Many of you may know that I got my Ph.D. working with seaweeds. I continue to work on the invasive species commonly known as "nori" (seaweed used in sushi). This seaweed is a $1.2 billion/yr business in the far East. It is grown on plantations in open bays throughout China, Korea, and Japan. Ships will draw up ballast water while in such bays before coming to the US. Upon arriving in the US such ships will empty this ballast water; estimates put the average at over 2 million gallons per hour. It has also been shown that over 3,000 species of organisms have been transported in ballast water; my seaweed is one of those organisms. For this reason, my collection trips take me to very large and busy ports. Last weekend I and two of my students collected this Asiatic seaweed in the Texas coastal cities of Freeport and Galveston, but did not find it in Port Arthur, TX or Cameron, LA. My lab is in the process of sequencing the DNA from these samples to determine their exact origin. It is really fun, sort of like trying to recreate a crime from DNA evidence. However, I don't expect this seaweed mystery to make an episode on CSI anytime soon.
My two students, Ken and Hannah (above) and me looking under every rock for nori (below); it is a wet, nasty, slippery task that I find very rewarding.
I verify that the students have indeed found the correct seaweed.