Journal of Biological Research, Vol. 4 (2003)

The Vasodilator Effects of Nifedipine and the Plant Extract, Rhinacanthus nasutus, in Hypertensive Rats.
Nicole Barnash
Department of Biology, Hartwick College, Oneonta, NY 13820
Advisor: Dr. Linda Swift

Vasoconstriction of the blood vessels can result in a number of clinical diseases, some more potentially dangerous than others. The objective of the present study was to compare the effects of nifedipine, a proven vasodilator, and Rhinacanthus nasutus on blood pressure in hypertensive rats. Nifedipine is a calcium channel blocker used most often for the treatment of hypertension. In comparison, Rhinacanthus nasutus is a Thai plant also used to lower blood pressure. The hypothesis tested was that the administration of R. nasutus would lower blood pressure and prove to be an effective vasodilator. To observe their effects, both drugs were perfused into the cannulated aorta, just above the femoral artery, of a hypertensive rat at a constant but pulsatile rate of 3mL/min, for an extended period of time. Blood pressure was measured using a pressure transducer and results were recorded using Power Lab. Stastical results were calculated using the ANOVA system and they support the hypothesis that R. nasutus effectively lowers blood pressure to the same extent as the pharmaceutical drug (P > 0.05). Therefore this demonstrates that this herbal treatment is just as effective as the pharmaceutical drug in lowering blood pressure, possibly without the adverse side effects associated with nifedipine use.

Characterization of Microorganisms on Well-Exposed Igneous Surfaces and Their Role in Mineral Weathering.
Christopher Belnap
Dr. Mary Allen, Advisor, Dept. of Biology
Dr. Eric Johnson, Advisor, Dept. of Geology

Microorganisms have been shown to interact with rock and mineral surfaces using a variety of both passive and active processes. Many of these processes have been predicted to significantly affect mineral weathering. The purpose of this study was to examine and characterize the microbial community on well-exposed igneous rock surfaces and to make predictions regarding their role in direct nutrient acquisition. Bacteria isolated from rock samples were cultured in the laboratory and the number of different species per rock sample was determined. Bacteria were also characterized by their metabolic requirements using GP2 Microplate assays (Biolog). Rock samples from which the bacteria were collected were analyzed in thin section and molar volume of phosphate was quantified in terms of the mineral apatite [Ca5(PO4)3(OH,F,Cl)]. Results suggest that complex communities of both eukaryotes and prokaryotes exist on well-exposed, nutrient poor rock surfaces, and that the chemical composition of the surface may not play a significant role in surface communities.

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The Effects of Ginkgo biloba on Memory in Mice
Tiffany Bligen
Advisor: Dr. Linda Swift

Previous research has been done to study the effects of Ginkgo biloba on memory and has produced positive results giving hope to people that suffer from dementia and Alzheimer's disease. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of Ginkgo biloba on memory in mice and to determine if there is enhanced memory with an increased dose. Six 18 week-old mice were trained and their memory abilities in the maze were observed. Three mice were used as controls, and the additional six mice were divided into 2 groups of three for the different concentrations of Ginkgo biloba, 12 mg and 24 mg. The T-maze was used to study memory in mice over a 5-week period. The variables used to detect change in memory were the time a mouse took to complete an arm of the maze, and the number of errors. The statistical results indicate that the time it took to go through the maze decreased 59% from the control with the 12 mg dose and 52% with the 24 mg dose. The difference in time was not significantly different between the two doses (P>.05). The number of errors going through the maze decreased 56% with the 12 mg dose and 61% with the 24 mg. dose. The difference in the number of errors was not significantly different between doses (P>.05). From my results, it was concluded that Ginkgo can be used to improve memory in mice, however doubling the recommended dose does not enhance memory.

