Subscribe to RSS Feed

Wednesday, April 17th
9:00 AM

The Role of PF Phage in Pseudomonas aeruginosa Cheater Populations

Autumn J. Robinson, University of Montana, Missoula

UC 330

9:00 AM - 9:20 AM

Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Pa) is a bacterial pathogen that causes millions of hospital-acquired infections each year. Pa often forms a biofilm (bacteria encased in a self-produced protective matrix) at sites of infection. To build a biofilm, Pauses a cell density-dependent mechanism called quorum sensing (QS) to coordinate gene expression. Many quorum-regulated products are secreted into the extracellular space and are considered public goods (products that can be used by any member of the microbial community). Some members of the biofilm community, however, cheat and do not produce public goods but, continue to consume them. These individuals are known as "cheaters". High levels of cheaters in a microbial population can result in community collapse. Thus, the number of cheaters needs to be regulated in microbial communities. We have discovered that a bacteriophage (a virus that infects bacteria) is regulated by quorum sensing-when quorum sensing is disabled, the bacteriophage replicates and slows the growth of P. aeruginosa. Our previous work indicates that these bacteriophage play key roles in infection pathogenesis. We hypothesize that these bacteriophage introduce a selective pressure against cheaters. To test this hypothesis, we will measure the abundance of cheaters in bacterial populations that either do or do not contain bacteriophage. Cheaters will be identified using selective growth media and the abundance of cheaters will be measured over time. We predict that bacterial populations without bacteriophage will have a higher percentage of cheaters compared to bacterial populations with bacteriophage. Understanding how cheaters are regulated in bacterial populations may reveal new therapeutic strategies that promote cheating, promoting a tragedy of the commons within microbial communities that cause disease.

9:20 AM

Effect of expression level and amino acid sequence on HCMV glycoprotein complexes

Charlotte Langner

UC 330

9:20 AM - 9:40 AM

Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection is asymptomatic in healthy individuals, but can cause severe disease in immunocompromised people. On the virus envelope, glycoproteins gH/gL form a trimer with gO or a pentamer with UL128-131. These glycoprotein complexes interact with receptors on the host cells to initiate viral fusion and thus are promising sites for vaccine development. The levels of trimer and pentamer significantly influence the infectivity of the virions. Clinical strains of HCMV differ in the relative amounts of trimer and pentamer in the virus particles, however, the mechanism controlling the level of trimer and pentamer is still not clear. My previous research showed that overexpressing UL128-131 results in increased pentamer and decreased trimer levels, suggesting that gO and UL128-131 compete in binding to gH/gL, and that the relative amounts of trimer and pentamer are driven by the expression levels of gO and UL128-131 proteins. The amino acid sequence of gH/gL are highly conserved, whereas gO shows substantial diversity across strains. To elucidate how the diversity of gO affects the formation of trimer and pentamer, we have prepared a library of mutants with gOs from different HCMV strains swapped into one strain, TR. We noted that swapping gO from strain TN into TR results in slow viral replication suggesting incompatibility between gH/gL and gO from different strains. I am conducting an experiment to test whether expressing TNgO in the cell during TR replication will affect the levels of trimer and pentamer as well as the infectivity of the progeny virions. Fibroblasts were infected with TR (with a GFP reporter gene) and subsequently infected with non-replicating adenovirus delivering genes for either TRgO, TNgO, or a control, and analysis is in progress. Progeny virions will be characterized by glycoprotein composition and infectivity using Western blots, qPCR, and flow cytometry.

9:40 AM

Genetics of Floral Divergence in Monkeyflower

Mathew Samuli

UC 330

9:40 AM - 10:00 AM

Pollination is key for the survival and reproduction of plants. Subsequently, floral traits often diversify by natural selection to match specific pollinators or to be efficient at self-pollination within a flower. Uncovering what genetic factors are required for different pollination syndromes will help to understand how and why pollination ecology exists as we see it. To investigate this, I grew second generation (F2) crosses between two species of Monkeyflower, Mimulus cardinalis (large, red, hummingbird pollinated flower) and Mimulus parishii (small, purple, self-pollinating flower) and measured 11 floral, vegetative, and reproductive traits. In addition to analyses of phenotypic and genetic correlations among traits, I propose to use RadSeq (a method of genome sequencing) to genotype the hybrids and map the genetic loci underlying each trait.

