"I wanted to further my studies of autolysis in Streptococcus mutans, especially now that the investigative emphasis is immunologic. Autolysis, prokaryotic programmed cell death, is barely understood, and it seems the physiology is specific to each organism; I'm excited to work on this body of knowledge from its foundation. This year, I hope to, well, have fun with my classes and graduate in the Spring; then, I should be off to study medicine."
Microbiology and Cell Science
Science of all sorts!
- HHMI Undergraduate Research Scholarship (2010)
- Haven Hospice
- UF Alzheimer's Outreach
I volunteer at Haven Hospice.
Hobbies and Interests
- Tennis, reading, video games, food, performing, listening and writing music
Human Plasma's Role in Mediating Streptococcus Mutans Biofilm Architecture in a Heart Valve Model
Streptococcus mutans is an oral commensal bacteria that is the primary cause of dental caries. Although its niche is the oral cavity, S. mutans has been isolated as the cause of infective endocarditis of cardiac valves. Routine oral care can break oral epithelium causing transient bacteremia responsible for vegetations, fibrin-platelet complexes embedded with bacteria, on previously damaged heart valves. S. mutans virulence depends on biofilm, an aggregate of cells adherent to a solid surface via secreted polymers. Studying biofilm architecture, formation, and maturation in environments similar to the heart’s will enhance the model of pathogensis for S. mutans-induced infective endocarditis. Lrg and cid operons, identified as important regulators of autolysis in S. mutans in both planktonic and biofilm phenotypes, were hypothesized to affect biofilm architecture. Preliminary data from static biofilms of S. mutans UA159, ∆lrgA, ∆lrgB, and ∆lrgAB analyzed with 3D confocal microscopy reveal differences in average biofilm thickness, biomass, roughness coefficient, and surface-to-volume ratio after 48 hour incubation at 5% v/v carbon dioxide and 37 Celsius. S. mutans UA159 and the isogenic lrg mutants aforementioned will be grown in flow cells supplying minimal biofilm media in addition to human plasma. These biofilms will be LIVE/DEAD stained and analyzed with 3D confocal microscopy to assess biofilm thickness, biomass, roughness coefficient, and surface-to-volume ratio. Although it is known that AtlA processing increases with greater calcium ion concentration, the resulting biofilm architecture is unknown, of interest, and will be assessed as mentioned. A temporal-spatial analysis of the biofilm will rely on the subcloning of GFP-lrg promoter fusions into S. mutans before recording the fluoresence over time. To identify transcriptional fluctations, all strains will be grown planktonically in matching environmental conditions to provide RNA for northern blotting and qRT-PCR.