Comparison of Malnutrition in Children Ages 0-5 in Northern Thailand Villages
Tiffany Campbell
Advisor: Dr. Linda Swift

Malnutrition is prominent in developing countries, as it weakens the bodies' defenses allowing diseases and infection to become prevalent, often times causing harmful and irreversible affects on growth and development in young children. Malnutrition was evaluated in the two northern Thailand Villages of Samsaipoye and Sampasat by the use of the anthropometric measurements of height (cm) and weight (kg) of children ages 0-5. A socioeconomic census was also given to the households in each village. Data collected was entered onto an international nutritional database (ANTHRO) to determine the actual level and severity of malnutrition of children in each village. The Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) and Chi-square statistical tests were used to compare the levels of malnutrition (normal, stunted, underweight, and wasting) within each village and between villages. There was no significant difference of malnutrition between ages or between villages. However, the level of malnutrition is still below the international standard.

The Effects of Nicotine and Caffeine on Human Peripheral Lymphocyte
Jennifer L. Ferguson
Advisor: Dr. Douglas Hamilton

The immune system fights off disease causing pathogens and is made up of hematopoietic stem cells, which give rise to red blood cells and white blood cells. Lymphocytes are a class of white blood cells and can be broken down into B and T cells that are produced in the bone marrow and then go into the blood and circulate through the body. Many compounds ingested by humans are known to have a variety of effects on the immune system. Nicotine and caffeine are the main psychoactive constituents of tobacco and coffee respectively. Nicotine is an immunosuppressive drug that appears to affect the immune system through nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and can directly affect the immune cells. Caffeine is the safest recreational drug and is a particular type of trimethylxanthine. Caffeine enhances the response of nicotine thus it increases the immunosuppressive affects of nicotine. This experiment served to see whether the effects of nicotine and caffeine could be observed in tissue culture as direct changes in the growth of lymphocytes. The findings from this study indicated that the addition of caffeine and/or nicotine has no significant effect on the growth of lymphocytes in culture.

Morphological Development in the Salamander Necturus maculosus: Accumulate, Excise, and Surprise!
Nicholas G. Garbinsky
Dr. Stanley Sessions, Advisor

Necturus maculosus, the Mudpuppy, is a neotenic salamander and has the largest cells of any tetrapod. The purpose of this study is to examine the development and embryonic morphology of the developing mesopodial and metapodial regions of the limb in N. maculosus and compare my results with widely accepted models for the morphogenetic rules of limb development. Embryos of various stages of development were both cleared and stained with a cartilage-specific stain for whole mount study, or examined histologically using standard paraffin histological techniques to examine the arrangement of developing chondrogenic cells. Prior studies explain bone development in tetrapods, especially their limbs, using a model consisting of a series of condensation, bifurcation, and segmentation events. My observations on embryonic patterns of growth and development in N. maculosus do not appear to conform to this model. An alternative model is presented based on my observations.

The Role of Amino Acid 128 in the Induction of Chromosomal Aberrations by the SV40 Large T antigen
Rebekah Klingler
Advisor: Dr. Douglas Hamilton

Simian Virus 40 (SV40) is a monkey polyomavirus, which causes a lytic infection in simian host cells. When human cells are infected with the virus, many exhibit chromosomal damage and some become immortal (Chang et. al., 1997). In 1990, Ray et. al. reported that the SV40 early gene, Large T antigen (Tag), alone is necessary and sufficient to cause the observed cancer-like chromosomal damage within 48 hours of transfection. Since Tag is a nuclear protein with the ability to bind DNA, it was assumed that Tag must bind the DNA in order to cause chromosomal damage. This was supported by the research of Ray et. al. in 1998, when they created a mutation in the nuclear localization signal of Tag, which changes a lysine to an isoleucine. This mutation produces a cytoplasmic protein, which is unable to damage DNA. Other research has shown that if that same lysine is changed to a threonine, the protein is cytoplasmic, but retains the ability to cause chromosome damage at the magnitude of the wild-type protein (Woods et. al., 1994). Unfortunately, a confounding problem was that the plasmid constructs used for each of these experiments were different. The goal of the current research is to insert the wild-type Tag and the two mutant Tag genes into identical plasmid constructs and ascertain the effect of each on human fibroblast cells. Currently, the wild type and the lysine to isoleucine mutant genes have been successfully inserted into the pIND inducible plasmid. Future work will include obtaining pIND plasmid containing the lysine to threonine mutation of the Tag gene, as well as tissue culture assays to determine the effects of each of these genes in human fibroblast cells.

