Evolution of Disease Resistance


In collaboration with Drs. Eileen Hofmann and John Klinck at the Center for Coastal and Physical Oceanography at Old Dominion University and Dr. Eric Powell at the University of Southern Mississippi, I have been studying the mechanisms by which oysters in Delaware Bay are able to evolve genetically in response to disease pressure.


This research uses a numerical modeling approach that incorporates individual-based genetics, spatially-explicit population dynamics, and larval connectivity.  The model relies on a timeseries of oyster fishery data collected at the Haskin Lab over the past century to tune the model to the biology of the oysters in Delaware Bay and has provided important advances in our understanding of larval connectivity in possible mechanisms for evolutionary responses in Delaware Bay1.  Oyster diseases in many areas, including Delaware Bay, cause high annual mortality, which in turn leads to lost harvest from the wild oyster fishery.  A greater understanding of the ways that oyster populations can respond to these diseases will help to create a more stable and sustainable fishery.



1Munroe, D., Klinck, J., Hofmann, E., Powell, E.N.P.  2012. The role of larval dispersal in metapopulation gene flow: local population dynamics matter. Journal of Marine Research. 70: 441-467.