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Proposal Seminar: Kelsey Jesser
March 7, 2016 @ 9:00 am - 10:00 am
“Novel Approaches for the Detection of Vibrio in Marine Waters and Shellfish” The genus Vibrio encompasses a diverse and abundant group of heterotrophic bacteria which are ubiquitous and abundant members of the native flora in coastal and estuarine waters. Vibrio species play key roles in the recycling of organic matter and occupy a wide array of niches in marine ecosystems, as free-living members of the bacterioplankton, attached to sediments and algal particles, and in association with other organisms as symbionts or pathogens. Though many Vibrio associated with human and animal hosts are benign, several recognized species are important pathogens, including Vibrio vulnificus and V. parahaemolyticus. These organisms are common in marine waters and shellfish and are typically studied using culture-based and molecular approaches which are not appropriate for the detection and ecological characterization of virulent strains. For my dissertation, I propose to develop and utilize new approaches to improve ecological assessments of Vibrio within in the context of virulence. To that end, my dissertation goals are as follows: 1) to develop methods for the targeted capture and concentration of Vibrio from complex environmental samples, 2) to identify novel targets for the specific and rapid detection of Vibrio pathogens via quantitative PCR, and 3) to utilize 16S metagenomics alongside estuarine water quality and environmental data to monitor and study Vibrio dynamics in the Neuse River Estuary. Through the direct advancement of tools for Vibrio detection, identification, and ecological characterization, this work will contribute to an enhanced understanding of Vibrio in North Carolina and worldwide.