We here at FishOn heard last week that the wicked smart folks at the Gloucester Marine Genomics Institute led a team of researchers that had become the first to crack the American lobster genome, so we caught up with Andrea Bodnar and Jennifer Polinski over at GMGI and they translated the findings out of science speak and into our preferred FishOn language, Esperanto. We told you they're wicked smart.
They, along with an international team of scientists, published the complete genome sequence last Thursday in the journal Science Advances. It is now available to the life sciences community at large.
So, why was this such a challenge?
"What we've learned as we've sequenced more and more genomes from different organisms is that crustacean genomes in particular have been quite challenging because they have a lot of repetitive sequences," said Bodnar. "Sequences that repeat over and over again. And the challenge with that is when you get the sequencing information and you try to piece it together and it's in order, it's kind of like putting together a puzzle where all the pieces are all white."
Quick aside: Bodnar is GMGI's Donald G. Comb Science Director. And just like NASCAR, she has to wear a Donald G. Comb patch on her lab coat whenever she's in the office. Polinski is a GMGI senior research associate, so she's still looking for a sponsor. OK we're back.
Their analysis of the genes encoded in the lobster, according to GMGI, revealed new information on the lobster that can help explain its longevity and its lack of cancer-like diseases. It also will help reveal more information about the lobster's sensory nervous system and the species' "robust" immune system. They also discovered a new class of proteins that suggests interactions between the immune system and the nervous system, as if we need that kind of hanky-panky.
"The wonderful thing about having the genome is that this is now a tremendous resource," Bodnar said. "It's out there in the public domain for all of the scientific community to use. Not only will the fisheries community make use of this, but the neuroscience community as well. The biological community interested in other properties of the lobster are particularly interested in their life history and their longevity. So we can now start to use the genome to answer a lot of questions that could be applicable to fisheries, biology and ecology."
So, there you go. World-class science right around the corner from you. A mighty FishOn huzzah to the folks at GMGI and their collaborators at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Florida, Dalhousie University, Tufts University, the University of Prince Edward Island and Harvard University.
FishOn weekly baseball quiz question
On this date in 1984, Red Sox outfielder Dwight Evans hit a three-run, walk-off home run in the 11th inning to complete the cycle (single, double, triple and home run) and beat the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park. Who are the other five major league players who have completed their cycles with a walk-off home run? The answer is down below, getting a shaving cream pie in the face.
News you can use
A few housekeeping items, courtesy of NOAA Fisheries and the United States judicial system.
NOAA Fisheries is seeking nominations to fill vacancies on the federal Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee. The committee advises the Secretary of Commerce on "all living marine resource matters that are the responsibility of the Department of Commerce.
If that sounds like a lot, that's because it is. But you'll have big help. The current committee has 20 members, including Roger Berkowitz of Legal Seafood fame. The terms of four members will expire in October.
The members come from a wide assortment of professions and pursuits, including commercial and recreational fishing, aquaculture, academia, seafood processing, resources management and more.
But there are restrictions: Federal employees are ineligible. Ditto members of the country's eight regional fishery management councils, federally registered lobbyists and state employees. Everyone else, giddyup.
"Membership is voluntary, and except for reimbursable expenses for travel and related expenses, service is without pay," sayeth NOAA Fisheries.
So, if you know someone who might be qualified — and doesn't need the coin — you may secure nomination guidelines and instructions at the MFAC website (https://bit.ly/3wYKZ5Z).
Closer to home, the trial of the federal lawsuit seeking to ban the state of Massachusetts from authorizing commercial fisheries that employ vertical ropes in the water because of the threat they pose for endangered North Atlantic right whales and sea turtles is over.
Not much at stake here, only the very fate of the nation's second largest lobster fishery.
And if U.S. District Court Judge Indira Talwani rules in favor of plaintiff Richard "Mad Max" Strahan, the state of Maine — the nation's largest and most lucrative lobster fishery — may have to secede from the union. The target would shift to its collective back, which might be problematic since they haven't even done as much as Massachusetts to enact measures that would further protect the right whales.
The trial, held at U.S. District Court in Boston and including testimony from local lobstermen such as Mark Ring and John Farrell, ended last week and now all parties await Talwani's verdict, which isn't expected until some time in August.
Change in command. FishOn now in charge
Last week, in between filing breathless accounts of the great Crow's Nest caper, we covered the change of command ceremony for the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo at the Everett R. Jodrey State Fish Pier.
We said goodbye to Lt. Tara Pray and said hello to Lt. Devin Monteiro, who will now skipper the Gloucester-ported, 110-foot Island Class cutter.
In a second story, we also mentioned Monteiro could be the last officer to command a Gloucester-ported cutter because the Coast Guard plans to phase out the Island Class cutters by about 2023 and replace them with a new fleet of bigger and faster Fast Response Cutters. Sector Boston would have six FRCs and all would be home-ported in Boston.
That got us to wondering when the last time Gloucester wasn't the home port for a Coast Guard cutter, which was nearly impossible to determine on deadline. We're still working on it, but we got the following email from Joe Gattie:
"I was stationed at the USCG Station Gloucester in 1972-1973 when it was located at Dolliver's Neck. Lived in the old white house located up the dirt road from the boat house and docks. At that time we had (2) 40-footers and (1) 44-foot motor life boat. I lived in Magnolia in an apartment with my first wife — two young California kids living a dream. The nicest people I met were out on the water, pulled many a boat in when they needed help. I saw your article on the new cutter being home ported in Boston and thought I would respond."
So, no cutter back then. We shall get to heart of this matter. FishOners welcome to assist.
FishOn weekly baseball quiz answer
Evans' home run made him the fourth big leaguer to complete his cycle with a walk-off homer. The other five to do it are Ken Boyer, Cardinals (1961); Cesar Tovar (Twins) (1972); George Brett, Royals (1979); Carlos Gonzalez, 2010 (Rockies); and Nolan Arenado, Rockies (2017).
As always no fish were harmed in the making of this column.
Contact Sean Horgan at 978-675-2714, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SeanGDT.