February 13, 2014

Whenever I’m lucky enough to make it down the road to the amazing Georgia Aquarium, I find myself glued to the jellyfish tanks. I have always loved watching the graceful movements of the jellies, and as a cell biologist my fluorescently-tagged appreciation runs deep. Today’s image is from a paper describing the molecular pathways in jellyfish development.

The phylum Cnidaria are made of organisms that cycle through two completely different stages—polyps and jellyfish. The polyp-to-jellyfish transition is dramatic, as seen in the images above, and begins with a shift in water temperature. During strobilation, segment-like disks (white arrows) are formed progressively down the polyp. Each disk detaches from the strobila and becomes an ephyra, or young jellyfish, which then quickly matures to an adult jellyfish. A recent paper in Current Biology describes the molecular pathways important in the polyp-to-jellyfish transition in translucent moon jellies. Fuchs and colleagues found that two pathways are important—one relying on retinoic acid, and the other involving secreted proteins that are upregulated following shifts in temperature. One of these secreted proteins (CL390) serves as the precursor of the strobilation hormone in moon jellies.

Björn Fuchs, Wei Wang, Simon Graspeuntner, Yizhu Li, Santiago Insua, Eva-Maria Herbst, Philipp Dirksen, Anna-Marei Böhm, Georg Hemmrich, Felix Sommer, Tomislav Domazet-Lošo, Ulrich C. Klostermeier, Friederike Anton-Erxleben, Philip Rosenstiel, Thomas C (2014). Regulation of Polyp-to-Jellyfish Transition in Aurelia aurita Current Biology, 24 (3) DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2013.12.003

Copyright ©2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. 

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