A Little About Me
I am a high school senior part of a three-year research program. My project analyzes trends of how climate change can influence developing allergies in a less complex model organism: Drosophila melanogaster, commonly known as fruit flies.
My interest in allergies sparked when my older sister started to progressively develop allergic manifestations throughout her childhood and early adult life. This trend in allergies is known as the atopic march. I became interested in the intersection between our environments and our health.
The evidence of global warming due to human activities is stronger than ever where this crisis not only affects the environment but also human health. Due to the increase in average annual temperature and longer growing seasons, higher pollen concentrations are leading to the development of asthma and atopic allergies. Ragweed pollen happens to be the primary allergen trigger around the globe and affects more than 25 million Americans. Drosophila melanogaster exhibits the same inflammatory response as humans do making it a useful replicate asthma model. This research is important to understand ragweed pollen’s ability to inflict an allergic reaction in a biological species because there is limited research on global warming’s effect on atopic allergies on live organisms. To model this experiment, fruit flies will be exposed to increasing increments of ragweed pollen in their food media during their third instar larvae stage. All the larvae will be placed on top of the food media to begin with and after a specific amount of time, the remaining larvae at the top of the surface is in indicator that they are having trouble breathing and thus be more exposed to oxygen. The larvae that venture down into the food media are not experiencing inflammatory response because they do not need to reach the surface to breathe better (10). If drosophila melanogaster are exposed to ragweed pollen, then they should exhibit oxygen deprivation by remaining at the surface of the food media because ragweed pollen is a reactive oxygen species and presents major mediators of inflammatory responses in the airway epithelium (7).