Biochemistry Research

Biochemistry Research

Jacob S

Elements of a Stream Study

Student Researcher: Jacob Soccio
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Sandra Turchi

Streams are the pathways that transport water through a watershed. They are also critical to the healthy functioning of the watershed and the myriad of habitats found downstream. Streams provide flood control, trap sediments, recycle nutrients, provide habitats for biological communities, and sustain high water quality. These and other qualities of streams benefit the people living within the watershed. We will investigate a rural stream that empties into the Juniata river by examining some of its physical, and chemical characteristics.


Lindsey

Study of Enzyme Activity Using Sugar Substitutes

Student Researcher: Lindsey Weidlick
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Sandra Turchi

Streptococcus mutans is a bacterium that inhabits the oral cavity of humans and is a main contributor in tooth decay. Using only sucrose, Streptococcus mutans is able to produce a sticky dextran-based polysaccharide which permits the bacteria to cohere to one another, as well as the tooth enamel, forming plaque. Glycosyltransferase (Gtase) is an extracellular enzyme synthesized by S. mutans that allows for the synthesis of water-soluble, adherent glucans from sucrose. The S. mutans also metabolize sucrose and other sugars (glucose, fructose, lactose) and, as a result, produce lactic acid. This acid, combined with the formation of plaque, leads to the breakdown or destruction of tooth enamel. The dextran synthesized by S. mutans is most often a complex, branched glucan (polysaccharide made of many glucose molecules) composed of chains of varying length with α- 1,6 glycosidic linkages and branched α- 1,3 glycosidic linkages. There are two forms of dextrans: water-soluble and water- insoluble. This experiment is going to examine the effect of different sugar mediums on the growth of Streptococcus mutans. The ultimate goal is to isolate the enzyme glycosyltransferase, which is involved in the production of the sticky polysaccharides, from positive growth mediums of S. mutans and examine how this enzyme works using these compounds as a carbon source. This research experiment will allow me to gain better experience with specific laboratory procedures, learn how to work independently on a project and prepare myself for graduate school whether it is in the field of dentistry or biomedical research.