New, effective DNA method for discovering fish spawning grounds

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Towing a plankton net to scoop up fish eggs may be routine, but determining the species is a different matter altogether.  A collaboration of two labs at the College of Marine Science uses a new method to discover fish spawning grounds through analysis of the DNA in fish eggs. 

The vast majority of fish in the ocean are broadcast spawners –the female releases eggs in large quantities to float around until the larvae hatch and swim away on their own.  A problem facing many fisheries managers is the time it takes to estimate fish populations.  A new method utilizing DNA will likely reduce that time from years to months. 

Dr. Ernst Peebles realized that existing fish population methods could be extended to a much larger number of species through new technologies and new databases like FISH-BOL (fish barcode of life).  With the development of the Marine Resource Assessment program in 2010 here at the college, Dr. Mya Breitbart was eager to collaborate with fisheries ecologists on gaps in the body of research that molecular biology methods might fill. 

A process called DNA barcoding focuses on a segment of DNA that is short enough to be efficiently sequenced but long enough to allow for identification of species.  While most fish eggs look alike, their DNA does not.

Working in one of Dr. Breitbart’s microbiology labs, USFSP senior Makenzie Burrows performs much of the hands-on DNA work related to this project.  Dr. Breitbart explains the process further, “When we sequence this gene, we can then compare it against the database and that tells us what species each fish egg belongs to.”

From the original proof-of-concept study done in small Terra Ceia Bay (near the mouth of Tampa Bay), the DNA barcoding of fish eggs has expanded to cover the entire Gulf of Mexico. 

With the identification data from Dr. Breitbart’s lab, fish population researchers can use the number of floating eggs, compare that with the rate of egg production and calculate the number of females releasing eggs for each species.

Dr. Peebles points out that this method is not only rapid, but could be very cost effective in comparison to conventional methods.

The most exciting aspect of this project for fisheries scientists is the discoveries that await them.  Dr. Peebles notes, “This method is one of the best, if not the best, methods of detecting spawning in marine fish.” 

And by identifying new spawning grounds, resource managers have the ability to increase protection of spawning habitats to ensure the longevity of ecologically and economically important species.

Breitbart Lab Website 

Last modified on Monday, 08 May 2017 13:13

Broadening not strengthening of the Agulhas Current since the early 1990’s

ST. PETERSBURG, FL -

Speaker: Lisa Beal

Affiliation: Univ. of Miami, RSMAS

Seminar Title: Broadening not strengthening of the Agulhas Current since the early 1990’s

When: Apr. 28, 2017 3:30pm EST

Where: MSL Conference Room (134)

Host: Mark Luther

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Last modified on Thursday, 27 April 2017 17:26

Makenna Martin receives Joseph A. Cushman Student Research Award

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - The Board of Directors of the Cushman Foundation for Foraminiferal Research has selected Makenna Martin's thesis project on Investigating the Microbial Associations of Symbiont-Bearing Foraminifera on Florida’s Reefs for a fully funded 2017 Joseph A. Cushman Award.   Congratulations to Makenna!

Investigating sediment transport over a 15 year time period on the West Florida Shelf

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Lewis Stewart's research investigates sediment transport over a 15 year time period on the West Florida Shelf. Satellite imagery from Digital Globe Foundation will be important in this investigation, because it will allow Lewis to quantitatively estimate bathymetry and search for visual changes. This imagery grant would give Lewis important access to these high-resolution data, which can be accurately compared to multibeam acoustic data previously collected in this area. This imagery grant would dramatically improve Lewis Stewart's data analyses and improve chances for publishing my thesis in a peer-reviewed journal.

Ryan Venturelli wins second place at 2017 Statewide Graduate Student Research Symposium

ST. PETRSBURG, FL - Ryan Venturelli's poster was selected as on outstanding entry in the 2017 Statewide Graduate Student Research Symposium held on Friday, April 21, 2017 at the University of South Florida.

