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Deborah Osborn, 2006 Hollings Fellows Summer Scholar

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Deborah Osborn

Hollings Scholar

Bucknell University, Chemical Engineering, 2007
Linda McCauley/Anderson Lab
Pseudo-nitzschia: Emerging HAB threat in the Gulf of Maine

Related NOAA Strategic Plan Goal:

Goal 1. Protect, restore and manage the use of coastal and ocean resources through ecosystem-based management.

Goal 2. Understand climate variability and change to enhance society’s ability to plan and respond.

Goal 3. Serve society’s needs for weather and water information.
Summary of Accomplishments

Pseudo-nitzschia is a marine diatom found in the Gulf of Maine (GOM). Some species are capable of producing domoic acid, which causes amnesic shellfish poisoning and is believed to have killed over twenty whales and forty seals in the GOM in 2003 alone. The species distribution and which species are toxic in the GOM is not well known, so the Anderson lab was awarded a NOAA grant to investigate in the interest of being able to inform the public of any danger arising from the domoic acid toxicity and developing the background information necessary to be able to respond to blooms.

My summer work consisted of using molecular techniques to identify the species of Pseudo-nitzschia in the GOM and determine whether molecular probes developed on the West Coast could be used here. I sampled nearshore and offshore waters in the GOM while participating on the Oceanus cruise OC425, established clonal cultures, identified the strains to the species level using molecular techniques, and compared the sequences I found to the molecular probes.

The analysis revealed four unique sequences resembling different species or strains of Pseudo-nitzschia. Comparing the molecular probes developed on the West Coast to these four sequences revealed that the probes will not work and must be redesigned. The sequence information and clonal cultures I established are a strong starting point for the continued work on Pseudo-nitzschia in the Gulf of Maine.

Presenting my work during the Hollings Conference at NOAA headquarters in Silver Springs, MD went very well and sparked numerous comments and questions on this project over my time there. I really enjoyed working in the Anderson Lab this summer thanks to the amazing people there and knowing the importance of the project I was contributing to.

Last updated: August 19, 2008

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