in retinoblastoma, a potential therapeutic target.- Retinoblastoma is one of the most common and deadly cancers in children under three years of age. Worldwide, 9,000 children are diagnosed annually with hereditary retinoblastoma, with a 70% mortality rate in the middle- and low-income countries. The treatments for retinoblastoma (chemotherapy, radiation, and removing the eye) all have serious side effects. At any stage of diagnosis, the goals of treatment should be saving the child’s life, preserving as much vision as possible, and minimizing the damage to noncancerous cells. This could potentially be accomplished by targeting specific genes or gene products that are known to be overexpressed in many cancers. Some genes are upregulated during development; however, they are also upregulated in cancer cells leading to tumor progression and carcinogenesis. The EYA1 gene is a critical developmental gene and its gene product functions as a protein phosphatase and as a coactivator of the SIX/EYA transcriptional complex; it has been shown to be overexpressed in several cancers. In this literature review, the upregulation of the EYA1 gene and its gene product are explored as possible therapeutic targets specific to retinoblastoma cancer cells, opening the door to the possibility of developing targeted therapies that could prove a viable option that will be less invasive to young children and be more effective in treating retinoblastoma. (28) Poster Link
Wagner, Dylan*, and Jeffrey Thompson York College of Pennsylvania, York, PA 17405. The effects of e-cigarette aerosol extract and e-liquid on the JAK/STAT6 signal transduction pathway.- Electronic cigarette (e-cigarette) use has increased drastically over the years, outpacing traditional tobacco products. E-cigarettes heat a solution of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, nicotine, and flavor additives (e-liquid) to produce an aerosol. E-cigarette use has been significantly associated with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and worsened asthma symptoms. JAK/STAT6 is an inflammatory signaling pathway implicated in the etiology of these diseases. The objective of this study was to determine whether e-cigarette aerosol and e-liquid affects the signal transduction of this pathway, and if it may be one mechanism through which COPD and asthma symptoms increase. E-liquid aerosol extracts were created similarly to traditional cigarette smoke extract using a JUUL e-cigarette in conjunction with Virginia Tobacco and Menthol e-liquid. HEK293 IL-13/IL-4 Sensor cells are typically used to detect JAK/STAT6 signaling activity after activation by secreting a reporter protein detectable via a colorimetric reagent. Cells were exposed to each extract and their respective e-liquids in varying concentrations along with or without IL-13, ligand for the JAK/STAT6 pathway. The amount of reporter protein, secreted embryonic alkaline phosphatase (SEAP), was recorded after 18 hours via a colorimetric QUANTI-Blue assay to quantify signaling activity. Dunnett’s test was utilized to determine simple effects within groups after a two-way ANOVA. Signaling activity was significantly greater than the control when cells were exposed to 10% and 5% Virginia Tobacco extract with IL-13 (p= 0.0116, 0.0413). Signaling activity was lower than the control when exposed to 2.5% and 1.25% Menthol extract with IL-13 (p= 0.0121, p<0.0001). Cells exposed to Menthol e-liquid at 0.4% had statistically significant greater signaling than the control (p=0.0159). (29) Poster Link
Maria, Vincent*, Francis Krug, and Joshua Slee DeSales University, Center Valley, PA 18034. Investigating the anti-inflammatory effect of curcumin and piperine in preventing biomaterial rejection in vitro.- The inflammatory response to foreign biomaterials is a significant concern in various medical procedures. Chemokines and cytokines recruit monocyte-derived macrophages to the site of the implanted biomaterial, at which they adhere to and attempt isolate it from the body. This typically results in device failure and often requires replacement later in life. Natural products have garnered attention recently as potential therapies that could have anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin, a yellow hydrophobic polyphenol extract from turmeric, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory characteristics. However, it has a poor bioavailability as it is quickly metabolized upon consumption. Piperine, an alkaloid component in black pepper, has been shown to increase the bioavailability of other nutrients. Through in vitro THP-1 cell adhesion assays, our data show that curcumin alone and in combination with piperine inhibit inflammatory cell attachment to polyurethane films, a common biomaterial. Ongoing experiments with an ex vivo Chandler Loop apparatus are being conducted to confirm the in vitro findings. These results indicate that curcumin and piperine have potential anti-inflammatory properties and warrant further investigation as potential therapies for biomaterial rejection. (30) Poster Link
Croucher, Kristina*, and Michael Foulk Mercyhurst University, Erie, PA 16546. Identification and characterization of the Sciara coprophila cold tolerance gene, Frost (ScFst).- Organisms in the wild routinely encounter extreme environmental conditions.  Seasonal cold temperatures pose a threat to insects in particular; thus, they have developed mechanisms to recover from cold shock. Recently, the effects of cold on the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster have been studied and a number of genes responsible for cold tolerance have been identified. One of these genes is Frost (Fst). While the specific function of Frost has yet to be determined, expression of the gene has been shown to rise during the period of recovery after exposure to cold temperatures. In this study, we have identified and  begun to characterize a potential Frost ortholog in the fungus gnat, Sciara coprophila. The D. melanogaster Frost sequence was collected from NCBI and BLAST was used to identify a potential Frost ortholog in the S. coprophila genome. Several candidates were initially identified and a reciprocal BLAST search with each of the candidates was completed to identify a potential S. coprophila Frost ortholog, which was named the putative S. coprophila Frost (ScFst) gene. Total RNA was extracted from adult female flies subjected to a three-hour cold stress then allowed to recover for 0, 1, 2, and 3 hours.  Quantitative Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (qPCR) was used to analyze putative ScFst expression at each of these time points. Expression increased for at least the first hour time point. Future plans are to analyze ScFst expression during recovery from cold stress in other developmental stages, such as embryo, larvae, and pupae. We are also in the process of cloning the putative ScFst mRNA into a topocloning vector known as pCR2.1 and then subclone the sequence in frame with GFP. (31) Poster Link
Scholl, Noah*, and John Harms Messiah University, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055. Utilizing a plasma membrane enrichment protocol to optimize western blot detection of the CCK2 and CCK2i4sv receptors.- Pancreatic cancer is currently the fourth most deadly form of cancer in the United States. One factor implicated in pancreatic cancer growth is the hormone signaling pathway between gastrin and its receptor, CCK2R. In the early 2000’s, it was also discovered that pancreatic cancer cells can contain a variant (CCK2i4svR) of the normal receptor protein. Crucially, this longer variant has been shown to be hyper-stimulated and to drive increased cancer growth. Measuring the relative abundance of these two receptors at the protein level can help us understand their role in pancreatic cancer and may represent prognostic value as a biomarker. However, while RNA detection and measurement have been reproducible, protein detection has been problematic.  Using western blot analysis, we have been able to detect the receptors in cells expressing them at high levels; however, detection in wild type and stably-transfected lines more representative of physiological expression has been unclear. Thus, we hypothesize that low, natural abundance of the receptors requires enrichment for reliable quantification. Herein, we report our initial attempt to enrich for green fluorescent protein-tagged variants, CCK2R-GFP and CCK2i4svR-GFP, utilizing a membrane extraction protocol based on the non-ionic detergent, Triton X-114.  Following enrichment, western analysis demonstrated a significant decrease in cytosolic protein in control cells transfected with untagged GFP. Efforts to verify retention of membrane proteins in the hydrophobic fraction, and subsequent specific detection of the CCK2R variants, are ongoing. (32) Poster Link
Sollenberger, John*, M. Dana Harriger, and Abigail Maley Wilson College, Chambersburg, PA 17201. Cannabidiol as a therapeutic alternative for treating Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic inflammatory disease that currently has no cure and current treatment options include many harmful side effects. SLE is generally hard to diagnose and causes chronic inflammation and pain throughout the body. Signs of SLE range from a butterfly-like redness around one’s face to elevated peripheral cell counts, and swelling of affected organs. Individuals diagnosed with SLE are most commonly prescribed the steroidal drug Prednisone which can cause adverse side effects. Cannabidol (CBD) is a chemical extracted from the cannabis plant that has no known psychoactive side effects and has reported anti-inflammatory effects with no harmful side effects when used by humans. CBD is available as an over-the-counter grade and through a prescription for medical grade. Over-the-counter grade CBD is typically infused with oil which can persist after distillation. Medical grade CBD involves winterization followed by a distillation, leaving more CBD and less chemicals that were used in the extraction process. Current findings indicate both forms of CBD having anti-inflammatory properties but the difference in purity has not been tested. Understanding if differences in purity have an effect on suppressing inflammation is important to ensure lower quality CBD are safe treatment options and ensure the medical grade CBD is more effective in its healing properties. Results could suggest using CBD as a treatment option could supplement and/or minimize the reliance on medications like Prednisone with fewer adverse side effects. (33) Poster Link
