Copepod-Microbial Interactions

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» The Secret, Bizarre, and Amazing World of Plankton
Amalia joined several other MIT/WHOI Joint Program students at the Cambridge Science Festival in Spring 2013 to educate the public about the importance of plankton to our oceans. Amalia's live copepods were the stars of the show! Photos and video taken by Alexis Fischer

» Bacteria Hitchhike on Tiny Marine Life
Read this great Oceanus article written by Kate Madin to learn more about our work on studying copepod - Vibrio interactions.

The emergence of cholera epidemics has been shown to closely track with large blooms of copepods, which are abundant aquatic crustaceans that harbor the causative agent of cholera (the bacterium Vibrio cholerae). Attachment to copepods provides Vibrio and many other types of bacteria with a steady supply of nutrients and protection from environmental stresses, leading to increased growth rates and production relative to those “free-living” bacteria in the surrounding seawater. Therefore, copepods represent important environmental reservoirs of a wide range of bacteria, including many animal and human pathogens.

We are interested probing the dynamic nature of the interactions between copepods and the bacteria that live on them. Amalia’s thesis work focuses on exploring how the physiology of the copepod host is affected when it is colonized by different Vibrio species and conversely, how the microbial communities are affected by sustained changes in copepod physiology. These two projects are described in more detail below:

Eurytemora affinis response to Vibrio bacteria

The ability to discriminate between beneficial and pathogenic microbes is critical to animal fitness, yet whether copepods are able to actively select for or against particular microbial colonizers is not well understood. In this study, the global transcriptomic response of the estuarine copepod Eurytemora affinis to colonization by a range of Vibrio species will be characterized via Illumina RNA-Seq to identify the mechanisms by which copepod hosts may respond to and discriminate between colonizing Vibrio species. 

This work is in collaboration with the Tracy Mincer lab at WHOI. 

The microbiome of active and diapausing Calanus finmarchicus individuals

The ecological factors that control the assembly of microbial communities on zooplankton are not well understood. The dramatic physiological changes associated with diapause in C. finmarchicus (see Ann’s page on Calanus Diapause regulation) provide a unique system to study how a sustained physiological change of a copepod host may influence its bacterial associates.We will investigate this question by comparing the abundance and composition of the microbial communities on individual active and diapausing Calanus finmarchicus.

This work is in collaboration with the Martin Polz lab at MIT and the Mark Baumgartner lab at WHOI.



Amalia’s thesis studies have been funded by the EPA STAR Fellowship, the NSF Graduate Fellowship, and the WHOI Ocean Venture Fund. 


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Last updated June 27, 2013
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