Current-Year Manuscripts

Transactions of the Illinois State Academy of Science [Volume 110 (2017)]

Floristic Composition and Structure of Two Dry Sand Prairies at Sand Ridge State Forest, Mason County, Illinois

Authors: Loy R. Phillippe, Paul B.. Marcum, Daniel T. Busemeyer, Mary Ann Feist, William E. McClain, and John E. Ebinger (110-03MS2105Final)

Burns and Quiver prairies, located about 3 km apart, are dry sand prairies in small forest openings on ridges and swales of large stabilized dunes at Sand Ridge State Forest, Mason County, Illinois. Dominant species were nearly identical on both prairies. Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem) had an importance value of 40.1 on Quiver Prairie and 35.7 on Burns Prairie. Tephrosia virginiana (goat’s-rue), Opuntia humifusa (common prickly pear), and Ambrosia psilostachya (western ragweed) were among the top five species on both prairies. Other common grasses were Dichanthelium villosissimum (hairy panic grass) on both prairies and D. depauperatum (panic grass) on Quiver Prairie. Both prairies, less than 5 ha in size, are situated in forest openings and are subjected to extensive woody encroachment. The C-value and FQI for all native species for Burns Prairie was 3.93 and 35.8 respectively with 13 species having a CC of 7 or greater.  For Quiver Prairie the C-value was 4.25 and the FQI was 38.0 with 15 species having a CC of 7 or more. Prescribed burns at irregular intervals have reduced woody encroachment, but more effort is needed as trees species, particularly oaks and Junperus virginiana (red cedar) are becoming more common.

Comparative Analysis of Alternansucrase Genes from Leuconostoc Strains

Author: Scott Michael Holt (110-02MS1787Final)

Alternansucrase from the bacterial genus Leuconostoc catalyzes the synthesis of alternan, which has many commercial applications. A comparative analysis was performed to build a consensus of molecular features for gene sequences previously annotated as “alternansucrase.” Alternansucrase genes from L. citreum isolates formed a distinct clade among glucansucrases.  The clade had identical predicted gene and protein size. Amino acid sequence features for the signal peptide, key regions within the catalytic domain, and C-terminal repeat structures were also nearly identical for the clade. Alternansucrase gene from L. fallax, however, is more distantly related and possesses features that are clearly distinct from the clade group. Consequently, the gene from L. fallax appears atypical and should be designated so when annotated as an “alternansucrase.” With tremendous influx of new sequence information due to next generation sequencing technology accurate annotation of gene function becomes extremely important particularly for genome mining applications. This study provided a consensus of molecular features for “alternansucrase” that should be considered during annotation of sequence information.

Masticatory and Brux-like Motor Patterns in the Freely Behaving Rat: Electromyography and Phase Analysis

Authors: Jaclyn E Taylor, J Devin Wall, Dan B Welch (110-01MS1776Final)

Our objective was to develop an experimental platform to examine brainstem commands, and trigeminal neural networks that underlie activation and switching of masticatory and brux-like motor patterns of the jaw. This characterization could help us understand the underlying mechanisms of human bruxism. Sixteen male rats (200-224 g) had EMGs implanted into right superficial masseter (mass: jaw closing, n=16), temporalis (temp: jaw closing, n=8), and anterior digastric (dig: jaw opening, n=8) muscles. We conducted a dual-referent phase analysis in order to assess coordination. We used Rayleigh test to discriminate between uniform and unimodal-clustered phase distributions, and Williams F-test to determine if mean angles differed significantly. We found: 1) Phase differences between jaw closing muscles, the temp and mass (p<.05). During a brux-like event, temp and mass fire almost simultaneously. However, during mastication the onset for the EMG burst for the temp occurs after the onset for the mass muscle. 2) Phase differences between jaw opening (dig) and jaw closing (mass) muscles. During mastication we can observe an alternation of jaw opening and jaw closing muscles (p<.05). However, during a brux-like event, dig and mass exhibit co-contraction. 3) Brux-like motor patterns elicit shorter, more rapid bursts (p<.05), and occurred at a cycle frequency higher than the masticatory patterns (p<.05).