Published discoveries

Rosario students contribute to riveting octopus research



During the summer of 2021, a group of thirteen students at Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory conducted research on octopuses’ response to ocean acidification (OA). Their research was recently published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal, Frontiers in Physiology, in December of 2022. 

Students from Walla Walla University and other Adventist universities worked together to make new discoveries during their Marine Environmental Physiology class. Under the supervision of Loyd Trueblood, La Sierra University professor, the students monitored the octopus species within OA tanks. 

During their research, they made the shallowest recorded sighting ever of Muusoctopus leioderma. This deep-sea genus is typically found at depths of up to 1,000 feet, but these students observed the octopus at 30 feet in the Salish Sea, which borders the Rosario campus. This discovery afforded them a unique opportunity to study the creatures. The Rosario marine research facilities allow students to make exciting marine discoveries like this, but it also helps prepare them for careers outside of the marine field. 

Lucas Tanner Buller, senior biology pre-medicine major, was one of the student co-authors of the published octopus research. “For my future profession as an ER doctor I probably won't be working on OA research, but the attention to detail and the practice of really understanding lab procedures and why each step is performed, will be extremely helpful during the diagnosis and treatment of patients in the medical field,” said Buller. 

In preparation for their careers, students like Buller were able to master laboratory techniques and have their names listed in a scientific publication, a rarity for undergraduate students. “Being able to say that you are a published co-author on a peer reviewed paper is huge for all sorts of opportunities later on in your career, whether you’re going into medicine, looking for residencies, or going into research,” said Kirt Onthank, director of Rosario and biology professor. 

This OA research is a continuation of previous WWU research, including discoveries on Ruby Octopus' resistance to it which were published by the International Press and subsequently spread around the globe. Learn more about this research here. 

Posted on April 6, 2023. 


Photo of Lucas Tanner Buller
Buller had the opportunity to interact with several sea creatures at Rosario.