Research

Currently Ongoing Research

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Dungeness Crab Health

The Dungeness crab, Metacarcinus magister, is a key species in coastal ecosystems of the Northern Pacific. This crab is intimately intertwined with the food web as a key predator but also as a food source for many other marine species. This food web is threatened by climate change and the acidification of the ocean. Little is known about how ocean acidification affects the health of marine invertebrates, such as the Dungeness crab.


We aim to develop a deeper understanding of Dungeness crab’s functional genomics and physiology and how climate change affects this key species. This research can inform marine resource management and conservation efforts.


Funding for this project is currently provided by the Oregon State University Agricultural Research Foundation. This project will be a part of Jennifer Hesser’s Master’s thesis.

(Photo: Fine Art by MacKenna Hainey)

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Increase Oyster Larval Survival 

Probiotics are defined as beneficial microorganisms (bacteria) that provide a health benefit to the host. In the aquaculture environment, these can be bacteria that are applied to the rearing water or ingested by the host via the food. 
Probiotics can have a wide variety of "mechanism of action", a prominent one is to directly inhibit or kill pathogenic bacteria.
We have identified a "cocktail" of four marine bacteria that increase survival, growth, and metamorphosis of Pacific oyster larvae.

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Improve Immune Response and Survival in Cultured Sablefish

Can phytobiotica added to the diet of Sablefish increase immune functions and the survival of Sablefish in an infection trial? More soon here.
(In the photo: REU Summer Student Serina from Cornell University layering sablefish headkidney macrophages for separation)

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Sablefish Blood Reference Interval Diagnostic Tool

Diagnostic tools are imperative in aquaculture. Sablefish are an emerging species in US aquaculture. This groundfish from the Northern Pacific is caught off the coast of Oregon and Alaska and mainly shipped to Japan as a delicacy. However, market demands in the USA are raising. Therefore, this species is intensely researched at the moment to develop a robust and sustainable sablefish mariculture industry. With funding from the Oregon Sea Grant and the Oregon State University Agricultural Research Foundation, we established hematology and blood plasma biochemistry Reference Intervals for the industry and aquatic medicine professionals.
(Photo: CCVM Summer Undergraduate Researcher Anabel drawing a blood sample.)

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Improving Spat Settlement 

Oyster settlement is a common bottleneck in oyster production. We are currently collecting preliminary data to improve the settling ratio and develop beneficial settlement substrates.

Image by K. Mitch Hodge

Alternative Finfish Diets

We are currently working on several projects to replace or reduce fish-derived feed ingredients for fish. Macroalgae, soybean+, and non-BSFL-insects are the focus in our lab. We evaluate growth, survival, disease resistance, immune response, and how the gut microbiome reacts. More on this soon.

Image by Pedro Lastra

Sea Star Wasting Disease

Since 2014, sea stars have experienced a mass-mortality event that is still ongoing. Causes remain speculative. Our aim is to establish a culturing protocol for the restoration of extinct populations and evaluate how ocean conditions affect the molecular heath of stars in the laboratory setting.

Image by Owen le Roux

Antimicrobial Resistances in Coastal Waters

Antimicrobial-resistant bacteria are an emerging threat to human health. These resistances are encoded on genes that can be passed on within bacterial communities. Bacteria can have resistances naturally encoded on their genome as a defense mechanism, but more recently bacteria become resistant to important antibiotics due to drug residues in human wastewater and other sources. We are currently expanding on our preliminary sample collection in the estuaries of Oregon. Stay tuned for some results.

Fresh Oysters

Increase Food Safety of Raw Oysters

Depuration is a post-harvest process that lets the oysters purge sand and bacteria in sterile seawater. Our project intends to increase the efficacy of this procedure by utilizing probiotics suspended in the depuration water. This project is funded by a USDA NIFA grant.

Contact us for more information about our research.

 

Oyster Larvae

These are happy oyster larvae under the microscope!

 

Our Amazing Undergraduates

While our music choices were questionable, Anabel and Serina did excellent work drawing post-mortem blood samples.