Sara Hammad '22
Major: Political Science (Pre- Med)
Bio: Sara Hammad is a current junior at Fordham University, pursuing a Political Science degree on the Pre-Medical track.
Title of Research: The Relationship Between Superoxide Dismutases and Hemocytes in the Homarus americanus
Mentor: Dr. Grace Vernon
Abstract: The increase in the temperature of the northwest Atlantic Ocean, in recent years, due to climate change and pollution has placed physiological stress on the American lobster population at all stages of their lives. American lobsters are not able to sustain functioning metabolisms in waters above roughly 20°C (68°F). In the Long Island Sound, there are almost no lobsters west of New Haven, Connecticut because the ocean floors are unfit to survive on. The absence of rocks on the sandy ocean floors affects water temperature and water flow, causing lobsters to be pushed further east of the Long Island Sound. Superoxide Dismutases (SODs) are universal enzymes that are essential to the innate immune systems of the Homarus americanus, as these invertebrates do not produce antibodies. SODs promote the conversion of superoxide into oxygen and hydrogen peroxide and neutralize oxidation, while also releasing enzymes that attack harmful fungi and bacteria that could harm lobsters. Our specific focus is on Copper-Zinc SOD 1 molecules and Manganese SOD 2 molecules. Hemocyanin is a respiratory protein, transporting oxygen through the hemolymph of crustaceans. Alongside the essential function of oxygen transport, hemocytes play a significant role in protecting the Homarus americanus. Hemocytes release prophenoloxidase, which encapsulates and melanizes bacteria and fungi that may cause diseases, such as brown shell disease. Using biochemical techniques, including agarose gels and western blotting, the relationship between SODs and hemocyanins can be observed and analyzed. Using transmission electron microscopy, we are locating specific areas in the hemocytes in which SODs and hemocyanins exist in close proximity to one another. After localizing SODs in cells using immunocytochemical techniques, SODs can be observed at an ultrastructural level. Thus, this will allow us to conceptualize the relationship between SODs and hemocytes that travel together for functions other than cellular respiration.