10:00 AM

The Effects of the Goat Creek Fire Complex on Water Quality and Macroinvertebrate Communities in First-Order Streams within the Rock Creek Drainage

Leif Howard

UC 330

10:00 AM - 10:20 AM

The 2017 Montana fire season provides an excellent opportunity to study the wildfire impacts of wildfire on freshwater systems. Rocky Mountain streams experience fire as a natural part of their disturbance regime. Fire suppression and climate change have led to more frequent and intense burn events. Fire can affect taxonomic diversity of stream macroinvertebrates by reducing or enhancing habitat depending upon the needs of different taxa. The recovery time of a stream is likely to be affected by both the intensity of fire effects on important stream variables as well as the tolerance of each species to altered conditions. Strong reductions in populations can also put populations at risk of extirpation. Many studies have measured changes to macroinvertebrate communities and to water quality following wildfire events. Like previous research, this study is designed to measure the presence of an effect of wildfire on temp, pH, conductivity and dissolved oxygen and macroinvertebrate assemblages in first-order streams at both the community and family level. To further the collective knowledge on the effects of wildfire to water quality and macroinvertebrate assemblages, this study also aims to corelate measured effects to water quality to specific shifts in macroinvertebrate assemblages. To measure the effect of the fires, temperature, pH, DO, conductivity and macroinvertebrate samples were taken from three reaches each on six first-order streams within the Rock Creek drainage in Western Montana. Data was collected prior to the 2018 runoff and following the 2018 runoff period. Identification is currently ongoing and statistical analysis is forthcoming. Fire ecology research is particularly important in a time in which historical wildfire management policies are being debated. The results of this study will refine our resolution on the effects of wildfire on freshwater systems and will either indicate resilience of, or changes to water quality and macroinvertebrate assemblages.

10:20 AM

The Early Bird Gets the Worm: Comparisons of Recent Post-Fire Avifaunal Communities in Montana Subalpine Forests

Allison H. Hendryx, University of Montana

UC 330

10:20 AM - 10:40 AM

As the frequency of wildfire increases throughout the Rocky Mountain West, it has become increasingly important to understand how wildfire may impact natural resources and wildlife habitat. Characterizing avifaunal communities is one method to determine how a habitat changes after disturbance. Research shows that different avifaunal communities assemble according to combination of time-since-fire and fire severity due to differences in habitat structure and resource availability. However, data are lacking regarding how avian communities may change during the year of the fire. Yet, one can expect avian communities would change due to transitory differences in habitat and resources the year of the fire such as seed availability and insects. This study characterizes the differences between bird communities utilizing burned areas in the year of and one year after wildfires in order to elucidate how communities change throughout. Comparing two discrete Montana wildfires during the same sampling period in 2018, this study sampled 32 points within the Reynolds Lake Fire of 2018 and 34 within the Lolo Peak Fire of 2017. The points were sampled during the nonbreeding avian season for vegetation data such as species composition and canopy cover and point count data in order to characterize both habitat and avian community information. Pending further analysis, preliminary results show significant differences in avian communities between the fires, such as significant increases in woodpecker activity the year of the fire as compared to increased species diversity the year after the fire. These findings lend support to the hypothesis that year of the fire has unique avifaunal assemblages compared to the year after fire. Understanding how avian species utilize their habitat the year of the fire can provide more information for managers making recommendations for actions often taken during this period such as salvage logging or other restoration activities.

