Shiao Y. Wang

Professor & Interim Dept. Chair

Teaching Interests

BSC 450/550 Comparative Animal Physiology

BSC 451/551 Mammalian Physiology

Research Interests 

My research interests center around efforts to better understand how aquatic species respond and adapt to their environment. I consider the environment in this case to include both biotic factors, such as infection by pathogens, and abiotic factors, such as temperature and salinity variations and pollutant exposures. My students and I approach our research from a biochemical/molecular perspective; thus, research projects carried out in my lab now use molecular techniques almost exclusively.

Currently, there are three main research areas in my lab. The first revolves around the development of DNA microarrays as a tool to study how mussels and fish respond to pollutant exposure. My students and I rely on the use of subtractive hybridization techniques to isolate cDNAs of genes that are differentially expressed in response to exposure to polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons. The cloned cDNAs are then used to make DNA arrays with which we are able to probe the effect of various stressors on the expression patterns of many genes simultaneously. The long-term goal is to better understand the molecular adaptations that allow some aquatic species to tolerate extremes in environmental conditions.

The second area is in the development and use of quantitative PCR to study shrimp viruses. Most of the shrimp eaten in the United States now are farm-raised and imported. The biggest problem limiting shrimp aquaculture production is viral diseases. We developed a real-time RT-PCR method based on the use of molecular beacons to quantify the titer of Taura Syndrome Virus in shrimp. We are now using the method to measure changes in viral titer over time and to quantify differences in titer in shrimp belonging to different genetic stocks that vary in their resistance to TSV. The goals are to gain a better understanding of the viral infection cycle and why certain shrimp stocks are more resistant to TSV-induced mortality.

The third area is in the development and use of DNA fingerprinting technology to trace sources of fecal coliform bacteria in the environment. High bacterial counts due to fecal pollution cause the closure of recreational waters and oyster beds. To remediate the problem when closures occur, it is necessary to know the source of the fecal pollution. Potential sources include humans as well as pets, and farm and wildlife animals. My lab, in collaboration with that of Dr. R.D. Ellender, is developing DNA-fingerprint databases that can be used to trace the animal origin of fecal coliform bacteria in recreational waters in Mississippi.

Current Graduate Students 

My personal webpages provide additional information on my research interests, courses taught, graduate students and administration of the graduate student program in Biological Sciences. 

Representative Publications

Flood, C., J. Ufnar, S. Wang, J. Johnson, M. Carr and R. Ellender. 2011. Lack of correlation between enterococcal counts and the presence of human specific fecal markers in Mississippi creek and coastal waters. Water Res. 45:872-878

Ogburn, M.B., K.C. Stuck, R.W. Heard, S.Y. Wang and R.B. Forward. 2011. Seasonal variability in the morphology of blue crab Callinectes sapidus, megalopae and early juvenile stage crabs, and distinguishing characteristics among co-occurring Portunidae. J. Crust. Biol. 31:106-113.

Carr, M.R., S.Y. Wang, T.I. McLean, C.J. Flood and R.D. Ellender. 2010. Salmonella rarely detected in Mississippi coastal waters and sediment. J. Applied Microbiol. 109:2191-2199

Cao, Z.M., S.Y. Wang, V. Breeland, A.M. Moore and J.M. Lotz. 2010. Taura syndrome virus loads in the hemolymph of Litopenaeus vannamei following infection and the relationship to differential mortality. Dis. Aquat. Organ. 1:97-103

Harwood, V.J., M. Brownell, S.Y. Wang, J.E. Lepo, R.D Ellender, A. Ajidahun, K.N Hellein, E. Kennedy, X.Ye and C. Flood. 2009. Validation and field testing of library-independent microbial source tracking methods in the Gulf of Mexico. Water Res. 42:4812-4819.