Our week of AEFW experiments start today!

Lab Note #2
Apr 16, 2014
Good morning from Texas! I'm very excited to meet Cat today (in person, for the first time) and to see her AEFW tanks. Cat has spent the last 6 months establishing and maintaining AEFW populations in order to answer fundamental questions about these animals that will help us to control them. We are very grateful to colleagues from MD Anderson Cancer Centre/ University of Texas, Houston, who are loaning us a microscope for the week and delivering reagents needed to fix and preserve AEFW material for analysis of their anatomy and mRNA. Our aims for the week are to build on Cat's initial studies by setting-up replicated experiments in order to collect data that will allow us to answer these four questions: 1. How long does it take for the eggs to hatch? Determining the length of embryonic development (and quantifing the variation) will allow us to: a) determine how long to keep corals in quarantine in order for the eggs to hatch and a second round of dips to be effective on the young hatchlings. b) Calculate how long to keep reef tanks Acropora free in case eggs have been laid on substrate other than Acropora. The time period needed for Acropora-free tanks (to starve AEFW stragglers and allow eggs to hatch) = hatching time + starvation time of hatchlings (question 4). 2. Do they hatch as larvae or juveniles, or both? AEFW hatch out of their egg capsules as mini, sexually immature adults. However, the embryos develop larval characters inside the egg capsule, but undergo metamorphosis and lose these features before hatching. If some embryos hatch out before metamorphosis then they will be able to swim long distances (and for many days) as microscopic larvae. They will be able to swim between Acropora colonies and could easily swim between tanks and sumps that share the same water supply. Understanding their dispersal ability as hatchlings in important for their control. 3. How long does it take for the worms to reach sexual maturity? If AEFW are introduced into a reef tank as eggs, how long will it be until the first egg batches appear? Egg batches and bite marks are generally the first indications of an AEFW problem.This data is important for quarantine of new Acropora colonies too. 4. Survival times (days) of AEFW isolated from Acropora. This data will tell us how long to keep your reef tank Acropora-free in order to starve out AEFW. Thanks for your interest and patience and we will keep you posted through out the week with news, photos and initial findings. Kate
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