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Undergraduate Research Center

Radina Porashka

  • SOAR Position: Member; Vice President (2020-21); Alumni
  • Major: Biology
  • Faculty Mentor(s): Dr. Anthony Farone

Current Focus: Survey of Mosquito Predatory Ciliate Lambornella for Potential Biological Control

Project Description

The main focus of the research is to identify the ciliated protozoan – Lambornela clarki, which is known to target mosquito larvae. Water samples are collected from still waters around MTSU, Unionville, Redwood, CA., Big Torch Key, FL., and the Bahamas. The samples are then used in different environments and observed for a specific time frame, during which we use inverted phase-contrast microscope to observe the ciliates’ behavior. Isolation techniques are also endorsed to help limit organisms that we are not focusing on. Once we have a pure sample, PCR and qPCR are performed to confirm whether the found ciliate is Lambornella clarki. As of right now, we have 37 samples collected, and 19 samples demonstrate possible Lambornella clarki based on photos and diagrams of Lambornella within the literature. The goal of the research is to utilize Lambornella as a biological control source for mosquitoes.

Why does this topic interest you?

Mosquitoes are known to carry many diseases, including malaria, Zika virus, West Nile virus, and yellow fever, which is why it is important to find biological controls that could possibly limit the transmission of viruses. Lambornella clarki, and other Lambornella species are well known to target mosquito larvae. They invade the tissue and kill the larvae. However, there are not many studies done on Lambornella clarki, which is why it is important to further research on the species so that it could be of used later on.

What are your professional aspirations?

I am planning to attend Medical School after graduation.

Do you have any advice for future researchers?

Be curious, persistent and responsible. Research allows you to learn so much about the topic that you have chosen, but with learning comes responsibility. It is very important to understand the importance of the work that you are doing and not lose interest when it might look like your research is not going to plan. It takes time and it takes willingness to devote your personal time and work into it. But it is absolutely worth it!

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Thursday, September 5th, 4:30pm

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Jamie Burriss, Ph.D., Director
(615) 494-7669

Casey Penston, Coordinator
(615) 809-4588

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