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Feb 20 2024

E&E Seminar: Graduate Student Presentations

February 20, 2024

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM


SELE 4289

Join us on Feb. 20, 2024 for presentations from E&E Graduate Students!

Erik Andersson will present "Metabolic activity of symbiotic and aposymbiotic northern star coral (Astrangia poculata) and their microbial communities"
Abstract: The temperate coral Astrangia poculata is a proposed model for studying symbioses in coral, largely due to the facultative relationship with their endosymbiotic algae (family Symbiodiniaceae) under natural conditions. This is in contrast to most tropical corals, which lose their symbionts only under stressful conditions (i.e., bleaching), a confounding factor that can make it difficult to study the role of the endosymbiotic algae in coral biology. Despite mounting evidence that corals also harbor diverse microbiota that contribute towards coral holobiont nutrition, research of the A. poculata microbiome and how it is influenced by the presence / absence of the endosymbiotic algae has been limited. We collected complementary metagenome, transcript, and metabolite data from symbiotic (n=15) and aposymbiotic (n=15) A. poculata collected near Woods Hole, MA in order to further investigate holobiont metabolism and host-microbe interactions in these corals. Here, I highlight NMR- and LC-MS-based untargeted metabolomics data which demonstrate distinct symbiotic and aposymbiotic metabolic profiles
Rosa Mendoza will present "Neural Mechanisms, Social Behavior, and Auditory Processing"

Abstract: Auditory processing is an essential part of the lives of humans and other animals, enabling communication between individuals. Bats enable us to understand auditory processing because they are social animals with well-developed audio-vocal systems that they use to navigate and communicate. This study focuses on the connectivity between the amygdala, an emotive processing center, and the auditory pathway in the bat Carollia perspicillata that could provide a structural basis for investigating the emotive modulation of auditory processing. These long-range connections between the IC and the amygdala have been previously described in two other bat species. To date, these connections seem absent in rodents and it is unknown whether they exist in other mammals or if it could be, as speculated, an adaptation for echolocating bats.   Furthermore, here we present ultrastructure data from the IC and auditory cortex of the bat Rousettus aegypticus. Studying the ultrastructure of the auditory pathway and these circuit connections in different species of mammalian brains will allow us to understand social behavior and contextual modulation of auditory perception.

César Fuentes will present "Ecomorphological variation within a Neotropical genus of predatory fish"

Abstract: The ecological niche is a multidimensional ecological space that is unique for every species, where different variables affect the ecology of species in various ways. In order to study it, measurements such as habitat use, feeding habits, diet, and life histories have been taken as an approach, giving details of a portion of the species' niche. Recently, morphological assessments such as functional traits and body shape have been suggested as good representations of various dimensions of the ecological niche, and linked to their evolutionary history. Central America is the inland region in Middle America between Mexico and Colombia, which is interesting from a historic perspective, as complex hydrography allows for a diversity of freshwater ecosystems. Within those ecosystems, freshwater fishes play an important role in different dynamics, having a species diversity that is different from the southern Neotropics. Recent assessments indicate that a large proportion of freshwater fishes in the region are threatened in some way, including predator fish species, such as the genus Parachromis, for which more ecological studies should be carried on. In order to assess the morphological variation in the genus Parachromis, we measured functional traits and used geometric morphometrics on museum specimens. We took two approaches to understand the body shape and specific trait variation across five species in the genus. Preliminary data indicate that peduncle and eye traits describe most of the variation over morphospace, and help differentiate species groups. The species with the most variation was P. managuensis, which represents a group of widely introduced species, making it important for conservation purposes.
Kelsey Patrick will present "Belowground seasons: ectomycorrhizal fungal phenology"
Abstract: Ectomycorrhizal fungi (EMF) are a group of symbiotic fungi that associate with tree roots and have important implications for forest ecosystem processing. EMF communities are highly diverse at local and global scales, and the advancement of molecular tools such as high throughput sequencing provides additional details on fungal-host specificity and other factors structuring EMF communities (e.g., climate and soil chemistry). However, previous studies have failed to capture EMF communities at multiple time-points throughout the year, especially across a range of host plant functional types, preventing us from understanding seasonal shifts in community composition, as well as individual EMF species phenology (i.e., the timing of recurring biological events). Shifts in EMF community composition and phenology are necessary to consider because the diverse phylogeny of the EMF group results in high variability in functions such as biomass production, enzymatic abilities, and nutrient transfer to hosts. Therefore, studying EMF phenology offers opportunities to address questions surrounding the abiotic and biotic factors structuring EMF communities, and how EMF community function changes intra-anually.
Alexa Tyszka will present "Historical RNA: a novel data source for understanding the plant tree of life"
Abstract: Transcriptome data from non-model systems provides invaluable insight into the tree of life. Transcriptomes have shaped our knowledge of plant evolutionary history, not only species relationships but also in terms of molecular evolution, but they are difficult to obtain due to strict recommendations for sample preservation. I will introduce how historical RNA, RNA that has been extracted from museum or herbarium samples, may be used to not only expand taxon sampling for transcriptomics but also provide novel insights into extinct or difficult to obtain taxa. Although historical RNA investigations for plants are in their infancy, recently RNA has been acquired from museum samples, including related breakthroughs in historical viral and mammal RNA work. This work has challenged the current perspective of RNA as a rapidly degrading molecule in dried specimens. A deeper understanding is still needed for many aspects of historical RNA, namely how to maximize its fidelity against current transcriptomic standards. The emergence of historical RNA has the potential to greatly expand transcriptome sampling within plants and further the invaluable insights provided by transcriptomes.


Emily Beaufort

Date posted

Nov 10, 2023

Date updated

Feb 14, 2024