Wow – it’s been over a fortnight since last I blogged here. You must all be wondering: What on earth is going on? Well, the simple answer is that Ian has been away on a kind of ‘speaking tour’ while Elliot’s been back in the lab trying to kill sea stars (with success), and Kalia’s been trying to kill amphipods (with great success).
First, to the speaking tour. Ian traveled on Oct 15th to Muskegon, MI, where he spoke at the Annis Water Research Institute on the ecology of ssDNA viruses. This included an update on current SSWD work, our current work with Amphipod circoviruses, and also some historical perspective on the whole research field. This was followed immediately by The Wildlife Society conference in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada), where Ian spoke about SSWD in a special session addressing wildlife disease. Not only was Ian’s talk the only focused on any invertebrate at the conference, but it was one of only a handful on marine animals. Certainly an interesting conference to attend! Ian also happened to catch the Canadian Federal Election, where Justin Trudeau won in a landlslide. After leaving Winnipeg, Ian traveled to Baltimore, where he spoke at the University of Maryland Institute for Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET) – an impressive facility located in downtown Baltimore – about SSWD. Finally, after a week back at home in Ithaca, Ian spoke at the University at Buffalo about ssDNA viruses. Thus ended the speaking tour!
Kalia has been hard at work trying to kill amphipods. She’s tackling this project on two fronts: First, she is attempting to infect arthropod cell cultures with amphipod-derived viruses, which some success. It’s definitely slow-going and meticulous work, but looks like she has a circovirus or two propagating in culture. Second. she’s attempting mesocosm experiments, where the cultured virus is inoculated into amphipods in small mesocosms, then seeing what happens to biochemical and geochemical processes. Stay tuned for these results!
Elliot’s been trying to kill sea stars through challenge, but has met with limited success. While it’s easy to kill the sea stars through poor water quality, it seems that viral challenge doesn’t work quite as well all the time. However, the virus is being transmitted. And we did make a pretty solid breakthrough about which tissues are infected, which gives us ammo for future work. In short, we don’t expect results, based on our current hypothesis, until the spring, but it’s an interesting study of microbial ecology when they die in the absence of any other stressors.
So now Ian is off to California to work in the museum collections at the California Academy and the LA County Museum of Natural History, as well as visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Then it’s back for a couple of weeks then off to Australia on our grand adventure to the Great Southern Land.