Morgan ASCEND Student Group Performs Oyster Study at PEARL

August 27, 2019

ASCEND Students 1  MSU ASCEND is "A Student-Centered, Entrepreneurship Development (ASCEND) Training Model to Increase Diversity in the Biomedical Research Workforce" awarded to Morgan by the National Institutes of Health. The goal of ASCEND is to increase and strengthen Morgan State University's biomedical training and research infrastructure, with a specific focus on training undergraduate students to become outstanding biomedical researchers.

A group of ASCEND scholars - Maya Purnell, Kojo Yeboah, Pakeeza Butt and Eden Wiggins - assisted with a study that involved identifying candidate genes associated with low salinity in eastern oysters. Under the supervision of Dr. Ming Liu, PEARL oyster genomics researcher, and Amber DeMarr, aquaculture program manager, the students performed a low-salinity challenge experiment in PEARL's oyster hatchery during a two-week period this May. More than 300 wild Oysters were collected from the Patuxent River, and were challenged at three salinities, 20 ppt, 5 ppt and 1 ppt. The tissue samples were collected from each salinity group and RNA were isolated and sequenced to identify low salinity associated genes. This work, by improving oyster survival and growth in low-salinity environments, will help support and grow the Maryland oyster aquaculture industry.

ASCEND Scholar Maya Purnell continued her support of this important genetics work during the 2019 PEARL Summer Internship Program. "It was an amazing experience for me, I visited an oyster farm, took a boat on the river, extracted oyster RNA, and bred lots of oyster babies" said Maya.

This fall, the ASCEND scholars will continue to analyze and summarize their experiment results before giving a formal presentation and their first-ever peer reviewed paper.

ASCEND Students 2ASCEND Students 3