DETECTING SWIMMER’S ITCH IN FLATHEAD LAKE
The DNA of the swimmer’s itch parasite, Trichobilharzia ocellata, is detected from the snail, Lymnaea stagnalis, near shores of Flathead Lake. Studying the life cycle and early detection of the parasite within snails will lead to better surveillance and hopefully to management or control of this parasite.
TRIBAL ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH FOR TRADITIONAL LIFESTYLES (TERTL)
Many tribes are promoting the movement back to traditional foods as a way to improve the health of their members. At TERTL, we use the state-of-the-art instrumentation of the SKC Environmental Chemistry Lab to determine if these foods are contaminated by environmental pollutants and if they now pose a risk to the consumer. In particular, we have been analyzing traditional foods, and monitoring the people who eat them, for the presence of heavy metals, e.g., mercury, arsenic and selenium.
Toxins can be found throughout nature. We are developing methods to chemically define the toxicity of certain environments. These projects are important to evaluate the levels of toxins in living systems.
EXTREMOPHILES FROM THE BERKELEY PIT
Hansenula anomala is an extremophile organism that lives at a pH of 2.5 in a slurry of metals from mining waste. We are characterizing this organism for its growth requirements and metal tolerance to better understand extremophiles.
IMMUNOLOGICAL RESPONSES BY MAMMALIAN CHITINASE-LIKE PROTEINS
Humans have chitinase and chitinase like enzymes and proteins respectively. It is unknown as to why humans have these. One theory is that they are involved in the immune response to parasitic infection or infection by organisms with a chitin cell wall. Studies will include real-time PCR reactions to test the up or down regulation of immunological factors in response to inflammatory and chitinase stimuli.