NUI Galway Highlights Reproductive Flexibility in a Galway Bay Jellyfish

By Declan Harte

A new study has found that Hydractinia, a North Atlantic jellyfish that also lives in Galway Bay, reproduces in a similar way to humans but does so far more flexibly.

The study is led by Dr Tim DuBuc and Professor Uri Frank from the Centre for Chromosome Biology at NUI Galway.

An article presenting these findings has been published today in the journal Science, with co-authors Dr Andy Baxevanis from the National Human Genome Research Institute of the US National Institutes of Health and Dr Christine Schnitzler from the Whitney Laboratory of Marine Bioscience of the University of Florida.

In findings that may have implications for the study of human infertility, this research shows that Hydractinia uses a gene called Tfap2 as a ‘switch’ to commit its adult stem cells to produce gametes – eggs and sperm.

“Looking at the similar, yet more flexible, system of reproduction in Hydractinia broadens our understanding of the issues affecting reproduction in humans,” said Professor Uri Frank.

“While much of a human’s capacity to reproduce is determined during embryonic development, we see that these jellyfish are far more adaptive and have a much greater capacity to regenerate their reproductive system throughout their adult lives. By looking at these genetically more tractable animals, we hope to understand core processes that control cells’ decisions in development and disease.” 

The full article is published in Science and available here

About Post Author

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.