Current Projects

Clam and Oyster Genetics

The goal of these projects is to develop and utilize molecular genetic markers for the eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica and the hard clam, Mercinaria mercinaria. The molecular markers are being used for population genetic analyses, genetic tracking, of oyster restoration efforts with hatchery reared stocks and examination of the genetic interactions between hatchery stocks and wild populations. These markers will provide molecular information to facilitate breeding programs allowing for rapid development of a wide variety of strains and breeds with the long term goal of genetically improved strains for aquaculture and fishery replenishment.

Molluscan Parasite Genetics

Analysis of genetic variation in strains of Perkinsus marinus: Molecular markers have been developed which allow identification of Perkinsus marinus strains and examination of the population genetic structure of this oyster parasite. This research resulted in demonstration of strain variation within the species and a difference in distribution of strains geographically.

Phylogenetic analysis of protozoan parasites: This project examines the molecular phylogeny of haplosporidians, parasites of marine and freshwater invertebrates. Many species in the phylum Haplosporidia are pathogens of commercially important mollusks.

P. piscicidaDevelopment of molecular diagnostics for Pfiesteria-complex organisms: The objective is to develop molecular probes for the group of dinoflagellate known as Pfiesteria-complex organism. Pfiesteria pisicida has been blamed for many of the harmful algal blooms resulting in fish kills both in the wild and at aquaculture facilities in the US Atlantic coast region over the last several years.