Certain parasitic tapeworms that prey on fish have been observed in the larval stage of development for the first time. And a Converse biology student and professor have led the research.
Marlee Beckham ’02, a Camden, S.C. native, and Dr. Edna Steele, assistant professor of biology, conducted their research by dissecting Mummichog and Striped Killifish, then examining the parasites found within.
The research, which was funded by a grant from South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, represented the first ever opportunity for the parasites (Cyclustera ibisae and Glossocercus caribaenis) to be observed while in the larval stages.
“The Mummichog and Striped Killifish can be described as bait fish,” says Marlee. “They are eaten by bigger fish, such as the Stripped Bass, which are often eaten by humans. The risk to humans, though, appears to be minimal. In fact, birds appear to be at higher risk from these particular parasites.”
The research findings have been published in Comparative Parasitology, a peer-reviewed journal published semi-annually each January and July. Additionally, the South Carolina Academy of Science (SCAS) presented Marlee with the Biological Sciences Award in Invertebrate Studies in recognition for her research.