Tag Archives: Agriculture

Large-scale Mud Diapirism in the Eocene Green River Formation of Southwest Wyoming

Jason Klimek, Brigham Young University

Recent outcrop observations have revealed a large mud diapir that measures roughly 90 meters in diameter in the Wilkins Peak Member of the Green River Formation of southwest Wyoming. The diapir is exposed within outcrop of the younger Laney Member of the Green River Formation, locally deforming sands within the Laney Member around the margins. Continued analysis of satellite images revealed the existence of a second, smaller diapir 3.9 kilometers to the east. Mud diapirs and soft sediment deformation structures are common within the Green River Formation, and have been attributed by others to paleoseismic events, but are typically much smaller in scale. Within the diapirs, deformed but well-preserved bedding is common in much of the surface exposure, while other portions of the diapir are characterized by large, matrix supported, angular carbonate clasts. In both expressions, strata are dominated by thinly bedded dolomicrictic mudstones with common siliceous diagenetic veins based on XRF analysis and thin section evaluation. Along the margin of the diapirs, intra-diapiric strata are dominated by highly brecciated facies, suggesting stress was differentially concentrated along the margins of the diapir. Syntectonically deformed, coarse-grained sandstones bordering much of the larger diapir change dip from up to 50o at the interface with the diapir to near-horizontal, regional dip within 30 meters of the contact. This syndepositional, halokinetic deformation of channelized sands, along with the coherency of beds within the diapir and the similar ages of the diapir and host rock strata, indicates that diapirism occurred very soon after deposition of the Wilkins Peak Member. This suggests that this could be a larger sedimentary expression of a hypothesized paleoseismic event responsible for dewatering and deforming Green River strata in the region.

The Role of the Deep Brine layer in Mercury cycling within the Great Salt Lake

Christine Rumsey, Andrew Piskadlo, Adele Reynolds, Ryan Rowland, Shu Yang, Bill Johnson, Anna Robert, Gaurav Pandey, Westminster College

The Great Salt Lake (GSL) in Utah is one of the largest hypersaline lakes in the world, and is used by millions of migrating birds each year. The GSL also has some of the highest concentrations of mercury (Hg), which is a neurotoxin, of any natural water body globally. The south arm (SA) of the GSL perennially had a stratified water column, consisting of a lower salinity upper brine layer (UBL) and a higher salinity, anoxic deep brine layer (DBL). The highest concentrations of Hg in the GSL are found in the DBL, which is formed by the flow of denser, higher salinity water from the north arm (NA) into the SA, where it sinks and does not mix with the UBL. The closure of culverts in 2013 prevented this flow of water, which eventually resulted in the DBL vanishing. A new bridge built in 2016 has recently allowed for water to again flow from the NA to the SA, creating conditions needed for the reestablishment of the DBL. To evaluate the effect of the disappearance and reformation of the DBL on Hg cycling in the GSL, we measured total mercury (HgT) in filtered and unfiltered surface and deep waters at 6 sites monthly in 2017. We observed stratification of the SA in spring due to freshwater inputs associated with spring runoff, followed by wind driven mixing. In mid-summer this was followed by re-stratification when the DBL began to reform due to inflows of denser NA water. Concentrations of HgT in unfiltered surface waters decreased during the spring and summer, while HgT in filtered surface waters did not change in the spring and increased during the summer. HgT concentrations in deep waters were notably lower than before 2014 prior to the disappearance of the DBL. Elevated HgT in deep waters were measured at multiple sites during dates when depth profiles of dissolved oxygen and salinity provided evidence of water column stratification and reformation of the DBL. HgT concentrations in deep waters increased during the late summer at more northern sites, coincident with increased salinity and decreased oxygen at depth, indicative of the reformation of the DBL. Such conditions were not measured in the southern sites, where concentrations of HgT in deep waters remained low. Our results document the beginning stages of the reformation of the DBL and the influence this has on HgT levels in the lake.

Altered Feeding Behavior and Viral Detection in Honey Bees Exposed to Organosilicone Surfactants

Matthew Thompson, Utah State University

Honey bees play an important role in agriculture and the decline of honey bee populations worldwide has generated concern. While the application of pesticides in agricultural settings is often implicated in the deterioration of honey bee population health, pesticide applications contain more than just pesticides; they also contain adjuvants that may have detrimental effects to bee health. One known effect of these adjuvants is the increase of viral load in larvae exposed to OSS. We investigate the effects of one class of inert pesticide adjuvant, organosilicone surfactants (OSS), on adult honey bee health. In a laboratory based bioassay, adult honey bees were fed various concentrations of an OSS (Xiameterå¨ OFX-0309), alone and with a pesticide (Alticorå¨) and a fungicide (Tiltå¨). While survival of the bees was not affected by feeding regimes, bees ate significantly less diet on average if they were fed OSS at certain concentrations‰ÛÓindicating that bees that are exposed to these chemicals may suffer due to low food consumption. We then extracted RNA from the bioassay bees to determine viral profiles in bees from each feeding treatment. We used a strand-specific RNA library prep kit and subsequent sequencing to determine the identity of viruses present in the adult honey bees as well as the degree of their replication.

