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DISSERTATION RESEARCH: Phylogenetic Relationships, Biogeography, and Genetic Diversity of the VHS Fish Virus

Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia virus (VHSv) causes one of the world?s most important finfish diseases. An outbreak of a unique and emerging strain (IVb) has been observed across the Great Lakes since 2005, killing many important species and harming our fisheries, baitfish, aquaculture, and tourism industries. This study will analyze the evolutionary, biogeographic, and genetic diversity patterns of this ?new? VHS strain throughout its distribution, in comparison to other strains, providing important benefits for understanding and combating this disease. DNA sequence variation and biogeographic patterns will be tested across the virus?s geographic range, temporal course, and among infected fish species. Genetic diversity within and among the strains will be analyzed using three different genes, permitting the tracking of the patterns of viral variation over time and space.<br/><br/>This investigation will significantly enhance the research depth and opportunity of a female Ph.D. student. Additional broader impacts are that the project will promote teaching, training, collaboration, and understanding of evolutionary patterns in pathogens to fellow graduate students, high school students, university and state researchers, aquaculture fish farmers, and fisheries managers. Results will enhance fisheries conservation and disease prevention efforts.

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Great Lakes - St. Lawrence Region.