Differential Gene Expression Between Wild and Restoration Populations of the Eastern Oyster

Andrea Gabriele

Document Type Thesis

Advisor: Erika Crispo



Crassostrea virginica, the Eastern oyster, is a marine bivalve that filters plankton and other particles from the water it inhabits, and thus it is important for maintaining water quality. The oyster population has been declining in the past decades on the east coast, including around New York. The decline was initially caused by overharvesting but over time pollution and introduced diseases in the marine environment have become major stressors on the oysters’ survival in the wild. The purpose of the study is to use genetic techniques to inform oyster restoration programs about how different oyster strains are responding to environmental conditions. I am comparing Maine hatchery oysters’ to wild oysters’ genetic responses, by examining their RNA, which represents the DNA that is functional. My goal is to isolate RNA from the oyster and use reverse transcription to convert RNA to cDNA. This cDNA is used in the real time quantitative polymerase chain reaction to allow me to quantify the gene expression data and observe differences among oysters from different sources grown in different areas, including Governors Island, Bush Terminal, and Soundview Park. Future work will examine both wild and hatchery-raised oysters from each site, using a paired sampling design, to directly compare the responses between these two groups of oysters. This design will control for differences in environmental conditions among sampling sites.