Cancer in Arctic bivalves (CAB)

Investigation of patterns of parastism and leukemic tumors (neoplasia) in Arctic bivalves. To collect information on the occurrence of neoplasia (hemocyte leukemia) along a latitudinal gradient we will sample specific bivalve species (e.g. Macoma spp., Mya spp.), which are known being regularly affected by dessiminated cancer.

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  • field work


  • marine biology

Project Keywords

  • biosphere / ecological dynamics / species/population interactions
  • biosphere / ecological dynamics / ecosystem functions
  • biosphere / aquatic ecosystems / benthic habitat
  • oceans / marine biology / marine invertebrates

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Infectious disease strongly regulates populations. However, some forms of disease arise internally by mutation causing cancer. Usually, cancer cells are evolutionary dead ends that die with the individual carrying them. Recently, several contagious cancers have been discovered in marine bivalves. Here, cancer cells made the transition to parasitism by proliferating within and between populations, which may strongly affect bivalve population dynamics. However, the occurrence and ecological effects of this contagious leukemia (or neoplasia) across geographic gradients are largely unknown. Thus, we plan to compare bivalve populations along a latitudinal gradient from temperate to Arctic regions and hypothesize that slower development at higher latitudes will lead to more mutations per cell division and a higher rate of spontaneous cancers, while higher cell turnover at lower latitudes should favour its contagious spread.

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