Cole, Adam *, Michael Shin, and Scott Kieffer Messiah University, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055. Effects of caffeine and CYP1A2, ADORA2A polymorphisms on exhaustive anaerobic performance.- Individual responses to caffeine are suggested to be genetically influenced by polymorphisms of the cytochrome P450 enzymes, specifically the -163 A>C CYP1A2, for metabolism in the liver and through the adenosine receptor, 1976 T>C ADORA2A, for sensitivity of specific target cells. Individuals with the AA variant are caffeine responders, while those with the AC/CC variants are caffeine non-responders. ADORA2A TT variants demonstrate an increased sensitivity to caffeine compared to TC/CC variants. This research examined the effect of caffeine and CYP1A2 and ADORA2A polymorphisms on anaerobic power during exhaustive exercise. Fifteen elite NCAA male athletes (age=20.1 yrs, weight=77.4 kg, height=176.7 cm) participated in a double-blind study. Subjects performed two separate 90-s Wingate Tests (WAnT90) separated by two to four days on a Velotron cycle ergometer, resistance=0.05 kg•BW(kg)-1. Subjects ingested a bolus of caffeine, 5mg•kg-1BW, or a placebo (maltodextrin) one hour prior to each trial that were administered in a randomized/counterbalanced design. Peak power (W•kg-1), total power (W•kg-1), and average power (W•kg-1) were calculated for the 90-s and each 30-s interval. Buccal epithelial cells were collected using a mouth rinse, 0.9% NaCl, and DNA was extracted via spin columns and proteinase k. Allelic discrimination for CYP1A2 (rs762551) and ADORA2A (rs5751876) were procured via an assay and a One-Step qPCR amplification. Samples were run in duplicate, with positive and negative controls. The data was analyzed using a factorial ANOVA with repeated measures (p > 0.05) for each variable. (34) Poster Link
Armstrong, Kathryn*, Scott Kieffer, Micheal Shin, and Micheal Sedhom Messiah University, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055. The role of CYP1A2 and ADORA2A in Individual Response to Caffeine Consumption under Anaerobic Conditions.- Caffeine is the most commonly used psychoactive drug in the world and has wide implications in medicine, athletics, and public health. Studies have shown that metabolism, clearance, reception, and response to caffeine varies significantly among individuals. The pharmacokinetics are primarily dictated by the cytochrome p450 enzyme CYP1A2 while the adenosine neuroreceptor ADORA2A heavily influences the drug’s pharmacodynamics. Polymorphisms of the -163 A>C CYP1A2 and the 1976 T>C ADORA2A are thought to influence these interindividual responses; therefore, the purpose of this project is to determine the effect of caffeine consumption on anaerobic exercise. 12-15 female college athletes completed two maximal WAnT30 anaerobic bike tests on a Velotron cycle ergometer.  The participants ingested a capsule of caffeine (5mg•kg-1 bodyweight) or a placebo capsule (maltodextrin) one hour prior to testing. The order of the bolus was randomized, counterbalanced, and administered in a double-blind manner. Peak power (W•kg-1), anaerobic capacity (W•kg-1), and total power output (W•kg-1) were recorded during each test.  Buccal epithelial cells were collected using a 0.9% NaCl mouth rinse with DNA extraction conducted using proteinase k to lyse cells and collection using QiAmp Mini spin columns.  Allelic discrimination was obtained using TaqMan® SNP Assay for CYP1A2 (rs762551) and ADORA2A (rs5751876) and a One-Step qPCR. Each sample was run in duplicate positive and negative quality controls. Each variable was analyzed using a factorial ANOVA with repeated measures (p > 0.05).  The Results and Discussion will be presented at the conference. (35) Poster Link
Barrales, Luis*, John Martinelli, David Kleiner, Ameer Payton, Edward Winter, and Aikaterini Skokotas Rosemont College, Rosemont, PA 19010. Assessing the role of dityrosine in the UV protection of yeast spores at varying wavelengths.- Yeast spores are known to be resistant to many environmental factors including the mutagenic effects of UV light. The presence of dityrosine in their outermost spore wall may play a protective role by absorbing UV light. The DIT1 gene encodes a formyl transferase enzyme required for dityrosine production. The spores of a heterozygous DIT 1 strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae were exposed to UV light at different time intervals and wavelengths and their ability to survive was examined. Spores present within tetrads (ascus) and free spores produced by glusulase digestion were analyzed. This study compared the UV sensitivity at the mutagenic wavelength, 254 nm and at 302 nm which is within the range of the absorption spectrum for dityrosine. Tetrads exposed to UV radiation at 254 nm were more susceptible than tetrads exposed at 302 nm. Only 3% survival was observed after a 90 sec UV exposure at 254 nm compared to 63% survival at 302 nm. A similar trend was observed for free spores. Only 0.5% survival was observed after a 90 sec UV exposure at 254 nm compared to 46% survival at 302 nm. The results suggest that dityrosine is most protective at 302 nm and tetrads may contribute to UV protection by allowing spores to hide within the ascus. (36) Poster Link
Lipschitz, Dena*, and Sean Georgi York College of Pennsylvania, York, PA 17405. Effects of Strattera (atomoxetine) on the regeneration and behavior of planaria Dugesia dorotocephala.- Strattera (atomoxetine) is a non-stimulant drug used to treat individuals with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which is associated with low levels of norepinephrine (NE) in the brain. This drug is much less commonly used than stimulants, like Adderall or Ritalin, and works as a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor, which increases the amount of synaptic NE in the body. Planaria are commonly used model organisms to study regeneration patterns of the external body as well as the central nervous system, and extensive toxicology reports have been performed using them. Studies have been performed to observe the effects of stimulants on planarian regeneration, however, research is lacking on how non-stimulants affect these flatworms. To answer this question, we observed behavior of the planarian species Dugesia dorotocephala before and after transverse dissections in various concentrations of Strattera. After dissections, the tail fragments were observed to record regeneration time of a new head, and immunohistochemistry procedures were used to compare the newly regenerated brain and neoblasts to the controls. Our results showed that planaria treated with a 10µM Strattera concentration overall regenerated much slower than untreated controls. Results from immunohistochemistry revealed that atomoxetine treated planaria regenerated a smaller head and less distinct nerve cords compared to the controls and showed higher amounts of mitotically active neoblasts closer to the head than in the controls. (47) Poster Link
McKinney, Miranda*, Brooke Mazzotta*, Sarah Sejour*, Kevin Long*, Rachel Wynings, George James, and William Biggers Wilkes University, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18766. Effects of Microcystis aeruginosa on the Metamorphosis and Growth of the Polychaete Annelid Capitella teleta.- Cyanobacterial Harmful Algal Blooms (CHABs) that occur in freshwater and marine ecosystems are well known in causing toxicity to both marine invertebrates and vertebrates.  We have investigated the effects of Microcystis aeruginosa, a cyanobacteria that causes CHABs and produces toxic microcystins, on the metamorphosis and growth of the polychaete annelid Capitella teleta.    This polychaete is viewed to be opportunistic since it tolerates organic pollution loading, high hydrogen sulfide levels, and low oxygen levels very well and therefore becomes a dominant species.  Our laboratory results indicate that the presence of Microcystis aeruginosa in the water surprisingly increases settlement and metamorphosis of C. teleta trochophore larvae.  Juvenile worms of C. teleta also were found to consume the Microcystis cyanobacteria without apparent toxicity as evidenced by fecal pellets, and also exhibited an increased growth rate compared with control cultures grown without MIcrocystis.  These results indicate that Microcystis algal blooms may be beneficial to the growth and development of this hardy polychaete species in the marine environment instead of being toxic. (48) Poster Link
