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2006 Funded Pilot Projects
Anthropogenic impacts and profiling fecal microbial populations at a salt marsh
PI: Mitch Sogin (MBL)
Transcriptional Markers of Life Cycle Transitions in Harmful Algal BloomsPI: Don Anderson (WHOI )
Bloom dynamics of the red tide dinoflagellate, Alexandrium fundyense are driven in large part by transitions in its life cycle. While these stages are well documented, the biological and oceanographic forces that trigger transitions between the stages are not. A major obstacle to determining the conditions that trigger these transitions is our inability to rapidly identify sexual stage cells. Here, a novel transcriptome experiment will be used to discover molecules that are uniquely expressed by conjugating gamete cells and by germinating cysts. This experiment will utilize sequencing-by-synthesis technology that is newly available through the Bay Paul Center. Data from the experiment will be analyzed in a fashion that is directly analogous to SAGE. Results will be used to leverage a larger, multi-year proposal to verify and validate transcriptional markers discovered through the proposed work.
The Economic Effects of Harmful Algal Blooms: A pilot project to estimate the costs of human respiratory ailments associated with aerosolized brevetoxinsPI(s): Porter Hoagland and Di Jin (WHOI); Lora Fleming (Miami)
This study will estimate the costs-of-illness associated with human respiratory ailments that arise as the consequence of the aerosolization and coastal to inland transport of brevetoxins from blooms of the marine dinoflagellate, Karenia brevis, in the Gulf of Mexico. The research will develop models to link the occurrence of HAB events in the coastal-ocean with exposures to aerosolized brevetoxins. The researchers will compile datasets and develop models of illness rates that would permit historical estimates of these kinds of impacts and the simulation of future potential impacts. This is a proof-of-concept Pilot Project designed to develop an analytical framework that can be used on a larger scale, using more extensive datasets in the future. It is critical that we understand the costs of natural hazards such as HAB events for at least two reasons. First, the nature of the costs (their effect) and their incidence (who is affected and at what rate) will enable the characterization of feasible actions to mitigate the costs. Second, the scale of the costs will help resource managers, scientists, and the general public to gauge the levels of and need for potential mitigation.
The Economics of Human Health Risks from Pathogens and Toxins in the Marine EnvironmentPI(s): Hauke Kite-Powell and Porter Hoagland (WHOI)
These researchers will produce an “order of magnitude” estimate of the annual human health cost imposed on residents of the United States by exposure to pathogens and toxins from the marine environment. The estimate will be derived from a review and synthesis of information in the existing literature on (1) the spatial and temporal prevalence of marine pathogens, (2) the pathways by which they affect humans and the potentially exposed populations, (3) the human health effects of exposure, and (4) the economic cost of resulting medical conditions. The estimate will inform future research on pathogens in the marine environment, allowing scholars and public officials to target pathogens and settings where improved scientific understanding is most likely to produce significant economic benefits, and setting the stage for focused economic analyses. (co-funded with the WHOI Marine Policy Center)