Mitchell secures professional development monies for study

Amelia Mitchell, Instructor in Biology at Penn State Greater Allegheny, is conducting research on the differences in death rate and survivorship among wood frogs with genes and groups of genes structured for enzymatic proteins when exposed to copper.

One of the goals of Ms. Mitchell's project is to find a marker which can be used to evaluate the extent of the impact of copper and other heavy metals on the bodies of water where the frogs are located.

After collecting tadpoles from ponds in Washington County, research will be conducted in the biology laboratory at Penn State Greater Allegheny where the sample tadpoles will be allowed to adjust to laboratory conditions for approximately 48 hours before the range testing is conducted. During this range finding testing, Ms. Mitchell will identify the concentration of copper needed to produce an approximate 80% mortality rate among the sample frogs.

After establishing a control group of her samples, the tadpoles collected will be monitored for a 96-hour period. The dead and surviving tadpoles will undergo analysis by electrophoresis (the movement of suspended particles through a fluid or gel under the action of an electromotive force applied to electrodes in contact with the suspension.)

Tissue sample will also be analyzed to identify the genetic structure for four enzymatic proteins. During this analysis, genotypes and allele (groupings of genes that occur alternatively at a given locus) will be studied to determine and compare frequencies between the dead and surviving wood frogs .

Analysis of variance tests will also compare each frog's time of death compared to their genotype for each enzymatic location.

Ms. Mitchell hopes to publish her findings as the final part of the professional development opportunity afforded her by the award.