Yoder, Cheyenne*, Adam Cooke, and Abigail Maley Wilson College, Chambersburg, PA 17201. The potential role of freshwater mussels as indicators of bacterial levels in their environment.- Water is an important public resource threatened by pollution such as wastewater contamination, agricultural runoff, and chemical waste. Bioindicators, organisms used to assess the quality of an environment and its changes over time, are an important method of measuring and monitoring water quality. Because they are directly affected by environmental pollution, bioindicators can sometimes serve as a more sensitive means of assessing water quality than chemical or physical tests. Due to their ability to filter large quantities of water, bivalves, such as mussels, are potential candidates for bioindicators. Bivalves may also provide a means of continuous water monitoring because they are sessile organisms and have the potential to filter and retain particles for long periods of time. The use of bivalves as bioindicators of the bacteria Escherichia coli would help with efforts to monitor water quality for public health.  E. coli is found in the lower intestines of warm-blooded organisms and in fecal matter. It is transferred to water bodies via agricultural runoff, waste from sewage overflows and polluted stormwater runoff. E. coli can cause urinary tract infections, respiratory illnesses including pneumonia, and bacterial gastroenteritis. This review suggests bivalves may be a useful tool for assessing bacteria levels and that Elliptio complanata, the Eastern Elliptio mussel, may be an effective bioindicator of potential sources of E. coli contamination in the Conococheague Creek within the Potomac Watershed. (50) Poster Link
Vasiliadis, Sabrina*, Joseph Tetreault, and Rachel Fogle Harrisburg University of Science and Technology, Harrisburg, PA 17101. Restoration of a Recirculating Aquaponics System.- Recirculating aquaponics is an agricultural technique where the nutrient-rich water produced by fish is utilized to fertilize hydroponic plants. It proposes both societal and environmental benefits by requiring significantly less water and land than traditional farming techniques. This gives aquaponics a unique potential to provide for urbanized and drought susceptible locations that are unable to meet local food demands. Combining the simultaneous farming of fish and plants in a single system can be a challenge as both species have ideal nutrient and pH ranges. Strict water quality parameters must be used to ensure optimal production and fish health. A new undergraduate aquaponics internship was approved by Harrisburg University administration to begin at the start of the spring 2021 semester. The small aquaponics system had not been adequately maintained for several months due to the current pandemic and lack of students on-campus. Lack of maintenance led to the water quality parameters of pH and total ammonia nitrogen becoming dangerous for the fish health and limiting nutrient uptake which diminished plant growth. Over the past two months, the team at HU has restored the recirculating system to meet the ideal parameters reported in aquaponics literature. Improvements to plant production and fish behavior/diet have already been observed during this short period. The data and techniques used in this restoration will be used to provide foundational data in the development of a model for the restoration and management of other small-scale aquaponic systems. (51) Poster Link
Tasker, Jenna *, Bailey Schwenk, Ruric Bowman, and Robert Smith Lycoming College, Williamsport, PA 17701. Effect of climate on adult Stonefly and Caddisfly activity and abundance.- Climate change is expected to alter the timing of life cycle processes of aquatic organisms. Stream insects have a complex life cycle, and the duration of and transition among life stages is dependent on weather and climate. Thus, local weather should be related to adult insect activity and abundance. We examined the relationship of daily weather patterns with the abundance of adult Plecoptera and Trichoptera. Malaise and canopy traps were deployed at four streams in the Mosquito Creek Watershed (Lycoming County, PA) during a 14-day period in July. Traps were collected daily, and all Plecoptera and Trichoptera were identified to order. Water temperature, air temperature, and wind speed and direction sensors were deployed at each sample site, and a single rain gauge was deployed at the most central site. Abundances of adult insects were not related to terrestrial weather variables, but the abundances of Trichoptera and Plecoptera at ground level were related to water temperature. This indicated that terrestrial weather may not affect adult activity, and patterns of emergence may control adult abundance. Additionally, this result may contradict previous work suggesting that adult insects disperse through stream corridors. (52) Poster Link
Bazuk, Austin*, and Derek Straub Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, PA 17870. Precipitation chemistry: the effects of the covid-19 pandemic.- The COVID-19 pandemic has altered daily life in the United States in numerous ways. One potential consequence of the pandemic is a reduction in the emission of pollutants into the atmosphere. This study is designed to analyze ions in precipitation samples collected at Susquehanna University and sites from the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP). Precipitation can incorporate atmospheric particles and gases, specifically nitrogen and sulfur, that can be harmful for ground surfaces or waterways due to increased nutrient loading or acidification. In addition to precipitation sampling at Susquehanna University, four NADP sites were selected for this study: Penn State, Pittsburgh, Bronx, and Los Angeles.Precipitation samples at Susquehanna University and the NADP sites are collected using an atmospheric deposition sampler and analyzed using ion chromatography to determine anion and cation concentrations. The data is being split into two time periods, a pre-pandemic period and an initial pandemic period, January 1st-March 13th and March 13th – June 1st. This will allow the data to be compared for the same time periods of 2020 versus the past 10 years to determine differences in the concentrations of nitrate, sulfate, calcium, and ammonium.  The statistical test being use is a two-sample t-Test assuming unequal variance and has a critical p-value of 0.05. If the p-value from the test is under 0.05, the data is significantly different. Preliminary analyses have shown statistically significant differences during the pre-pandemic phase for Penn State and for both Penn State and the Bronx during the initial pandemic period. For Penn State, levels of Ca, NO3, and SO4 were found to have statistically significant decreases. The Bronx station showed only a significant decrease in SO4. Relative concentration changes will be used to identify the effects of the pandemic. The additional two sites will be analyzed to expand on the research. (53) Poster Link
Doyle, Chloe*, and Jessica Nolan York College of Pennsylvania, York, PA 17405. Ingestion of microplastics by macroinvertebrates in streams in York County, PA as an indication of pollution.- Microplastics are very small particles that have broken down from larger pieces of plastic. They can also be anthropogenic and used in beauty products and cleaning products. Because of their size, they can infiltrate soil, waterways, and the bodies of organisms. Microplastics can even be ingested by tiny organisms, such as macroinvertebrates, and work their way up the food chain as other organisms consume them. There is no information regarding the environmental influence and prevalence of microplastics in York County, PA. This study looks at macroplastic (plastic litter) pollution in rural and urban streams in York County and if microplastics were ingested by macroinvertebrates. The relative abundance of macroplastics found in and around rural and urban streams was determined. Microplastics in the bodies of macroinvertebrates from the same streams were also quantified by digesting their bodies in a hydrogen peroxide and hypersaline solution. It was found that there were significantly more macroplastic items were present on average in urban streams (48.33) than rural streams (1.33). More microplastics were ingested by macroinvertebrates on average in urban streams (5.66) compared to rural streams (1.66) as well, but the trend was not significant. Pollution sensitive macroinvertebrates tended to ingest more microplastics than tolerant species. No relationship was found between the size of the macroinvertebrate and the amount of microplastics ingested. The results from this study help show what areas of York County are most at risk to being affected by microplastic pollution. (54) Poster Link
Chobanoff, Anna*, and Jennifer Elick Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, PA 17870. Providing an interpretative guide for geology displays: Everhart Natural History Museum, Scranton, PA.- A new guidebook for docents volunteering at the Everhart Museum of Natural History, Science, and Art has been produced to help interpret displays for the tours they give. The Everhart Museum is located in the Wyoming Valley, in Scranton, PA. It’s modest collection contains mostly invertebrate and plant fossils from the Paleozoic Era, predominantly from the Carboniferous Period, which is the bedrock underlying much of the region. Other fossils in the museum include several vertebrates including Mesosaurus, a fish, two Dinosaur reproductions, and a few miscellaneous bird- relate fossils. Interviews with docents and an integration of some 4th Grade level Academic State Science Standards provided the context for the development of this guidebook. Though the docents had educational backgrounds, they lacked a general geologic understanding of concepts and principles related to geologic time, fossil preservation and the importance of the fossils in the Everhart Museum collection. They were also unaware of the education standards they could include their tours. This guidebook may help docents give improved, informed tours while possibly achieving some of the Pennsylvania/National Academic Standards for Environment and Ecology.   (55) Poster Link