10:40 AM

Song Structures in the Asian Rhinoceros Beetle

Cole Sander

UC 330

10:40 AM - 11:00 AM

The Asian rhinoceros beetle Trypoxylus dichotomus exhibits a strong sexual dimorphism. Males have massive four-pronged horns and engage in fierce competition over resource-rich territory and mates. Recent studies have suggested that female T. dichotomus will not always mate with males that control territory, despite these dimorphic traits that suggest a classical resource-defense mating system. These patterns suggest that females may be selecting males based on traits other than their large weapons, despite the reliability of weapon size as an honest signal of quality. Among the possible traits that females might use to judge fitness are male courtship songs. Males of the T. dichotomus species were recently discovered to be capable of song production and can exhibit at least two song types. The structures that males use to produce these unusually complex songs have never been identified. My project involves isolating and examining possible stridulatory structures on the exoskeleton ofT. dichotomus. I examined these structures with both a scanning electron and light microscope and am devising a method to characterize and differentiate these structures between individuals. I will relate characteristics of these structures to condition-dependent measures of male quality like body size or horn length. This study examines the structures that Asian rhinoceros beetles use to produce courtship songs and will help shed light on the factors that females use when selecting mates in the T. dichotomus mating system.

1:40 PM

Whitebark pine and prescribed fire: suitable habitat created for seedlings at the cost of mature trees

Adrienne Chenette

UC 330

1:40 PM - 2:00 PM

2:00 PM

Assessing the Efficacy of a Qualitative Approach for Monitoring Vegetation Responses After Floodplain Restoration

Dylan C. Branscum
Laura Long
Abigail Zenner

UC 330

2:00 PM - 2:20 PM

The United States spends over one billion dollars annually on riparian ecosystem restoration. Given this large investment, there is a need to understand whether or not restoration projects are successful. Towards that end, some projects and programs invest in effectiveness monitoring, but the extent to which it is actually useful depends on the adequacy of the sampling design. Despite this, little work has been done to assess the adequacy of sampling designs for even the most common monitoring programs, and there is little information about the costs and benefits of intensive quantitative versus rapid qualitative approaches. To improve understanding of effective sampling designs for monitoring, we 1) assessed observer error and precision of estimation associated with a qualitative monitoring protocol (the Qualitative Rapid Assessment (QRA)) and 2) compared observer error between the QRA and a quantitative design. Our results showed that the qualitative approach had less variation among observers and therefore required less replications to achieve a tolerable level of error than the quantitative approach. The modified QRA had a mean observer error of 72.80% and the quantitative method had a mean observer error of 92.30%. The QRA protocol could be altered to reduce observer error by using staggered categories, a categorical zero, and more in-depth training and callibration of data collectors.

2:20 PM

Limitations to Plant Growth in Ecosystems Contaminated by Smelter Fallout

Guillermo Barillas

UC 330

2:20 PM - 2:40 PM

Copper smelting, the process of heating ore to produce industrial copper, can severely impact local plant communities because of continual environmental deposition of heavy metals from emissions. This deposition of heavy metals is toxic to plants and causes a significant loss of organic matter. With the loss of organic matter, soils become deficient in the nutrients required for growth and reproduction. For example, the effects of copper smelting in Anaconda, Montana, an area in which smelting stopped over 35 years ago, can still be seen on its ecosystem today. To contribute to the understanding of ecosystem repair in smelter fallout areas, we assessed the effects of nutrient addition treatments on plant growth. The treatments including addition of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium and micronutrients (Kf.t), an organic amendment (Sustane), and an untreated control (Control) as single amendments, as well as combinations (NP, NKf.l, PKf.l, NPKf.l) to allow assessment of co-limitation (n=10 treatments). All treatments were applied to plots and were seeded in May. I measured plant growth response by collecting biomass samples and percent cover in July and September. I found significant differences in both biomass and percent cover among nutrient addition treatments. Plants in the plots treated with Sustane had 1 Ox more biomass (1.88g) and 10% more cover (12.8%) than the control (0.13g and 2.53%). Plants in the NPKf.l, which was the only other treatment which had a significant effect, averaged 11.61% total cover. These findings suggest that it is critical to add organic amendments in restoration treatments in ecosystems impacted by smelter fallout and that the type of amendment is important.

