Secret Lives of Flower Hat Jellyfish Revealed

For decades, flower hat jellyfish managed to keep their early lives a secret.

In adulthood, the jellyfish are striking, with a nest of fluorescent tentacles that look like party streamers, but pack a nasty sting. In infancy, well, scientists didn’t know. Aquarists tried, unsuccessfully, to raise the animals in tanks to understand what happens before the jellyfish are fully grown.

"They just aren’t like other jellies," said Wyatt Patry, senior aquarist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium in California.

Now, Patry and colleagues report they’ve finally raised the jellyfish in captivity. In a new paper, the researchers describe the elusive species’ life cycle, from egg to larva to single-tentacled polyp to juvenile to adult.

Scientists at the aquarium first bought a group of flower hat jellies back from Japan in 2002 for an exhibit on jellyfish. At the time, aquarists tried to mate and culture the species (scientifically named Olindias formosus), but they just couldn’t seem to get the jellies to release any sperm or eggs.

Patry said the researchers tried performing in vitro fertilization and exposing the jellies to stresses that might make them release sex cells. The creatures produced some larvae, but they didn’t grow much larger than that stage. Ultimately, it seemed that the scientists were missing some cue the jellyfish needed for reproduction.

When it came time for another jellyfish show in 2012, the team tried again. They kept groups of flower hat jellies in small tanks with mesh netting to keep the creatures off the bottom, where detritus and rotting pieces of half-eaten fish settled. The scientists don’t exactly know what they did right the second time around, but during routine maintenance, they discovered fluorescent jellyfish polyps attached to the wire mesh and glowing under a blue light.

Jellyfish larvae attach themselves to a solid surface and become stalklike polyps, which then bud into juvenile “medusae” — what jellyfish are called when they reach their most recognizable, umbrella-shaped form. Jellyfish polyps persist for an unknown amount of time. The polyps of flower hat jellies were unusual in that they had a single, highly active tentacle.

"They just look like little sea anemones," Patry told Live Science. "They seem to use the tentacle to sweep around their position to capture food."

Patry hopes the new information might help scientists and wildlife managers look for the species in the wild — and predict when and where “blooms” of the jellyfish could affect beachgoers.

Flower hat jellies kill and eat entire fish, and their venom is powerful enough to inflict a painful rash on humans. The mark looks like a burn, said Patry. (Take it from him. He said he usually gets stung a couple of times a year.) A 2007 review of jellyfish incidents recorded around the world found one death associated with flower hat jellies, in Japan in the 1970s.

The findings on young flower hat jellies were published in June in the Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom.

(via thenewenlightenmentage)

scinerds:

Incredibly Small: Best Microscope Photos of the Year

(Click each image for short details)

Every year for nearly four decades, Nikon has received hundreds of entries in its Small World microscope photography contest. Every year, the images are more amazing, and this year’s winners — selected from nearly 2,000 submissions — are undoubtedly the best yet.

Super-close-ups of garlic, snail fossils, stinging nettle, bat embryos, bone cancer and a ladybug are among the top images this year. The first place winner (above) shows the blood-brain barrier in a living zebrafish embryo, which Nikon believes is the first image ever to show the formation of this barrier in a live animal.

“We used fluorescent proteins to look at brain endothelial cells and watched the blood-brain barrier develop in real-time,” the winners, Jennifer Peters and Michael Taylor of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, in Memphis, said in a press release. “We took a 3-dimensional snapshot under a confocal microscope. Then, we stacked the images and compressed them into one – pseudo coloring them in rainbow to illustrate depth.”

