U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced today that the National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences in Boothbay $298,674 in grant funding to study the interactions between viruses and the parasites that cause Dermo disease in oysters, clams and other bivalves.
“Understanding the function and balance of Maine’s ecosystem can help preserve our state’s diverse habitats and shellfish fisheries,” Senators Collins and King said in a joint statement. “The innovative study of viruses and parasites at Bigelow Lab is significant in advancing our knowledge of Maine’s marine ecology, and this funding will support the lab’s dedicated and comprehensive research.”
Dermo disease has been present in the southeastern United States and the Gulf of Mexico for decades, and more recently has extended its reach to Maine as a result of climate change. It slows growth in infected bivalves and increases the likelihood of mortality. While most studies of the disease focus on the interaction between the Perkinsus parasite and the host bivalve, the Bigelow scientists will study the relationship between viruses and parasites as an innovative strategy to better understand and prevent the disease.
The grant funding has been awarded through the NSF’s Division of Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS).