Center for the Assessment and Prediction of the Interactions of Climate Change on Oceans and Human Health

NIEHS Grant: P01ES028942

Geoffrey Scott, Ph.D.

Researchers at the Center for the Assessment and Prediction of the Interactions of Climate Change on Oceans and Human Health at the University of South Carolina at Columbia are gaining knowledge about bacterial growth and toxins in ocean environments that can lead to negative impacts on environmental and public health. Center researchers are performing lab and field studies to better understand bacterial growth dynamics, antibiotic resistance, accumulation in seafood, and mechanisms of toxicity in animal models. This knowledge could lead to improved models for predicting oceanic bacterial blooms and reducing toxicity for humans and the environment.

Climate change and marine pathogens: environmentally-driven changes in Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio parahaemolyticus gene expression and pathogenicity

Project leader: Robert Norman, Ph.D.

Researchers are studying whether the virulence and antibiotic resistance of the bacteria Vibrio vulnificus and Vibrio parahaemolyticus will increase under conditions simulating climate change. Vibrio can cause serious gastrointestinal illness and infections in humans from eating contaminated, undercooked seafood. Investigators are also coupling mechanistic and population data to improve forecast models that predict human health risk to Vibrio-caused illness.

Developing a predictive understanding of harmful cyanobacteria growth, toxins production, and comparative toxicity across environmentally important gradients of N:P and salinity.

Project leader: Bryan Brooks, Ph.D.

This project focuses on effects of changes in water temperature, salinity, acidity, and mineral composition on Vibrio bacteria antibiotic resistance, virulence, and toxin production. These studies will increase our knowledge related to climate change impacts on human Vibrio exposure through drinking water, water sports, and seafood consumption.

The effects of climate change on the natural attenuation and sedimentary record of harmful algal bloom toxins and microbial signals

Project leader: John Ferry, Ph.D.

The goal of this project is to measure concentrations of harmful algal bloom toxins in sediments and water to understand the environmental fate of these toxins. Researchers are linking information about buried sediment toxins with historical meteorological data to develop models to predict future impacts of climate change.

Effects of selected climate change-affected pathogens and pollutants on critical organs, inflammation and human disease

Project leader: Saurabh Chatterjee, Ph.D.

Researchers are using animal models to study the toxic effects of exposure to Vibrio bacteria, Cyanobacteria toxins, and microplastics. Investigators will quantify effects on liver, kidney, gut microbiome, and reproductive functions, and identify risks related to food safety.