Here are the top 20 photomicrographs from the 38th Nikon Small World competition, selected for their originality, informational content, and visual impact by a panel of scientists, journalists and optical imaging experts. — Continue over at WiredScience

(via shychemist)

biocanvas:

Spiryogyra
Spirogyra, a type of green algae, is common to freshwater areas and consists of over 400 currently described species. Spirogyra is so named because its light-absorbing chloroplasts are arranged in a prominent spiral shape running along the length of each cell. Commonly found in clean waters, this algae’s outer cell wall can dissolve in water, making it slimy to touch.
Image captured and submitted by Dennis Quertermous, University of Alabama.

biocanvas:

Spiryogyra

Spirogyra, a type of green algae, is common to freshwater areas and consists of over 400 currently described species. Spirogyra is so named because its light-absorbing chloroplasts are arranged in a prominent spiral shape running along the length of each cell. Commonly found in clean waters, this algae’s outer cell wall can dissolve in water, making it slimy to touch.

Image captured and submitted by Dennis Quertermous, University of Alabama.

purduescience:

A look inside the Center for Drug Discovery labs of Profs. Mingji Dai and Phil Low …

(via molecularlifesciences)

astroxaview:

Namibia - Nightsky of the Milky Way near “Southern Cross” by Massmo Relsig on Flickr.

astroxaview:

Namibia - Nightsky of the Milky Way near “Southern Cross” by Massmo Relsig on Flickr.

(Source: , via abcstarstuff)

gravitationalbeauty:

Reflection Nebulas in Orion
neurosciencestuff:

(Image caption: Astrocyte activity is shown in green in this slice of tissue from the brain region that controls movement in mice. Internal, structural elements of the astrocytes are shown in magenta; cell bodies are in red. Credit: Amit Agarwal and Dwight Bergles, courtesy of Cell Press)
Fight-Or-Flight Chemical Prepares Cells to Shift the Brain From Subdued to Alert State
A new study from The Johns Hopkins University shows that the brain cells surrounding a mouse’s neurons do much more than fill space. According to the researchers, the cells, called astrocytes because of their star-shaped appearance, can monitor and respond to nearby neural activity, but only after being activated by the fight-or-flight chemical norepinephrine. Because astrocytes can alter the activity of neurons, the findings suggest that astrocytes may help control the brain’s ability to focus.
The study involved observing the cells in the brains of living, active mice over long periods of time. A combination of genetically engineered mice and advanced microscopy allowed the researchers to visualize the activity of astrocyte networks in different regions of the brain to learn how these abundant supporting cells are controlled.
The scientists monitored astrocytes in the area of the brain responsible for controlling movement and saw that the cells often increased their activity as the mice walked on treadmills — but not always, and sometimes astrocytes became active when the animals were not moving. This lack of consistency suggested to the researchers that the astrocytes were not responding to nearby neurons, as had been thought.
Similarly, astrocytes in the vision processing area of the brain did not necessarily become active when the mice were stimulated with light, but they were sometimes active, even in the dark. The team solved both mysteries when they tested the idea that the astrocytes needed a signal to “wake them up” before they could respond to nearby neurons. That is how they found that norepinephrine, the brain’s broadly distributed fight-or-flight signal, primes the astrocytes in both locations to “listen in” on nearby neuronal activity.
“Astrocytes are among the most abundant cells in the brain, but we know very little about how they are controlled and how they contribute to brain function,” says Dwight Bergles, Ph.D., professor of neuroscience, who led the study. “Since memory formation and other important functions of the brain require a state of attention, we’re interested in learning more about how astrocytes help create that state.”
For example, Bergles says, “We know that astrocytes can regulate local blood flow, provide energy to neurons and release signaling molecules that alter neuronal activity. They could be doing any or all of those things in response to being activated. It is also possible that they act as a sort of megaphone to broadcast local norepinephrine signals to every neuron in the brain.” Whatever the case may be, researchers now know that astrocytes are not idle loiterers. This ability to study astrocyte network activity in animals as they do different things will help to reveal how these cells contribute to brain function.
This research was published in the journal Neuron on June 18.

neurosciencestuff:

(Image caption: Astrocyte activity is shown in green in this slice of tissue from the brain region that controls movement in mice. Internal, structural elements of the astrocytes are shown in magenta; cell bodies are in red. Credit: Amit Agarwal and Dwight Bergles, courtesy of Cell Press)

Fight-Or-Flight Chemical Prepares Cells to Shift the Brain From Subdued to Alert State

A new study from The Johns Hopkins University shows that the brain cells surrounding a mouse’s neurons do much more than fill space. According to the researchers, the cells, called astrocytes because of their star-shaped appearance, can monitor and respond to nearby neural activity, but only after being activated by the fight-or-flight chemical norepinephrine. Because astrocytes can alter the activity of neurons, the findings suggest that astrocytes may help control the brain’s ability to focus.

