Hot Student Papers

Phylogenetic relatedness, phenotypic similarity and plant-soil feedback

9 Jan 2017 - 7:53am
potted plants in a greenhouse

If you've ever tried gardening, you'll know that soil matters. Soil properties such as nutrient availability, pH, and the resident microbes and invertebrates can affect plant growth. Plants themselves can also alter these soil properties, giving rise to feedbacks between plants and soil. Plant-soil feedbacks influence some of the most fundamental terrestrial processes - productivity, succession, and the maintenance of diversity - though we still lack a basic understanding of their causes. PhD student Connor Fitzpatrick (Johnson Lab) recently investigated how phylogenetic relatedness and phenotypic similarity among co-occurring plant species influence the strength of their soil feedbacks.

Clinical Trial Risk in Hepatitis C: Endpoint Selection and Drug Action

2 Jan 2017 - 8:39am
human body diagram with liver and hepatitis C

While you are sipping a beverage by the fire over the holidays, why not read the latest Hot Student Paper? This week's top honours go to former ROP student Nicole Tillie working with Prof. Jayson Parker, who recently published “Clinical Trial Risk in Hepatitis C: Endpoint Selection and Drug Action" in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. In this study Nicole quantified the risk that new drug candidates for this disease fail clinical testing and never reach the market.  She found that only 20% of drugs succeed during clinical testing with small drug viral inhibitors being the most successful. Nicole is now studying at the Canadian College of Naturopathic medicine. Congratulations on your success!

Clinical trial risk in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: the effects of drug class and inclusion criteria

9 Dec 2016 - 7:54am
chest x-ray

Congratulations to MBiotech student Demetri Anastasopulos and MBiotech alum Jeffrey Tam who, under the supervision of Prof. Jayson Parker, recently published their article “Clinical trial risk in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: the effects of drug class and inclusion criteria” in Respiration. Their study examined the risk of clinical trial failure in testing new drugs for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. They found that approximately 87% of all drugs entering clinical testing failed, while combined drug regimens had a better success rate. Certain drug classes, such as muscarinic antagonists, had much better success rates. Their study provides insight into how pulmonary disease can be treated more effectively in future.

Fast detection of leaf pigments and isoprenoids for ecophysiological studies, plant phenotyping and validating remote-sensing of vegetation

22 Nov 2016 - 10:15am
Laura Junker

Ph.D. student Laura Junker (Ensminger Lab) remains at the top of the Hot Student Paper board with the publication of  “Fast detection of leaf pigments and isoprenoids for ecophysiological studies, plant phenotyping and validating remote-sensing of vegetation” in Physiologia Plantarum. In this paper she describes a simple and cost-effective method for the rapid analysis of chlorophylls, carotenoids and tocopherols using high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). She  improved the separation of photosynthetic pigments compared to previously used methods by shortening the run time and inclusion of additional carotenoids such as α-carotene (see image below) and lutein epoxide.

Relationship between leaf optical properties, chlorophyll fluorescence and pigment changes in senescing Acer saccharum leaves

31 Oct 2016 - 10:04am
Laura Junker

As we are enjoying the reds, oranges, yellows and browns of fall, Ph.D. student Laura Junker (Ensminger Lab) is studying the science behind fall colours. Her first-first authored paper “Relationship between leaf optical properties, chlorophyll fluorescence and pigment changes in senescing Acer saccharum leaves” was recently published in Tree Physiology. This manuscript investigates the relationship between photosynthetic pigments and optical properties of senescing sugar maple leaves. Although bright colors of senescing leaves are a well-known phenomenon, little is known about their ecophysiological function and their influence on remotely sensed vegetation indices.

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