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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Doing Business As Name:University of Mississippi
  • Deborah J Gochfeld
  • (662) 915-6769
Award Date:07/17/2007
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 231,103
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 231,103
  • FY 2007=$231,103
Start Date:11/01/2007
End Date:10/31/2011
Transaction Type:Grant
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.050
Primary Program Source:490100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:Collaborative Research: Aplysina Red Band Syndrome: Investigating the etiology, pathogenesis, and ecology of an emerging marine disease
Federal Award ID Number:0727996
DUNS ID:067713560
Parent DUNS ID:067713560
Program Officer:
  • David L. Garrison
  • (703) 292-8582

Awardee Location

Street:100 BARR HALL
Awardee Cong. District:01

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:University of Mississippi
Street:100 BARR HALL
Cong. District:01

Abstract at Time of Award

The emergence of new diseases and the re-emergence of adapted forms of familiar diseases have renewed interest in the roles of pathogens in natural ecosystems. Pathogens are important regulating factors within host populations, as they can impact distribution, growth and reproduction. In the marine environment, epidemic outbreaks of unknown diseases have been reported with alarming frequency over the last two decades, yet little is known regarding the causes of these diseases or their effects on hosts, host populations, and communities. Gochfeld and colleagues recently described a new disease affecting Caribbean sponges of the genus Aplysina, a dominant component of Caribbean coral reef communities. Aplysina Red Band Syndrome (ARBS) is widespread in the Caribbean, and has rapidly increased in prevalence, making it an ideal study system to increase our understanding of emerging diseases on coral reefs. The research is timely and studying a non-coralline model of marine diseases is significantly beneficial, particularly in light of restrictions on collecting corals, even for research purposes. The goals of this research proposal are to characterize the etiology (causes) and pathogenesis (effects) of ARBS as a newly emerging disease on coral reefs. This research addresses four objectives: (1) Characterize the microbial community associated with ARBS; (2) Examine host responses to ARBS at the ecological, physiological and biochemical levels; (3) Examine the relationships between ARBS prevalence and other members of the coral reef community; and (4) Investigate the effects of environmental stressors on ARBS susceptibility and virulence. The research takes a multidisciplinary approach to the study of marine diseases. In addition to supporting the multidisciplinary field and laboratory research experiences of three graduate students, this project will allow undergraduate students to perform ecological research using modern molecular and biochemical technologies. Protocols and results from this project will be incorporated into courses taught by the PIs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The PIs will work with the Alabama Science in Motion Program, the McWane Center (Birmingham, AL) and the Central Gulf of Mexico Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence to develop field and laboratory exercises in environmental sciences targeted to middle-school and high-school science courses. In addition, public presentations with the Alabama Museum of Natural History, Mississippi''''s J.L. Scott Marine Education Center, and the McWane Center will enhance public awareness of these invertebrates, their importance in the marine environment, and general environmental issues that threaten their survival. Results from this research will further our knowledge of host-pathogen relationships, enhance our understanding of these interactions in coral reef systems, and improve coral reef conservation efforts.

Publications Produced as a Result of this Research

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Freeman, CJ; Thacker, RW "Complex interactions between marine sponges and their symbiotic microbial communities" LIMNOLOGY AND OCEANOGRAPHY, v.56, 2011, p.1577. doi:10.4319/lo.2011.56.5.157  View record at Web of Science

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