LIFE HISTORY VARIATION, CONNECTIVITY, AND VIRULENCE IN A THE BLUE CRAB CsRV1 PATHOSYSTEM
Marine invertebrates have notoriously complex life histories, and those of crustaceans are particularly inventive in length and diversity. This complexity has long been a challenge to determining how their populations are connected and how biotic factors, such as pathogens, impact them through their life cycle. In recent years there have been tremendous leaps in the ability to measure and model population connectivity in the ocean, and we can now integrate these tools with other methodological advances to address questions such as how pathogens and their hosts are connected across large swaths of ocean and how variability in life history is affected by and drives this connectivity.
In this NSF-funded project, we will explore the consequences of oceanic connectivity and life history variation on a remarkable trans-hemispheric model pathosystem. The project focuses on blue crab Callinectes sapidus and a pathogenic virus CsRV1 using experimentation, population genetics and modeling of larval and adult movement integrated over broad spatial scales. This unique pathosystem and approach permits us to investigate the effects of population connectivity on spread and virulence of a marine pathogen. The large spatial scale of the pathosystem allows us to explore the interactive effect of latitude-based variation in host life history on host/pathogen population connectivity and genetic structure. The results will have broader applications in understanding how diseases spread over large distances in the ocean, and will produce new knowledge about how host population connectivity and life history influence adaptation and evolution of both host and pathogen.