MU Bond Life Sciences Center investigator Cheryl Rosenfeld is studying the impact of BPA on painted turtles in collaboration with scientists from MU, the St. Louis Zoo, the U.S. Geological Survey and Westminster College. These turtles and many amphibians are extremely sensitive to environmental contaminants and may indicate wider issues from certain types of environmental contaminants.
Bisphenol-A (BPA) and other estrogenic compounds are becoming increasingly prevalent in the environment. More than 8 billion tons of BPA are produced each year in manufacturing, and pharmaceutical compounds like ethinyl estradiol make their way into rivers and streams. They can affect the sexual and cognitive development of animals.
Division of Plant Sciences and Bond LSC investigators Jack Schultz and Heidi Appel have been awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation to unravel the mystery of how an insect pest gets the better of the world’s – and Missouri’s – most valuable fruit crop. Grape phylloxera is an insect that infests grapevine leaves and roots, reducing the plant’s production and cutting off its water supply. The insect somehow convinces the plant to construct a complex home and feeding site around itself, called a gall. Many kinds of insects can cause plants to create galls, but no one knows how they do it. Clues suggest that the insect uses chemical signals to alter the activity of genes needed to develop these unique organs. The Schultz/Appel team, helped by collaborators at the University of Florida, will identify grapevine genes the insect manipulates to form a gall. Not only will this solve a long-standing mystery about the galling process, but it will also offer the grape/wine industry a means of identifying resistant vines. Missouri saved the world’s wine industry once before, by exporting phylloxera-resistant vines. This research project offers a second opportunity to defeat this scourge of the vineyard.