3) Microbial dynamics | University of Maryland Eastern Shore Marketing Retarget Pixel

3) Microbial dynamics

  • Subproject 3: Climate variability and microbial dynamics in the Maryland Coastal Bays 

    Project Leader: Salina Parveen


    Other Investigators: 

    • Joseph Pitula, Ph.D. (UMES) 
    • John Jacobs, Ph.D. (NOAA) 
    • Sook Chung, Ph.D.(UMCES-IMET) 
    • Paulinus Chigbu, Ph.D. (UMES) 
    • Kenneth Kunkel, E., Ph.D. (NCSU)


    Project Goals 

    • Investigate spatial, seasonal and inter-annual variations in the occurrence of heterotrophic bacterioplankton, Vibrio parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus in water and blue crabs in relation to biotic and abiotic factors in order to improve our understanding of their dynamics in the MCBs, and the coastal ocean
    • Develop predictive models of V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus occurrence based on these findings which may be applied to future climate scenarios
    • Investigate the microbial community in blue crab and water samples using 16 S rRNA genes
    • Explore the role of Vibriospp. as a stressor, and potential co-infecting microbe, in crustaceans using blue crabs as our model organisms

    Project Summary

    Evidence indicates that climate change may affect the ecology of infectious diseases. Recently, it has been reported that climate variability influences the abundance and ecology of pathogens and the microbial community. Several studies reported the seasonal distribution of blue crab (Callinectes sapidus) pathogens including the dinoflagellate Hematodinium perezi, Reo-like Virus (RLV), and human pathogens Vibrio parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus in aquatic environments. Maryland Coastal Bays (MCBs) are undergoing a similar decline in water quality which has been observed in the larger Chesapeake Bay system. In the MCB ecosystem, it has been estimated that about 11% of the blue crab population is infected with Hematodinium sp. and approximately 30% of crabs are positive for pathogenic V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus. However, information is limited regarding the influence of climate variability on microbial dynamics in mid-Atlantic coastal lagoons in general, and in particular, the MCBs.

    The proposed project will address this data gap through four specific objectives:

    1. Investigate the environmental occurrence and abundance of heterotrophic bacterioplankton including V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus, in relation to biotic and abiotic factors over a five year period to improve our understanding of bacterial dynamics;
    2. Develop predictive models of V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus occurrence based on these findings which may be applied to future climate scenarios;
    3. Investigate the broader microbial community in blue crab and water samples using 16S rRNA genes;
    4. Explore the role of commensal Vibrio spp. as stressors of blue crab immunological responses, and their influence on blue crab disease.