The seaweed Gracilaria vermiculophylla is an invasive species that has been recognized along the East Coast of the US in the last 10 years and is widespread on the eastern shore of Virginia. G. vermiculophylla can survive hot and dry conditions better than native algae, and can thus live in marsh and mudflat habitats where other seaweeds cannot. Seaweed mats in these habitats create a place for bacteria to grow and possibly to contaminate oysters. University of Virginia Ph.D. student Dana Gulbransen will test for the disease causing bacteria Vibrio vulnificus and V. parahaemolyticus in algal mats and water near algal mats to determine whether the bacteria are more common in or around the invasive algae. Gulbransen will also place oysters near algal mats and test whether they are more likely to be contaminated by Vibrio. The study will increase our understanding of the potential effects of invasive seaweeds on ecosystem health and public health
Project details: Dana Gulbransen (University of Virginia). The effects of an invasive bloom forming macroalga, Gracilaria vermiculophylla, on water quality and bacterial pathogens in oysters.