by | Apr 4, 2017 | 0 comments

There’s a New Crab Investigator in Town

Asian shore crabs, a highly invasive species, first appeared on the coast of New Jersey in the late 80s and have since spread up and down the East Coast. This winter, a talented high school student named Margaret “Maggie” Slein and her science teacher, Raymond Whitehouse, came to the Ocean Genome Legacy (OGL) seeking help on a project to understand the spread of this invasive crab in Massachusetts.

Crabs begin their lives as larvae, drifting with currents, spreading from one location to another. As juveniles, they can easily get picked up in the ballast water of large ships only to be released at distant locations. This is how Asian shore crabs, Hemigrapsus sanguineus, most likely made their way from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean. Introduced species like this one pose a threat to biodiversity because they may compete with local species for space and food, potentially disturbing the local food webs.

Upper left: Asian shore crab. Lower left: OGL collection kit with sample. Right: Margaret Slein in the lab at OGL. Photo credits: OGL

Maggie, a senior at Archbishop Williams High School in Scituate, MA, wanted to find out more about this crab invasion using DNA to investigate the crabs’ genetic variability and potentially discover their place of origin. She collected samples with an OGL kit, then came to OGL to work with the DNA in our genetics laboratory.

Maggie first learned about these invasive crabs during an internship at the New England Aquarium, after which she applied for and won a grant from the Marjot Foundation to study the species. Last week her hard work paid off. Maggie won first place at the Annual South Shore Regional Science Fair, and will go on to compete in the International Science and Engineering Fair in Los Angeles this May.

Please join us in wishing Maggie the best of luck as she competes against some of the top high school scientists in the world!

The OGL biorepository works with researchers, educators, and citizen scientists around the globe to preserve valuable DNA samples and inspire the next generation of ocean stewards. If you would like to support our efforts, please consider making a gift.

RECENT NEWS BRIEFS

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...

X