4.8 Article

A genetically tractable jellyfish model for systems and evolutionary neuroscience


Volume 184, Issue 24, Pages 5854-+


DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2021.10.021




  1. CRBM/Ser-vice Aquario (FR 3761
  2. EMBRC-France) [ANR-10-INBS-0002]
  3. Caltech Center for Evolutionary Sci-ence
  4. Whitman Center of the MBL
  5. Life Sciences Research Foundation
  6. NINDS [K99NS119749]
  7. NIMH [K99MH117264]
  8. ANR [ANR-17-CE13-0016]
  9. ASSEMBLE Plus JRA3 (EU Horizon 2020) [730984]
  10. Agency of Science, Technology and Research, Singapore
  11. Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR) [ANR-10-INBS-0002] Funding Source: Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR)

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Jellyfish are radially symmetric organisms without a brain, achieving organismal behaviors through coordinated interactions between autonomously functioning body parts. The Clytia hemisphaerica model introduced in this study revealed a previously unrecognized level of structured neural organization, providing a platform for studies of neural function, behavior, and evolution within a clade of marine organisms of ecological and economic importance.
Jellyfish are radially symmetric organisms without a brain that arose more than 500 million years ago. They achieve organismal behaviors through coordinated interactions between autonomously functioning body parts. Jellyfish neurons have been studied electrophysiologically, but not at the systems level. We introduce Clytia hemisphaerica as a transparent, genetically tractable jellyfish model for systems and evolutionary neuroscience. We generate stable F-1 transgenic lines for cell-type-specific conditional ablation and whole-organism GCaMP imaging. Using these tools and computational analyses, we find that an apparently diffuse network of RFamide-expressing umbrellar neurons is functionally subdivided into a series of spatially localized subassemblies whose synchronous activation controls directional food transfer from the tentacles to the mouth. These data reveal an unanticipated degree of structured neural organization in this species. Clytia affords a platform for systems-level studies of neural function, behavior, and evolution within a clade of marine organisms with growing ecological and economic importance.


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Wai Lo
@Neil, truth. This creature aren’t simple.
Wai Lo
Using a novel transgenic jellyfish, life scientists uncovered how these organisms survive without a brain. Briefly, the neuronal arrangement in jellyfish seems to follow a hierarchical pattern, with different body parts being controlled separately.


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