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The Magazine of The College of Sciences

Microscopic organism provides big picture
of Gulf recovery

Microscopic nematode.

The variation and density of microscopic organisms prevalent in the Gulf of Mexico might lead scientists like Assistant Research Professor of Biology Jyotsna Sharma-Srinivasan to determine how well sub-surface recovery efforts are faring following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that occurred in April 2010.

Before the oil spill took place, her research team had obtained samples from more than 100 intertidal and deep water locations in the Gulf of Mexico and found more than 100 species of nematodes, also known as roundworms. In conjunction with researchers at the University of New Hampshire and Auburn University, Sharma-Srinivasan compared the diversity of nematode populations in samples from areas affected by the spill with samples taken from unaffected areas to have a better understanding of the ecological impact of the spill.

The one-year research project, titled “RAPID: Taxonomic and metagenetic test of species distributions for marine meiofauna from the Gulf of Mexico,” was supported by a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation’s RAPID program, which funds time-sensitive, post-disaster research.

Jyotsna Sharma-Srinivasan earned her doctoral degree in marine biology from the University of Ghent in Belgium. She joined the Department of Biology in 1983 and has been teaching biology at UTSA since 1995. Her experience includes marine research projects in British Columbia, the North Sea, the Arctic Ocean and the Caspian Sea and 10 years of research on the Gulf Coast.

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