Orange County

UCF researchers uncover genetic clues that may help save sea turtles from mysterious disease

ORLANDO, Fla. — UCF researchers said they’ve discovered 116 gene variants that could help save sea turtles from a mysterious disease.

Fibropapillomatosis is a tumor-causing disease that limits a turtle’s mobility.


Officials said the discovery sheds light on the role the gene variants play in potentially protecting sea turtles from the disease.

Researchers are also trying to figure out why some sea turtles, such as loggerheads, are rarely observed with the disease, while others, such as green sea turtles, are often afflicted.

WATCH: “It’s global”: UCF researchers seeking cause of tumors found on local sea turtles

About half of the green sea turtles observed in the Indian River Lagoon have the disease, researchers say.

The researchers said their next steps include expanding the sampling of green sea turtles and loggerheads, as well as sampling and analyzing genetic information from other sea turtle species. Read more about their efforts here.

Photos: Sea turtle sightings along Central Florida shores

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Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson,

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.

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