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1.  Interactive effects of chemical and biological controls on food-web composition in saline prairie lakes 
Aquatic Biosystems  2012;8:29.
Salinity is restricting habitatability for many biota in prairie lakes due to limited physiological abilities to cope with increasing osmotic stress. Yet, it remains unclear how salinity effects vary among major taxonomic groups and what role other environmental parameters play in shaping food-web composition. To answer these questions, we sampled fish, zooplankton and littoral macroinvertebrates in 20 prairie lakes (Saskatchewan, Canada) characterized by large gradients in water chemistry and lake morphometry. We showed that salinity thresholds differed among major taxonomic groups, as most fishes were absent above salinities of 2 g L-1, while littoral macroinvertebrates were ubiquitous. Zooplankton occurred over the whole salinity range, but changed taxonomic composition as salinity increased. Subsequently, the complexity of fish community (diversity) was associated with large changes in invertebrate communities. The directional changes in invertebrate communities to smaller taxa indicated that complex fish assemblages resulted in higher predation pressure. Most likely, as the complexity of fish community decreased, controls of invertebrate assemblages shifted from predation to competition and ultimately to productivity in hypersaline lakes. Surprisingly, invertebrate predators did not thrive in the absence of fishes in these systems. Furthermore, the here identified salinity threshold for fishes was too low to be a result of osmotic stress. Hence, winterkill was likely an important factor eliminating fishes in low salinity lakes that had high productivity and shallow water depth. Ultimately, while salinity was crucial, intricate combinations of chemical and biological mechanisms also played a major role in controlling the assemblages of major taxonomic groups in prairie lakes.
PMCID: PMC3547742  PMID: 23186395
Lake food-web; Diversity; Fish; Invertebrates; Salinity; Winter kill
2.  Loss of trophic complexity in saline prairie lakes as indicated by stable-isotope based community-metrics 
Aquatic Biosystems  2012;8:6.
Variations in climate, watershed characteristics and lake-internal processes often result in a large variability of food-web complexity in lake ecosystems. Some of the largest ranges in these environmental parameters can be found in lakes across the northern Great Plains as they are characterized by extreme gradients in respect to lake morphometry and water chemistry, with individual parameters often varying over several orders of magnitude. To evaluate the effects of environmental conditions on trophic complexity in prairie lake food-webs, we analyzed carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes of fishes, zooplankton and littoral macroinvertebrates in 20 lakes across southern Saskatchewan. Our two-year study identified very diverse patterns of trophic complexity, with was predominantly associated with among-lake differences. Small but significant temporal effects were also detected, which were predominantly associated with changes in productivity. The most influential parameters related to changes in trophic complexity among lakes were salinity, complexity of fish assemblage, and indicators of productivity (e.g. nutrients, Chl a). Generally, trophic diversity, number of trophic levels, and trophic redundancy were highest in productive freshwater lakes with diverse fish communities. Surprisingly, mesosaline lakes that were characterized by very low or no predation pressure from fishes were not colonized by invertebrate predators as it is often the case in boreal systems; instead, trophic complexity was further reduced. Together, prairie lake food-webs appear to be highly sensitive to changes in salinity and the loss of piscivorous fishes, making freshwater and mesosaline lakes most vulnerable to the impacts of climate variability. This is particularly important as global circulation models predict future climate warming to have disproportionate negative impacts on hydrologic conditions in this area.
PMCID: PMC3320526  PMID: 22480379
Food web; Great Plains; Saline lakes; Stable isotopes; Trophic complexity
3.  Potential Role of α-Synuclein and Metallothionein in Lead-Induced Inclusion Body Formation 
Toxicological Sciences  2009;111(1):100-108.
Lead (Pb) produces aggresome-like inclusion bodies (IBs) in target cells as a toxic response. Our prior work shows metallothionein (MT) is required for this process. We used MT-I/II double knockout (MT-null) and parental wild-type (WT) cell lines to further explore the formation process of Pb-induced IBs. Unlike WT cells, MT-null cells did not form IBs after Pb exposure. Western blot of cytosol showed soluble MT protein in WT cells was lost during Pb exposure as IBs formed. Transfection of MT-I into MT-null cells allowed IBs formation after Pb exposure. Considering Pb-induced IBs may be like disease-related aggresomes, which often contain α-synuclein (Scna), we investigated Scna expression in cells capable (WT) and incapable (MT-null) of producing IBs after Pb exposure. Scna protein showed poor basal expression in MT-null cells. Pb exposure increased Scna expression only in WT cells. MT transfection increased Scna transcript to WT levels. In WT or MT-transfected MT-null cells, Pb-induced Scna expression rapidly increased and then decreased over 48 h as Pb-induced IBs were formed. A direct interaction between Scna and MT was confirmed ex vivo by antibody pulldown assay where the proteins coprecipitated with an antibody to MT. Pb exposure caused increased colocalization of MT and Scna proteins with time only in WT cells. In WT mice after chronic Pb exposure Scna was localized in renal cells containing forming IBs, whereas MT-null mice did not form IBs. Thus, Scna could be component of Pb-induced IBs and, with MT, may play a role in IBs formation.
PMCID: PMC2726298  PMID: 19542206
lead; inclusion bodies; α-synuclein; metallothionein; MT-null

Results 1-3 (3)