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Leaf Litter Arthropod Communities at Pine Lake With Notes on Pseudoscorpion Ecology and Morphology
Justin D. Kratovil
Advisor: Dr. Allen Crooker

Studies of leaf litter arthropod diversity provide information about local fauna, community dynamics, and sensitivity to environmental changes; long term monitoring of litter organisms and soil ecosystems can ensue. This study focuses on pseudoscorpions and the arthropods associated with them. Samples of leaf litter were taken from Pine Lake, West Davenport NY, during the summer of 2002 to provide information about arthropod relative abundance and habitat richness in areas of old growth, new growth resulting from environmental disturbance, hemlock dominance, and bog leaf litter from Mud Lake. The mean density and relative abundance of pseudoscorpions and other orders remained consistent between habitats, with high variation within each habitat. Homoptera were present only at the Mud Lake and old growth sites, and centipedes were not present at the old growth site. Temperature range and sample size did not affect relative abundance or order richness between habitat sites. Scanning electron microscopy was used to study pseudoscorpion morphology.
 

The Comparative Effects of Lorazepam and Cassia siamea on Amplitude and Frequency of Brain Waves in Rats.
Stephanie Leigh Lawrence
Advisor: Dr. Linda Swift

Cassia siamea is a medicinal plant reported to promote sleep. Lorazepam, a benzodiazepine, has been well proven to be effective in treating insomnia, but this drug has many side effects associated with its use. In the study, Cassia siamea was compared to the reference drug Lorazepam to determine their effect on the amplitude and frequency of brain waves. Electroencephalography (EEG) was used to evaluate brain wave activity in eight rats exposed to a daily light/dark cycle. Brain waves were recorded prior to and after intubation with the two drugs. Amplitude of brain waves showed a marginal significance (p>0.05, p<0.10) with treatment of both lorazepam and Cassia siamea. The increase in amplitude is consistent with alpha brain waves, which are indicative of the quiet, resting state prior to sleep. There was no significant difference in the effects of the two drugs on amplitude (p>0.05). Neither drug significantly effected the change in frequency from control to treatment (p>0.05). There was also no significant difference between the effects of lorazepam and Cassia siamea on frequency (p>0.05). Cassia siamea may provide an effective and more affordable treatment for insomnia.

Response to Within- and Between-flock Distress Calls by Black-Capped Chickadees (Parus atricapillus)
Michelle Roser
Dr. Peter Fauth, Advisor

Black-capped chickadees form social groups in winter composed of family members and unrelated individuals. Individuals within chickadee flocks interact to improve foraging success and predator detection. During March-April 2003, I used playback experiments to study the responses of chickadees to distress calls produced by flock members and non-flock members. I recorded distress calls given by chickadees captured in walk-in traps at three baited feeders: two at Hartwick College's Pine Lake Environmental Campus and one at Cemetery Hill Road in Oneonta. I broadcast the distress calls to members of the same flock (within-flock treatment) and to members of different flocks (between-flock treatment). I alternated the sequence in which I presented the within- and between-flock calls during 3-4 trials at each of the sites. I recorded the distance the birds remained from the speaker (in 5m intervals) and the number of birds that approached the speaker during 4-minute playbacks of the distress calls and during an intervening 4-minute, silent control. I found no consistent difference in the number of birds responding to the playbacks. In two of the three locations, however, chickadees appeared to remain farther from the speaker during playbacks than during the control. Moreover, I found that chickadees remained slightly farther from playbacks of within-flock distress calls than playbacks of between-flock calls. The results suggest that chickadees can distinguish among individuals of different flocks and respond to distress calls as warning vocalizations.

