With the support of the Canadian Excellence Research Chair (CERC) Short-Term Research Placement Award, I travelled to the University of Victoria to work in Dr. Ben Koop’s lab for five weeks.
My PhD work contributes to Dr. Mark Fast’s sea lice research program at the AVC and aims to characterize the genomes of important sea lice species. While in Victoria, I used a 44K oligonucleotide microarray to monitor patterns of gene expression in lice (Caligus rogercresseyi). We optimized this new technology using larvae and adult lice samples from multiple different drug exposure experiments to study the physiological responses to stress and identify putative markers of drug resistance. We also had the unique opportunity of comparing important genes from C. rogercresseyi to those in Lepeophtheirus salmonis, another important species of sea lice. This led to the discovery of consensus genes that respond similarly to drug treatments in both species of lice, and represent markers for downstream studies focused on applying molecular tools to parasite management. These genomic sequences have also allowed us to begin estimating the rates of evolution on particular groups of genes in lice. This approach will be important for addressing complex biological characteristics such as the interaction between sex and the development of drug resistance.