Research ProjectSeagrass Wasting Disease

  • Labyrinthula image

    The parasitic slime net, Labyrinthula zosterae, is credited for mass die-offs of eelgrass across the north Atlantic Ocean in the 1930s. (Photo Credit: D. Martin)

  • Ruth DiMaria processing seagrass blades

    Ruth DiMaria taking samples of seagrass blades to genetically determine the presence and identity of Labyrinthula spp. present. (Photo Credit: K. Lohan)

  • Multiple isolates of parasite slime nets

    We are exploring the diversity of Labyrinthula spp. and strains across geographic regions and seagrass hosts. (Photo Credit: D. Martin)

Project Goal

We aim to understand the complex interaction between the parasite causing seagrass wasting disease, slime nets in the genus Labyrinthula, and their seagrass host.


Our work examines the biogeography, diversity, and ecology of seagrass parasites within the genus Labyrinthula, which cause seagrass wasting disease, along both coasts of North and Central America. We are assessing the host specificity of these parasites and the diversity of these parasites associated with dominant seagrasses in temperate and subtropical waters (Zostera marina and Thalassia testudinum) as well as parasites associated with other subtropical seagrasses (e.g., Syringodium filiforme, Halodule wrightii). We are developing new methods, specifically genetic and genomic techniques, for assessing parasite diversity and abundance across seagrass hosts. We are also examining the impact of biotic and abiotic stressors on the progression of seagrass wasting disease.

Slime Nets and other invasive parasites unmasked, thanks to DNA by Kristin Minogue