R.E. Peter Biology Conference

The Dr. Richard E. Peter Biology Conference is organized by the Biological Sciences Graduate Student Association to showcase the diverse research conducted by Biological Sciences students at the University of Alberta.The event consists of poster and oral presentations by senior undergraduate, M.Sc. and Ph.D. students from each of our six Research Interest Groups (Ecology, Molecular Biology & Genetics, Microbiology & Biotechnology, Plant Biology, Physiology & Cell Biology and Systematics & Evolution). This two-day event also includes keynote lectures from an invited speaker and a faculty member, a welcome reception, and a closing celebration at Deweys on campus. The conference is an excellent opportunity for students, supervisors, and other research staff to come together to learn and provide interdisciplinary feedback on all research ongoing in the Department. The conference website can be found at
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  1. Habitat Suitability Modelling for Passage Activity: A Cautionary Tale Using Mink [Download]

    Title: Habitat Suitability Modelling for Passage Activity: A Cautionary Tale Using Mink
    Creator: April Robin Martinig
    Description: While many studies have evaluated wildlife passage effectiveness, few have explored how accurately passage activity can be modelled. I created a habitat suitability index (HSI) model for American mink (Neovison vison) using Geographic Information Systems with 17 wildlife passages located in Quebec as validation for the model. Two questions were addressed: (1) How well can HSI modelling for mink determine passage activity? and (2) how sensitive are the models to different parameterizations? To test this, I assessed how well the HSI scores generated aligned with passage activity. A generalized linear model was used to test how well the model explained the variability in passage activity (counts). Uncertainty analysis revealed that the HSI model was sensitive to extreme changes in factor weights and scale. The predictive power of all models greatly improved after including aspects related to passage construction, with the pseudo-­‐R2 increasing between 64 – 73 %. These findings suggest that these HSI models are a poor predicator of passage use for mink, while wildlife passage characteristics are highly predictive. Transportation agencies would benefit from the ability to make informed planning decisions, however greater care is required to determine passage suitability. The proper implementation of these tools requires knowledge of not only habitat preferences, but also how movement is influenced by the wildlife passages themselves.
    Subjects: Mink, wildlife passages, connectivity, Habitat Suitability Index, Resource Selection Function, Quebec, Canada, mammals
    Date Created: 2017/01/31
  2. Omics-based bioactive and drug discovery in Bacillus spp. [Download]

    Title: Omics-based bioactive and drug discovery in Bacillus spp.
    Creator: Albert Remus Rosana
    Description: Several strains of Bacillus spp. were isolated from across Algeria, the largest African country. The strains were bioprospected from several economically-relevant environments such as oil-mining sites, salty lakes, coal mines, deserts and oil-contaminated water basins. Hundreds of isolates were extensively screened for extracellular enzyme and lipid-emulsifying properties and pathogen-inhibition activities. Potent strains were further subjected to both genomics and proteomics-metabolomics based-pipelines for gene-cluster and bioactive peptide discovery, respectively. Whole genome shotgun sequencing revealed new strains of Bacillus spp. namely: the insecticidal B. thuringensis; the biosurfactant-producing B. amyloliquefaciens; the bacteriocin-producing B. paralicheniformis; the food borne-pathogen B. cereus and the soil-borne pathogen B. anthacis. Cluster gene analyses revealed an extensive repertoire of secondary metabolite families encoded in the genome of these new Bacillus strains such as bacteriocins, terpenes, lassopeptides, lipopeptides, homoserine lactones, and siderophores. These bioinformatically predicted gene inventories were coupled with metabolomics platforms to confirm a number of biotechnologically relevant molecules. Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) and liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) identified several potent bioactives such as fengycins, lantipeptides and microcins with strong bactericidal activity against common food borne-pathogens such as E. coli, Salmonella and S. aureus. Here, we will present the direct biotechnological application of genomics and targeted metabolomics in microbial bioactive predictions and drug discovery.
    Subjects: Genomics, Proteomics, Targeted Metabolomics, Bioactives,
    Date Created: 2017/1/30
  3. Acinetobacter baumannii Capsule and Protein O-Glycosylation Share a Common Synthetic Pathway [Download]

    Title: Acinetobacter baumannii Capsule and Protein O-Glycosylation Share a Common Synthetic Pathway
    Creator: Robert Lees-Miller
    Subjects: Acinetobacter, Bacteria, Pathogenesis, Glycosylation, Capsular polysaccharide
    Date Created: 2013