Texas Pipefish Field Trip

Summer 2014 GrEBES Travel Award Recipient – Allison Fuiten

June 23 – July 2, 2014

For this trip, I collected Gulf pipefish along the Texas coast with members of the Adam Jones Lab. Live specimens of Gulf pipefish were subsequently brought back to the Jones lab at Texas A&M University, where breeding tanks were set up and gravid males were euthanized at various developmental stages for future molecular experiments during the second half of my trip.

Research in the Adam Jones Lab focuses on various species of syngnathid fish, including the Gulf pipefish. Staying in their lab for an extended visit was helpful in learning new molecular techniques tailored for syngnathid fish & developing collaborative research relations. Additionally, this trip to Texas A&M University allowed me to collect Gulf pipefish embryos that are necessary for certain proposed dissertation experiments.

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We collected male and female Gulf pipefish from the Gulf of Mexico in Aransas Pass, Texas. For collecting, we used a seine in waist deep water, slowly dragging the seine through seagrass – which is prime habitat for pipefish.

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Along with collecting pipefish, we caught many other fun teleost fish and other critters. We took pictures of these guys before releasing then back in the water.

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10379900_10100261370223842_3900753065014314627_o Pufferfish

Back in the lab, we placed in breeding tanks groups of five males with five females.

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The fish room is on a light cycle. When the lights turn on in the morning, it acts as a behavioral cue and the pipefish will immediately start breeding. The males will display a pretty color and arch their backs during courtship. The female will choose her male and they will spiral together in a vertical dance and the female will deposit her eggs in the male via an ovipositor.

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Once the male is fertilized, they were moved to smaller individual tanks with the exact time of fertilization marked on the tank.

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The males were then euthanized at various days post fertilization and their eggs collected. Voila! I had a developmental series for Gulf pipefish preserved in RNAlater, methanol and ethanol by the end of this trip.

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