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IGBB News & Research Highlights

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Renita Horton

June 22, 2017
IGBB AFFILIATE RENITA HORTON EXPLORES THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SICKLE CELL ANEMIA & HEART DISEASE

The research of one of the IGBB's newest affiliates, Dr. Renita Horton, is the focus of a new article featured on the MSU website. Dr. Horton, an assistant professor in the of the Department of Agricultural & Biological Engineering, is looking at the relationship between sickle cell anemia and cardiovascular disease. The IGBB has helped fund some of Dr. Horton's work. "Renita is an amazing individual. She is so sharp and has so many good ideas. I am glad that the IGBB has had the opportunity to help Dr. Horton in her noble pursuit of helping those who suffer from sickle cell lead longer, fuller lives." For the full research article, click here.


Kelsey Stewart

May 19, 2017
IGBB WELCOMES MS. KELSEY STEWART AS ITS NEW GRANTS & CONTRACTS MANAGER

Kelsey Stewart recently was hired to serve as the IGBB's new Grants & Contracts manager (GCM). In her GCM role, Ms. Stewart will work with prinicipal investigators to submit compliant grant proposals through the IGBB or in collaboration with the IGBB. Additionally, Ms. Stewart will be in charge of IGBB accounting including financial management of the IGBB's Service Center.

Kelsey, a Mississippi native, received a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) degree from MSU in 2013 and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2016. While an undergrad, Ms. Stewart worked for the Office of Research & Economic Development at MSU. After completion of her MBA, Kelsey was hired as Project Coordinator for the Alliance for System Safety of UAS (unmanned aircraft systems) through Research Excellence (ASSURE), a multi-institutional project led by MSU and affiliated with MSU's High Performance Computing Collaboratory (HPC2).

"We are excited to have Kelsey as part of the IGBB team," noted Dr. Daniel G. Peterson, IGBB Director. "Ms. Stewart has a fantastic academic credentials as well as a history of working with the HPC2. She is a consummate professional and eager to take on the challenges of working for a multi-disciplinary institute."

Ms. Stewart began working for the IGBB on May 15.


Federico Hoffmann

November 14, 2016
IGBB FACULTY AFFILIATE'S RESEARCH FEATURED IN "SCIENCE" ARTICLE

Adapted from article by Vanessa W. Beeson, Agriculture & Natural Resources Marketing, Mississippi State University

The unexpected findings of a two-nation research team including a Mississippi State scientist are featured in a recent edition of a leading academic journal.

Genetic adaptations of hummingbirds to life at high altitudes where oxygen is less available are the focus of the recent report in SCIENCE authored by Federico G. Hoffmann, in collaboration with academic partners in the U.S. and Denmark.

Hoffmann is an assistant professor in the university's Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Plant Pathology and an affiliate of the Institute for Genomics, Biocomputing & Biotechnology. Hoffman said the team's findings could have further implications in the field of evolutionary biology.

"This work helps us to better understand that there are multiple ways in which evolution solves problems," the specialist in bioinformatics said.

The research project was funded by grants from the U.S. National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and Danish Council for Independent Research. The article may be read here.

Hoffman's colleagues included Chandrasekhar Natarajan and Jay F. Storz from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Roy E. Weber and Angela Fago from Aarhus University in Denmark, and Christopher C. Witt from the University of New Mexico.

SCIENCE, a peer-reviewed publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is devoted to the weekly presentation of research papers "that are most influential in their fields or across fields, and that will significantly advance scientific understanding." For more, visit the Science website.

Hoffman explained that the team successfully gained insight into the evolutionary process of natural selection by studying hummingbirds and several other avian species that live at both low and high altitudes. Weighing less than a nickel but having the highest metabolic rate of any vertebrate, hummingbirds have adapted over time to surviving in mountainous regions.

A Texas Tech University doctoral graduate, he said the research "shows that we can predict how species with similar starting points are going to adapt to each environment. If the starting points are dissimilar, the process of natural selection becomes much more difficult to predict."

In their study featured in the journal's Oct. 21 issue, Hoffman describes how team members focused on hemoglobin in 28 pairs of high- and low-altitude lineages of bird species to determine how different species evolve. Hemoglobin is a red blood cell protein that carries oxygen throughout a body.

While hemoglobin from species adapted for life at high altitudes had a higher affinity for oxygen, researchers found that genetic paths leading to those hemoglobin adaptations varied. Using computational methods, they were able to travel back in time 100 million years by reconstructing protein present in the birds' ancestors.

Jeffrey F.D. Dean, professor and head of the Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Entomology and Plant Pathology, said the study is significant and a "powerful piece of work that contributes to our fundamental understanding of evolutionary biology."

"By focusing on a key component in adaptation - hemoglobin and its role as an oxygen carrier - Dr. Hoffmann and his colleagues were able to infer the ancestral form of this protein despite the random nature of the evolutionary process," Dean said.

Hoffmann also is part of the research team at the MSU-based Mississippi Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. He is an alumnus of the Universidad de la Republica Uruguay, with bachelor's and master's degrees completed, respectively, in biology and zoology.

His post-doctoral fellowships in molecular evolution and bioinformatics were completed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Instituto Carlos Chagas, Brazil's equivalent to the National Institutes of Health in the U.S.
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Recent Publications


Ulyshen MD, Diehl SV, Jeremic D (2016) Termites and flooding affect microbial communities in decomposing wood. International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation 115: 83-89.
IMPACT FACTOR: 2.131
PMID: 
DOI: 10.1016/j.ibiod.2016.07.017

Adams MJ, Lefkowitz EJ, King AM, Harrach B, Harrison RL, Knowles NJ, Kropinski AM, Krupovic M, Kuhn JH, Mushegian AR, Nibert M, Sabanadzovic S, Sanfacon H, Siddell SG, Simmonds P, Varsani A, Zerbini FM, Gorbalenya AE, Davison AJ (2016) Ratification vote on taxonomic proposals to the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (2016). Archives of Virology 161(10): 2921-2949.
IMPACT FACTOR: 2.39
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Wang T, Zhao M, Rotgans BA, Ni G, Dean JF, Nahrung HF, Cummins SF (2016) Proteomic analysis of the venom and venom sac of the woodwasp, Sirex noctilio - Towards understanding its biological impact. Journal of Proteomics 146: 195-206.
IMPACT FACTOR: 3.888
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Tice AK, Silberman JD, Walthall AC, Le KN, Spiegel FW, Brown MW (2016) Sorodiplophrys stercorea: Another Novel Lineage of Sorocarpic Multicellularity. Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology 63(5): 623-628.
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Kumar P, He Y, Singh R, Davis RF, Guo H, Paterson AH, Peterson DG, Shen X, Nichols RL, Chee PW (2016) Fine mapping and identification of candidate genes for a QTL affecting Meloidogyne incognita reproduction in Upland cotton. BMC Genomics 17: 567.
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