Gazing into Past to See the Future

Microbial Ecology of Sea Star Wasting Disease

On Weds evening, Ian arrived in Southern California (Los Angeles) to visit the Echinoderms Collection at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. Ian had previously worked with the Collections Manager, Cathy Groves, and Curator of Echinoderms, Gordon Handler, on historical sea stars in 2014 as part of our wider study into SSaDV in asteroids on the Pacific Coast; this aspect of the project revealed that SSaDV had been present on the west coast of North America for >72 years based on amplification of two genes on SSaDV’s genome. One of the goals of our new project is to examine how genomes have varied across their entire length between then and now, and also geographically. To this end, Ian sampled an additional 45 asteroids, from the 1940s and late 1990s from southern California. The process of sampling these animals is quite complicated, as first the specimens need to be…

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