King, Jacob*, and Daniel Widzowski Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Indiana, PA 15705. More conditioning and extinction sessions improve conditioned place preference test outcomes in mice.- Methamphetamine (METH) is a highly addictive central nervous stimulant for which there are no approved pharmacological treatment options and significant problems with relapse years after patients stop using. Conditioned place preference (CPP) is a neurobehavioral test used to study drug dependence in many species. In CPP, mice learn to associate METH experiences with one chamber (striped walls) and placebo experiences with another chamber (gray walls) and then show a preference for the METH chamber by spending more time there when allowed to explore both. The purpose of this study was to test an improved method (more & shorter training sessions) for CPP in mice based on a recently published procedure for rats. This CPP protocol involves habituation, conditioning, extinction, and reinstatement phases to determine if certain medication treatments during extinction can reduce METH-seeking behaviors. Within the phases there is a pre-conditioning test, post-conditioning test, extinction test, and reinstatement test. Previous experiments using a quick-training procedure for CPP did not show strong METH-conditioning (55 to 60% average preference). After conditioning with the improved method, mice spent significantly more time in the METH-paired chamber (70% average preference). During the 21-day extinction phase the average preference decreased, although there was day to day variability (some good and bad preference days). By day 14 the preference decreased to 65% and at day 21 it further decreased to 58%. There was evidence of reinstatement on the test day (65% preference) although it was not to the same extent as the post-conditioning phase. Results for extinction and relapse assessment and the effect of a potential treatment (venlafaxine) will also be presented. There was no evidence of the venlafaxine reducing the reinstatement. Overall, the new protocol significantly improved the conditioning phase although further optimization of the extinction methods is needed. (56) Poster Link
Carver, Tiffany*, Deborah Austin, and Abigail Maley Wilson College, Chambersburg, PA 17201. The effects of taurine supplementation with a grain-free diet on cardio health in canines.- Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a type of heart disease which affects the muscle of the heart causing it to thin and resulting in the enlargement of the left ventricle. If DCM is left unresolved, it can result in congestive heart failure. In the past decade, cases of DCM in canines have increased dramatically. The growing popularity of grain-free canine diets has been suggested as a possible contributor to this increased prevalence of DCM. These diets typically contain very low levels of the amino acid taurine. Taurine is a sulfur amino acid that plays a role in the calcium pools within the cardiac cells that are responsible for proper contractions of the heart. Grain-free diets typically have a reduced amount of animal by-product which is the main source of taurine in conventional canine diets and are generally rich in legumes, such a lentils and peas, which are low in sulfur amino. Legumes also contain a high content of fermentable carbohydrates which leads to a gastrointestinal loss of taurine. Although some evidence links grain-free diets and taurine deficiency, results are contradictory and more research is needed to investigate the potential mechanism by which grain-free diets may contribute to DCM. Additionally, switching from a grain-free to a taurine-rich diet has the potential to reverse symptoms of DCM. Understanding the role diet and taurine may play in DCM in canines is important for maintaining the health of dogs in their roles as companions, therapy, and service animals. (57) Poster Link
Alanazi, Razan S.*, and Amy Faivre Cedar Crest College, Allentown, PA 18104. Potential bee pollinators on the Cedar Crest College campus in Allentown, PA.- Bees and flowering plants have a mutualistic relationship; bees collect nectar and pollen from flowers and contribute to the spread of pollen, which eventually helps the plants to reproduce. However, bees often collect pollen to feed their larvae.  Thus, depending upon where on the bee’s body the pollen is collected, it may or may not be distributed to another flower, it may, instead, be groomed off and fed to young. In the fall of 2019 and fall of 2020 we collected bees visiting flowering plants that were in a garden on the Cedar Crest College campus. Using fuchsin gel cubes we collected samples of pollen from three body parts (abdomen, leg, head) in 2019 and (head, abdomen and the entire body) in 2020 of each bee. The cubes were melted on microscope slides and observed using a compound microscope. The cubes were all the same size so that we were able to quantify how much pollen each bee carried on each part of its body. We also collected the pollen from flowering plants to identify which species of plants the bees had on their bodies.  Bees could be divided into four major groups: honey bees (Apis mellifera), bumble bees (Bombus spp.), carpenter bees (Xylocopa virginica) and native sweat bees (several different species of Halictidae).  Most of the pollen on their bodies was from flowers open in the garden at the time of the study.  Information from this study can be used to determine which bees may be the most effective pollinators for plant species in our campus gardens. (58) Poster Link
Vieira, John, Jenna Sins*, Mike Ganger, and Gary Vanderlaan Gannon University, Erie, PA 16541. Identification of fern orthologous genes implicated in moss rhizoid and grass root hair development.- The evolution of terrestrial plants is an approximately 500-million-year story. Although all land plants execute an alternation of generations between a haploid gametophyte and a diploid sporophyte stage, the amount of time and space spent in each generation varies across clades. For instance, the bryophytes typified by Physcomitrella patens, are gametophyte-dominant and produce gametophyte structures known as rhizoids for anchoring to substrates as well as for nutrient absorption. Moss sporophytes are dependent on the moss gametophyte, and are diminutive in size, entirely lacking roots. In contrast, anthophytes like Arabidopsis thaliana are characterized by sporophyte-dominant stages with an exceptional spatiotemporal reduction in gametophyte structures. Such is the reduction that flowering plants rely on sporophyte root systems for anchorage and nutrient absorption, forgoing any production of rhizoids. In the middle of this plant evolutionary saga lies Ceratopteris richardii, a fern capable of not only producing gametophyte rhizoids but also sporophyte root systems. Great strides have been made in the elucidation of the genes required in the specification and development of sporophyte root hairs in Arabidopsis as well as for the development of Physcomitrella gametophyte rhizoids, but little is known of the specific genes utilized in ferns for similar processes. Recent advances in genomics and transcriptomics for Ceratopteris richardii permits orthologous gene-function searches. Here we showcase novel fern genes that are expressed in gametophyte and sporophyte stages that share predicted-peptide conservation with known moss and cress genes that are key molecular players in rhizoid and root hair development, respectively. (59) Poster Link
Scheppelmann, Erika*, and Bridgette Hagerty York College of Pennsylvania, York, PA 17405. The effect of human disturbance on habitat use of mesopredators in a county park in south central Pennsylvania.- Understanding wildlife and urban relationships is necessary as the encroachment of human development increases in wild spaces. Human disturbance can potentially alter a species behavior and physiology, which could lead to a potential loss in biodiversity, decrease in abundance, and a decline in fitness. Mesopredators are an important component of the wildlife community because they contribute to population control of prey species. We used non-invasive camera trapping methods to examine mesopredator habitat use in a local county park (Nixon County Park near Jacobus, PA). Currently, park managers and naturalists have reported seeing raccoon (Procyon lotor), coyote (Canis latrans), red fox (Vulpes vulpes), and long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata) within park boundaries, but have limited funds to conduct research. Our goal was to quantify how these mesopredators use the available habitat in the park, and to investigate if human presence in the park is altering habitat use. We strategically placed 12 wildlife cameras in hardwood mixed forests, open fields, and wetlands to monitor how habitat use differs among species within the park boundaries. Additionally, we paired locations with low and high human activity based on distance to trails to compare habitat use to evaluate human impacts on each species. We analyzed images within 30-minute trap events between February and December 2019 and compared the capture success rate (trap events per 76 nights) between locations 20m and 60-80m from trails. Activity for the mesopredators was lower in areas in close proximity to hiking trails throughout the study. We also found that the mesopredators displayed higher activity at night than during the day in all habitat types. We recommend that park naturalists continue to improve the habitat with less human disturbance (e.g., invasive species removal) and educate the public about staying on trails to provide wildlife with areas to avoid human disturbance. (60) Poster Link
