Dr. Laurie Connell, has worked in a variety of areas and is currently active in the fields of environmental oceanography, physiological and microbial ecology, and marine molecular genetics. One current area of her work has been in the study of paralytic shellfish toxins. Beginning in 2000, results were published (see publications) of an important mutation in the softshell clam, Mya arenaria, conferring resistance to shellfish toxin produced by the marine alga, Alexandrium. Ongoing work has looked at the distribution of resistant ecotypes along the Gulf of Maine Coast and trying to better understand how clam populations can shift towards resistance.
In addition, Dr. Connell has been involved with instrument development using biological sensors including the use of peptide nucleic acid sensors for more than a decade. Working in concert with the UMaine Engineering Department, the Connell Lab is utilizing molecular techniques to develop quick and accurate sensors for several applications. Current research has focused on detection of the harmful alga Alexandrium as well as the potato pathogen and select agent, Synchytrium endobioticum.
Finally, working with a number of collaborators (see collaborator page) Dr. Connell has been heading far south during the Maine winter. For several years she has been studying the fungi and yeast in the harsh environment of the McMurdo area around Ross Island, Antarctica. Collecting soils and placing microbial "traps" in an array of extreme environments the team is investigating colonization and the base of the food web utilizing volcanic substrates. Please browse our current project pages for more information.
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University of Maine
Orono, ME 04473