• Assessing Blackworms as a Model for Studying AVM

      Frazier, Eric; Wiley, Faith; Department of Biological Sciences (2017-03)
      Avian Vacuolar Myelinopathy (AVM) is a neurological disease that affects certain species of birds within the Southeastern region of the United States. Research suggests that this disease is linked to the consumption of a cyanobacterial species inhabiting hydrilla, an invasive aquatic weed. The objective of this experiment is to assess whether blackworms are a good model for studying AVM. Blackworms are invertebrate organisms usually found in marshes, swamps and ponds. These organisms are commonly used in toxicity testing due to many factors such as having a low level of maintenance and being cost efficient. Blackworms were initially exposed to concentrated extracts of hydrilla/cyanobacteria for a period of five days. There was no difference in mortality between control and treatment worms. Two additional experiments are currently being conducted to examine potential sublethal effects. Regrowth of blackworm body segments and rate of asexual reproduction are being examined in worms exposed to the hydrilla extracts, as well as to water and sediment collected from Lake Thurmond, GA during an AVM event.