Evans, Arianna *, and Bridgette Hagerty York College of Pennsylvania, York, PA 17405. The relative activity of the domestic cat (Felis catus) in two county parks in south central Pennsylvania.- Domestic indoor/outdoor hunting cats (IOHC) (Felis catus) are currently estimated to have a population of 95.6 million in the United States with a range of 40-80% of the population being allowed to venture outside without supervision for varying amounts of time. It is estimated that domestic cats are responsible for killing 6.7-20.7 billion small mammals annually as well as driving several island bound species to extinction. The goal of this study was to identify activity levels of domestic cats at varying distances into the forest edge from residential areas in Richard Nixon County Park and John Rudy County Park located in York County, Pennsylvania. Wildlife cameras were used to accomplish this by being placed along the forest edge at both parks. Eight cameras were placed in Nixon Park and three cameras were placed in John Rudy Park where they were adjacent to residential property. Images were analyzed for 30 minute trap events from August to November 2020. During this time there were a total of three trap sessions. Capture success rate was compared between the two parks and distance from the forest edge. While activity did not differ among distances, the capture success rate was much higher at John Rudy Park, as Nixon Park had no cat activity. In John Rudy Park, capture success of IOHC was higher, but capture success of mesopredators, such as red fox and raccoon, were considerably lower. A mark-recapture study could be completed using wildlife cameras at John Rudy Park to successfully identify individual cats in the park and to record their activity. In Nixon Park, other locations that are adjacent to the residential and agricultural land should be included.   (61) Poster Link
Schwab, Solomaya F.*, and Amy Faivre Cedar Crest College, Allentown, PA 18104. Bird activity patterns on the Cedar Crest College campus in Allentown, PA.- Over the course of a season different birds species visit feeders relative to migration patterns, weather, temperature and other factors.  Having baseline data on these patterns is especially important as changes in the climate have been documented to shift migration and feeding patterns. In the fall of 2020 a feeder on the Cedar Crest College campus was monitored daily to record the number of visits and species at the feeder.  Patterns for several species were recorded and compared week to week including visits by tufted titmice (Baeolophus bicolor), mourning doves (Zenaida macroura), Northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis), downy woodpeckers (Picoides pubescens), red-bellied woodpeckers (Melanerpes carolinus), dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis) and white-breasted nuthatches (Sitta carolinensis). Some species were present in fairly consistent, low numbers and other species fluctuated from week to week in number of visits. These data will be compared to visits recorded at a similarly placed feeder on the campus in previous years to determine any shifts in bird species patterns. (62) Poster Link
Kalchthaler, Brady*, and Christopher Dolanc Mercyhurst University, Erie, PA 16546. How will the EAB impact Ash trees of different sized diameters?.- The emerald ash borer (EAB), Agrilus planipennis, is an invasive wood-boring beetle native to eastern and southeastern Asia. Mature EABs feed on the foliage of ash trees (spp. Fraxinus) causing little damage, while larvae feed on the phloem. Because adult beetles move around, flying from treetop to treetop, tree size would seem to impact the spread. Additionally, evidence suggests that females are limited to laying eggs on trees with prominent bark, or larger, more mature individuals. In this paper, we aim to distinguish which size classes of ash are most susceptible to an EAB infestation. We hypothesize that ash health decline and ash mortality rates will be lower among smaller ash trees. As part of an ongoing census starting in 2016, two forested plots were sampled in Asbury Woods near Erie, PA dominated mostly by pumpkin ash (Fraxinus profunda). Trees in both plots were identified, given an ash-rating on a scale of 1-5 (5 being the worst), and an ash break-up rating (1-5). Ashes were subdivided into three categories (<10 dbh, 10-19.9 dbh, and ≥ 20 dbh) for analysis. Results indicated the EAB prefers the categories of 10-19.9 dbh, and ≥ 20 dbh. The 10-19.9 dbh category exhibited an average ash-rating of 4.21 in the year 2020, and the ≥ 20 dbh category exhibited an average ash-rating of 4.66. The average ash-rating in the <10 category for the year 2020, was 3.43. Lower average ash-rating correlates to healthier trees, suggesting that trees >10 dbh have a higher mortality rate due to their greater decline in health from years 2016-2020. Results do support our hypothesis, however, the average ash-rating for trees in the <10 category are still declining in health, suggesting that ashes in each category are susceptible to infestations and the future of the species remains in question. (63) Poster Link
Chew, Ana*, and Wendy Boehmler York College of Pennsylvania, York, PA 17405. The effects of di-(2-propylheptyl) phthalate on developing zebrafish (Danio rerio) embryos.- Phthalates are esters of the chemical phthalic acid and are widely used in plastic manufacturing today. They serve as plastic softeners and are added to things like plastic bags, shower curtains, and medical tubing to make them more flexible. Di-(2-proplyheptyl) phthalate (DPHP) is a commonly used phthalate and was brought into the industry to replace the much more toxic chemical, di-2-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP). Studies have shown that these phthalate pollutants are able to detach from the main plastic polymer and leach out into the waterways. These phthalates have been linked to human health complications by effecting endocrine and reproductive systems. Even though many phthalates have been evaluated for developmental toxicity in zebrafish embryos, no study has evaluated DPHP in development. At 24 hours post fertilization (hpf), zebrafish embryos were chronically exposed to environmentally relevant concentrations of DPHP for 4 days (until 5dpf). While there was no significant effects on survival rate, body length was significantly reduced over time and heart rate was significantly increased over time. DPHP also had a profound effect on locomotor activity by 5dpf. Zebrafish embryos chronically exposed to DPHP were significantly hypoactive in comparison to controls. These findings suggest that DPHP may not be a safer alternative to DEHP and future studies will need to elucidate the mechanism of toxicity of these phthalates. (64) Poster Link
Kenney, Kyle*, Mary Pistack, and Angela Asirvatham Misericordia University, Dallas, PA 18612. The Effects of Rolipram, a Selective Phosphodiesterase Inhibitor, on Immortalized Schwann Cell Proliferation, AKAP-95 and Cyclin D3 Expression.- Schwann cells are a vital component of the Peripheral Nervous System and aid in the repair of axons following injury. The regulation of Schwann cell growth in vitro is facilitated by heregulin, a neuron-secreted growth factor, and an unknown mitogen that activates the cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) pathway. The abundance of intracellular cAMP is regulated by a family of enzymes called phosphodiesterases (PDEs). PDE inhibitors such as rolipram have therapeutic potential in various disorders and function by increasing the levels of intracellular cAMP. A-Kinase anchoring proteins (AKAPs), a family of scaffolding proteins that belong to the cAMP/Protein Kinase A (PKA) pathway are known to bind both PDE and PKA to regulate cAMP concentration in cardiac myocytes. Previous studies have shown that AKAP95, a nuclear AKAP, known for scaffolding cyclins, is essential for Schwann cell growth. Based on these reports, it was hypothesized that increasing the concentration of rolipram would elicit a dose-dependent increase in Schwann cell proliferation by augmenting the expression of AKAP95 and cyclin D3.  Immortalized Schwann cells were cultured with no mitogens, 12.5 ng/mL heregulin, 1 µM of forskolin (a pharmacological activator of cAMP), heregulin + forskolin, and various doses of rolipram at 0, 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50µM for 12 or 24 hours. Using the MTT assay, preliminary results indicate that cells incubated for 12 hours and 24 hours exhibited the highest rate of proliferation at a dose of 5µM and 10 µM rolipram respectively. Meanwhile, immunoblot analysis revealed that in cells treated with heregulin + foskolin, the expression of cyclin D3 and AKAP95 was highest when incubated with 25 µM and 50 µM of rolipram respectively. These results suggest that increasing the concentration of cAMP by inhibiting phosphodiesterases augments Schwann cell proliferation by amplifying the expression of proteins regulating cell division. (81) Poster Link
