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Mar Melero Asensio PhD Thesis

Tesis Doctoral de Mar Melero AsensioNext 14th of June 2017 (12.00 at the Veterinary Faculty UCM), Mar Melero will defend her PhD thesis entitled "New advances in the diagnosis of diseases in marine mammals", directed by Prof.Dr. José Manuel Sánchez-Vizcaíno Rodríguez.


Marine mammals have long been considered good indicators of marine ecosystem health because they have long lifespans; blubber stores that can serve as depots for chemicals and toxins and some species occupy a high trophic level. In addition to this, many species reside along coasts; human activities like fishing and maritime traffic affect them, and they are vulnerable to many infectious diseases. Some of these have implications for human public health and others may serve as indicators of environmental distress syndrome. Furthermore, marine mammals are very charismatic animals, and thus provide great social interest, and their conservation has repercussions for many other species that share their environment. All of these reasons make the study of diseases of marine mammals not only very important, but also urgent, as many species of marine mammals are currently endangered.

The main objective of this doctoral thesis, is to expand the current knowledge of marine mammals’ health through the development and application of tools for early diagnosis and the study of the infectious agents. The work performed in this thesis have been included in five research articles published in scientist journals with international impact and in a draft that is currently in preparation. The latter describes the systematic determination of herpesvirus in all the sampled tissues from cetaceans stranded in the Valencian Community over a period of three years.