The National Science Foundation awarded Dr. Matthew Jenny, assistant professor of biological sciences at UA, a research grant for the project focusing on sea anemones, small animals related to the corals that build ocean reefs.
Jenny, working in collaboration with researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, will collect and preserve anemones pulled from coastal waters from Alabama to Louisiana.
“We will also bring back live specimens and maintain them in clean seawater to allow them to recover from the oil exposure,” Jenny said.
During the anemones’ recovery, the researchers will compare the live specimens to those preserved at the time of collection to see how the two groups’ functions and vital processes differ, as well as how they differ molecularly.
Jenny and his primary collaborator, Dr. Ann Tarrant, at Woods Hole, proposed using a specific kind of anemone, known by scientists as Nematostella vectensis, in part because its entire genome, or its total genetic content, has been sequenced.
This helps make it a useful model from which to learn and draw conclusions applicable to other organisms.
Following the late April explosion on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, millions of gallons of oil have poured into Gulf waters.
As microbes worked to naturally break down both the oil and the chemical dispersant added during containment efforts, this likely lowered the oxygen levels in Gulf waters, researchers say, further stressing sea life.
The UA project seeks to measure the extent of impact of the combined stressors of oil exposure and low oxygen, as well.
Using molecular techniques, Jenny and his collaborators will determine which genes in the anemones collected from oil-exposed sites have been affected and how this impacts various functions, including the animal’s ability to store energy and reproduce.
These results will be compared to complementary laboratory experiments where the one-inch-long anemones have been fed Artemia larvae contaminated with oil and dispersant. These larvae are microscopic, shrimp-like animals, raised in the laboratory within various concentrations of oil with or without dispersant.
These laboratory studies will assist researchers in determining if dispersant enhances the exposure to oil within food webs.
“The results of these experiments will provide insight into the different molecular and cellular processes that are used to protect the organism from combinations of stressors that are associated with the oil spill and exposure to oil or dispersed oil,” the researchers wrote in their grant application’s project summary.
The grant’s approximate $110,000 in funding is one of the NSF’s Rapid Response Research Grants which fund quick-response research on natural disasters or similar unanticipated events.
Results from this project, in combination with various other research efforts, are expected to assist scientists in predicting the long-term impact of the oil spill, and future disasters, on organisms and their environments.
Portions of the grant will also fund the training of two UA doctoral students in various scientific techniques used during the project.CONTACT: Chris Bryant, UA Media Relations, 205/348-8323, firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Bryant | Newswise Science News
Dune ecosystem modelling
23.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Understanding animal social networks can aid wildlife conservation
23.06.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)
An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
23.06.2017 | Information Technology