Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Ciona intestinalis is a large solitary sea squirt which grows up to 15 cm in length. The body is soft, retractile and a pale translucent greenish/yellow, through which the internal organs are visible. They are found from the lower shore down to at least 500 m. The Ciona intestinalis genome has been sequenced, and it is the smallest of any experimentally manipulable chordate. This organism provides a good system for exploring the evolutionary origins of the chordate lineage, from which all vertebrates sprouted ( (

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