The study involved observing the cells in the brains of living, active mice over long periods of time. A combination of genetically engineered mice and advanced microscopy allowed the researchers to visualize the activity of astrocyte networks in different regions of the brain to learn how these abundant supporting cells are controlled.

The scientists monitored astrocytes in the area of the brain responsible for controlling movement and saw that the cells often increased their activity as the mice walked on treadmills — but not always, and sometimes astrocytes became active when the animals were not moving. This lack of consistency suggested to the researchers that the astrocytes were not responding to nearby neurons, as had been thought.

Similarly, astrocytes in the vision processing area of the brain did not necessarily become active when the mice were stimulated with light, but they were sometimes active, even in the dark. The team solved both mysteries when they tested the idea that the astrocytes needed a signal to “wake them up” before they could respond to nearby neurons. That is how they found that norepinephrine, the brain’s broadly distributed fight-or-flight signal, primes the astrocytes in both locations to “listen in” on nearby neuronal activity.

“Astrocytes are among the most abundant cells in the brain, but we know very little about how they are controlled and how they contribute to brain function,” says Dwight Bergles, Ph.D., professor of neuroscience, who led the study. “Since memory formation and other important functions of the brain require a state of attention, we’re interested in learning more about how astrocytes help create that state.”

For example, Bergles says, “We know that astrocytes can regulate local blood flow, provide energy to neurons and release signaling molecules that alter neuronal activity. They could be doing any or all of those things in response to being activated. It is also possible that they act as a sort of megaphone to broadcast local norepinephrine signals to every neuron in the brain.” Whatever the case may be, researchers now know that astrocytes are not idle loiterers. This ability to study astrocyte network activity in animals as they do different things will help to reveal how these cells contribute to brain function.

This research was published in the journal Neuron on June 18.

trynottodrown:

 Green Turtle eating Jellyfish - Dimakya Island, Philippines | Ai Gentel
wolverxne:

The king is watching, Africa | (by: yoel schlaen)

wolverxne:

The king is watching, Africa | (by: yoel schlaen)

(via animals-everywhere)

amnhnyc:

We’re celebrating Father’s Day weekend with animal dad facts! Pictured here is the excellent phantasmal frog dad. And if you missed it, be sure to check out the seahorse dad!
Stay tuned for more.

amnhnyc:

We’re celebrating Father’s Day weekend with animal dad facts! Pictured here is the excellent phantasmal frog dad. And if you missed it, be sure to check out the seahorse dad!

Stay tuned for more.

(via scienceyoucanlove)

bbsrc:

Inside the world of infection
Fungal pathogens manage to simultaneously pacify their plant victim’s defences whilst seizing host nutrition, creating a very difficult situation for any plant that becomes infected.
Here you can see three different stages of the fungal hyphae of Magnaporthe grisea invading and taking-over a plant cell.
Top panel: After 48h of infection
Middle panel: After 72h of infection
Bottom panel: After 96h of infection
Rice blast disease, which is caused by M.grisea, is one of the greatest pathogen threats to rice crops globally and since rice is an important food source its impact can be devastating.
Scientists from the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwth University, which is strategically funded by BBSRC, are studying the mechanisms behind fungal pathogen infection eventually hoping to reduce this major threat to modern agriculture.
Image from Mr Hassan Zubair from IBERS, Aberystwyth University
For more images of plant infection to go: 
http://tmblr.co/ZtJ7bq1B_-XUW
OR 
http://tmblr.co/ZtJ7bq1BM2QXb

bbsrc:

Inside the world of infection

Fungal pathogens manage to simultaneously pacify their plant victim’s defences whilst seizing host nutrition, creating a very difficult situation for any plant that becomes infected.

