Research Project Descriptions

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Prebiotics Help B. infantis Proliferate and Help Regulate Body Weight

Student Name: 
Won Park
UCD Department: 
Anatomy, Physiology, and Cell Biology (Vet Med)
UCD Mentor: 
Dr. Helen Raybould

The gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) of humans is colonized by immense amounts of microorganisms. They significantly affect the epithelial cells' role of balancing the absorption of the necessary nutrients, ions, and water with the protection against potentially harmful toxins and pathogens. However, specific populations of microbiota tolerate only a certain range of conditions. Change in diet and nutrients (e.g. the consumption of prebiotics) can drastically change the population of microbiota present and consequently, the effects these microorganisms have on the GI tract.  This study suggests that inulin is able to help nurture B. infantis up to a certain point , that microbiota may play a role in regulating body weight, and that BMO may also be a prebiotic that helps microbiota proliferate.

Determining the Gene Control of Stress Hormones in Plants

Student Name: 
Yuki Koide
UCD Department: 
Plant Biology
UCD Mentor: 
Dr. Dehesh

Locating a gene that controls the expression of stress hormones in plants. This research will help current understanding of various stress responses in plants and what they have in common. It might be applied in the future to genetically engineer plants that are resistant to multiple stresses, such as drought or insect attacks. 

Salinity stress, a key factor affecting almond tree stem water potential

Student Name: 
Zhiren (George) Ye
UCD Department: 
Plant Science
UCD Mentor: 
Dr. Patrick Brown

Almond trees are particularly sensitive to salt; their perennial nature allows the damage to the tree to cumulate over time. An estimated 10% of almond acreage is salt impacted and an additional 30% is at immediate risk. Research was conducted to investigate how NaCl applications affect the plant water status of almond trees. It was hypothesized that addition of salts would decrease stem water potential over time. The experiment consisted of two trees: one under balanced nutritional conditions and the other under salinity stress. Five leaves were collected from each tree around noon daily and stem water potential of each leaf is measured using a pressure chamber. Data collected showed that there was no significant decrease of stem water potential for the first 10 days. However, stem water potential values after 10 days showed a decreasing trend. Results were consistent with the hypothesis after 10 days of NaCl applications. Addition of salts indeed decreases stem water potential over time. Different salt concentration may be applied to evaluate the change in almond tree growth and yield in the future. Ion toxicity of almond trees may also be investigated by comparing the effect of polyethylene glycol and sodium chloride.

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