Colleen Burge

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Colleen Burge

Research Interests

  • Marine host-pathogen environment interactions
  • Invertebrate immune response and physiology
  • Ocean health: an organism, environment, and human perspective

I am interested in the health of our marine ecosystems, specifically the interface between humans, aquatic organisms, and the environment. Ocean change is predicted to have wide-ranging impacts on marine species. I am motivated by questions regarding how ocean change impacts organism health, and drives host-microbe interactions, focusing on host immunity and microbe diversity and evolution. For example:

How will our systems, both aquaculture-based and ecological respond to change? Can we locate specific organisms or populations where climate-adaptation is occurring?

How might climate change, disease, and interactions between species play a role in ecosystem change?

What is public knowledge on ocean health or disease? Can we improve communication to the public about ocean health or disease?

I study disease in a diverse range of nearshore ecosystems in both temperate and tropical oceans. I apply a broad range of both traditional and molecular techniques in both field and laboratory based experiments. To date I have focused on diseases impacting invertebrate or plant hosts. In temperate oceans, I focus on three diseases (causative agent in parentheses), impacting species of either ecological or economic importance, including herpes virus infections of Pacific oysters (Ostreid herpes virus 1), wasting disease of eelgrasses (Labyrinthula zosterae), and sea star wasting disease (viral, candidate densovirus). In tropical oceans, I focus on opportunistic infections of sea fan corals (co-infection with Aplanochytrium sp. & Aspergillus sp.) and coral bleaching in both soft and hard corals.