Becker, Halle*, and Jennifer K Ness-Myers, Ph.D. Messiah University, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055. Efficacy analysis of zebrafish, Danio rerio, as a novel demyelination model through exposure to cuprizone-laden food.- The central nervous system demonstrates its functional reliance on glial cells in support of neurological function primarily through its use of oligodendrocytes and the myelin they produce. Damage to myelin is caused by different pathways, one exemplified in multiple sclerosis, where the immune system incorrectly attacks healthy tissue of the CNS. Most research focusing on these biological processes of demyelination have relied on rodent models. However, zebrafish, Danio rerio, are an ideal model for these goals because they are transparent and therefore are easy to monitor for demyelination and remyelination progression. In this study, the viability of zebrafish as a model for demyelination and remyelination research studies was evaluated. The initial steps were the development of cuprizone-infused food and the design of a cuprizone drug feeding protocol. Following treatment, myelin staining techniques were used to assess the level of myelin damage. The goal of this study is to develop a reliable new demyelination research model that will improve imaging of myelin damage and repair during demyelinating diseases. (82) Poster Link
Kimbel, Kylee*, Andrew Resh, and Jennifer Ness-Myers Messiah University, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055. Inhibition of muscarinic receptor subtypes and effects on oligodendrocyte differentiation.- Oligodendrocytes are the myelinating cells of the central nervous system, and these cells and their myelin sheaths are the autoimmune target in multiple sclerosis (MS). Increasing the differentiation of OPCs to myelinating OLs is a promising method for treating MS. Recent clinical trials have revealed a positive effect of clemastine, an antihistamine/muscarinic antagonist, in stimulating myelin repair in patients with MS. This study is investigating the combinatorial effects of muscarinic receptor antagonists darifenacin (M1) and pirenzepine (M3) on the rate of oligodendrocyte (OL) maturation.  Combinatorial treatment of cultured oligodendrocyte progenitors increased myelin-specific gene expression and increased the percentage of mature OLs in the cultures compared to control.  Combination treatments were also studied in the larval zebrafish model.  RNA was isolated and analyzed for changes in expression of myelin-specific genes MPZ and MAG. Several dosages of combinatorial treatment and time points were tested, but no significant changes in larval zebrafish gene expression were identified. However, muscarinic agonist, cevimeline, was shown to reduce the expression of myelin-specific genes MPZ and MAG, which supports the hypothesis of the involvement of the muscarinic pathway in myelination. Effects of muscarinic antagonists were evident in an incomplete maturation model (cultured OLs), but do not appear to enhance the vigorous myelination program of zebrafish larvae. (83) Poster Link
Yeager, Ashley*, and Wendy Boehmler York College of Pennsylvania, York, PA 17405. The effects of L-theanine on zebrafish (Danio rerio) development.- Anxiety is a common psychological disorder that is very prevalent in today’s population. This disorder is commonly treated with a mix of therapy and pharmaceutical drug treatments that can come with a variety of detrimental side effects. L-Theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, has been reported to have an array of health benefits including anxiolytic properties. While the mechanism underlying its therapeutic potential for anxiety is still being investigated, it is unclear whether this type of supplement is safe to use during pregnancy. Zebrafish embryos have continued to emerge as model organisms for drug toxicity studies as embryos are transparent, rapidly develop ex utero, and have close genomic homology to humans. To determine whether L-theanine causes any developmental abnormalities, zebrafish were exposed to different dosages of L-theanine and observed at different exposure time points. While there were no significant effects on survival rate or gross morphological deformities, heart rate displayed a decreasing trend with increasing doses of L-theanine. Further research is needed on the mechanism of this potential teratogenic effect on heart rate. (84) Poster Link
Crowther, Kallon*, and Wendy Boehmler York College of Pennsylvania, York, PA 17405. The temporal expression pattern of a neuropsychiatric risk gene, complement component 4, during zebrafish (Danio rerio) development.- Schizophrenia is a debilitating psychiatric disorder. There is evidence that its pathogenesis has links to neurodevelopment and genetic variability of the complement system. A recent genome wide association study strongly implicated an increased copy number and increased expression of the complement component 4 (C4) gene in patients with schizophrenia. During development, C4 has been shown to play a role in synaptic pruning and it has been suggested that the overexpression of C4 may cause excessive synaptic elimination potentially underlying the cause of the disorder. To determine the temporal expression pattern of C4 in zebrafish, RNA was extracted from 24, 48, 72 hours post fertilization (hpf) and 5 days post fertilization (dpf) in zebrafish embryos.  Using a reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) strategy, we found C4 was expressed throughout all developmental timepoints tested. It will be of interest to determine the spatial expression pattern by using whole mount in situ hybridization in this model system. The identification of the C4 gene in zebrafish will allow for future studies that can use the genetic tools available in zebrafish to further elucidate the functional role C4 may have in developmental synaptic refinement. (85) Poster Link
Shebby, John*, John Minora, and Christopher Brey Marywood University, Scranton, PA 18509. Chemotaxis behavior reinforces KLF mutation characteristics in C. elegans.- Diabetes is a common and life-threatening illness that is pervasive in our society today. The onset of diabetes and obesity has been associated with mutations in the transcription factor protein family of KLF, which has been identified in metabolic processes in both humans and the model organism C. elegans. Research suggests that in C. elegans, obesity due to KLF mutations is the result of the inability of the organism to metabolize intestinal adipose, which instead accumulates in the intestine. Until now there has been no conclusive evidence verifying that the intestinal fat is completely utilized by the worm, rather this was speculated. In this experiment, it is demonstrated through the vehicle of chemotaxis behavior, that C. elegans with KLF-3 mutations do not metabolize intestinal fat. This experiment examines food-seeking behavior in C. elegans KLF-3 mutants when compared to wild-type (N2) organisms after each groups had been subjected to both normal conditions (well-fed) and stress conditions (starved). Upon comparison, it is expected that the KLF-3 mutants that are well-fed will display the same heightened food-seeking behavior as wild-type organisms that are starved. This behavior is due to the incapability of the mutants to effectively utilize their intestinal fat, prompting the organism to continue to seek out food aggressively despite being in a satiated state. (86) Poster Link
Rivera, Ariana*, Darian Labrosciano, and Vinayak Mathur Cabrini University, Radnor, PA 19087. Identification of instances of horizontal gene transfer between Drosophila ananassae and its endosymbiont bacteria Wolbachia.- Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is the transmission of genetic material among organisms, other than by vertical transmission from parent to offspring. HGT is thought to be an important factor driving evolution. While extensively studied among prokaryotes, there is growing evidence that HGT is also prevalent in eukaryotes. In this study, we focused on the endosymbiont bacteria Wolbachia, and the Drosophila species that it infects. Based on a literature review we identified certain proteins in Wolbachia that have shown evidence of HGT and tested them using the Community Science Project pipeline. We found a particular Wolbachia protein, functionally annotated as DDE-type integrase/transposase/recombinase, which was also present in Drosophila ananassae. This protein in Drosophila ananassae was defined as a putative gag-pol protein based on functional annotation in the UniProt database. Using phylogenetic analysis, we were able to observe the evolutionary relationship between these two organisms and confirm the instance of HGT. Using synteny analysis we were able to observe the arrangement of the gene in several Wolbachia and Drosophila species. Further investigations in this system will focus on understanding the mechanism of HGT and expanding our study to other genes, to discover the extent of horizontal gene exchange. (87) Poster Link
Labrosciano, Darian*, Ariana Rivera, and Vinayak Mathur Cabrini University, Radnor, PA 19087. Evidence of horizontal gene transfer between Wolbachia and Aedes aegypti.- Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) is the non-vertical movement of genetic material among organisms, and is believed to be an important factor driving evolution. A key question regarding these horizontally transferred genes is the functional role they play in the organism. In the past, HGT studies have focused on prokaryotes, but now there are a number of studies documenting functional HGT in a wide range of eukaryotes. In this study we focused on Aedes aegypti, the yellow fever mosquito, which is a known vector for several diseases. Using information from the NCBI database and the BLAST search tool we found evidence of horizontal gene transfer between Wolbachia and Aedes aegypti. The Wolbachia protein identified in our study is an uncharacterized conserved RhaS protein that has 28 RHS repeats. Using comparative genomics tools and a phylogenetics approach we were able to create the evolutionary relationship between these two organisms. The ProgressiveMauve software was used to generate a synteny analysis of this genomic region where we compared several Wolbachia, and mosquito species to understand the pattern of HGT. Based on our findings, we want to further investigate the functional role of the horizontally transferred genomic regions and expand our study to other mosquito species.  (88) Poster Link
