My research program is an exploration of how environmental stressors affect molecular mechanisms. I have considerable research experience utilizing modern methods of analysis to identify biomarkers in various animal models. My research program is unique however, the work we do complements research ongoing at Acadia University and expands upon current research in animal stress. Thus, this plan can be adapted for different animal models depending on availability and collaborative interests. From the protein perspective my interests lie within the field of environmental proteomics or the study of protein changes in response to environmental effects.
Our current suite of animal models include sea stars, zebra fish, Leach's Storm Petrels, striped bass, squid, frogs, white-tailed deer, zebra fish and sea stars. Each of these model systems is being explored to identify differential gene expression of immune related gens and to identify protein biomarkers of stress.
With generous funding grants from the Nova Scotia Business Institute we are continuing our work with industrial partners on the South Shore of Nova Scotia
An exciting project is a collaboration with the Walker lab exploring novel yeasts in the Nova Scotia environment. See https://lighthousenow.ca/article.php?title=Saltbox_brews_up_a_plan_with_Acadia_University
Our white-tailed deer stress study is producing some interesting results. For more details on the project follow the link to my interview with Information Mornings' Don Connolly about this project (www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/deer-liver-research-acadia-university-nova-scotia-1.3839758).
And of course we continue to explore novel parasites in fish with collaborators Eric Leis from Iowa and Dr. David Cone in Nova Scotia. With another paper accepted with revisions we await word on our latest submission.
Our goal for exploring epidermal mucus proteins in striped bass following catch-and-release is to identify biomarkers which can be used as stress indicators. We will correlate these markers with duration of handling following removal from the water. In the Bay of Fundy the striped bass (Morone saxitalis) is designated as endangered (COSEWIC, 2012). Environmental stressors such as temperature and anthropomorphic effects including handling during angling can negatively affect striped bass and thus affect mortality and population conservation. Even with the best intentions catch and release programs with striped bass has shown increased mortality, physiological disturbances, behavioural alterations and fitness impairments. However, these earlier studies have not recorded the amount of stress that striped bass are subjected to. In order to determine the effect of environmental stressors on striped bass we can explore the use of biomarkers (mucus proteins) that can be used as stress indicators. Thus our main goals are to 1) understand the effect of angling stress on striped bass and 2) identify and quantify useful biomarkers of stress that can be obtained through non-invasive sampling.
I am continuing my collaboration with Dr. Shelley Adamo at Dalhousie University (http://myweb.dal.ca/sadamo/). In the Adamo lab we are exploring differential gene regulation in tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta) in response to food limitation and parasite induced stress.
And of course we continue to explore novel parasites in fish with collaborators Eric Leis from Wisconsin and Dr. David Cone in Nova Scotia. With another paper accepted with revisions we await word on our latest submission.
With generous funding grants from the Nova Scotia Business Institute we are continuing our work with industrial partners on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. One project explores model fish species with the intent to isolate bioactive compounds from the epidermal mucus. Another project explores identification of wild yeasts from the Nova Scotian environment in order to 'create' a truly Nova Scotian brew. See https://lighthousenow.ca/article.php?title=Saltbox_brews_up_a_plan_with_Acadia_University
Past Honours Projects
Project title : A phylogenetic classification of Nova Scotia squid species based on cytochrome b, cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) and 18S rDNA genes
Project title: Identifying Changes in Epidermal Mucus Proteins of Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis) as a Consequence of Angling Stress
Project title: Influence of epidermal mucus proteins from green frogs, infected by Hepatozoon clamatae, on attraction of the mosquito, Culex territans
Project title: Prevention of Anthracycline-Induced Cardiotoxicity (ACT) in a Zebrafish Model
Project title: A Phylogenetic Analysis of the Spread of Black Queen Cell Virus through Wild Bees in Canada
Project title: The role of platelets in thromboelastographic measurements of human plasma and whole blood
Project title: Exploring the microphthalmia-associated family of transcription factors
Leah MacLean: Exploring the genetic basis of autoimmune disease through the differential expression of foxp3 in zebrafish (Danio rerio) following an increase in dietary sodium
Gillian Johnstone: Exploring stress biomarkers in an avian model
Alexia Hawkey-Noble: The use of antimicrobial growth promoters in farm raised Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) feed and antimicrobial resistance among flora vs. wild type atlantic salmon
Jessica Fahey: The identification of surface proteins of thermotolerant Campylobacter species recognized by a monoclonal antibody m1169