Bhattacharya Lab - Ravi Upadhyay

image of Ravi UpadhyayRavi Upadhyay is a Biology senior who works with Dr. Tovah Salcedo in the Bhattacharya lab to investigate the toxicity of Heterocapsa circularisquama (HC). This red tide dinoflagellate has episodically decimated shellfish off the west coast of Japan. The mode of action of the HC toxins is not well understood. HC is sometimes infected with a single-stranded RNA virus that kills cells of susceptible HC strains. Ravi wants to understand if strains of HC with different levels of immunity to the virus exhibit different levels of toxicity. Put another way, are there life-history trade-offs involved with viral resistance and toxicity? Individual Heterocapsa circularisquama, as seen through the microscope

microscopy of Heterocapsa circularisquama
To answer this question, Ravi has been culturing three strains of HC that vary in viral resistance. He is also growing rotifers to be prey organisms to HC toxicity. He then created mortality assays using 4x3 well plates to include controls and performed multiple replicates. Ravi was surprised by the results of his first round of experiments. The two more susceptible HC strains appeared to be entirely non-toxic. Previously, all strains of HC were believed to be toxic. With further replication and additional controls, Ravi and Tovah are planning to publish the results next spring. Ravi Upadhyay studying Heterocapsa circularisquama with a microscope

When asked what got him interested in this project, Ravi replied that he has always been interested in the evolution of host-virus interactions. He is particularly intrigued by possible biomedical applications. One such example is how researchers are exploring ways to use photosensitive compounds such as one of HC’s toxins to destroy cancerous tumors. Ravi Upadhyay

Working in a laboratory has given Ravi the opportunity to experience the setting of a research laboratory first-hand. This experience has solidified Ravi’s affinity for inquiry-based work. With medical school applications filed at UMDNJ, Drexel University School of Medicine and Hofstra University School of Medicine, he is hoping to join the ranks of medical researchers in the tri-state area. Based on his successes here at Rutgers, we expect a bright future and perhaps some big discoveries for Ravi.

microscopy of tail whipping rotifier
The type of 12-well plate used in which
mortality assay replicates are performed
  Innoculation of the plates with appropriate HC strains takes place in a laminar flow hood in order to minimize contamination
Ravi Upadhyay holding a 12 well plate   lab work at a laminar flow hood

Each well of the 12-well plate is filled
to a consistent 1 mL volume with the
HC growth medium
  One of the strains being studied by Ravi, HC05, is completely resistant to the RNA virus and displays toxicity as well
Adding the HC growth medium   Image of one of the strains being studied by Ravi