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Student Research Projects

Isolation, Purification, and Analysis of the Protein Toxin Found in the Barb of Urobatis jamaicensi

Student Ashley Zimmerman and Caitlin Ward
Faculty Mentor(s) Dr. Joyce Easter
Department Chemistry
Course CHEM 489: Research in the Natural Sciences

Abstract

Previously no studies have been conducted concerning the purification and analysis of the protein toxin found in the barb of the Yellowspotted Stingray, Urobatis jamaicensi. It was our intention to develop a new method for isolating, purifying, and analyzing the toxin found in the tissue located at the base of the barb that is responsible for the stinging sensation hat occurs when stung by a stingray. In this experiment, we used a combination of biochemical techniques, including electrophoresis and chromatography, to separate and identify the particular protein we were looking for. We also used bacteria cultures to determine which protein that had been isolated is responsible for the stinging sensation. Then we used mass spectrometry and melting point determination to further analyze the isolated proteins. This information could in the future be used to produce an anti-venom and has other possible applications in the field of medicine. Furthermore, there are many more species of stingrays that can be analyzed to achieve similar data. By conducting this research we learned a variety of biochemical techniques as well as how to establish a salt-water tank and care for salt-water species.

 

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