Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) is a technique that combines gas-liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry to characterize substances within a sample. We first used this technique to analyze turtle nest volatiles to determine if turtle nest predators use olfactory cues to find nest sites. In combination with GC-MS, we used headspace solid-phase microextraction (HS-SPME) to examine volatile organic analytes present over disturbed soil (artificial nests) and undisturbed (control) sites at an ornate box turtle nesting area. Our results revealed that both sites have similar or identical components and that volatile concentration levels were slightly higher in nest sites. The second method utilized GC-MS to characterize essential oil components collected from a variety of plants. We used the techniques of HS-SPME and steam distillation to collect the essential oil. Using this method, we were able to construct a catalog of essential oil components that could someday be used to synthesize natural pesticides.
Chase Johnson, ’12
West Union, IA
Majors: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Spanish
Sponsors: S. Andrew McCollum and Brian Nowak-Thompson