U.S. Government Has Spent $682,570 to Study 'Shrimp On A Treadmill'

December 27, 2011 - 3:18 PM

(CNSNews.com) -Reports of $500,000 of taxpayer funds to study a project that has shrimp running on a treadmill hit the headlines early in 2011. A recent report now shows that $682,570 in grants has been awarded to the research effort.

According to the National Science Foundation (NSF) website, the money has been granted to the “Taking the Pulse of Marine Life in Stressed Seas” research conducted by biology professors Louis and Karen Burnett at the College of Charleston. The research page describes the professor’s "big question" as “How are human-made marine stresses affecting the marine life that we need?”

The website describes the process of the Burnett’s experiments, “First, a crustacean is infected, by injection, with the same types of disease-causing bacteria that are commonly encountered in the wild. Next, the animal is placed on a specially built, mini underwater treadmill. Then, the organism's vital signs, such as its heart rate and blood pressure, are measured (as a proxy for fitness) while it walks on the treadmill--similar to the way that a person's vital signs are measured while he or she& walks on a treadmill during a stress test. Finally, the treadmill performances of infected crustaceans are compared to those of their uninfected counterparts.”

The NSF has even produced a video on the project titled: “The Importance of Studying Shrimp On A Treadmill”.

Some of the results of the studies are available from the NSF, “Results show that infected crabs and shrimp do not perform on the treadmill as well as their uninfected counterparts, and that the immune responses that are triggered by bacterial infections are enough, by themselves, to reduce these animals' ability to take up oxygen, even when high levels of oxygen are available.”

The website further states that there are “More answers needed”, as research is ongoing.