My name is Carmen Ucciferri and I am from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. I am going into my second year at StFX University, with the hopes of graduating with a Joint Honors in Biology and Math. I was always interested in participating in some type of research before I was done my undergraduate degree, and so this summer, I decided to become a part of the Wyeth Lab and to take on the task of studying the behavioural response to predator odours in the species of snail Lymnea stagnalis. I will be testing the snail’s responses in both flow and no flow condition using crayfish, which are a natural predator to this species of snail. While snails may not sound very exciting to some, I can’t wait to spend the summer working with them to further understand their behaviour!
My name is Meaghan MacDonald, I am entering my third year at StFX and working towards completing a BSc in biology with a math minor. This is my first summer on the research team and I will be working on testing antifouling treatments in the Bras D’or lakes. I am from Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia and grew up spending my summers by the ocean. I am excited that I can still enjoy spending time on the water through research. After my undergrad I plan to attend grad school with a focus in the medical field.
I am a second year student, originally from Caledon Ontario, working towards my BSc in Biology with a minor in Women and Gender Studies. I have embarked on a journey to become a veterinarian. I enjoy sciences and since a young age I have been passionate about animals. In previous summers I have volunteered with Rowland Mobile Veterinary Services and Southdown Animal Clinic, both in Ontario. This summer I am studying behavioral toxicology in the American Lobster. I’ll be working as a research assistant with Ella Maltby on this project. Along with animals, my interests include the performing arts. Whether it be playing a musical instrument, singing, participating in the dramatic arts or dance, I have experienced and enjoyed it all.
Here’s our summary: In aquatic environments, where the vast majority of animals live in darkness, key relationships are often formed and maintained by chemical communication (including smell and taste). Parasites with an aquatic life phase rely on an exquisite sense of chemosensation to detect host biomolecules (kairomones), allowing them to locate and infect their host. Our study identifies the first kairomone released by the freshwater gastropod snail Biomphalaria glabrata, an intermediate host for the helminth blood fluke parasite Schistosoma mansoni. This is a key aspect of the S. mansoni life-cycle that ultimately leads to human infection, causing the disease schistosomiasis (or bilharzia), which is considered the most devastating human helminth infection in terms of global morbidity and mortality. The kairomone we identify is a peptide that does not appear to share any similarity with any other known animal peptide. This information will be helpful as we explore methods to interrupt parasite infection, and therefore break the cycle of infection that causes a major human disease.
Citation: Wang T, Wyeth RC, Liang D, Bose U, Ni G, McManus DP, et al. (2019) A Biomphalaria glabrata peptide that stimulates significant behaviour modifications in aquatic free-living Schistosoma mansoni miracidia. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 13(1): e0006948. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0006948
Wyeth, R.C. 2019. Olfactory navigation in aquatic gastropods. Journal of Experimental Biology 222(Suppl 1): jeb185843. doi:10.1242/jeb.185843.
This was an invited review and the final outcome of last year’s Journal of Experimental Biology symposium and now part of a special issue from JEB: Linking brain and behaviour in animal navigation. The review covers what is known about the behaviour and neurobiology of aquatic slug and snail navigation – finding prey and mates and avoiding predators. Along side that in the special issue are other reviews of navigation research in insects, fish, bats, turtles, humans and more. Check out the journal’s summary here: Navigation: from animal behaviour to guiding principles (with Tritonia front and center yet again!). A big thank you to Ken Lukowiak, Dennis Willows and Marc Weissburg who were instrumental in sending RCW down the path that led here.