During the last months of 2013, a PhD student of our lab (Quentin Jossart) went to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama. This work was done in the laboratory of Dr Harilaos Lessios that has a deal of experience with sea-urchins genetics.
The work focused mainly on genetic analysis and especially on the characterization of microsatellite loci (highly polymorphic nuclear markers) for the burrowing sea-urchin Meoma ventricosa. In addition to genetics, several samplings were done in the central part (Portobello) and west part (Bocas del Toro, picture on the top) of the country in order to complete the genetic data set.
The main goal of this project is to evaluate the genetic structure of M. ventricosa inside the Caribbean Sea. Moreover, this structure could be compared to the pattern observed for a parasite of M. ventricosa. This comparison could help for revealing the factors that influence the dispersal in the Caribbean.
Meoma ventricosa (picture: doris.ffessm.fr)