Happy Fourth of July to all of our fellow coral and cnidarian lovers out there! Wishing everyone a safe and fin-tastic holiday.
For this Spotlight of the Week meet Stephanie Chang! She recently graduated from Miami-Dade college with a degree in Biology. She is currently interning in our lab and working on a project that examines regeneration in Nematostella vectensis. To begin, the anemones are subjected to incision to remove part of their body. After this, Nematostella begin to regenerate lost appendages. By investigating different elements of this process, such as regeneration rates, cell proliferation, and apoptosis, we are able to understand more about how some organisms can regrow limbs.
Nematostella is a species that can reproduce asexually in isolation, creating clones with identical DNA for many generations. One family of clones will have slightly different DNA sequences than the next family of clones. Knowing this, if genetic differences influence regenerative abilities, then each group of clones will have different regeneration rates. Then, by isolating the different regions of DNA, we can determine which sequences make for more successful regenerative properties.
To test this theory, groups of different clones are all cut below the mesenteries (digestive track area) and the rate at which each individual recovers their respective missing structure is tracked.
This study can be used to examine the effects of environmental stressors with cnidarian response and immunity. It also has applications in several fields of science, including medicine.
The first picture is of Stephanie, second is of the anemone 24 hours after the initial incision, third is after 72 hours, and the fourth is after 144 hours. If you look carefully, you can see the growth and regeneration beginning!
Keep it up Steph!