BS Clinical Lab Science University of Maine 2010
I am working with Dr. Ian Bricknell investigating the immune response of red abalone. The goal is to develop basic hemolymph parameters that can be used to evaluate abalone health. This will then be applied to improving husbandry and welfare practices in aquaculture.
The red abalone Haliotis rufescens is the largest species of the 20 commercially important abalone species fished, cultured, and consumed around the world. This species is susceptible to disease issues such as Withering Foot Syndrome both in aquaculture and wild settings that can rapidly diminish populations. In order to improve husbandry techniques including prevention and treatment of disease a clear understanding of abalone immunology is needed.
The defense mechanisms of this marine gastropod against pathogens are still in the early stages of understanding. It is currently believed that abalone like most other invertebrates do not produce antibodies; therefore they would not have adaptive immune response to repeated infections. This study is of innate cellular and humoral factors of the red abalone. It is an initial attempt to establish baseline parameters of healthy abalone. These parameters are all components of the abalone hemolymph, blood equivalent, which can be collected non-destructively. The number, type, and phagocytic activity of circulating hemocytes, hemolymph cells, along with the presence of the bacteria rupturing enzyme lysozyme are the parameters being examined in this initial test. If consistent ranges for each of these immune factors can be established in healthy abalone a rapid diagnostic evaluation of animal health can be developed.
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