Cnidarian Regulatory Biology and Stress Responses

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Starlet sea anemone (Nematostella vectensis) eating a brine shrimp (small brown spot indicated by an arrow). Animals (including humans) can be exposed to pollutants through many routes. In our study of effects of oil and oil dispersant, we will expose Nematostella both to contaminanted water and to contaminated food (brine shrimp).

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» Circadian Symposium
We will be hosting a symposium on "Keeping time during animal evolution: conservation and innovation of the circadian clock" at the January 2013 SICB* meeting. (* Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology)

Potential effects of oil pollution: Sea Anemones as a model

In collaboration with Dr. Matthew Jenny (University of Alabama), we are investigating the effects of oil exposure on gene expression and physiology of a model cnidarian, the starlet sea anemone, Nematostella vectensis. This sea anemone is common to salt marshes along the Atlantic coast of the United States.

For a description of this work, please see our non-technical abstract or a press release.

Cnidarian Circadian Regulation

Circadian rhythms regulate many aspects  of animal biology, from cycles of sleep and wakefulness to variations in energetic metaoblism. We are interested in circadian regulation in Nematostella both to gain insight into cnidarian physiology and to better understand the evolution of the animal circadian clock.

We have recently described expression of a series of "Clock genes" in Nematostella in response to light-dark cycles. Most notably, we found that expression of Clock and some Cryptochromes is upregulated during light periods, particularly in response to blue light.

We continue to investigate circadian regulation in Nematostella. We have published a paper describing our initial findings:

Reitzel AM, Behrendt L, Tarrant AM (2010) Light entrained rhythmic gene expression in the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis: the evolution of the animal circadian clock. PLoS ONE 5(9):e12805.


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Last updated November 8, 2013
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