Ian Hewson (Microbiology)

Recipients: 

Ian Hewson (Microbiology)

Project Title: 
Building Cornell – Chile collaborations in marine science and metagenomics through exploration of viruses in the Chilean sea urchin Loxechinus albus
Project Abstract: 
Echinoderms (and sea urchins in particular) are important constituents of marine habitats, and are an important fishery for several countries. Despite a growing understanding of viruses as agents of marine disease, there remains much to be learned about the diversity of viruses infecting urchins, and their potential roles in host mortality. More widely, there is also a need to disseminate viral metagenomic techniques to other countries to facilitate surveillance of potential pathogens of important fishery species. We propose to further our investigation of echinoderm viruses by studying their diversity within erizo rojo in coastal Chile, in collaboration with a scientist from the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Valparaiso. The Cornell principal investigator will travel to Valparaiso to collect and process the urchins for viral metagenomics with the Chilean principal investigator, then ship processed material to Cornell University for DNA sequencing at the Core Life Sciences Laboratory. The Chilean principal investigator will travel to Cornell to conduct bioinformatic (DNA annotation) activities and present her research as part of the Microbiology Seminar Series. Results of this study will be used to prepare a research proposal to the National Science Foundation (Biological Oceanography program) to study the ecological effects of detected viruses on echinoderms.