Justin C. Havird (pictured left) and Scott R. Santos (pictured below), both of the Department of Biological Sciences, are the recipients of a two-year grant from the National Science Foundation's Division of Environmental Biology. The research proposal is titled,
"Assessing evolution of euryhalinity in anchialine shrimps," and the funding will allow Havird and Santos to further investigate the evolution of the molecular mechanisms of osmoregulation in shrimp species from coastal ponds and pools. According to Havird, the molecular mechanisms of ionic and salt regulation in crustaceans have only been characterized for a narrow range of species, mainly crabs with a marine ancestry.
"Shrimp from coastal ponds and pools represent an opportunity to address this lack of knowledge since they have a decisively freshwater ancestry but have adapted to live in environments with drastically fluctuating salinities," Havird said.
Havird previously found that Halocaridina rubra, a shrimp species endemic to Hawaii, has atypical patterns of gene expression following salinity transfer. Havird and Santos will examine this discovery in an evolutionary context by investigating the molecular mechanisms of osmoregulation from additional shrimp species from the Ryukyus Islands in Japan. They will employ high-throughput measures of gene expression, or RNA-sequencing, in their study.
"These shrimp species represent independent invasions of these habitats, from both freshwater and marine environments, and will further our limited understanding of the evolution of osmoregulation in crustaceans," Havird said.
Havird and Santos will also collaborate with Raymond Henry of the Department of Biological Sciences.
For more information on Havird and Santos, visit The Santos Lab website.