The Ecology of Infectious Marine Disease Course is currently going on at the Friday Harbor Laboratories. This course will be a training program in invertebrate-pathogen ecology that will bring together and train the future leaders in this rapidly emerging, multidisciplinary field. The course will 1) survey host-pathogen interaction in the Friday Harbor region, 2) teach diagnostic tools for identifying viral, bacterial, protozoan and fungal infections of invertebrates, 3) teach approaches to examine the invertebrate innate immune response to different pathogens, and finally 4) use these methods to address ecological questions about the distribution of pathogenic interactions, and the experimental effects of temperature and increased acidification on interactions. Instructors include Drew Harvell, Carolyn Friedman, and myself with Lisa Crosson as the TA. In an effort to enhance the educational experience and engage in effective outreach the course has a blog (infectiousness.tumblr.com) for us to share and address any questions and comments. The public can also peruse the class website and the class message board, though the latter is primarily intended for the inside baseball stuff.
Each instructor will be overseeing a module, and I will be running the genomics module during week 4. The plan is to highlight the underlying rationale for examining molecular mechanisms, introduce online resources in the form of carrying out a ‘my favorite gene’ project, as well as having them explore how to analyze high-throughput sequencing (Illumina Hi-Seq) datasets. While the sequencing is yet to be completed, the goal is to analyze datasets designed to examine the effect of temperature on QPX (a pathogen) and identify a novel phage that is associated with a pathogenic bacteria in abalone.
In the end students will work in small groups to further develop a research project that will be presented at the end of the quarter, accompanied by a research paper. Stay tuned as the plan is to broadcast the presentations online.