Overarching Topics: Symbioses of bacteria in marine invertebrates from deep-sea hydrothermal vents, methane seeps, and coastal reducing sediments. Specific emphasis on characterization of metabolic and genetic capabilities of symbionts, evolutionary relationships with free-living bacteria, and co-evolution of host and symbiont.

Current Projects:

Population genetics of the Bathymodiolin mussel symbionts: Several statistical models coupled to 454 pyrosequencing are being used to investigate the stability of the symbiosis over time and space by Kristina Fontanez and Rob Young.

Diversity and abundance of the Riftia symbiont: Using 454 pyrosequencing and quantitative PCR, the genetic diversity and relative abundance of internal and external symbiont populations associated with tubeworms are being investigated by Randi Rotjan.

Solemya velum symbiont genome: The S. velum symbiont genome is predicted to be completed in August 2008. The annotation and synthesis of these data is being conducted by all of the members of the Cavanaugh lab and several collaborators.

Solemya velum symbiont transcriptome: Concurrent with the sequencing of the S. velum symbiont genome, a transcriptome analysis of the symbiont under different incubations is being conducted by Guus Roeselers and Oleg Dmytrenko.

Solemya velum symbiosis nitrogen acquisition: The source and fate of nitrogenous compounds essential for host and symbiont growth is being determined by Guus Roeselers.






Colleen Cavanaugh


16 Divinity Avenue

Biological Laboratories 4081

Cambridge, MA 02138

Lab phone: 617-495-1138

Lab fax : 617-496-6933