by | May 26, 2016 | 0 comments

New Virus Infecting Sea Stars Discovered Using OGL Samples

Why do sea stars get sick? What does that mean for our oceans? Ocean Genome Legacy (OGL) is collecting samples to help solve these mysteries.

Last summer, students and scientists at the Northeastern University Marine Science Center noticed something odd about the local sea stars: the sickly stars were wasting away, and their limbs were falling off. It looked like this might be a case of sea star wasting disease, a plague that’s recently devastated sea stars in the Pacific Northwest. Sea stars are key predators of other invertebrates, so healthy sea stars are important for keeping marine ecosystems in balance.

OGL samples are helping Ian Hewson’s lab to study viruses that infect sea stars. Photo credit: Cornell University.


To study what might be infecting Nahant’s sea stars, OGL scientists sent samples to Prof. Ian Hewson’s lab at Cornell University. Researchers used these samples to identify a new virus, which was genetically similar to the disease-causing virus from the Pacific coast. But does the new virus also cause disease? Or is it just a look-alike? The OGL samples will help develop new methods to identify and compare marine viruses worldwide, and hopefully inspire new ways to protect sea stars and their ecosystems.

The OGL biorepository works with scientists around the globe to preserve valuable DNA samples that may someday lead to new cures and discoveries. If you would like to support our efforts, please consider making a gift.


The Wacky Underwater World 

What animal lives more than 250 years but never eats a thing? If you guessed the deep-sea tubeworm Escarpia laminata, you would be correct—and also probably a deep-sea biologist!   Escarpia laminata lives near deep-sea cold seeps, places where methane...

OGL publishes a new paper—about itself!

Have you ever wondered what goes on at the Ocean Genome Legacy Center? If so, you are not alone.   We frequently receive questions such as: Who can use OGL’s collections? What is in them? Where do the samples come from? How do I contact and work with OGL? To answer...

Nightmare fuel from the sea

It is Halloween again, and time for us to dress up and terrify our neighbors! Let’s look at the winners of this year’s spookiest creatures of the deep blue sea! Second place—Chondrocladia verticillata What if SpongeBob developed a taste for fresh meat? The answer is...

Meet OGL’s new faces—and their new projects!

This month, OGL is welcoming a new postdoctoral fellow and two new co-op students! Did you know that some bacteria stab their competitors with poison darts? In her PhD research at UNC Chapel Hill, Dr. Lauren Speare showed how glowing symbionts use this strategy to...

New Tools for Teachers

Science teachers are awesome! Middle and high school teachers are on the front lines of science education, teaching a generation that not only can save our planet, but must. To do our small part to help these heroes, Ocean Genome Legacy and the Outreach Program at...