Conservation Report: Crocodylus Siamensis

In this project, students were asked to choose a conservation issue in Cambodia of their choice and to write a conservation report for it. This can be a habitat/ecosystem or species. I decided to choose Siamese crocodile because it is now one of the critically endangered species, with only 300 variable wild individual worldwide. As Cambodia has the most purebred individuals, the conservation activities of this country can significantly affect the reintroductions of this species to its habitat, especially Vietnam and Thailand (and maybe Indonesia as well) where this species had become extinct.

Conservation Report

Crocodylus Siamensis: Siamese Crocodile    

Crocodylus Siamensis also known as Siamese crocodile is one of the four most threatened crocodile species in the world. Since 1982, Siamese crocodile became an endangered species, and in 1996, this species was accorded as the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List with the status of “Critically Endangered.” Currently, there is approximately 300 wild, adult Siamese crocodiles remain worldwide, which means that 99% had extinct from its initial population, mostly due to habitat loss and being hunted. This species has become extinct in two of its five native countries, Vietnam and Thailand. Even though the status of this species in Indonesia is unclear, there is a high probability that the species was extirpated. However there are a few of the adult populations in Laos, and the country with the most viable Siamese crocodile population is Cambodia, approximately less than 250 adult Siamese crocodiles.

Like other crocodile species, the Siamese crocodile has a large range within its ecological niche in term of food; it feeds on a wide variety of prey such as invertebrates, frogs, reptiles, birds and mammals, including carrion. This species, is an inhabitant of freshwater, including: slow-moving rivers and streams, lakes, seasonal oxbow lakes, marshes, and swamplands. As Siamese crocodiles is an apex predator within the freshwater ecosystem, especially in Cambodia, it also plays a role of a keystone species. Siamese crocodiles play an important role in maintaining the balance fish populations within the freshwater, its consumption on predatory fish allows small fish populations to increase. For Cambodians, those small fish populations are the primary food source for the local residents within the ecosystem.

 

This species is widespread in the wetlands and freshwater ecosystems in Southeast Asia, but due to habitat loss and commercial harvesting. Although, nearly all extinct, still around 60000 Siamese crocodiles are being commercially harvested to make leather products: bags, shoes, accessories, and decorations. For many countries, it is illegal to raise Siamese crocodiles without a license, and furthermore, it is also illegal to do any trades on the species. Countries such as the United States and nations of the European Unions banned the market of all Siamese crocodile-leather products, therefore, the main market for such products is only in the Asian countries.   

 

Initially, in Cambodia, the decrease of the Siamese crocodile population started with human modification of wetlands and waterway. However, within this past few decades the population has drastically declined as the collection of eggs, young and adults Siamese crocodiles increase; which either use for illegal farming and raising of crocodiles or overseas trading. With the population of only 300 wild crocodiles left, there isn’t a lot of variation within the genetics of the species. Action such as hybrid-ing and farming crocodiles only worsen the situation because of hybrid crocodiles becoming feral and contaminating the wild stocks.

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Evolution of Spermatophytes

This creative speech was written for a “Kingdom Characters Project” from the perspective of seed plants or seed-bearing plants. Spermatophytes are plants that reproduce sexually, requires the fertilization of female and male gametes. Before the evolution of spermatophytes, plants reproduce through spores, sporophytes. Below is a short explanation of why the evolution of seed plants changes and affects the growth of other species populations.

 

Kingdom Characters: Spermatophytes

 

Hi, I am seed plants.

I come in two forms as either angiosperm or gymnosperm.

Have flower and seeds or have seeds.

I am any plants that reproduce by seeds.

(Proceed to point to the window and point to plants: “that’s me” and “that’s also me”)

If you want to further see the molecular structure of me, please open to page 45 in your textbook.

 

If you look at the trophic structure, I am at the bottom of the chart. The primary producers. The reason that all the other terrestrials organisms survive.

 

I absorb carbon dioxide, water, and use sunlight energy to create food, glucose. Energy for all other terrestrial animals. So you should be grateful because now, I dominate the whole plants’ population. Without me, there is no food.

 

So, imagine life without me, and that you all have to live only off sporophytes. There is just not enough energy around!

Look I am not trying to look down at sporophytes or anything; I meant I evolve from it, my ancestors. But let’s just say, the evolution is on my end right now.

 

Dating back millions of years ago, scientists are still not sure, but they predict that my ancestor is some multi-cellular plants. The bryophytes, they are short/small because they need to move the water throughout its structure. And they reproduce with spores. Later on, they went through an adaptation to have vessels that help to conduct water and nutrients, the rise of sporophytes.

 

Then I came in afterward, the evolution of the seed. I mean I come into being like 360 million years ago, during the later part of Devonian Period. It took a lot of time to become who I am today. The spore-bearing plants still dominate until the later part of Carboniferous. However, the start of Permian was when my form and function fit the environment better. As at that time, the temperature started to drop and became drier.

