The newest edition of the Grice Newsletter has been mailed out this month, for all of you who are interested in the news and happenings at Grice recently. If you didn’t receive one in the mail you can view the electronic copy here.
As part of the HHMI Science Educations Alliance Phage Hunters Program, twenty-six College of Charleston undergraduate student were published November 27, 2013 in the recent Genome Announcement. This publication includes two published NCBI Genome Accession Numbers. Hyperlinks to genome accession numbers are within attached paper (Genome Announc.-2013-Hatfull-). Many of these students worked with Dr. Ana Zimmerman here at the Grice Marine Laboratory. Dr. Erin Morris-Richard and Dr. Chris Korey from the downtown campus also worked on this project. The project website lists details of the phages found. With phage names like DirtMcgirt (pictured) and FuzzyWuzzy you should take a look at the wonderful research these students are doing.
Marine biology graduate student, David Shiffman, published an article titled ‘”A Sea Change” in the Point of View section of the College of Charleston magazine. In this article David discusses how his passion for sharks led him to pursue a career in marine biology. In addition to his research, David writes about shark biology and conservation in the blog Southern Fried Science. Many species of sharks are threatened from the results of by-catch and overfishing. David hopes to educate the public on the value of sharks in his upcoming book titled Why Sharks Matter: The Ecological and Economic Importance of Sharks, Threats They Face, and How You Can Help.
Creagrutus yanatili, a new species of Creagrutus tetra was discovered in southeastern Peru. Ichthyologists Dr. Antony Harold and Dr. Norma Salcedo successfully published their discovery of this new species in the journal ofIchthyological Exploration of Freshwaters.
Tetra fish species are described as small freshwater fishes belonging to the family Characidae. Due to their hardiness and bright colors, tetra fishes are quite popular with aquarists. Creagrutus yanatili differs from other Creagrutusspecies in South America due to its well developed papillae (small projections) that extend behind the head and its nearly black pigmentation that covers much of the fins and body of the fish. To view pictures of the expedition click here.
For more information regarding this exciting species description, please see the published journal article:
Harold, AS and NJ Salcedo (2009) Creagrutus yanatili, a new species from the Río Urubamba drainage, southeastern Peru (Teleostei: Characidae). Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters 20, pp. 377–383.
In the Fall 2009 edition, a photoessay on the work spaces around campus highlighted Dr. Karen Burnett’s collaborative research with NIST colleagues and the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Facility at the Hollings Marine Laboratory. In the Life Academic section, an article titled A Sucker for the Little Guy focused on our resident parasitologist Dr. Isaure de Buron. She works closely with the SC Department of Natural Resources studying parasitic worms in Southern flounder and spotted sea trout. Another feature story, Guardian of the Sea, profiled GPMB graduate student Courtney Arthur and her work as a research analyst for NOAA. She is studying marine debris and its biological impact on marine ecosystems.
An article recently published by GPMB alum Lindy Thibodeaux in the Journal of Experimental Biology was featured as part of Inside the JEB. The piece highlighting her thesis work was titled Infected Crabs Breathe Easy During Exercise. Thibodeaux investigated the effects of bacterial infection on physical activity and respiration the Atlantic blue crab. In collaboration with Dr. Karen and Lou Burnett, she placed infected blue crabs on a treadmill and measured their oxygen consumption. The metabolic differences found between infected and non-infected animals were most unexpected.
In a recent issue of the journal Science, a team of scientists, including College of Charleston biogeochemist Dr. Peter Lee, described a novel ecosystem in which a microbial community had managed to survive for over a million years in the absence of sunlight and oxygen. The authors believe that as sea levels decreased and glaciers began to advance across Antarctica pockets of seawater became trapped in the McMurdo Dry Valleys and were sealed off from the atmosphere and sunlight by the advancing glaciers. Unlike most subglacial lakes in Antarctica that are totally inaccessible without drilling equipment, this subglacial lake periodically discharges through the Taylor Glacier at a location known as Blood Falls. Using a combination of classical “wet chemistry” methods, modern molecular and genetic techniques, stable isotope analyses and thermodynamic modeling, the team of scientists examined this discharge and found that the surviving microorganisms had adapted to use sulfate andiron compounds as their source of energy but in an unusual way. Normally when microbes use sulfate for energy, they produce hydrogen sulfide (the compound that causes the characteristic smell of salt marshes) as the end product. But in this case, they stopped short of producing hydrogen sulfide and instead used the sulfate as a “catalyst” to derive their energy from iron minerals mobilized from the glacier’s bedrock. These findings provide insight into how life may have survived periods of Neoproterozoic glaciations (“Snowball Earth” events) when some scientists believe that the Earth was entombed in ice. The authors also suggest that similar ecosystems may provide a “refuge” for life in other inhospitable environments, such as Mars and the Jovian moon Europa. Articles can be viewed below:
In addition, Dr. Owens also visited Townsville, Australia which is the home of James Cook University and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). Our graduate student Joe Pollock is a Fulbright Fellow at AIMS and James Cook University. Under the guidance of Pam Morris of MUSC, Joe is working to develop tools to accurately diagnose coral diseases on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and around the world. Currently, the diagnostic tools are very limited, so coral diseases are distinguished almost exclusively on their macroscopic appearance. He is focusing his efforts on developing a technique to detect the pathogen responsible for the coral disease White Syndrome on the GBR and coral bleaching in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. His research is progressing well and bioassays are underway to test the tool’s effectiveness in vivo.
In a newly published article in the journal Biological Bulletin, Hannah Giddens (a former CofC undergraduate) found that elevated seawater temperatures can cause herbivore to alter their feeding preferences, in some cases toward consuming foods that are of poorer quality even when higher quality foods are available. This is the first demonstration of temperature-dependent shifts in feeding preference, and provides another example of how global increases in seawater temperature may alter the dynamics of nearshore ecosytems in surprising ways.
The Grice Lab was well represented at the annual meeting of the Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology in Seattle, Washington, January 3-7, 2010. Members of the Burnett, Podolsky and McElroy labs were among the more than 1700 attendees at the international scientific conference. The program included research presentations by undergraduates, graduate students and faculty, as well plenary talks by leading scientists, including Dr. Bruce Alberts, editor of Science magazine. Representing the Grice laboratory, graduate students Daniel Fernandes, Kolo Rathburn, Nat Johnson and Kris Stover gave oral presentationsof their research, as did Drs. Bob Podolsky, Eric McElroy and Kristin Hardy. They also took some time before and after the meeting to enjoy the sites of Seattle, including the Pike Place Market, Pioneer Square, and even nearby Forks.