Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Clam Research Sheds New Light On Red Tide

Date:
February 14, 2006
Source:
University Of Maine
Summary:
University of Maine marine scientist Laurie Connell isn't one to brag: she would rather talk about the potential of her current research than the popularity of what she has published in the past. With more than five months at the top of the charts in the highly respected scientific journal Nature, however, discussion of her "clam paper" is nearly unavoidable.

University of Maine marine scientist Laurie Connell isn't one to brag: she would rather talk about the potential of her current research than the popularity of what she has published in the past. With more than five months at the top of the charts in the highly respected scientific journal Nature, however, discussion of her "clam paper" is nearly unavoidable.

"I was shocked to hear that the paper was so popular. It's had more than 60,000 downloads since November, and it's still going," Connell said with enthusiasm. "I'm not sure what made it so popular, but is does have a very broad appeal."

Connell's report, Sodium channel mutation leads to saxitoxin resistance in clams increases risk of PSP, was the culmination of more than eight years of intensive research by an international team of scientists aimed at achieving a better understanding of a notorious and potentially deadly compound known at saxitoxin. Saxitoxin is the primary culprit in cases of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning, or PSP, the always dangerous, sometimes-deadly consequence of the coastal phenomenon known as red tide.

Filter feeders like clams accumulate saxitoxin in their tissues as they dine on the algae that carry the poison, passing along a concentrated dose to their mammalian predators. The first research to take a comprehensive look at the affects of saxitoxin on clams, Connell and her team, including retired UMaine researcher Betty Twarog, found that the mollusks suffer many of the same symptoms as human PSP victims.

Well, at least some of them do.

Connell discovered is that not all clams are created equal when it come to fighting off the affects of PSP, and has begun to unravel a microscopic mystery that speaks to the very nature of the nervous system itself.

Thanks to a mutation in their genetic code, red tide resistant clams were able to survive and reproduce despite the presence of saxitoxin, eventually becoming the dominant strain in clam populations that are frequently exposed to red tide.

In fact, Connell and her team of specialists found that the mutant clams were more than 1000 time more resistant to the affects of red tide than their unmutated brethren, a surprising discovery that has significant implications in both clam management and medical research.

Because of its power over the nerve impulse, saxitoxin has been used extensively by medical researchers to study the function of the nervous system and its associated diseases. Connell's comprehensive approach opens new doors to future research by connecting sodium channel function to specific control sites in the organism's DNA.

The discovery that some clam populations were genetically much more resistant to red tide poisoning than others could open up new directions for managing the soft-shell clam fishery.

"The ability of individual populations to resist the affects of saxitoxin could be used to determine how long clam beds would have to remain closed after a red tide event," said Connell. "Genetically resistant clams are able to continue feeding much longer, accumulating more toxins in their tissues which take longer to purge. Knowledge of the genetic susceptibility of clams to red tide could help managers make better decisions on what clams to use in seeding programs, how long to close clam beds, and other issues."

The project's implications don't stop there. Connell's discoveries have been of interest to marine ecologists, public health officials, bioengineers, fishermen: the list goes on and on. The significance of the research in such a broad range of disciplines certainly speaks to its popularity in Nature.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Maine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Maine. "Clam Research Sheds New Light On Red Tide." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 February 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/02/060213103547.htm>.
University Of Maine. (2006, February 14). Clam Research Sheds New Light On Red Tide. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/02/060213103547.htm
University Of Maine. "Clam Research Sheds New Light On Red Tide." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/02/060213103547.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins