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Interdisciplinary Seminar: Lauren Speare

November 20, 2017 @ 12:20 pm - 1:20 pm

UNC Marine Sciences graduate student and Septer lab member, Lauren SpeareAn interdisciplinary seminar presented by UNC-CH Department of Marine Sciences graduate student, Lauren Speare.

Seminar Title: Impact of ocean acidification on Blue Mussel immune defense mechanisms

Abstract: Marine bivalves provide critical ecological and economic benefits through marine habitat creation, water filtration, and aquaculture. Microbes are ubiquitous in the water column and filter-feeding bivalves can concentrate pathogenic microbes without getting infected. They do so through a number of developed physical and biological barriers including calcium carbonate shells and immune cells. Climate change due to rising anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions is predicted to reduce the capacity for marine bivalves to combat potentially pathogenic infections. The blue mussel Mytilus edulis is an ideal candidate for studying bivalve immunity mechanisms as it has relatively low bacterial infection rates, enhanced immunity characteristics relative to other mussels. Additionally, M. edulis is already being impacted by climate change may serve as a good model system for understanding how bivalve immunity will be affected the future. Increased sea surface temperatures have reduced M. edulis habitat range by 350km in the last 50 years and ocean acidification will likely reduce the ability of M. edulis to form and maintain their calcium carbonate shells and may limit the functionality of their immunity cells. While individual stressors may have some effect on blue mussel physiology, combined and prolonged impacts can significantly alter the outcome of host-pathogen interactions.

Photo of Blue Mussels Mytilus edulis - image from Wikimedia Commons


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