Allison Beck was appointed to a Research Associate position in the Department of Geology at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. This allows her to access the collections and libraries freely and do research there at any time. It also facilitates collaborative research with curators at the museum.
Jon Hurty was invited to be the festival choral conductor of the Fox Valley Music Festival on April 26 and 27th. The festival brings together high school singers from the western suburbs of Chicago for a two-day intensive choral workshop and performance. According to the organizers, the Fox Valley Music Festival is the oldest event of its kind in the United States.
Bohdan Dziadyk, Jason Koontz, and Jason Singer travelled to SIU-Edwardsville on April 17 with three students (Ed Alvarez, Bruno Andrade, and Beth Eyler) who presented posters on the research they've done in the biology department at the 101st annual meeting of the Illinois Academy of Science meeting. Titles and abstracts are below. Jason Koontz also served as a judge for the student papers presented in the Botany section on April 18th.
A threatened existence: a tale of the Illinois hill prairie larkspur.
Eyler, Elizabeth A and Koontz, Jason A. Augustana College, Rock Island, IL.
Delphinium carolinianum is a rare flowering plant in Illinois. Currently restricted to three noncontiguous counties, this species is potentially threatened. Populations encountered during surveys of hill prairies were marked using GPS. To determine variation in genetic relatedness among different populations of this larkspur, leaf samples were collected. DNA was extracted from the samples, and analyses of genetic variation were performed to assess levels and patterns of diversity in the Illinois populations. At one of our study sites, Bald Bluff, located in Henderson County, heavy grazing is occurring. In addition to the detrimental presence of cattle, invasive cedars encroach upon the hill-prairie boundaries. Though subjected to cattle for many years, several key prairie species are present on the hill prairie. With cedar removal and cattle exclusion, this hill prairie may be restored and added to the IL Natural Areas Inventory. A solar-powered electric fence was installed on the perimeter of the hill prairie to prevent cattle grazing the area around the larkspurs. An initial survey was taken, to be followed by subsequent surveys over the next two years to monitor the effectiveness of cattle exclusion on this hill prairie's restoration.
Biomass production in an abandoned agricultural field in Rock Island County, Illinois.
Andrade, Bruno M. and Dziadyk, Bohdan. Augustana College, Rock Island, IL.
In November 2007, a final corn crop was harvested on a one half hectare agricultural plot contiguous with the Beling Ecological Preserve, a wetland field station owned and managed by Augustana College. The 40 ha preserve is located on the north shore of the Rock River in Rock Island County, northwest Illinois. Because the old field will be allowed to undergo secondary succession, we decided to take advantage of the opportunity to analyze floristic and biomass changes in 2008 and later. Three permanent study sites (15m x 20m) were established at varying distances from the surrounding forest to permit assessment of the rate of species introductions. Above ground net primary production was estimated by the harvest method with six randomly chosen, quarter meter square quadrats clipped in each site at approximately two week intervals from early June to mid September. Site locations (from the forest edge) and the peak standing crop biomass (g/m2) at each are: Site I - 1m, 258 (the wettest site); Site II - 20m, 345; and Site III - 40m, 515 (the driest site). All three sites attained maximum biomass in late August during the wettest year on record (130cm by mid November). Important taxa contributing to biomass production were species of Persicaria, Scutellaria and Penthorum sedoides in site I, Ammannia coccinea and Cyperus strigosus in site II and Amaranthus hybridus, Xanthium strumarium and Setaria faberi at site III. Seedlings of Acer saccharinum, the dominant tree of the adjacent forest, were present at all sites but experienced significant mortality in sites I and II because of heavy flooding in June.
A site-directed mutagenesis approach to Mdm20p structure and function in S. cerevisiae
Alvarez, Eduardo A; Crawford, Patrick A and Singer, Jason M. Augustana College, Rock Island, IL.
N-terminal acetylation is one of the most common post-translational modifications of eukaryotic proteins. S. cerevisiae contains three major N-terminal acetyltransferases (NATs): NatA, NatB, and NatC, each with a catalytic subunit and corresponding auxiliary subunit(s). The highly related proteins that compose the catalytic subunits have been much better characterized than the auxiliary subunits, and their structure & function are better understood. The NatB complex consists of the catalytic subunit Nat3p and the associated subunit Mdm20p. Our research is focused on the Mdm20
protein with the goal of gaining insight into its structure and function. Previous studies have shown that yeast cells carrying a complete deletion of either MDM20 or NAT3 display defects in mitochondrial inheritance and actin organization, and have a reduced-growth plate phenotype. The mdm20-1 allele results in a truncated protein lacking only the C-terminal 50aa (out of 796aa), yet renders the Mdm20 protein completely non-functional. We attempted to further dissect this critical region using site-directed mutagenesis. Four stop codons were introduced at roughly ten codon
intervals through the 3' coding sequence, corresponding to aa 755-790. We have verified one synthetic mutation by sequencing and are currently sequencing the remaining three. We are also testing the function of the new mutant alleles using plate growth assays. The results of these experiments will be presented. Further experiments should provide additional insight into Mdm20p and the other auxiliary subunits of NATs.
Reuben Heine (Geography Department) is the author of the lead article in the April 2009 issue of the Annals of the Association of American Geographers (the most important of the professional geography journals). The article is entitled: "Spatial and Temporal Patters of Stream Channel Incision in the Loess Region of the Missouri River." Congratulations to Reuben on this publication. You can read it HERE.
On April 25 Charlie Mahaffey and Norm Moline were awarded the 2009 Eddy Award for Education by River Action, Inc. "for going against the current in achieving excellence on the waterfront". They received this award for their over three decades of involvement with college classes, community education programs (including helping to start the community's summer "riverine walks" series), student research projects, their own research on Upper Mississippi River waterfronts, community service on public commissions, task forces, advisory committees, and non-profit community organizations (such as Breach Meanders, River Action, and Sylvan Island Dreamers) and internship placements for many students with agencies and organizations related to the river and river cities.