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Collaborative Research: Identifying Environmental Determinants Favorable For The Presence And Transmission Of Pathogenic Vibrios


<p>Bacteria classified by scientists as Vibrio are very common in the ocean and some are capable of causing disease in humans. The three major causes of disease are Vibrio cholerae, V. parahaemolyticus and V. vulnificus. Cholera and the so-called non-cholera diseases or vibrioses are reportable to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). All three of these vibrios cause gastroenteritis and wound infections, and in the U.S. the most common agent of disease is V. parahaemolyticus whereas the most lethal is V. vulnificus. Very little is known about the environmental factors that determine the abundance and distribution of these vibrios in their natural environments where they come in contact with humans as a result of swimming or eating undercooked seafood. This research will use the tools of modern molecular biology and chemical oceanography to determine the environmental drivers of vibrio abundance and distribution. Specifically, this project will measure vibrio levels in water, bottom sediment, and oysters in three ecologically and geographically distinct locations - Chesapeake Bay, Gulf of Mexico and Puget Sound. These data will be correlated with plankton densities and with the following environmental determinants: sea surface temperature, chlorophyll, turbidity, salinity, dissolved organic carbon, primary productivity, particulate organic carbon and nitrogen, dissolved inorganic nutrients, and suspended particulate matter. By linking the in situ measurements with remote sensing imagery, it will be possible to more accurately describe these relationships when real-time environmental sampling is not possible. In addition, this project will host an annual Summer Research Institute to train eight high school students per year in laboratory settings. It is expected that this research will result in a more accurate description of the environmental determinants that influence vibrio abundance and distribution.</p>

Johnson, Crystal N
Louisiana State University
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