 

Spores don’t have the mechanism to wait, they have to germinate right away. So with the lack of water, their population started to decrease. And that where I’m coming in and continuing to grow until today. Seeds have a significant advantage here, I have seed coat to protect the embryo. There are cotyledon and endosperm that provide nutrients to the embryo, so my population doesn’t have to germinate until the right condition. Allow my populations to produce fertile offsprings.

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Should Genetic Engineering be Used in Science?

This assignment is to write an argumentative essay whether genetic engineering should be used. Every student wrote an essay based on their research or/and opinion and we had a debate on this topic. At the end of the debate, we had agreed upon creating an organization that would in charge of all scientific research. We believe that science research should be a resource that share between all researchers in a database. 

 

Un-Ethical Usage of Genetically Modified Organisms

Does banana suppose to have seeds? The answer is yes, or at least before scientists had genetically modified the fruit. The commercial bananas that we found in our local market have small specks of black dots, that was supposed to be the seed of the fruit. Now, we can only find seeds, usually around 1 cm in diameter, within wild banana species. Genetic recombination had dated back to over 30,000 years ago when humans altered gene of wild organisms to domesticate them through a process of selective breeding. However, scientists started to directly alter the DNA of organisms in 1973, by replacing different genes within the DNA strand. Currently, genetic engineering is a gateway for scientists to help combating malnutrition, disease, and climate change. However, scientists don’t stop with just plants, genetic-modified animal has become a common research topic within genetic engineering. This alteration mainly focusing on affecting the gene of the organism’s offspring such as to reduce/increase the lifespan of a species, to change in the likelihood of produce male/female offspring, or to completely add a new characteristic/traits to that animal. With such a big range of alternatives of which genetic engineering can cover, there should be a border as to what scientist can do.

 

In 1990, European scientists had worked on a project that believed, to be the rice that could save a million kids a year, to combat vitamin A deficiency. This Golden Rice is conventional rice that had been altered to have a rich level of vitamin A. The only difference between white rice and this genetically modified rice is the presence of beta-carotene which helps to enrich vitamin A. There are two versions of transgenes that achieve this goal; one is to a gene from corn and another from an ingested soil bacterium, which helps rice to produce beta-carotene by allowing rice to activate its metabolic carotenoid pathway. This project created with an aim to help children that suffer from vitamin A deficiency which could lead to childhood blindness, weak immune system, and increase the vulnerability to illnesses such as measles, respiratory infections, and diarrhea which sometimes result in death. However, currently, there only a few nations that publicly announced that the Golden Rice is safe to consume in countries such as: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United States, Philippines, and Bangladesh. Thereby, the Golden Rice still not available for distribution or on the market, showing that nations that needed this bioengineered rice the most still don’t have access to it.

 

On the other hand, as the global temperature increases, scientists have been working on food production for the future. Altering genes of different crops to adapt to climate change. The increase of drought and the elevation of carbon dioxide and ozone level are few of the outcomes of climate change. Therefore, scientists have been working on altering genes of crops to build a tolerance to a lower level of precipitation, higher exposure to sunlight, and lower accessibility to nutrient. However, this ambition is rather difficult to achieve as scientists are limited to exploiting the existing genetic variation to only those crops that are very close relatives. Furthermore, within the unpredictable environmental stress, scientists are still struggling to find specific gene recombination that allows adapting to a large range of environmental stress. In addition, with the current GMO crops are still significantly more expensive than conventional crops, most farmers still couldn’t afford the GMO even though, it could lead to higher yield and product quality. Therefore, this aspect of gene modification might not be necessary. Why do scientists spend large expense, resources, and time on something that couldn’t be implemented besides from a higher economic country?   

 

The number of cases of mosquitoes borne diseases has been increased for this past decade, and it is no surprise to know that scientists had genetically modified the gene of this nuisance insect. With up to 91 countries had suffered from mosquitoes borne-disease epidemic, Oxitec had genetically engineered Aedes aegypti, a vector of dengue virus, specifically males, to that they carry a lethal gene and release them to breed with the wild females. When offsprings inherited this gene, they would die in the larval stage. Which leads to a 5o percents decrease in the population. This same technology has proven to have a greater impact in other countries such as the Cayman Islands, Brazil, Malaysia, and Panama, up to 90% of the Aedes aegypti population had lost. Is this the success scientists trying to achieve, to wipe out a species? The most unethical part of this research is the lack of small experimental trials before release GM mosquitoes into the ecosystem. Scientists haven’t studied the relationship between mosquitoes and other species beforehand. Thereby, it still is unclear regarding the impact of the loss of mosquitoes population.  

 

Although, many of the research projects related to genetic engineer have a positive result, successful in that gene alteration projects, the effect of GMO in the ecosystem is still uncertain. There isn’t long enough trails that study introduces a species into the real world, which means that there is a possibility of an adverse effect. Furthermore, genetic engineering is unethical, this technology was created to solve a global issue, but the availability of GM crops/products are still unavailable for the majority of the world.

 

Works Cited

“Biotechnology for Crop Adaptation.” Climate Technology Centre & Network, 25 Jan. 2019, www.ctc-n.org/technologies/biotechnology-climate-change-adaptation-crops.

