Student Research Projects

Bioactivity in the ascoglossan Elysia clarki Pierce et al., 2006 (mollusca: gastropoda: opisthobranchia: ascoglossa)

Student Nancy Kelly '15 (Biology)
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Biology
Course Biology 489: Research in the Natural Sciences


The sea slug Elysia clarki is able to obtain and produce secondary metabolites from their specialized, algal diet. The goal of this research was to investigate possibility of bioactive toxins present in these metabolites. The chemical methods used to obtain and analyze extracts of E.clarki were tissue maceration, centrifugation and subsequent separation of aqueous and organic extracts, gravimetric analysis, and bacterial bioassay. Both the organic and aqueous extracts were tested in bacterial bioassays with cultured Escherichia coli, Streptomyces griseous, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Bacillus megaterium. Preliminary results indicate bacterial inhibition surrounding the organic extracts. There was no anti-bacterial activity for aqueous extracts. Additional research will be conducted to isolate and purify the bioactive metabolites, analyze their chemical compositions and test for lethality.


Recipient of a Virginia Wesleyan Undergraduate Research Grant for Research, 2014.