Patel, Megha*, and Christopher Brey Marywood University, Scranton, PA 18509. Cloning and Analysis of Caenorhabditis elegans Krüppel Like Transcription Factor-1 promoter.- Krüppel Like Transcription Factor (KLF) is found in many different species including Homo sapiens. Caenorhabditis elegans is a suitable model organism to study KLFs role in mammalian metabolic regulation as the nematode has only 3 klf members whereas humans have 17. Klf-1 influences cellular apoptosis and lipid metabolism and encodes for a Zinc finger protein. Ce-Klf-1 promoter is 9.5Kbp long. A 500 bp sequence was successfully excised at the ATG 5’ end from 9.5Kbp promoter using PCR and restriction digestion techniques. In this project, we want to excise a 250-300 bp region of Ce-Klf-1 promoter (within 500 bp starting at ATG) with the help of PCR and clone that particular segment using cloning vector. The purpose is to introduce the 250-300 bp promoter region into a cloning and expression vector, upstream to a GFP (Green Fluorescent Protein) encoding start site. This project focuses to determine the expression of GFP protein using the 250-300 bp region of Ce-Klf-1 promoter using an expression vector which will be introduced in C. elegans using microinjection. (89) Poster Link
Jaber, Khoula *, and K. Joy Karnas Cedar Crest College, Allentown, PA 18104. fabI gene alteration as a mechanism of triclosan resistance in Enterobacter cloacae.- In response to increased exposure to triclosan, Enterobacter cloacae has developed resistance to the compound. The underlying changes to the genome were investigated focusing on the  fabI gene, which codes for an enzyme involved in the lipid biosynthesis pathway in En. cloacae and is the target for triclosan. Triclosan binds to the target, blocking lipid biosynthesis in En. cloacae and therefore blocking growth of the bacteria. We found that with continued exposure to triclosan, En. cloacae became increasingly insensitive to the compound, and eventually developed complete resistance. We analyzed the specific genetic changes, focusing on the fabI gene in different strains with different levels of resistance. In the completely resistant strain, a known fabI mutation had occurred, but in the moderately resistant strain, there were no signs of the same mutation. There must be another mechanism causing partial resistance in that strain. Further research in this strain suggests exploration in other genetic mutations and possible gene duplication occurrences in the fabI gene.   (90) Poster Link
Gallant, Kayla*, and Cynthia Keler Delaware Valley University, Doylestown, PA 18901. The effect of sugar alternatives on the Drosophila microbiome.- Gaining a better understanding of the gut microbiome and how it influences the overall health of an organism has become a major focus of research studies. Tests involving sugar additives are explored in this study to determine the impact of the popular substances Splenda, Stevia, and Sweet n’ Low on the microbiome of Drosophila melanogaster, specifically Lactobacillus species and Acetobacter species levels. Populations of Drosophila were fed diets containing these substances and allowed to feed on the compounds for a week. The populations were fed hydrogen peroxide as a negative control which will kill the gut bacteria. Cornmeal which has been proven to increase Lactobacillus sp. populations and was used as a positive control, and fresh fruit was used as a positive control for the presence of Acetobacter sp. in the Drosophila microbiome. After a week, the flies were collected and stored at -70˚C until bacterial populations could be enumerated. Enumerations were performed using MRS media, selective for Lactobacillus sp., and Ethanol Media, selective for Acetobacter sp. This was repeated so that 3 samples of each population were tested, the average was then taken. Flies fed fruit contained a level of bacteria fivefold less than that of the control and were the only group to contain Acetobacter sp. All three sugar alternative substances tested had reduced levels of Lactobacillus sp. bacteria fivefold less than that of the control sample. Upon comparison of the Lactobacillus sp. CFU (bacteria/mL) in each sample it was determined that all three tested sugar alternatives negatively affected Lactobacillus sp. bacteria in the gut microbiome of the fruit fly. (91) Poster Link
Bellerose, Michael*, Matthew O'Neil*, Mina Diep, Abhai Tripathi, and Lawrence Mylin Messiah University, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055. Shelf-life study of glycerol-frozen human erythrocytes used to culture Plasmodium falciparum.- Malaria is caused by multiple species of the parasite Plasmodium and disproportionately affects people living in the developing world where effective control of or protection from the parasite is lacking. This study seeks to support ongoing research at the Macha Research Trust (MRT) [also known as the Malaria Institute at Macha (MIAM)], which is located in Macha, a rural area in the Southern Province of Zambia where the virulent species, Plasmodia falciparum is prevalent.  Our goal is to support the capacity of the laboratory at MRT to culture (propagate and preserve) locally-isolated or laboratory strains of Plasmodium.  Laboratory cultivation of P. falciparum requires fresh human blood.  However, it is difficult to assure the steady supply of fresh, uninfected human blood needed to sustain culture experiments at MRT because blood from local residents cannot be used, and because many visiting scientists and physicians routinely take prophylactic anti-malarial drugs which can make their erythrocytes unable to support asexual propagation of, or gametocyte generation by P. falciparum in culture.  We are investigating methods to permit cryopreservation of erythrocytes obtained from uninfected individuals in the US, with subsequent transport to Zambia.  We have cryopreserved preparations of fresh, leukocyte-depleted erythrocyte suspensions using minimal aqueous volumes of solutions containing the macromolecular starch-based cyro-protectant hydroxyethyl starch (HES) with or without polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), or with glycerol-based solutions.  Ice recrystallization inhibitors (IRIs) prevent formation of ice crystals during the thawing process.  This presentation will describe efforts to determine if cryopreserved RBCs can effectively support asexual propagation or gametocyte formation for the P. falciparum laboratory strain NF54, and how well these qualities are maintained following long-term -80°C storage. (92) Poster Link
Xu, Christina *, Michelle James, and Giancarlo Cuadra Muhlenberg College, Allentown, PA 18104. Effects of e-liquids on Streptococcus gordonii biofilm growth.- The use of electronic cigarettes, or vaping, has increased in popularity in the past decade among students in high school and college. The e-liquid contains harmful substances such as nicotine, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerol, and many flavors. The mouth is the first site of exposure to the e-cigarette aerosol and is the home of different commensal and pathogenic bacteria. Most of these microorganisms grow as biofilms, commonly known as dental plaque. Changes in the bacterial interactions may lead to oral diseases. There are limited studies regarding the effects of vaping in the oral cavity, and even fewer studies have focused on the effects of vaping on oral bacteria. This project aims to test the effects of e-liquids with multiple flavors on the biofilm growth of oral commensal bacteria using artificial media. We hypothesize that biofilm growth may be altered as a result of the flavorings in e-cigarette liquid. Bacteria biofilms of Streptococcus gordonii were grown in vitro, exposing the microbes to increasing concentrations of e-liquids (1%, 3%, 5% v/v) as well as growing them over different lengths of time (1 day or 2 days). Flavors of e-liquids include blueberry, cinnamon, menthol, strawberry, and tobacco as well as flavorless. Biofilm biomass was analyzed using a crystal violet staining procedure. This project shows that vaping can affect the growth of S. gordonii. Altering the growth of oral commensal bacteria can lead to further understanding of the effects of e-liquids on the implications of oral health. Exploring the effects of vaping in oral biology deserves more attention since oral health impacts systemic health. (93) Poster Link
Bullen, Alex *, Alex Grahe*, Penka Kassolis*, and Dr. David Singleton York College of Pennsylvania, York, PA 17405. “Genome annotation of a novel Hafnia alvei bacteriophage isolated from sewage”.- Hafnia alvei ​is a Gram negative bacterium that is commonly found in mammalian gastrointestinal tracts. With reported resistance to B-lactam antibiotics and cephalosporins, phage therapy would be a viable alternative for patients infected with ​H. alvei​; however, a bacteriophage for​ ​H. alvei​ has yet to be reported​. An unknown phage was isolated from a wastewater sample by screening for host specificity. The phage infects ​Hafnia alvei preferentially, but also infects ​Klebsiella pneumoniae​. The DNA was isolated and sequenced separated into 4 contigs for annotation. Likely peptide sequences were designated as Open Reading Frames (ORFs) using GeneMark and GLIMMER. Putative protein functions were assigned to ORFs in DNA Master using the protein blastX function in the NCBI database. The genome of the Hafnia bacteriophage aligned closely to other cataloged bacteriophages for Erwinia,​Salmonella​, and ​Enterobacter​. The identity of each ORF must be confirmed with PCR, but annotation is the first step towards identification of the H.alvei bacteriophage. Having the annotations available in the database will allow for easier identification of the phage by other researchers. Comparison to other bacteriophage genomes will reveal whether the fragments can be joined to each other to create a supercontig. Once the identity of the phage is confirmed, this will allow development of phage therapy to combat antibiotic resistant Hafnia alvei infections. Phage therapy is an advantageous alternative once bacteria develop resistance to antibiotic treatment. (94) Poster Link
