Alex Young has published the first (of hopefully three!) articles from his MSc. This first one is a key step for a new way to explore the peripheral nervous system of gastropods. Working with transcriptome data shared by Dan Jackson and with Carmen Landry‘s help in the lab, Alex established which genes have highly stable gene expression in the pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis, and therefore which would be effective as a reference when studying the relative expression levels of other genes (such as genes expressed in neurons – that’s manuscript number two in the works).
Young AP, Landry CF, Jackson DJ, Wyeth RC.2019. Tissue-specific evaluation of suitable reference genes for RT-qPCR in the pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis. PeerJ7:e7888https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.7888
Wyeth lab alumn Kieran Murphy has just published his first two peer-reviewed articles. The first documents his (massive) efforts during his MSc to survey both abundances of the invasive vase tunicate Ciona intestinalis and potentially corresponding environmental conditions. His goal was to test whether temperature, salinity, etc. could explain variations in the abundances of this species around Nova Scotia. The result? No clear links between abiotic conditions and population growth patterns, which has implications for predicting and managing the spread of this nuisance species. The second is an exciting new collaboration that developed as an offshoot from his MSc. Ping Ni from Aibin Zhan‘s group used Ciona collected by Kieran and his temperature data to discover temperature-linked epigenetic changes in an invasive species. Congrats to Kieran and Ping!
Murphy, K.J., Sephton, D., Klein, K., Bishop, C.D., and Wyeth, R.C. 2019. Abiotic conditions are not sufficient to predict spatial and interannual variation in abundance of Ciona intestinalis in Nova Scotia, Canada. Marine Ecology Progress Series 628: 105–123. doi:10.3354/meps13076.
Ni, P., Murphy, K.J., Wyeth, R.C., Bishop, C.D., Li, S., and Zhan, A. 2019. Significant population methylation divergence and local environmental influence in an invasive ascidian Ciona intestinalis at fine geographical scales. Mar Biol 166(11): 143. doi:10.1007/s00227-019-3592-3.
A huge thanks to Michelle, Areej and new volunteers Sarah and Sam. We wrapped up this year’s data collection on our biofouling and antifouling projects. Eight separate surveys spread across 3 sites meant an 11 hour day and trailer full of deployment frames by the end of it. Fantastic weather offset the stinkiness!
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.