Hot Student Papers

Influence of postsynaptic structure on missing quanta at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction

3 Aug 2016 - 9:05am
drosophila

Ever wonder why you can’t remember where you put your keys? In her first lead-authored paper, M.Sc. student Christine Nguyen (Stewart Lab) figured out a piece of that puzzle. Christine’s paper “Influence of postsynaptic structure on missing quanta at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction” recently appeared in BMC Neuroscience. In this publication, Christine found that a fraction of the electrical signaling that occurs when nerve cells communicate actually goes missing. Using fruit flies as her experimental system, Christine showed that the effectiveness of the signal from a neuron to a target cell depends on the complexity of structures specialized to receive the signals. The more complex it is, the more likely some of the signal goes missing.

Layered social nework analysis reveals complex relationships in kindergarteners

21 Jun 2016 - 8:31am
children sitting at a table

Whether we are looking at primates, birds, fish, or insects, social networks are often assumed to be hierarchical: if individual A is dominant over B, and B is over C, then A is also dominant over C. This assumption has been applied to humans including kindergarten school children, but the assumption is rarely tested in any species. In her first paper, graduate student Mireille Golemiec collaborated with PDF Jonathan Schneider (Levine Lab) and researchers from UCSF to develop a method that can evaluate how social networks based on mate choice, aggression, and proximity (time hanging out together) might be interrelated using flies. They applied their method to a data set based on interactions among kindergarten children which they recently published in Frontiers in Psychology.

Nonsystemic fungal endophytes increase survival but reduce tolerance to simulated herbivory in subarctic Festuca rubra

31 May 2016 - 12:53pm
fungal endophytes in plant tissue

Fungal endophytes – fungi that live within plant tissues (see photo) – are common in nature, but whether they are mutualists, parasites or living within plants as commensals is poorly understood. Former undergraduate student James Santangelo (Kotanen Lab) sought to disentangle the effects of endophytes on plants and the results of his study were just published in Ecoshpere in his article “Nonsystemic fungal endophytes increase survival but reduce tolerance to simulated herbivory in subarctic Festuca rubra”. James studied a group of endosymbionts infecting the leaves of red fescue, a widespread grass, to examine their role in altering their host’s ability to survive under saline soil conditions and frequent herbivore damage.

Invasive earthworms as seed predators of temperate forest species

16 May 2016 - 8:31am
earthworms

"The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out, the worms play pinochle on your snout, they eat your eyes, they eat your nose, they eat the jelly between your toes."

Variation in herbivory along a latitudinal gradient for native and exotic Asteraceae

22 Apr 2016 - 11:35am
insect on Asteraceae

The Great White North, it maybe be cold, but at least it is safe if you are a native to these parts. This is the conclusion explaining the susceptibility of plants to herbivores as detailed in Ph.D. student Krystal Nunes’ FIRST PAPER, which was also coauthored by former M.Sc. student Colin Cassin (Kotanen Lab). Krystal and Colin’s results appeared in their paper “Variation in herbivory along a latitudinal gradient for native and exotic Asteraceae” published in Plant Ecology. In this paper, they tested how widely applicable the well-established hypothesis is that biotic interactions, including herbivory, are more intense at lower latitudes.

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