Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 1-20-2022

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Biomolecular Sciences

First Advisor

Kristine Willett

Second Advisor

Deborah Gochfeld

Third Advisor

John Rimoldi

Relational Format



Crassostrea virginica, the Eastern oyster, is an environmentally and economically important species along the East coast and in the Gulf of Mexico. Environmentally, oysters are filter feeders, cleaning the water of contaminants. They also provide habitat and shelter for other marine species. Oysters are of significant economic value as seafood to nearby communities as well. Eastern oyster populations have been significantly adversely affected by the parasite Perkinsus marinus, which causes Dermo disease. Dermo affects oysters during times of warm temperatures and high salinities and has the potential to wipe out entire populations of oysters. Throughout this study, the presence of Dermo was followed by collecting oysters from different sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Gene expression of heat shock protein-70, galectin, anti-apoptosis protein, and sodium hydrogen exchanger protein was evaluated because these genes can indicate environmental and immune stress. In oysters studied here, Dermo was not found, which can be explained by the environmental conditions at the time of harvest. Furthermore, significant alterations in stress and immune related gene expression were not detected, which was also consistent with the absence of Dermo.

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