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Best student-authored article by Tolulope Perrin-Stowe

Best student-authored article by Tolulope Perrin-Stowe

The Stephen J. O'Brien Award for the best student paper published in AGA's Journal honors Dr. O'Brien's many years of service as Chief Editor of the Journal.  This year, nine articles in Volume 111 that were first-authored by a student were considered, and the award presented to Tolulope Perrin-Stowe for her article, Prion Protein Gene (PRNP) Sequences Suggest Differing Vulnerability to Chronic Wasting Disease for Florida Key Deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium) and Columbian White-Tailed Deer (O. v. leucurus) (Tolulope I N Perrin-Stowe, Yasuko Ishida, Emily E Terrill, Brian C Hamlin, Linda Penfold, Lara M Cusack, Jan Novakofski, Nohra E Mateus-Pinilla, Alfred L Roca). JHered 2020. 111-6, pp 564-572.
The evaluation committee had the following comments on this top-ranked article:

"Interesting study of prion resistance variants.  Clearly laid-out, very well-written and concise.  The analyses were sound.  Findings have direct applicability for conservation efforts.”

Tolu will receive a $2,000 prize, a certificate, and up to $1,500 toward expenses to attend and present a talk at the 2021 AGA President’s Symposium.

Perrin-Stowe et al. 2020 Study Summary and Importance
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is an emerging disease that has been spreading in cervid (deer) species in North America since 1967. CWD is caused by infectious prions, which are variants of normal prion proteins (PrP) that can attach to and induce structural changes in PrP that make them nonfunctional and infectious. The disease causes the nervous system to break down over time and is ultimately fatal. CWD can spread between deer directly via bodily fluids or indirectly from the environment. The spread of CWD is a cause of major concern for governmental and private organizations that monitor and manage cervid species. Polymorphisms in the coding region of PRNP, the prion gene, have been associated with variation in susceptibility to CWD in some cervid species. In this study, we assessed two endangered white-tailed deer subspecies for PRNP alleles associated with reduced vulnerability to CWD. In Florida Key deer (Odocoileus virginianus clavium), we determined that most of the population carry PrP that encodes the amino acid serine (S) at codon 96, which has been associated with reduced vulnerability to CWD in other white-tailed deer populations. This finding suggests that the Florida Key deer will be less vulnerable to CWD exposure than other populations, which have a smaller proportion of the population carrying protective variants. Conversely, in Columbian white-tailed deer (O. v. leucurus), no polymorphisms associated with reduced susceptibility to CWD were found, suggesting that this population is even more vulnerable than other white-tailed deer populations in which at least some proportion of the deer carry protective alleles. There is also a risk of interspecies transmission of CWD for Columbian white-tailed deer as their habitat range overlaps with the ranges of other cervid species. Management recommendations for Florida Key deer and Columbian white-tailed deer were given to help lessen the impact of possible CWD exposure. 

Tolulope Perrin-Stowe Biography
My name is Tolulope Perrin-Stowe, and I am a Ph.D. candidate in the Program in ecology, evolution, and conservation biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I study the genetic vulnerability of endangered cervid taxa to chronic wasting disease in the Roca laboratory group. I have also conductedresearch on the phylogeography of African elephants. I am interested in the application of population genetics to address conservation aims for endangered and threatened species.

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