Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Molecular Ecology
Cold Seeps

Phylogeography of Cold Seep Organisms

Cold seeps are areas where methane and sulfide-rich fluids seep into the substrate of the ocean floor. Like the species that inhabit hydrothermal vents, seep animals are also dependent on sulfur-oxidation by symbiotic bacteria for survival. The main goals of the seep projects in our lab are to examine evolutionary and ecological connections between seep communities along the western North American coastal margin, ranging from the northeastern Pacific (i.e., Oregon Subduction Zone, Eel River, Juan de Fuca Ridge, Mendicino Fracture, etc.) to the San Clemente Basin and Gulf of California (Guaymas Basin, Tamaya Fracture Zone). Monterey Bay seep communities provide an experimental anchor point for the geographical studies.

Calyptogena kilmeri in the Monterey Bay.  


Using mitochondrial DNA sequences, we have established the phylogenetic relationships among geographically distant clams grouped within the Calyptogena pacifica-Vesicomya lepta clade. We have proposed three distinct species (C. pacifica, C. lepta a, C. lepta b; based on sequence divergence) within this geographic range, including a species that is completely new to science (C. lepta b). In addition, depth distribution appears to have played an important role in the divergence between the C. pacifica and C. lepta lineages, as well as a subsequent role in the divergence within the C. lepta clade.

Lammellibrachia barhami in the Monterey Bay.  


We study larval development and endosymbiont acquisition by the tubeworm Lammellibrachia barhami in Monterey Bay.

We use local shallow-water marine organisms as model systems for molecular marker development and testing of the ‘genosensor’ technology. In collaboration with the Scholin lab we have begun to extend the scope of existing genosensor technology to include the detection of larger organisms, including the larvae of marine invertebrates. Currently, we plan to concentrate the development of target detection sequences for Mytilus sp. larvae, optimization of detection parameters for Balanus (acorn barnacle) larvae, as well as developing the necessary sampling technology, including pumps, water filtration, and power sources. After further lab work, we intend to use this technology in a shallow water environment to investigate the effectiveness in detecting and collecting the larvae of shallow-living barnacle and molluscs.

Benthic Ecology and Biology Cold Seep Page

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Last updated: Feb. 05, 2009