Faculty Advisor

Elliott, Joel

Area of Study

Science and Mathematics

Publication Date

Summer 2021


Seagrasses are foundational species in marine ecosystems and are a bioindicator of overall ecosystem health. Seagrasses are globally in decline primarily due to climate change and pathogens. Two species of seagrasses are found in the Puget Sound, native Zostera marina, and introduced Zostera japonica, and they are very different biologically and occupy different niches. Elliott et al. (2019) discovered a novel protist pathogen infecting the roots of Z. marina that causes galls to form on root hairs. The Elliott lab has also observed root hair galls on Z. japonica. Very little is known about this group of pathogens (Phyotmyxea) in marine environments, and the objective of this research was to determine if there are morphological and genetic differences between the pathogens infecting the two species of local seagrasses. Morphological quantitative observations of eelgrass and parasitic gals were taken and genetic sequencing of the ITS and 18S genes of the parasite was taken for the different plant species. Findings show that the parasite infecting Z. marina and the parasite infecting Z. japinica are two distinct species of parasite the are in the class Phagomyxida (13% different in the ITS gene sequences and 2% different in the 18S gene sequence).


Washington NASA Space Grant


University of Puget Sound