Nematostella vectensis, more commonly referred to as the starlet sea anemone, is a Cnidarian that resides in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. This organism survives by burrowing into the mud of the ocean floor, and therefore has a bulbous basal end and a contracting column. Though the starlet sea anemone is a Eumetazoan with extremely simple tissue organization, it is used as a model organism in several biological fields for many reasons:
- It possesses stem cells, neurons, muscle fibers, and epithelial cells.
- N. vectensis typically ranges from 10 to 25 grams in weight.
- This organism has a mouth but lacks an anus. It also has two tissue layers, a nerve net, and consequently no central nervous system.
- N. vectensis can reproduce asexually year-round, and sexually during the summer through the fall.
To read more about N. vectensis being used as a model organism to study the role of the CDH23 protein in mechanotransduction, click here.
The starlet sea anemone has a genome of 450 million bases, and was sequenced by Putnam and Rokhsar starting in 2004. This organism has approximately 18,000 protein-coding genes, and of those approximately 7700 are gene linkages that can be found in nematodes and fruit flies (Pennisi, 2014). Rokhsar continued research with Sullivan et al. and created a database for the N. vectensis genome. The database for this genome includes 7868 protein families and 698 oligonucleotide primers.
1. Pennisi, E. (2014). Sea Anemone Provides a New View of Animal Evolution. Science 317: 27. Retrieved from http://www.sciencemag.org/content/317/5834/27.full.pdf.
2. Sullivan, J., J. Ryan, J. Watson, J. Webb, J. Mullikin, D. Rokhsar, and J. Finnerty. (2005). StellaBase: The Nematostella vectensis Genomics Database. Nucleic Acids Research 34: D495–D499. Retrieved from http://nar.oxfordjournals.org/content/34/suppl_1/D495.full.pdf
3. (n.d.). Cnidaria. Retrieved April, 2014, from http://eol.org/pages/1745/overview/
4. Mossman, H. (2000). Nematostella vectensis. Animal Diversity Web. Retrieved April, 2014, from http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/accounts/Nematostella_vectensis/