I have returned to my blog after a very long period of not writing at all. I have been dealing with an illness and have therefore not been able to write or post for quite a long time. However, my love for all things spineless and marine has not diminished in this time!
I thought perhaps for a fresh start, I should introduce myself a little bit?
I am a PhD student and am currently working on semaeostome jellyfish. In this blog I shall try to include aspects of my work and also items of general interest that I find in my travels around the internet.
To start with, if you want to know more about interesting invertebrate discoveries, try here: http://www.niwa.co.nz/news-and-publications/blogs/critter-of-the-week – they regularly post interesting invertebrate information about things found around New Zealand, Antarctica and the South Pacific, and there are great photographs, so it is a good way of seeing and getting an idea of the diversity of invertebrates that are found in the marine environment.
In my own work, recently I have been doing a lot of reading about jellyfish and why they form blooms (i.e. when lots of the medusae appear at one time in one place), but some of the very interesting information I have found out relates to how they have many benefits to humans, and I really think this side of jellyfish is overlooked by most people, so I’m going to include it as my main topic today.
Did you know that some of the compounds and molecules found in jellyfish are used in medicine, the cosmetic industry, and in cell biology?
The mucins (gel-forming, glycosylated proteins) of scyphozoans have multiple uses: they can be used to relieve some symptoms of osteoarthritis (Ohta et al. 2009), they contain antimicrobial peptides that can potentially be used in the design of new antibiotics (Ovchinnikova et al. 2006), and they have various other uses in both the pharmaceutical sector, as biomaterial-based lubricants, and in the cosmetic sector, as moisturising agents that stop cosmetics from drying out (Pearson et al., 2011; Kim and Karadeniz, 2011). Scyphozoan venoms may also be useful in preventing tumour growth in various cancers (Orduña-Novoa et al., 2003; Balamurugan et al., 2010).
Jellyfish medusae are even used as a food source in many eastern-Asian countries (Kitamura & Omori 2010) – although I’m not entirely convinced that they have a lot of flavour what with them being about 95% water! They are often dried and salted to preserve them, and then later rehydrated and cooked with some sort of marinade to give them a good flavour. Apparently they are traditionally eaten at wedding ceremonies in China. So if I am ever in the Far-East (or at a diverse Chinese supermarket), I will be sure to try some and let you know!
The green fluorescent protein used in cell biology to highlight various aspects of cells, was isolated from jellyfish too (although from a hydrozoan called Aequorea victoria, rather than the scyphozoans that I work on). Here is a picture of some neurons that are marked by the protein:
This discovery gained the authors involved the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2008. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/2008/press.html
I also think (and am definitely not alone in this) that jellyfish are rather beautiful to look at. Here is a link to a video of Aurelia aurita swimming in an aquarium, see what you think?
So, in conclusion I want to state that jellyfish are really far from the strange and terrible idea that some people have of them. Yes, some of them do sting if you touch them with bare skin, but they also have many good points too, and I hope I have managed to convince you of that today?
The Marine Invertebrate
- Image credit: Aurelia aurita bloom: Malene Thyssen, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Malene
- Image credit: Green Fluorescent Protein Neuron: Wei-Chung Allen Lee, Hayden Huang, Guoping Feng, Joshua R. Sanes, Emery N. Brown, Peter T. So, Elly Nedivi [CC BY 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
- Image credit: By Howcheng (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
- Balamurugan, E., Reddy, B. V., & Menon, V. P. (2010). Antitumor and antioxidant role of Chrysaora quinquecirrha (sea nettle) nematocyst venom peptide against ehrlich ascites carcinoma in Swiss Albino mice. Molecular and cellular biochemistry, 338 (1-2), 69-76.
- Kim, S. K., & Karadeniz, F. (2011). 27 Industrial Prospects of the Cosmeceuticals Derived from Marine Mucin. Marine Cosmeceuticals: Trends and Prospects, 391.
- Kitamura, M.I. & Omori, M.A., 2010. Synopsis of edible jellyfishes collected from Southeast Asia , with notes on jellyfish fisheries. Plankton Benthos Research, 5(3), pp.106–118.
- Ohta, N. et al., 2009. Jellyfish mucin may have potential disease-modifying effects on osteoarthritis. BMC biotechnology, 9(98), p.11. Available at: http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=2801673&tool=pmcentrez&rendertype=abstract [Accessed August 29, 2014].
- Orduña-Novoa, K., Segura-Puertas, L., Sánchez-Rodríguez, J., Meléndez, A., Nava-Ruíz, C., Rembao, D., Santamaría, A. & Galván-Arzate, S. (2003). Possible antitumoral effect of the crude venom of Cassiopea xamachana (Cnidaria: Scyphozoa) on tumors of the central nervous system induced by N-Ethyl-N-Nitrosourea (ENU) in rats. In PROCEEDINGS-WESTERN PHARMACOLOGY SOCIETY. Western Pharmacology Society; 46, 85-87.
- Ovchinnikova, T. V et al., (2006). Aurelin, a novel antimicrobial peptide from jellyfish Aurelia aurita with structural features of defensins and channel-blocking toxins. Biochemical and biophysical research communications, 348(2), pp.514–23. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16890198 [Accessed August 18, 2014].
- Pearson, R., Tellam, R., Xu, B., Zhao, Z., Willcox, M., & Kongsuwan, K. (2011). Isolation, biochemical characterization and anti-adhesion property of mucin from the blue blubber jellyfish (Catostylus mosaicus). Bioscience Methods, 2. 21-30.