Last month, Ubiquitome announced the finalists of the Freedom For You grants program. The grants program was designed to provide support for remote qPCR projects, with each winner receiving a Freedom4 device. The ten selected finalists are receiving support from Ubiquitome in the form of Freedom4 qPCR reagents and consumables, project design consultation, and technical support, including wet lab processing. Three grant winners will receive a Freedom4 gold standard qPCR mobile device worth USD$25,000.
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) post-doctoral fellow Holly Bowers is one of the selected finalists for her research on the harmful algae Pseudo-nitzschia.
With the team at MBARI, Holly is assessing the genetic diversity in Pseudo-nitzschia and trying to understand its spread along the Californian coastlines. She has been working in the field of harmful algae for over a decade. Her research career started in molecular gene therapy in 1996 then switched to harmful algae in 1998. With a doctorate in the field of marine biology/ecology and funding towards characterization of harmful algal blooms, Holly is an active member of the Monterey Bay research community.
Harmful algal blooms can include toxic and non-toxic species, so it is important to identify the composition of an algal bloom. Currently, samples from a bloom are collected in the field, returned to a lab on shore and then analysed to see which species are present. These results are used to understand bloom ecology and study overall population trends towards improving monitoring efforts.
Harmful algal blooms occur worldwide and can affect human health, marine life, and greatly impact economies. The US government has recognised this issue by awarding grants to help fully understand the impacts from toxic algal blooms.
Holly has contributed a range of research findings and many published articles in the field of toxic algal research with much of her work utilizing qPCR testing as a screening method. One of her more recent publications was:
Hanif, A. W., Dyson, W. D., Bowers, H. A., Pitula, J. S., Messick, G. A., Jagus, R., Schott, E. J. (2013) Variation in spatial and temporal incidence of the crustacean pathogen Hematodinium perezi in environmental samples from Atlantic Coastal Bays. Aquatic biosystems 9(1): 11
Holly has recognised the benefit of in-field qPCR testing which will expand opportunities for her and others doing research in this field. Using mobile molecular testing would allow for toxic algae to be identified during field operations and to direct sampling efforts. This would reduce the economic and environmental impacts of the harmful algal blooms potentially saving up to millions of dollars on damages coastlines and related industries.
For more information on Holly’s research click here or to view a full list of the finalists visit our website www.ubiquitomebio.com.