This subproject is one of many research subprojects utilizing the resources provided by a Center grant funded by NIH/NCRR. The subproject and investigator (PI) may have received primary funding from another NIH source, and thus could be represented in other CRISP entries. The institution listed is for the Center, which is not necessarily the institution for the investigator. The carrion beetles (Coleoptera: Silphidae) consist of two subfamilies in North America. Members of the Silphinae arrive at carcasses during the mid-stage of decay and their larvae feed on developing maggots, while members of the Nicrophorinae or burying beetles bury and tend carcasses upon which their developing larvae feed. It has been hypothesized that the anal and/or oral secretions from these insects are antimicrobial, although quantification has not been made. My laboratory has been able to quantify the antimicrobial activity of the Nicrophorinae oral secretions with the Microtox Analyzer, which measures bioluminescence of the bacterium, Vibrio fischerii. The antimicrobial activity of the Nicrophorinae appears to be proteinaceous in nature. The future research of my laboratory is to identify these proteins. We plan to use a combination of techniques. One route is to identify all of the enzymatic activity in the oral secretions. The experimental techniques used for this research is colorimetric assays. Another route to identify the antimicrobial compounds is to compare the one species of Nicrophorinae, Nicrophorus carolinus, which does not exhibit antimicrobial activity to Nicrophorus marginatus, which does have antimicrobial activity in their oral secretion and is the most common burying beetle in Nebraska. We plan on using a subtractive comparison of gel electrophoresis banding patterns to help identify possible antimicrobial compounds. Once differences are identified the proteins can be isolated from gels and identified by sequencing these proteins. There is potential that the proteins responsible for the antimicrobial activity are small peptides. If the antimicrobial compounds seem to be peptides, we will use a combination of Tris-tricine gels, HPLC, and GC mass spec to separate and identify the compounds. By identifying these antimicrobial compounds we are hopeful that these proteins may be useful in treating antibiotic-resistant microorganisms. We have almost completed the characterization of the enzymes found in the oral secretion of N. marginatus. We have used colorimetric assays and have found the presence of alkaline phosphatase, peroxidase, and peptidase. We have further characterized the peptidases and find aspartic proteases and cysteine proteases present in the oral secretion. This is not surprising as these enzymes are commonly found in insect oral secretion. Since we have completed the characterization of the enzymes, we are now beginning fractionation of the secretion. After basic fractionation using microcon spin tubes, we find the active fraction in the solution left in the tube. We now believe that the antimicrobial compound could be a larger protein rather than a peptide as first hypothesized. Our next step is to fractionate samples further with the HPLC.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Center for Research Resources (NCRR)
Exploratory Grants (P20)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRR1-RI-4 (01))
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Nebraska Medical Center
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Barta, Cody L; Liu, Huizhan; Chen, Lei et al. (2018) RNA-seq transcriptomic analysis of adult zebrafish inner ear hair cells. Sci Data 5:180005
Liu, Huizhan; Chen, Lei; Giffen, Kimberlee P et al. (2018) Cell-Specific Transcriptome Analysis Shows That Adult Pillar and Deiters' Cells Express Genes Encoding Machinery for Specializations of Cochlear Hair Cells. Front Mol Neurosci 11:356
Wehrkamp, Cody J; Natarajan, Sathish Kumar; Mohr, Ashley M et al. (2018) miR-106b-responsive gene landscape identifies regulation of Kruppel-like factor family. RNA Biol 15:391-403
Lopez, Wilfredo; Page, Alexis M; Carlson, Darby J et al. (2018) Analysis of immune-related genes during Nora virus infection of Drosophila melanogaster using next generation sequencing. AIMS Microbiol 4:123-139
Azadmanesh, Jahaun; Trickel, Scott R; Borgstahl, Gloria E O (2017) Substrate-analog binding and electrostatic surfaces of human manganese superoxide dismutase. J Struct Biol 199:68-75
Bonham-Carter, Oliver; Thapa, Ishwor; From, Steven et al. (2017) A study of bias and increasing organismal complexity from their post-translational modifications and reaction site interplays. Brief Bioinform 18:69-84
Donze-Reiner, Teresa; Palmer, Nathan A; Scully, Erin D et al. (2017) Transcriptional analysis of defense mechanisms in upland tetraploid switchgrass to greenbugs. BMC Plant Biol 17:46
Quispe, Cristian F; Esmael, Ahmed; Sonderman, Olivia et al. (2017) Characterization of a new chlorovirus type with permissive and non-permissive features on phylogenetically related algal strains. Virology 500:103-113
Gerald, Gary W; Thompson, Moriah M; Levine, Todd D et al. (2017) Interactive effects of leg autotomy and incline on locomotor performance and kinematics of the cellar spider, Pholcus manueli. Ecol Evol 7:6729-6735
Gong, Qiang; Wang, Chao; Zhang, Weiwei et al. (2017) Assessment of T-cell receptor repertoire and clonal expansion in peripheral T-cell lymphoma using RNA-seq data. Sci Rep 7:11301

Showing the most recent 10 out of 322 publications