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Dr. Colleen Burge Doing Field Work in California

IMET Summer Internship Program

August 20, 2015 11:24 AM
NOAA-EPP Living Marine Resources Cooperative Science Center (LMRCSC) IMET Summer Internship Program

Each summer, the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology at the Inner Harbor offers students the opportunity to conduct research in marine sciences applying molecular tools.

The summer internship will provide orientation to working in a lab, seminars on the use of molecular techniques in fisheries and environmental research, a one-day workshop on communicating science, and a research project with an LMRCSC-associated faculty mentor.

The program consists of a 9-week research project mentored by an UMCES-LMRCSC associated faculty mentor, along with orientation to working in a lab, seminars on the use of molecular techniques in fisheries and environmental research, and a one-day workshop on communicating science.

Guest Post- Battling the Oyster Herpesvirus in California

by Shanai Brown
July 14, 2015

Colleen Burge, Shanai Brown, and Natalie Rivlin emerge from the mud flats of Tomales Bay, California after an adventure where they netted 60 native little neck clams (Protothaca staminea),16 macoma clams (Macomanustuta), and 5 razor clams (Solen rosaceus). Photo credit: Blythe Marshman

“Yes, oysters can be infected die from a herpesvirus, known as the Ostreid herpesvirus, which infects oysters and not humans” --Colleen Burge 

Dr. Colleen Burge is known for her research on the Pacific Oyster (Crassostrea gigas), in particular infections with the Ostreid herpesvirus I, or OsHV-1. OsHV-1 causes mass mortalities in spat and juvenile Pacific oysters globally (though only detected to date in Tomales and nearby Drakes Bays in the US, to date), and has become particular problematic in the past several years. One interesting caveat about OsHV-1 is its ability to infect multiple species of bivalves. Ms. Shanai Brown, a student from Morgan State University has joined Dr. Burge and her lab through the Living Marine Resource Cooperative Science Center (LMRCSC) to explore the possibility of native bivalves being infected with OsHV-1.  Though the virus has been detected in other commercial species (primarily non-native species) in the bay, only one species of native bivalves has ever been tested. Dr. Burge has been long interested in whether native bivalves may be infected by OsHV-1, and chose this specific project for Ms. Brown as part of her LMRCSC internship. In order to achieve this goal, Ms. Brown is accompanying Dr. Burge on a field expedition to Bodega Marine Laboratory (UC Davis) in Bodega Bay, California.  During the month of July, Ms. Brown is assisting Dr. Burge in collecting different species of bivalves and use molecular biology techniques, in particular OsHV-specific quantitative PCR to screen these animals for the virus. If any of the native animals have specific-products for OsHV-1, the next step is to sequence the DNA to confirm identity. 

Ms. Brown has also been assisting Dr. Burge with a project aimed at developing molecular biomarkers for OsHV-1 resistance in Pacific oysters, a California Sea Grant Project (with Carolyn Friedman at the University of Washington and Dennis Hedgecock at University of Southern California), and an industry partner, the Hog Island Oyster Company. Currently Ms. Brown has the honor of raising two families of oysters in the BML hatchery. Ms. Brown provides algae to the system and performs water changes everyday to ensure a healthy growing environment. Soon these oysters will be large enough to plant out in the field, and will be planted alongside commercial available C. gigas and other species.

Ms. Brown experiences clam digging in muddy Tomales Bay. Photo credit: Blythe Marshman

“I am very excited to be here in Bodega Bay, California with Dr. Burge. She is a brilliant scientist and I hope to learn as much as I can from her. This project has enhanced my critical thinking skills and has opened a new door for me in the field of research. I can not wait to get results from all the hard work we have put in.” –Shanai Brown

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