Micropropagation of Capsicum Annuum

Samantha Beck, Utah Valley University


Capsicum annuum (hot chili pepper) originated in Central and South America but due to its many economically important characteristics this species is now used all throughout the world in many varied applications. Encompassing many diverse varieties, each with distinctive beneficial characteristics such as spiciness (pungency), this species has become a focal point for research. The “pungency” is due to its secondary metabolites called Capasaicinoids (Capsaicin and Dihydrocapsaicin among others); making these varieties useful in food products and the pharmaceutical industry. Metabolites from C. annuum have shown to be effective against inflammation, pain, psoriasis, high cholesterol, atherosclerosis and other ailments. Evidence also has shown that these secondary metabolites (Capasaicinoids) trigger cell suicide in prostate cancer cell lines. Micropropagation of this important species is crucial for breeding programs, analysis of secondary metabolites, propagation at industrial level and development of research in different fields. This research evaluates the effects of different plant growth regulators on the embryogenesis and organogenesis of three varieties of pepper: Jalapeno, Cayenne and Thai. Reliable organogenesis and embryogenesis methods in these varieties have not been published. Our results show that callus growth was stimulated in these varieties with MS media amended with 5μM BAP (6-Benzylaminopurine) and 2.5μM 2,4-D (2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic). The response to fruit extract on callus growth was evaluated; the Jalapeno variety responded positively to the addition of fruit extract whereas the Thai variety did not show induction of callus. Additional effects of different concentrations of growth regulators and different medium on embryogenesis and organogenesis will be described. This research provides valuable information that can be used by researchers and commercial propagators.

The Induction of Polyploidy in Agastache Plants

Ryan Graham and Bryson Ensign, Brigham Young University


Agastache is an aromatic flowering plant closely related to the mint family. Most species are 0.5-3m tall with toothededged leaves covering the stem. Agastache is commonly found in landscaping, but can become quite noxious because of the abundance of seed produced in each flower head. Here we used an antimitotic agent, trifluralin, to induce polyploidy in Agastache seedlings with the foresight of creating a sterile version of the plant. Putative polyploids were checked for chromosomal content via flow cytometry. Our data show that trifluralin treatment is a potentially successful method for inducing polyploidy in Agastache. Further, among the positively identified polyploids, we have noticed suggestive patterns of sterility. However, further research needs to be conducted to confirm this finding. For now, we are able to present an effective method for inducing polyploidy in Agastache and, potentially, other plant species.

Expression of Cdk5r1, and Not Cdk5, Induces Primary β-cell Pro liferation

Carrie Draney and Amanda Hobson, Brigham Young University


Decreased β-cell mass is a hallmark of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. The use of islet transplantation as a diabetes therapy is hampered by the relative paucity of transplant ready islets. Greater understanding of the proliferative pathways controlling islet proliferation may be harnessed to increase functional β-cell mass through transplantation or by enhanced growth of endogenous β-cells. We have shown that the β-cell transcription factor Nkx6.1 induces β-cell proliferation by upregulating the orphan nuclear hormone receptors Nr4a1 and Nr4a3. Using expression analysis to elucidate the Nkx6.1 independent mechanism by which Nr4a1 and Nr4a3 induce β-cell proliferation, we demonstrated that cyclin-dependent kinase 5 regulatory subunit 1 (Cdk5r1) is upregulated by Nr4a1 and Nr4a3 and not Nkx6.1. Adenovirus mediated overexpression of Cdk5r1 is sufficient to induce proliferation in primary rat islets. The observed proliferation is primarily in β-cells. Glucose stimulated insulin secretion is maintained with Cdk5r1 overexpression. The Cdk5 inhibitor, roscovitine, blocks islet proliferation, suggesting that Nr4a mediated β-cell proliferation is a kinase dependent event. Overexpression of Cdk5r1 results in pRb phosphorylation, which is inhibited by roscovitine treatment. These data demonstrate that activation of the Cdk5 complex is sufficient to induce β-cell proliferation while maintaining glucose stimulated insulin secretion.

Micropropagation studies of Calochortus species

María Velasco, Utah Valley University


Calochortus is a plant genus that includes approximately 60 species distributed in North America with great ornamental and ethnotobanical value. Sego lily, mariposa lily and other common names have been used to describe the different species of Calochortus. Native Americans and settlers have used the bulbs as food, either raw or ground into flour and cooked. C. nuttallii played an important role in the success of colonization of Utah. Between 1840 and 1851 the scarcity of food due to a plague of crickets led to the pioneers to dig for the bulbous roots of sego lily, ensuring the survival of the pioneer population. This research studies the effects of Gibberellic acid on the germination and elongation of these species in vivo and in vitro. Eight different species of Calochortus are being utilized for this experiment to evaluate the effect of this growth regulator on the germination of these species. Different types of media are being tested to evaluate the optimal in vitro conditions that these species require for germination and growth. In addition embryogenesis and organogenesis is being induced by using Benzyl Amino Purine and 2,4-Dichlorophenoxyacetic acid at different concentrations. Sego Lily is the State flower of Utah; micropropagating this plant will allow us to understand and research new methods and conditions to grow these species successfully, making preservation possible since some Calochortus species have been listed as endangered. In addition, other species such as Calohortus ambiguous (Doubting Mariposa Lily), which is distributed in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, will also benefit from the system developed in this research because they are closely related to Sego Lily (C. nuttallii). The long term goal of this research is to establish an appropriate micropropagation system for a wide variety of Calochortus species.