New Philadelphia to Charleston

Aaron Baumgardner, The University of Akron

Coming from the landlocked small town of New Philadelphia in the Midwest, I feel like I’m dreaming when I realize I’m spending my summer researching in Charleston, SC. I’m thankful for the opportunity that my mentor, the College of Charleston, and the National Science Foundation has given me to learn and grow in my scientific ability.

However, I do not believe I would be where I am today if it weren’t for my Aunt Jane. She is the only member of my family with a background in science, and even though she is hundreds of miles away at UPenn, she is always an email or phone call away. She has always shown an interest in my academics and will always be there for any advice I may ask. She has helped me develop my professionalism and offered insight on which graduate schools are worth going to.   Because of her, I can finally realize it’s not a dream. It’s reality that I’m spending my summer in Charleston, SC. It’s because I’ve worked hard in school and reached out for opportunities for me to mature as scientist. And I owe her so much for pushing me to succeed.

Thank you Aunt Jane!

Parasitic Kudoa inornata causes muscle deterioration in spotted seatrout

Sierra Duca, Goucher College

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This summer I am working at the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources at Fort Johnson under the mentorship of Dr. McElroy and Dr. Isaure de Buron. Being part of an REU program, I am looking forward to gaining some research experience and learning more about career possibilities in the biological sciences. In terms of my research, I am researching the effects of a microscopic parasite, Kudoa inornata, on spotted sea trout (see image below).

Seatrout

Photo source: http://www.kayaking-north-america.com

There are many Kudoa species that infect host fish worldwide. Several of the Kudoa parasites have spores (known as myxospores; see image below) that proliferate inside of the muscle fibers of the host fish (Harrel et al. 1985). In some cases the  parasites wreak havoc on the quality of the meat after the fish dies. For example, infected fish may have unsightly cysts or decreased meat quality (Moran et al.), both of which are unappealing to consumers. Don’t worry, the majority of Kudoa infected fish are not directly harmful if consumed by humans; however, if the deterioration of the muscle tissue is accelerated, like any meat, the quality will decrease sooner as compared to uninfected fish. This process of muscle deterioration is what I am studying with K. inornata infected spotted seatrout. I am looking at the rates of this deterioration during various time frames, from 0 to 6 days after the fish dies, in order to discern if there is a relationship between parasite presence in spotted seatrout and muscle softness.  Ultimately, this research can be used to better understand the biology of K. inornata and to determine the best time frame to consume infected spotted seatrout.

picc     Individual spores of Kudoa inornata (Photo source: Dyková et al., 2009).

Literature Cited

Dyková I, de Buron I, Fiala I, Roumillat WA (2009) Kudoa inornata sp. n. (Myxosporea: Multivalvulida) from the skeletal muscles of Cynoscion nebulosus (Teleostei: Sciaenidae). Folia Parasitology 56: 91-98

Harrel LW, Scott TM (1985) Kudoa thyrsitis (Gilchrist) (Myxosporea: Multivalvulida) in Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L. Journal of Fish Diseases 8: 329-332

Moran JDW, Whitaker DJ, Kent ML (1999) A review of the myxosporean genus Kudoa Meglitsch, 1947, and its impact on the international aquaculture industry and commercial fisheries. Aquaculture 172: 163-196

Acknowledgments

The Fort Johnson REU Program is funded by the National Science Foundation. This research is made possible through the mentorship of Dr. Eric McElroy and Dr. Isaure de Buron.  In addition, I would like to thank the College of Charleston and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources for providing the help and facilities necessary for my project.

Shrimp kabob, shrimp gumbo…shrimp sickness?

 

Alessandra Jimenez, Whitworth University

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Are you a fan of shrimp? You’re not the only one – billions of people around the world depend on shrimp fisheries and aquaculture for this wonderful source of food. Other predators in the sea rely on shrimp for their daily meals. Here’s the catch: shrimp may not last long enough to make it to your plate. Like us and other animals, crustaceans in general have to deal with so many obstacles that threaten their survival. One obstacle that is not often thought about is bacterial infection. Did you know that seawater is literally teeming with hundreds of millions of bacteria? The only way a shrimp can make it is by using its immune response – the “quick, potent, and effective” way of defending against a huge, microscopic army! Sounds like the perfect shield, right?

shrimp food

Shrimp is a common food source for many people. @Leslie Fink

Turns out that, like everything else in the science world, immunity comes at a big cost. It has been recently discovered that the immune response in crabs and shrimp against bacteria actually has a bad side effect: metabolic depression. In fact, the way the shrimp gets rid of bacteria in its bloodstream is by moving the bacteria to the gills, where it gets lodged and stays there for quite some time. The consequence? The lodged bacteria block blood flow through the gills, and the shrimp can’t get enough oxygen from the water. (Want to learn more? Click here)

Ouch, talk about a double whammy – fighting sickness plus oxygen blockage. One basic question comes to mind: can the shrimp still do what it needs to do while under such metabolic stress? This is where I come in. This summer, I am working under Dr. Karen Burnett in Hollings Marine Laboratory as an intern through the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program in marine biology. We will be testing whether or not a shrimp’s immune response to a common bacteria affects its ability to perform daily activities. The activity of interest is called ‘tail-flipping’ (fancy name: caridoid escape reaction. Want to learn more? Click here)This really fast, reflex-like action needs to be in top shape for the shrimp to survive from predator attacks and to help it during feeding time.

Caridoid_escape_reaction

Also known as the ‘tail-flip’ reaction, this response is a shrimp’s primary means of escape. @Uwe Kils

The shrimp species of interest is Farfantepenaeus aztecus, or ‘Atlantic brown shrimp’. This fella is a familiar catch for fishermen throughout the Southeastern US and the Gulf of Mexico. This is the first time that a study like this is going to be done on a wild shrimp species in general, let alone this specific type!

Penaeus aztecus

Farfantepenaeus aztecus, aka ‘Atlantic brown shrimp’. @Virginia Living Museum

So, can an immune response impact tail-flipping in wild shrimp? If ‘yes’, would the potentially handicapped shrimp be able to survive in its natural environment? We will soon find out!

Happy shrimping!

Alessandra Jimenez

REFERENCES:

Burnett, L. E., Holman, J. D., Jorgensen, D. D., Ikerd, J. L., & Burnett, K. G. (2006). Immune defense reduces respiratory fitness in Callinectes sapidus, the Atlantic blue crab. Biological Bulletin, 211(1), 50-57.

Fuhrman, J. A. (1999). Marine viruses and their biogeochemical and ecological effects. Nature, 399(6736), 541-548.

Latournerie, J.R., Gonzalez-Mora, I.D., Gomez-Aguirre, S.G., Estrada-Ortega, A.R., & Soto, L.A. (2011).                   Salinity, temperature, and seasonality effects on the metabolic rate of the brown shrimp Farfantepenaeus Aztecus (Ives, 1891) (Decapoda, Penaeidae) from the coastal Gulf of Mexico.Crustaceana 84(12-13), 1547-1560. doi: 10.1163/156854011X605738

Scholnick, D. A., Burnett, K. G., & Burnett, L. E. (2006). Impact of exposure to bacteria on metabolism in the penaeid shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei. Biological Bulletin, 211(1), 44-49.

Many thanks to College of Charleston for hosting my project, Dr. Karen Burnett and Hollings Marine Laboratory for guidance and work space, and NSF for funding the REU program.

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