Nancy Targett Research Projects

Current Projects

Analysis of factors affecting phlorotannin synthesis and fate in marine brown algae.

In this project, we are examining the rates of phlorotannin synthesis, turnover and exudation, as well as variations in phlorotannin concentration and molecular size profiles by monitoring algal assimilation of a stable isotope substrate and the subsequent incorporation of the label into phlorotannins. Changes in labeled phlorotannin concentrations in response to manipulations of nutrients, light, and herbivore grazing intensity are also being monitored.

Analysis of factors mediating assimilation of phlorotannin-rich food by temperate and tropical marine herbivores.

In an effort to better understand the mechanisms that affect the putative defensive properties of marine phlorotannins, we are studying (in vivo) the interaction of herbivore gut parameters (such as pH and redox state) and plant phlorotannin characteristics (such as size and type) on polyphenolic complexation in marine herbivores. In particular, we are examining the effects of different gut conditions on herbivore assimilation efficiencies.

Identification of chemoattractants in horseshoe crabs and production of an artificial bait.

Our aim in this project is to develop an economical artificial bait that could be used as a substitute for adult female horseshoe crabs in the American eel and whelk fisheries. We are examining the components of the female horseshoe crab that evoke the feeding stimulant response, seeking to isolate and identify the active components. (See the related projects section below for additional information.)

Determination of chemical signals influencing marine crab settlement and metamorphosis.

We are using the mud crab, Panopeus herbstii, as a model system in which to study the influence of biofilms and their associated chemical cues on settlement and metamorphosis of decapod crustaceans.

Horseshoe Crabs and Artificial Bait
horseshoe crab

We are working to identify chemoattractants in horseshoe crabs and produce an artificial bait, reducing the reliance on horseshoe crabs in the eel and conch fisheries.

Delaware Sea Grant
Delaware Sea Grant logo

Delaware Sea Grant promotes the wise use, conservation, and management of marine and coastal resources through high-quality research, education, and outreach activities.

Featured Faculty

Nancy Targett

Nancy Targett picture

Dean Emerita and Distinguished Professor Emerita of Marine Biosciences Administration


CEOE School & Departments

School of Marine Science & Policy

Advancing the understanding, stewardship, and conservation of estuarine, coastal, and ocean environments.

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Department of Geological Sciences

Discovering how geological processes have operated over various time scales to create and influence the planet’s surface environments.

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Department of Geography

Investigating the interactions between people and the environment and the processes that explain the location of human and natural phenomena.

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College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment • 111 Robinson Hall • Newark, DE 19716 • USA • Phone: 302-831-2841
Geography: 302-831-2294 • Geology: 302-831-2569 • Marine Science and Policy: 302-645-4212 • E-mail:

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