Second Place - Natural and Physical Sciences
Ryan Venturelli - Title - "Almost Only Counts in Horseshoes and Clumped Isotopes: An Improved Understanding of the Effect of Pressure Baseline on Reconstruction of Temperatures from the Geologic Past"

In March, Ryan Venturelli won the 9th Annual Graduate Research Symposium for the Natural and Physical Sciences category. Because of this symposium, Ryan was given the opportunity to present at the Florida Statewide Graduate Student Symposium in which she received a second place award for the Natural and Physical Sciences category.

Last modified on Monday, 24 April 2017 22:43

C-SCAMP team offshore on the Weatherbird II

WEST FLORIDA SHELF, GULF OF MEXICO - C-SCAMP research team performed towed video data collection using the CBASS camera system along with acoustic data collection (multibeam sonar of the seafloor and an echo sounder for the fish in the water column) on the West Florida Shelf, specifically in the areas known as “The Elbow” and the Florida Middle Grounds.  They captured the images below along a section of the Gulfstream pipeline.  It's a sandbar shark and a loggerhead turtle and C-SCAMP has seen a healthy population of fish. 

Visit C-SCAMP

View the embedded image gallery online at:
http://www.marine.usf.edu/news?start=112#sigFreeIdc40f5091b1

Last modified on Monday, 24 April 2017 14:14

Seven years later: BP oil spill settlement funding new way to manage fish populations

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - More than 30,000 fish species exist. But it's always been a guessing game on where they originate. A new technique developed by researchers at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science is paving the way in discovering where a wide-range of species spawn. It's a difficult task as 95% of fish in the world release their eggs into the water and drift away.

Read full article

 

More about the latest efforts and research by USF and local researchers.

Since the spill the C-IMAGE Consortium has advanced understanding of the processes, mechanisms, and environmental consequences of marine oil blowouts through collaborative efforts across the Gulf and internationally.

The Florida Institute of Oceanography has also played a key role in fostering collaborative efforts after the spill through the use of their vessels and managing penalty and Restore Act monies from BP.

BeneathTheHorizon.org - Interactive oil spill timeline chronicling Deepwater Horizon and Ixtoc spills.

Deepwater Horizon: Seven years after explosion and oil spill, study finds clean-up workers got sicker - Craig Pittman, Tampa Bay Times

Seven years after BP spill, Gulf-focused consortium continues research, releases new website - Mote Marine Lab

40-Year-Old Oil Spill Offers Clues To Deepwater Horizon's Long-Term Impact - Texas Public Radio

Projections of climate driven changes on blood oxygen affinity in pelagic habitats

ST. PETERSBURG, FL -

Speaker: Allison K. Smith

Affiliation: Univ. Washington

Seminar Title: Projections of climate driven changes on blood oxygen affinity in pelagic habitats

When: Apr. 21, 2017 3:30pm EST

Where: MSL Conference Room (134)

Host: Brad Seibel

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NOSB 20th Anniversary

CORVALLIS, OR - The Annual and 20th Anniversary National Ocean Sciences Bowl (NOSB) National Finals Competition will take place next week on April 20-23, 2017, in Corvallis, OR. This year’s Finals are hosted by Salmon Bowl and Ocean Leadership member, Oregon State University.  As 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the NOSB, they are celebrating with a retrospective on the program via social media. Their '20 days of NOSB' campaign launched a couple of weeks ago.

During this 20 day period, leading up to the Opening Ceremony of the 2017 Finals on April 20th, they'll be sharing photos, participant stories, historical and fun facts, and more. 

Join them on TwitterFacebookInstagram, and Tumblr, using @NOSBRocks, #20DaysNOSB, #NOSB17, and #NOSBturns20.

Last modified on Friday, 14 April 2017 13:44

PhD student Liz Fahsbender selected for NSF EAPSI Fellowship in Japan

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - PhD student Liz Fahsbender was selected to participate in the highly competitive NSF East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes (EAPSI) program, where she will study the viruses found in ticks alongside researchers at Hokkaido University in Japan this summer.