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Nice new pictures, I really like them!

 

 

 

What kind of research are into?! I guess some kind of biology, but more specific ;) Nice place to find specimens! One reason why I would really like to go into comparative biology one day, so that I can go to "exotic" places and do fieldwork B)

 

 

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This summer I was granted an independent research project with the paleoecology lab at my university. Essentially I've been studying the chemistry of sporopollenin, a compound synthesized by all green plants and many algal lifeforms. It's main purpose is to ward off the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation and microbial attack. Because it is so tough it is readily found in the fossil record and lake sediments. I was out collecting sporangia from those sphagnum beds to investigate whether there is any evidence of chemotaxonomic diversity, or a difference in the structure of the sporopollenin molecule, between bryophytes (moss) and conifers (a pine tree on campus I collected pollen from). I've been treating the samples to break them down to pure sporopollenin--or as close as I can get anyway--and performing infrared spectroscopy on the residue. With the spectra I collect I might be able to do some form of quantitative analysis on the various samples I'm working with. That's the hope, anyway. If it all works out I'll have developed a new technique for deriving biomass proxy data from lake sediments which will be useful in the reconstruction of past environmental trends on a regional scale.

 

Oh, and that exotic locale was the outlying forest at a festival I went to in August :D

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This summer I was granted an independent research project with the paleoecology lab at my university. Essentially I've been studying the chemistry of sporopollenin, a compound synthesized by all green plants and many algal lifeforms. It's main purpose is to ward off the damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation and microbial attack. Because it is so tough it is readily found in the fossil record and lake sediments. I was out collecting sporangia from those sphagnum beds to investigate whether there is any evidence of chemotaxonomic diversity, or a difference in the structure of the sporopollenin molecule, between bryophytes (moss) and conifers (a pine tree on campus I collected pollen from). I've been treating the samples to break them down to pure sporopollenin--or as close as I can get anyway--and performing infrared spectroscopy on the residue. With the spectra I collect I might be able to do some form of quantitative analysis on the various samples I'm working with. That's the hope, anyway. If it all works out I'll have developed a new technique for deriving biomass proxy data from lake sediments which will be useful in the reconstruction of past environmental trends on a regional scale.

 

Oh, and that exotic locale was the outlying forest at a festival I went to in August :D

 

Interesting man, I have had some algae/plant courses during my studies where we have touched this subject on the surface, some interesting compounds out there... so much reverse engineering needs to be done so we can take advantage of them :D

But it really is weird that it is so hard to determine the composition, is it some kind of mass-spec u analyze it with (the technique u mentioned)?! But I guess in the purification process it's a good thing it's so durable?! But it sounds like it will take a while, will u continue with on a master thesis?!

 

@ Malevol3nt that girl does indeed look rather hot ;)

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That asian tour girl is hawt! And the frog pic would make for a great psy cover too!

Technically Iran is part of Asia :)

 

Interesting man, I have had some algae/plant courses during my studies where we have touched this subject on the surface, some interesting compounds out there... so much reverse engineering needs to be done so we can take advantage of them :D

But it really is weird that it is so hard to determine the composition, is it some kind of mass-spec u analyze it with (the technique u mentioned)?! But I guess in the purification process it's a good thing it's so durable?! But it sounds like it will take a while, will u continue with on a master thesis?!

 

@ Malevol3nt that girl does indeed look rather hot ;)

I think the difficulty in determining the structural composition of sporopollenin is entirely related to how resistant it is to breakdown. Using some rather severe methods you can break it up into bits and determine the elemental composition (so many carbon atoms, so many oxygens, and so on) but the structure? We've got some idea about it but no clear picture. Maybe no one has marshaled the resources necessary for a proper investigation but from what I've read it sounds like there is a technical limitation at work here.

 

The instrument I am using is an FTIR spectrometer. The idea here is that you bounce an infrared beam off your sample and the molecules absorb certain wavelengths that are associated with specific functional groups. This could be used to puzzle out the structure but for the work I am doing it is enough that specific patterns of absorbency act as molecular fingerprints. FTIR is commonly used for qualitative studies of specific compounds with reference to existing databases of spectra.

 

Anyway, it all makes my brain hurt... in a good way.

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Technically Iran is part of Asia Posted Image

 

 

 

I think the difficulty in determining the structural composition of sporopollenin is entirely related to how resistant it is to breakdown. Using some rather severe methods you can break it up into bits and determine the elemental composition (so many carbon atoms, so many oxygens, and so on) but the structure? We've got some idea about it but no clear picture. Maybe no one has marshaled the resources necessary for a proper investigation but from what I've read it sounds like there is a technical limitation at work here.

 

The instrument I am using is an FTIR spectrometer. The idea here is that you bounce an infrared beam off your sample and the molecules absorb certain wavelengths that are associated with specific functional groups. This could be used to puzzle out the structure but for the work I am doing it is enough that specific patterns of absorbency act as molecular fingerprints. FTIR is commonly used for qualitative studies of specific compounds with reference to existing databases of spectra.

 

Anyway, it all makes my brain hurt... in a good way.

 

Ahh I see, so u trying to map these different molecular fingerprints between spiecies?! Would help that u don't need to determine the exact structure. But I can't really get my head around why NMR or x-ray crystallography is not able to determine this, maybe it's just too big for these techniques not to work?!

But cool, I hope u find some way to break the problem :D so the brain-pain gets even sweeter! :P

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Honestly I don't know much about the other tools in the analytical chemistry lab. FTIR was recommended by another researcher out at the University of Alberta who had done some similar work with plant compounds. But no, divining the structure is not the purpose of this particular project. And the molecular fingerprinting of individual species would be cool but I'd wager that is unlikely. There might be chemotaxonomic diversity at a higher level--say, between conifers and bryophytes (i.e. moss), which is what I'm betting on. Won't know for another two weeks though--just finished processing some sediment today in preparation for acetolysis (another chemical treatment) next Tuesday.

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NMR and x-ray crystallography are normally used for protein structure determination, but both techniques has limitations (well of course) and think one as simple as size could be the answer, but I am no expert at all, I have friend though who is deeply involved in nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) (he even got a price for it :P). But is a very nice technique, but also hard to really grasp the total understanding of...

 

But I see what what u mean about specie separation, might not really be present/measurable on a this kind of detail level so ur more working on the division level, sounds more feasible as well!!! Well again I wish u luck!

 

(I will soon (when I have them taken) share some confocal imaging I have been working on for my master thesis in my picture thread, I hope whey will end up looking good, should be a tad "psychedelic" :P)

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