Hot Student Papers

Latitudinal gradients in induced and constitutive resistance against herbivores

4 Oct 2016 - 8:17am
caterpillar drawing

Plants have more “personality” in Canada than the United States. When plants are attacked by herbivores, they can defend themselves using either their constitutive baseline levels of defence or they can upregulate their defence (induced defence) in response to cues that will help them prevent further damage. These induced defences are a form of phenotypic plasticity, or a plants behavior or “personality” in response to enemies. But how does this vary along environmental gradients, such as the latitudinal differences like those found from Canada to the USA?

A landscape ecologist’s agenda for landscape genetics

26 Sep 2016 - 9:38am
node based approach for measuring genetic response per focal patch/population

Our students tackle some of the most challenging landscapes in their pursuit of knowledge, including landscapes of the genetic kind. Recent Ph.D. graduate, Dr. Michelle Dileo (Wagner Lab), published “A landscape ecologist’s agenda for landscape genetics” in Current Landscape Ecology Reports. This paper presents a critical review of the landscape genetic literature of the last five years from a landscape ecological perspective. Landscape genetics, using molecular markers, is a useful tool for studying the effects of habitat fragmentation for species that are hard to track or have cryptic dispersal.

Sources of controversy surrounding latitudinal patterns in herbivory and defense

12 Sep 2016 - 7:46am
caterpillar drawing

Herbivores rule the world and are critical to the functioning of ecosystems. Yet tropical and temperate biologists can’t seem to agree if herbivory is greater in more tropical climates, or if there really isn’t much of an overall pattern. PhD candidates Daniel Anstett and Krystal Nunes (Kotanen Lab) make a foray into this debate in their paper “Sources of controversy surrounding latitudinal patterns in herbivory and defense”, recently published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution.

Ontogeny reveals function and evolution of the hadrosaurid dinosaur dental battery

29 Aug 2016 - 9:08am
hadrosaur teeth model

There is nothing duck-like in the maw of Duck-billed Dinosaurs (hadrosaurs), according to the research of UTM Biology’s newest Ph.D. – Dr. Aaron Leblanc (Reisz Lab). Aaron just published “Ontogeny reveals function and evolution of the hadrosaurid dinosaur dental battery” in BMC Evolutionary Biology.This is the first in-depth look inside the dental batteries of hadrosaurs. Like many plant-eating mammals that have very complex grinding teeth for dealing with tough plant material, hadrosaurs evolved an impressive battery of teeth on each side of the jaw. Each battery is made of multiple stacks of interlocked teeth that behaved like a single giant grinding surface, but could be made of over 300 individual teeth fused together with a flexible network of ligaments!

Identification and Characterization of the Corazonin Receptor and Possible Physiological Roles of the Corazonin-Signaling Pathway in Rhodnius prolixus

15 Aug 2016 - 10:48am
Rhodnius prolixus on a person's lips

Our graduate students work at the frontiers of biology, evidenced by Zina Hamoudi’s (Orchard and Lange Labs) first lead-authored paper in Frontiers in Neuroscience. Neuropeptides control many physiological and endocrinological processes in animals, acting as neuroactive chemicals within the central and peripheral nervous systems. Corazonin (CRZ) is one such neuropeptide that has a variety of physiological roles. To understand the role of the corazonin (CRZ)-signaling pathway in Rhodnius prolixus, the vector for Chagas disease, Zina isolated the cDNA sequence encoding the Rhopr-CRZ receptor (CRZR) and characterized it using a functional receptor assay. She then used qPCR to give clues for possible functions of CRZ by seeing where the CRZR was expressed.