Do your research

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Congratulations to Sarah Hagans whose poster was accepted at the Blue Ridge Undergraduate Research Conference.  Most S3′s are working on their  research projects now, but Sarah became interested in this project and wanted to begin last fall so she has a bit of a head start.

Here is the abstract of her poster:

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“It has been reported that some species of spiders are fluorescent, however very little is known about the evolutionary significance or the chemical nature of fluorescent compounds in Opiliones. These specimens were captured using black light in Cusuco National Park, Honduras.  They glowed most intensely under ultraviolet (UV) light. The fluorescence was localized to specific pattern on the carapace and was distributed intensely throughout the palps. It appears that the legs are somewhat fluorescent, although hairs on the legs may mask the fluorescence to some extent.  Carapace, palps, and legs from 39 specimens were homogenized half in phosphate buffered saline (PBS) and the other half in 95% Ethanol, and the extracts were monitored for fluorescence using a fluorescence plate reader and TLC.  The results of this assay revealed the fluorescent compounds remained with insoluble material after PBS extraction but not in Ethanol.  Studies are ongoing to characterize the fluorophores and we plan to compare them to other fluorophores identified in other arachnids. We would like to summarize these preliminary findings in a poster presentation.”

We wish Sarah luck this weekend!

Contributed by Maria Siopsis, Co-director of the Scots Science Scholars

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