Huntington High School freshmen Sol Rodriquez and Izabela Cuji came together to form a potent research team this year, studying the effect of different substrates on Bombina orientalis chromatophores.
Okay, that might be too technical for the average non-scientific person. Let’s try it again in simpler form. Bombina orientalis are fire-bellied toads typically found in northeast China and also in Korea, Thailand and southern Japan and even in certain regions of Russia.
“They live at high elevations in spruce, pine or deciduous forests, river valley, swampy bushlands and open meadows and around various water types, including stagnant and running water in lakes, ponds, swamps, springs and even puddles and ditches,” according to Animal Diversity.org.
Ms. Rodriquez and Ms. Cuji are two of the top freshmen in the high school’s science research program this year. They were great collaborators and their work has been praised.
“Photonic crystals cause an active color change in fire bellied toads,” states the teenager’s project abstract. “Photonic crystals are structures that prevent the production of a certain frequency range of light. Chromatophores (pigment-containing and light-reflecting cells) within the Bombina (fire-bellied toads are a group of six species of small frogs belonging to the genus Bombina) contain nanocrystals called iridophores. These reflect light and cause rapid crypsis (the ability to avoid detection by other creatures by methods that include camouflage, subterranean lifestyle, etc.) Bombina orientalis present dark, medium and light green chromatophores. This experiment looked at the effect of different substrates have on Bombina orientalis chromatophores.”
Ms. Rodriquez and Ms. Cuji are both splendid students and each of them is excelling in their classes. Ms. Rodriquez’s hobbies include painting and dancing. Ms. Cuji’s hobbies involve sports and music.
The research partners studied what effect different colored substrates evoked in the fire bellied toad’s nanocrystals. “Two Bombina orientalis were exposed to either a soil or wood-chip substrate and their level of chromatophore color change was measured,” the project abstract states. “The data showed that the soil substrate had a significant effect on the Bombina orientalis and its chromatophores changed to a darker green. In the wood-chip substrate (control), the Bombina orientalis shifted to a light and medium green in the span on ten days. Future research could look at the effect of human disruption on the Bombina orientalis.”
The two spectacular freshmen are already looking forward to engaging in another research project next year as sophomores.