Friday, February 8, 2013

Week #3 (1/27/13-2/2/13:

Moon Jellyfish in  colored tank
This past week was full of many discussions and encounters relating to developmental biology. This previous weekend, I went to the Mall of America's Underwater World (SEALIFE MN) and observed numerous sea creatures in artificial environments similar to their own natural habitats. One type of marine animal that caught my eye was the moon jellyfish. Their near transparent, delicate forms navigated so gracefully through the water. Now, since I am not a marine biologist nor knew much about jellyfish to begin with, I had many questions (none that I really asked the employees because I too wondered how much they knew besides the informative facts written on the walls). Some of these questions were how exactly did the jellyfish work?

Another specimen in an adjacent tankIt's a Pacific Sea Nettle
I looked up my questions later that weekend. It seems, Jellyfish have no brain nor central nervous system, they are a compilation of nerves, a sort of nerve net. They are pretty unique specimens and jellyfish, in general, relate in many ways to the field of developmental bio (I mean, come on, what doesn't). They related specifically to a topic in my dev bio class: Trichoplax. This organism is an intermediate between jellyfish and sponges. A "baffling creature" which is the next step up in organization from choanoflagellates.

During this class, we also got an intro into positional information, gradients, morphogens, polarity, and molecular signals are all about, how they are related and what else controls exactly how an organism is "put together."

On another note, we have already begun editing/enhancing our microphotographs in lab from the previous week. They are coming along, but I am still learning the basics of scientific image processing and documentation. I would love to show them off, but I must wait until they are fully refined.