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SciShots: Glowing muscles of the comb jelly

Biologists are studying the neurons and muscle cells of the ctenophore, a type of sea jelly that is the sister group to all other animals

May 27, 2022

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In neuroscience, there’s an argument for studying the brains of animals that are as close to our own as possible — mammals or even other primates. But there’s also an argument to be made that studying nervous systems of animals that are wildly different from us can help scientists understand more about the basic principles of brains and brain evolution. Researchers at the University of Florida, through funding from an Allen Distinguished Investigator award, are studying the net-like nervous system of the ctenophore, a marine animal also known as the comb jelly and which was the first animal group to break off from all other modern animals in evolution. In this image, the comb jelly’s muscle cells are stained fluorescent green. University of Florida biologist Joseph Ryan, Ph.D., and his colleagues are mapping the neuromuscular circuits of the comb jelly to better understand the early evolution of both neurons and muscle cells. — Rachel Tompa, Ph.D. Image by Kevin Pang, Ph.D. (currently senior editor at Genome Biology) 


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