July up-date

Lab Note #3
Jul 07, 2014
Hello All,

While Cat is busy getting a second AEFW tank set up ready for experiments on the life cycle, I am researching current ways in which other problematic flatworms are being controlled, and getting ideas to find new and effective ways to control AEFW.

The current way that doctors and vets are treating flatworm infections (e.g. tapeworms and blood flukes that affect over 300 million people, killing over 280,000 people per year in Africa alone, and which cause enormous economic losses to cattle farmers) is the drug praziquantel. However, based on the recent availability of genomic data from flatworm species, researchers are identifying flatworm specific molecules that will be the target of new therapeutic drugs - this will hopefully mean that when we have sequenced the mRNA of the AEFW we can find these flatworm specific genes and look for ways to disrupt their activity without affecting the biology of the other reef creatures - this is a long term aim!

In the short term, once we have described the AEFW life cycle, we will try treatments to eradicate them from the corals and I am reading the scientific literature and creating a spreadsheet of treatments people have used against other problematic flatworms such as garlic, formaldehyde, freshwater etc.

I am working with Prof Joerg Wiedenmann (National Oceanographic Centre, Southampton, UK) to write grants so that a team of us can go and study the AEFW in it’s native environment to see what is eating it in the wild - once we have the funding for this work, these data might give us some ideas as to possible biological controls to keep AEFW numbers down in reef tanks.

Once Cat has the second AEFW tank stabilized (a lot of work - as you'll all appreciate!), there will be more data coming in on the life cycle and I’ll return to Texas to collect material for mRNA sequencing and hatchling morphology.

Thanks for your patience and interest!
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