Welcome to the blog for the Isthmus Microbiome Project, a collaboration between UC Davis and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama. The full title of the project is pretty descriptive “Evolution of Microbiomes in Shallow-water Marine Organisms Split by the Isthmus of Panama in the Western Atlantic vs Eastern Pacific Oceans”.
Preliminary work has begun on the project, mostly by Jarrod Scott, a postdoc at STRI who has been collecting sea urchin samples from both the Pacific and Caribbean sides of Panama. This part of the project is being done in collaboration with Hariloas Lessios, an urchin researcher at STRI. Laetitia Wilkins, a postdoc in the Eisen lab at UC Davis went down to Panama in August and helped with urchin collections and dissections. See a sample from her fieldwork here. While there she struck up a collaboration with Alexandra Hiller, a crab researcher at STRI and will be focusing her part of the project on crabs.
In late January 2018, myself (David Coil) and Laetitia will be heading down to Panama for a 2-3 week collection and bacterial culturing trip. We’ll be trying to collect multiple species of urchin and crabs from both sides of the isthmus and culture microbes from every sample. In addition Laetitia will be collecting a number of crab samples for subsequent amplicon/metagenomic analysis. Stay tuned for blog post from the road!