New Horizons in Science

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An upside-down "lab rat" for studying coral reef ecology

Topic: Biology: Conservation
Upside down jellyfish (Cassiopea).
Upside down jellyfish (Cassiopea).
Sunday, October 27, 2019 -
10:00am to 11:00am

Corals are full of complexity, surprise and mystery. And they are threatened. Mónica Medina has found a way to study important questions about corals without disturbing these fragile systems: a model organism. Her "lab rat" is Cassiopea xamachana, the upside-down jellyfish, also known for its use in models of computational fluid dynamics and neuromechanics. Like their cnidarian cousins the corals, Cassiopea jellies are dependent on symbionts — photosynthetic dinoflagellate algae — for key parts of their life cycle. For example, Medina's recent work suggests that it's the symbionts that dictate when Cassiopea polyps metamorphose into baby jellies. She will update science writers on this research and her fieldwork with the coral reefs of the Caribbean.


Upside down jellyfish (Cassiopea). Image: Lenora (Ellie) Enking (CC BY-SA 2.0)


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