Shah, Raivat*, Carly Shaffer, and Giancarlo Cuadra Muhlenberg College, Allentown, PA 18104. Effects of E-liquids on M1 Macrophage Phagocytosis of Aggregatibacter Actinomycetemcomitans.- A 2020 CDC study revealed that 19.6% of US high school students are self-reported vapers, or users of aerosol releasing electronic-cigarette devices (ECIGs). ECIGs vaporize e-liquids containing various flavors into the oral cavity – the entry point of the vapor. The oral cavity houses a microbiome of bacterial species that may be implicated in oral disease. Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans, a gram-negative pathogenic species of bacteria, occurs in 90% of juvenile periodontitis, a chronic inflammatory disease characterized by the destruction of tooth-supporting tissues. M1 Macrophages are host white blood cells responsible for phagocytosis – a cell ingesting process – of pathogenic microbes. The purpose of this study is to determine the immunological effects of e-liquids -/+ flavors on M1 Macrophage phagocytosis of A. actinomycetemcomitans. THP-1 human monocyte cell lines were first grown in RPMI, stimulated with 200nM phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate at 37℃, 5% CO₂ (standard conditions) and later differentiated to M1 macrophages with 100ng/mL lipopolysaccharide and 20ng/mL interferon γ. Then, M1 macrophages were exposed to both flavorless and flavored (cinnamon, menthol, strawberry, and tobacco) e-liquids at a final concentration of 1% (v/v) in RPMI (standard conditions) as well as untreated control cells. Treated and control M1 macrophages were then exposed to A. actinomycetemcomitans at an MOI of 100, allowing macrophage phagocytosis to take place. Excess bacteria were removed by washing and M1 cells were incubated with RPMI antibiotic media to kill extracellular bacteria. M1 cells were then washed and lysed with sterile water. Lysates from each well were serially diluted and plated on agar for CFU counts. We expect that -/+ flavored e-liquids will decrease M1 Macrophage phagocytosis of A. actinomycetemcomitans compared to control. This study may indicate that e-liquids and vaping increase the risk of developing periodontal disease via modulation of host M1 macrophage phagocytosis efficacy, particularly among children and adolescents. (95) Poster Link
Roberts, Taylor*, Julia Danko, Mughiara Qadeer, Allison Ahl, Matt Gacura, Prasad Dalvi, and Gary Vanderlaan Gannon University, Erie, PA 16541. Examining Putative Mantel Correlations Between Granular COVID-19 Burden and Election Polling Data, Jan-Oct 2020.- It is well established that war, famine, and disease are tumultuous forces that have driven great changes in a nation’s history.  Here we seek to measure the cost of the COVID-19 pandemic as reflected in the public perception of elected U.S. officials at all levels of government, with a particular emphasis on incumbent leaders.  Using the R-programming language, we plan to perform Mantel Tests to examine if any correlations exist between elevated COVID-19 burden as measured via morbidity & mortality datasets to that of meta-polling data regarding all gubernatorial, house, senate, and presidential races.  Our data structure comprises a total of 266 consecutive days of COVID-19 morbidity and mortality in the year 2020 extracted from public-use databases made available from the Centers of Disease Control (CDC).  Likewise, our polling data is an aggregate dataset derived from a total of 435 governor-level, 784 House-level, 1,873 Senator-level, and 11,282 presidential-level polling results for the same ten-month timeframe across the country.  For all contested races, we seek to test a null hypothesis in which an elevated COVID-19 burden is inversely related to incumbent poll approvals in the sampled window. (96) Poster Link
Barnhart, Brooke*, Adam Cooke, and Kathryn Sarachan Wilson College, Chambersburg, PA 17201. The potential use of Cymbopogon citratus (lemongrass) essential oil to modulate the contents of the gut microbiome.- The gut microbiome plays a significant role in nutrient metabolism, maintenance of the structural integrity of the gut mucosal barrier, and protection against pathogens. There is a great quantity of different species that contribute to the importance of the gut microbiota in mammals. While research into the composition and role of the gut microbiota is ongoing, there are known links between the gut microbiome and mood, mental health, autoimmune diseases, endocrine disorders, skin conditions, and cancer. The microbiome can be disrupted by parturition, breast feeding, medications (including antibiotics), and diet. Certain dietary supplements may be used to support a balanced gut microbiome and improve general health. Lemongrass essential oil is known to have antibacterial properties, to prevent wound infection, and to provide protection against damage in the stomach. While essential oils have been growing in popularity, little research has been done to investigate the effects of essential oils, including lemongrass essential oil, on the gut microbiome. Research in this area is required to determine whether essential oils can be used as a dietary supplement. A dietary supplement of lemongrass essential oil may impact gut microbiome by possibly decreasing certain concentrations of bacteria more significantly than others with its antibacterial and antifungal properties. (97) Poster Link
Empfield, Keirstyn*, Patricia Tadley*, Alex Abouafech, Joseph Colosi, and Lara Goudsouzian DeSales University, Center Valley, PA 18034. Discovering antibiotic producing bacteria from soil.- Antibiotic resistant bacteria are on the rise, resulting in a shortage of antibiotics that can be used to treat many types of bacterial infections.  Some bacteria, especially soil bacteria, naturally produce antibiotics effective against other species of bacteria to compete for nutrient resources.  We can take advantage of this survival mechanism to discover new antibiotics.  We created a master plate of 40 distinct bacterial colonies taken from serial dilutions of a soil sample collected from a lawn located on the DeSales University campus. 24 of these colonies grew on our master plate.  Using replica plating, we are testing these isolates for antibiotic production against 10 safe relatives of the ESKAPE pathogens.  One isolate from our master plate has produced zones of inhibition in lawns of both Staphylococcus epidermidis and Bacillus subtilis, indicating susceptibility of these two strains to the antibiotic produced by the novel isolate.  The antibiotic producer is a Gram-positive rod.  We are performing PCR amplification and sequencing of the 16S genomic region of this isolate to identify it.  We are also testing other ESKAPE relatives for sensitivity to the antibiotic. (98) Poster Link
Silva, Nicole*, Zahaira Velasco*, and Andre Walther Cedar Crest College, Allentown, PA 18104. Examination of growth and capsule formation in mutant strains of the oleaginous Yeast, Cryptococcus neoformans to be used in biodiesel production.- The burning of fossil fuels is a main cause of global climate change due to the release trapped carbon in the form of CO₂ generated in combustion engines.  There is a need to find more carbon neutral and renewable fuels that can be used to power combustion engines in airplanes, trains, and automobiles, since for the power of the combustion engine in unlikely to be replaced in the foreseeable future.  Biodiesel has the potential to be a renewable source of cleaner burning energy that can be used to replace the finite resource of fossil fuels. Biodiesels can be made from biological matter with high concentrations of long carbon chains in the form of fatty acids found in fats and oils.  Biodiesels have been successfully generated from the fatty acids in animal fats, and plant-based oils, but these sources are ethically, and logistically challenging sources that result in minimal savings on CO2  release.  Our lab has explored the used of oleaginous yeasts that can converting plant sugars to high concentrations of fatty acids bound in fats and phospholipids.   One possible system is the encapsulated yeast Cryptococcus neoformans that has been thoroughly studied due to its ability to cause illness in immunocompromised individuals. Our preliminary results show that a strain of C. neoformans containing a mutation causing a defect in capsule formation that is avirulent, is able to produce high levels of lipids that can be chemically converted to multiple fatty acid methyl esters that make up biodiesel. In this study, we have been striving to optimize biodiesel production by examining capsule formation in multiple mutant strains and examining the effect media with different Carbon to Nitrogen ratios has on biomass and biodiesel production.  We hope that our results will provide a new, renewable system to generate biodiesel on a large-scale. (99) Poster Link