“From Corgis to Corn: A Brief Look at the Long History of GMO Technology.” Science in the News, 23 Oct. 2016, sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2015/from-corgis-to-corn-a-brief-look-at-the-long-history-of-gmo-technology/.

“Genetically Modified Mosquito Sparks a Controversy in Florida.” Yale E360, e360.yale.edu/features/genetically_modified_mosquito_sparks_a_controversy_in_florida.

“Golden Rice: The GMO Crop Greenpeace Hates and Humanitarians Love.” Genetic Literacy Project, Genetic Literacy Project, 9 Jan. 2019, geneticliteracyproject.org/2018/02/13/golden-rice-gmo-crop-greenpeace-hates-and-humanitarians-love/.

Mayer, Jorge. “Golden Rice Project.” Why Golden Rice, www.goldenrice.org/.

“The Banana Seed.” ProMusa – the Banana Knowledge Platform, www.promusa.org/The banana seed.

Observing Osmosis in Bok Choy

This lab was aimed to visualize the concept of osmosis, a process in which a cell loses or gains water depending on the concentration of solute relative to the cell. In this experiment, the solute is the salt, while water is the solvent. Students were divided into a pair- given a vegetable to each team, and we had to measure the movement of the water.

 

Introduction to Osmosis and Dehydration Lab:

Osmosis is a form of diffusion, the process in which cells uptake or lose water; water molecules move across cells’ membrane to a location with a higher concentration of solute, which in this experiment is the salt. Brassica rapa subsp. Chinensis (commonly known as Bok choy), just like all other living organisms have cells and tissues that are composed of mostly water. Therefore, organisms’ cells will lose water to the saltier (hypertonic) outside environment, causes it to dehydrate and shrink, which is also called plasmolysis. In addition, organisms’ cells will gain water from the freshwater (hypotonic) solution, allows it to gain mass. Due to another form of diffusion, organisms will also gain salt, due to the higher salinity of the solution, the salt molecules would be moving into the plant cells, which contains less salt content. Thereby, the organisms that are put in the experimental groups’ solution, will become salty.

Osmosis and Dehydration Lab

Cell Organelles: Peroxisomes

This school year, there are 12 students who are enrolled in the AP Biology course, which is a college-level biology class. This course is opened for students to sign up, personally I signed up for this class because I want to understand the natural world around me, and the living organisms within our world. In addition, I believe that it would be helpful to understand the basic of this field especially because I want to attend medical school.   

In this first term, we learned about Ecology Biology and we’re introduced to the Cell Unit. To further our understanding of the Eukaryotic Cell, our facilitator assigned each student with an organelle. Students had to do research regarding the functions of their organelle, and share the information with other students, by simulating that we are being interview for different job’s position of a company. So each student had to pretend to be their organelle, and tried to convince the facilitator and other student why they (the organelles) are important for a company.

Here is my speech as peroxisome, trying to convince others to hire me as an employee.

 

Hello, My name Peroxi-glyoxy.

Let me get one thing straight, I might not be able to move around the company by myself, however I have good communication skill that allow be to hitchhike other endosomes to move to places, and with all my skills you’ll be amazed on how I do this nearly all by myself.  

Okay, so I understand that this company has cell wall to maintain the security of the company. Provide shield so that outsiders can’t intrude the business. But while cell wall is busy doing its jobs, sometimes there are enemies within our company, the one that can’t be killed by cell wall or any other employees. Such as hydrogen peroxides that can destroy the cell wall. Therefore I believe that both animal and plant department needs someone like me to be a staff member.

So at first glance, I might look like lysosomes, or one of the microbodies. However, we have a totally different role, actually roles.

I have over 50 different enzymes, that can be use to help and secure the company in different variety of biochemical ways.

As I have mentioned a second ago, hydrogen peroxide are really harmful for a company, since it is a by product of digestion, we can’t just stop getting energy to get rid of this H2O2, there for you should hire me. One of my enzymes call catalase is used to break down hydrogen peroxide, and convert it into water. For me since hydrogen peroxide can’t do me harm, I can use this toxic to break down other organic compound such uric acid, amino acids, and fatty acid though the process of oxidation. In addition, the oxidation of fatty acid can provide a major source of metabolic energy, the process of oxidizing fatty acid can be done by mitochondria and peroxisomes in the Animal Department, however for the plants department this job is only restricted to me.

For the Animal department, I can also do helps some other jobs such as synthesize cholesterol and dolichol those that use to make hormones, vitamin D, and digestive fluids, and especially in the Human sector of animal department, I also help to produce bile acid for the liver. And help with some aspect of energy metabolism.

For Plant department, I play a great role on converting of stored fatty acids to carbohydrates in seeds, so germinating plant has energy and raw materials that can be used for growth whereby here I am known as glyoxysomes or peroxisomes.

In the Leaves sector of the plant, I, peroxisome also involved in photorespiration, by allowing most of the carbon in glycolate to be recovered and utilized.

You must hire me because I am a hard worker and an essential aspect for the company to keep running.