Date of Submission

Spring 2012

Academic Program


Project Advisor 1

Philip Johns

Abstract/Artist's Statement

Recently declines of vulture species have been rampant in areas in West Africa and Southern Asia. Human interference including persecution and inadvertent poisoning has been pushing raptor decline. This human interference may have significant ecological, economical, and cultural effects. Vultures are highly specialized at foraging for carrion. They are often used by terrestrial scavengers as markers of dead animals. Thus, vultures have become natural a natural and essential method for quickly removing carrion, recycling nutrients, and reducing potential sites of pathogen transmission. Increased vulture decline has been followed by increased feral dog and rat populations, two disease reservoirs. Diseases like canine distemper virus and rabies are expected to spread through livestock and human populations. A new method using a non-pathogenic marker that can track carrion to scavenger transmission is needed. In this study I performed laboratory test inspecting ability of a fluorescent bacterium, E.coli GFP-MG1655, to act as this marker. This bacterium was tested for longevity on meat and for gfp expression. Through fluorometry I found that GFP-MG1655 can survive on meat for up to five days and that GFP-MG1655 does have significantly higher fluorescence then E.coli lacking GFP. However, GFP-MG1655 was indistinguishable from negative strain with the naked eye. These findings suggest that GFP-MG1655 can be used as a marker of disease transmission between scavengers but research has to be done to intensify the fluorescent signal.

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