Sea Grant Research Aiming To Sink Shipworm Damage

October 10, 1996

For centuries shipworms have feasted their way through wooden vessels, piers, and other structures in salt water, resulting in billions of dollars of damage. Over the last few years, New York City alone has spent over $100 million to brace and wrap plastic around thousands of pilings supporting its most vital piers. Looking to put an end to the carnage, a Delaware Sea Grant study, coordinated by marine molecular biologist Craig Cary, is investigating ways to make wood unpalatable. According to Cary, "An intriguing aspect that could offer enormous possibilities is the shipworm's symbiotic relationship with bacteria that allow it to digest wood. Specifically targeting this bacteria we could arrest the worm's ability to bore." Shipworms, which are actually clams specifically designed for boring, have shown enormous voracity in their destruction. "I've seen posts more perforated than Swiss cheese. Objects once dense and heavy can be crushed with little effort after shipworm infestation," says Cary. Discoveries from Cary's study could lead to the production of a new environmentally-friendly substance that could be applied to wood before submersion. Presently, chemicals used for shipworm protection, such as arsenic, copper and other heavy metals, can leech into surrounding ecosystems, raising concern about harm to non-targeted organisms.

CONTACT: Craig Cary,
Delaware Sea Grant Research Scientist, (O)
302-645-4078, E-MAIL: caryc@strauss.udel.edu

National Sea Grant College Program

Related Bacteria Articles from Brightsurf:

Siblings can also differ from one another in bacteria
A research team from the University of Tübingen and the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) is investigating how pathogens influence the immune response of their host with genetic variation.

How bacteria fertilize soya
Soya and clover have their very own fertiliser factories in their roots, where bacteria manufacture ammonium, which is crucial for plant growth.

Bacteria might help other bacteria to tolerate antibiotics better
A new paper by the Dynamical Systems Biology lab at UPF shows that the response by bacteria to antibiotics may depend on other species of bacteria they live with, in such a way that some bacteria may make others more tolerant to antibiotics.

Two-faced bacteria
The gut microbiome, which is a collection of numerous beneficial bacteria species, is key to our overall well-being and good health.

Microcensus in bacteria
Bacillus subtilis can determine proportions of different groups within a mixed population.

Right beneath the skin we all have the same bacteria
In the dermis skin layer, the same bacteria are found across age and gender.

Bacteria must be 'stressed out' to divide
Bacterial cell division is controlled by both enzymatic activity and mechanical forces, which work together to control its timing and location, a new study from EPFL finds.

How bees live with bacteria
More than 90 percent of all bee species are not organized in colonies, but fight their way through life alone.

The bacteria building your baby
Australian researchers have laid to rest a longstanding controversy: is the womb sterile?

Hopping bacteria
Scientists have long known that key models of bacterial movement in real-world conditions are flawed.

Read More: Bacteria News and Bacteria Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.