Here you can see three different stages of the fungal hyphae of Magnaporthe grisea invading and taking-over a plant cell.

Top panel: After 48h of infection

Middle panel: After 72h of infection

Bottom panel: After 96h of infection

Rice blast disease, which is caused by M.grisea, is one of the greatest pathogen threats to rice crops globally and since rice is an important food source its impact can be devastating.

Scientists from the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences at Aberystwth University, which is strategically funded by BBSRC, are studying the mechanisms behind fungal pathogen infection eventually hoping to reduce this major threat to modern agriculture.

Image from Mr Hassan Zubair from IBERS, Aberystwyth University

For more images of plant infection to go: 

http://tmblr.co/ZtJ7bq1B_-XUW

OR 

http://tmblr.co/ZtJ7bq1BM2QXb

(via shychemist)

lifeunderthewaves:

Spanish Shawl by hordur

lifeunderthewaves:

Spanish Shawl by hordur

(via megacosms)

Anonymous said: Given your extensive background and awesome interests, do you think you could explain to me the difference between molecular psychiatry and psychopharmacology?

chroniclesofachemist:

ABSOLUTELY! Lets start with the basics and move to the philosophy.

I’ll do my best to keep it simple. Google any terms that don’t make sense :)

Molecular psychiatry is the field which attempts to understand psychiatric illness from a biochemical stand-point, where in particular interactions between neurons and chemicals are considered to be the root of abnormal psychology. This field is about observing how the psychologically ill brain functions without the influence of external drugs, and then concludes with methods that could be used to treat it

Psychopharmacology on the other hand is more based on how drugs interact with the brain, not how the brain would function for those with mental illness. In this field, we determine how the drugs effect the brain and then apply potential uses for this drug or perform structural activity relationship experiments to optimise the drug for particular neural interactions. Psychopharmacology doesn’t concern itself with the cause of mental illness, simply the methods by which it can be treated by chemicals and their effectiveness.

Psychiatry as a whole is philosophically leaning towards mind-body dualism where-in to treat mental illness, it would be best to treat both the mind and body as two separate things which interact with each other. By fixing the biochemical interactions of the body and conditioning the mind through cognitive behavioural therapy or counselling, psychiatry treats the mental illness from two angles.

Psychopharmacology is very much a physicalist field in which the mind is thought of to be a product of the neurons of the brain. By altering the activity of the neurons, it is possible to alter the perception of the mind. Take SSRIs for example, when administered over a period of time to a person with a depressive disorder, they will sometimes have an improvement of mood which is not associated with any cbt or changes to life style or events. This is because the drug is forcing the serotonin in the brain to remain in the gaps between the serotonin receptors and therefore continues to act as a neurotransmitter increasing mood as a result.

I hope that helps.

TL;DR:

Molecular psychiatry: how the mentally ill brain works.
Psychopharmacology: how drugs interact with the brain.

(Source: bluretina, via naturesdoorways)

txchnologist:

Complex NanoArchitecture Makes Tunable Materials

We’re getting another close-up look at extremely strong and ultra-lightweight materials being created at the California Institute of Technology.

Researchers in the lab of materials science and mechanics professor Julia Greer are using a direct laser writing method called two-photon lithography to develop intricate trusswork that are extremely low density. In this process, they fire a laser into a polymer, which hardens at the light’s focal point. After washing the rest of the unhardened polymer away, the hardened scaffold that remains is coated with any number of substances like metals, ceramic or semiconducting compounds. The trusses pictured above were coated with the brittle ceramic aluminum oxide.

Greer says that making complex structures at the nanoscopic scale—truss members can be billionths of a meter wide—allows engineers to impart desired characteristics to the tailored material. 

Read More

(via megacosms)