Effect of Tinospora crispa and Megestrol acetate on appetite in Mice
Brooke Sartori
Advisor: Dr. Linda Swift

The purpose of this study was to determine if Tinospora crispa is an effective appetite enhancer. Hill people do not have access to expensive drugs to treat the wasting symptom of AIDS. Appetite enhancing qualities of this herbal drug was compared to a known appetite enhancer, Megestrol acetate. Twelve mice were divided into three treatment groups: Control, Tinospora crispa, and Megestrol acetate groups. Mice were intubated daily with saline or drugs for 7 weeks. Mice and food were weighed weekly. The food consumed by the mice over the 7 weeks period was significantly different in the drug groups as compared to the control (P=.02258). The food consumed by the mice was also significantly different between the two drug treatment groups (P=.045), with the greatest amount of food consumed by the Tinospora crispa group. The weight gained, however, was not significantly different between the control and the treatment groups (P=.905), or between the two treatments (P=.648). Therefore, Tinospora crispa is as effect an appetite enhancer as the reference drug Megestrol acetate. This herbal drug is readily accessible and affordable to the hill people for the treatment of wasting with AIDS

Effect of Androstenedione and Creatine on Muscle Size and Strength in Exercised Mice
Jessica Skrocki
Advisor: Dr. Linda Swift

The commercial dietary supplements Androstenedione and Creatine are used during resistance exercising to enhance muscle size and strength. This study examines the effect of these dietary supplements on endurance exercise and muscle size in mice. Four groups of mice were used: a control with exercise: a control with no exercise: mice intubated with Androstenedione and exercised: and mice intubated with Creatine and exercised. These mice were exercised daily by swimming till exhaustion for 6 weeks. Statistical analysis indicates no significant difference in percent change in swim time between the four groups (P>.05). However, the Androstenedione treated group showed a great percent change in swim time over the 6 weeks. Further statistics indicate there was a significant difference between muscle circumference in the group treated with Creatine (P<.05).These results indicate that Creatine enhances muscle size during resistance exercising and Androstenedione increases muscle strength.

The Effects of MTBE (Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether) on the Immune System of the amphibian, Rana pipiens.
Roxanne Suarez
Dr. Stanley Sessions, Advisor

MTBE is a fuel additive present in gasoline. It functions as an oxygenate in fuel to increase its oxygen content to reduce carbon monoxide and ozone levels. Four groups of adult R. pipiens frogs where exposed to three different concentrations of MTBE in aged, dechlorinated tap water for three weeks, and then chronically injected with sheep red blood cells for five days to create an immune response. Lymphocytes were isolated from the frogs' spleens and a hemocytometer was used to count the number of viable spleen cells. The number of antibody-producing B-cell lymphocytes was determined using a hemolytic plaque assay. The results indicate a dose response in which B-cell production increases with increasing concentration of MTBE. These results suggest that MTBE induces hypersensitivity of the immune systems in frogs.

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Bacterial Response to Mosquito Larvae (Wyeomyia smithii) and Midge larvae (Metriocnemus knabi) in Sarranecia purpurea Pitcher Plant Inquiline Community.
Christa Welch
Dr. Mary Allen, Advisor

Pitcher plants, Sarrancia purpurea, hold a complex food web and community within there leaves. Bacteria feed on dead insects that fall in the pitchers. Pitcher plant mosquitoes, Wyeomyia smithii, oviposit their eggs in the pitchers and the developing larvae in turn feed on the bacteria. M. knabi fed on necromass allowing more surface area for the bacteria to decompose necromass. We tested to see if predation causes the formation of long filamentous bacterial cells which are grazing resistant. The alternative hypothesis tested if the nutrient availability effects filament formation. Results show an effect of predation and nutrients on the formation of filamentous cells. The formation of grazing resistant bacteria can change to dynamics of the pitcher plant communities with bottom up effects which eventually limit nutrients available to the upper trophic levels.

Amenorrhea and Stress Fractures in Female Athletes: A Survey and Case Study
Aleesha M. Zysik
Dr. Allen Crooker, advisor

The prevalence of amenorrhea and stress fractures in female athletes at the collegiate level was examined in this study. Data were collected from a survey of 103 female track and field athletes at colleges and universities across the United States. The results of the survey showed no correlation between amenorrhea and stress fractures. The effects of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) on bone mass were examined through a case study comparing bone densitometries taken before and after an amenorrheic individual's treatment with estrogen. The bone densitometries indicated that HRT had been successful in increasing bone mass. In addition, an analysis of relevant medical research provided alternative treatment options for females with diminished bone mass.