UNF and partners awarded $1 million grant to study seagrass health

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The National Science Foundation has awarded a federal grant of $1 million to study viral infections in seagrass. Seagrasses are the basis of highly productive and valuable coastal ocean ecosystems.


The University of North Florida Department of biology, in collaboration with the University of South Florida and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute will share the grant.

To collect data, the researchers will conduct small-scale experiments at UNF while carrying out field studies in Tampa Bay, Florida.

And the involvement goes beyond just the two universities and Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

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Teachers from the Jacksonville Teacher Residency Program will be involved through development of lessons that dive into seagrass biology.

Students from Girls Incorporated, Gils Scouts, and the University of South Florida’s Oceanography Camp for Girls are also participating, as citizen scientists.

The girls will be photographing Tampa Bay’s seagrass ecosystems and contributing their observations to the Seagrass Spotter website.

This is the first time in history that research on viral infections of seagrass and their impact on ecosystems has taken place.

The project will provide essential knowledge about seagrass-virus interactions. How this impacts seagrass production during global climate change will be important for protecting various ecosystems.

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