2:40 PM

Revegetating Steep, Severely Eroded Hillslopes: The Importance of Site Characteristics

Carly Andlauer

UC 330

2:40 PM - 3:00 PM

Contamination from metal mining and smelting operations causes large-scale damage to ecosystems. In Anaconda, Montana, copper smelting operations combined with logging for smelter fuelled to widespread loss of vegetation cover and resulted in erosion across many hillsides in Mt. Haggin and the surrounding area. The primary goal of restoration efforts in the area is to re-establish vegetation cover in order to decrease erosion. To test the effectiveness of various revegetation treatment options, we conducted an experiment on two steep, heavily eroded hillslopes. We applied an organicmatter fertilizer and a polymer-coated urea fertilizer alone and in conjunction with erosion control structures. Relative change in percent cover ranged from -7% to 58%. Site features had the strongest relationship with changes in percent cover but some significant differences were observed between organic-matter fertilizer treatments and controls.

4:00 PM

Suffrage Sketch: Hattie Lloyd

Jared Gibbs

UC 330

4:00 PM - 4:20 PM

This project is aimed at discovering information on the lives oflesser known individual members of the suffrage movement; the scope of the research includes both political activity and the general character oflife for the rank and file of the movement. Specifically, I have gathered information about the life of Hattie Lloyd, a suffrage activist who lived in Plevna, Montana. She is credited as 'especially active' during the campaign for suffrage in Montana. The information was compiled from a variety of databases and primary sources both online and in print. Resources include Montana Memory Project, U.S. census records, and Montana Newspapers. Of particular use in investigating Mrs. Lloyd's background, was a newspaper called 'Fallon county times' and a volume titled O'Fallon Flashback. This project contributes to the study of U.S. women's history because it assembls information on individual suffrage activists with the intent of contextualizing the greater suffrage movement in the lives of those individuals. This research helps to sketch an outline of the typical suffrage activist and the kind oflife they lead. It is beneficial because it grounds the movement in the ordinary people who comprised the organizations, committees, and institutions that kept the movement functioning and successful.

4:20 PM

May Murphy: The Life of a Montana Suffragist

Natalie Mongeau

UC 330

4:20 PM - 4:40 PM

I will explore the life of May Murphy, a Montana suffragist who studied at the University of Montana, was a leader in women's multiple organizations, and worked as a nurse in Missoula. I conducted research in census records, city directories, newspapers such as The Missoulian, and UM yearbooks to highlight the daily life of a previously unknown Montana suffragist. Through her involvement in school and the community, May Murphy's life offers a perspective on the local women who were a part of the suffrage movement. By studying lesser-known suffragists we gain a better understanding of what these women were fighting for and why average women made sacrifices for the women's rights movement.

4:40 PM

Delia Peets: A Montana Suffragist

Anyssa M. Queen, University of Montana, Missoula

UC 330

4:40 PM - 5:00 PM

I will explore the role of Delia Peets, a resident of Butte, Montana, in women’s organizations in the area from the 1890’s to 1930. I conducted research in federal census records, Montana city directories, Silver Bow County marriage records, records from the Montana State Historical Society, local newspapers, books, journals of the Grand Army of the Republic, journals from the National Convention of the Women’s Relief Corps, and Archives and Special Collections at Mansfield Library. My research on Delia Peets focuses on her extensive involvement in various women’s clubs in Montana and their effect on the suffrage movement, particularly until Montana women were given the right to vote in 1914. These include prominent organizations such as the Women’s Relief Corps and the Consumer’s League, both of which had connections to the movement nationally. This brings attention to not only Delia Peets herself, but to the women involved in these Montana organizations and their influence overall in the state. A focus on lesser know Montana activists is essential for a deeper understanding of the suffrage movement in the state, and women’s history as a whole.