Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Where does our head come from? Brainless sea anemone sheds new light on the evolutionary origin of the head

Date:
February 20, 2013
Source:
Uni Research
Summary:
A research group has shed new light on the evolutionary origin of the head. Scientists show that in a simple, brainless sea anemone, the same genes that control head development in higher animals regulate the development of the front end of the swimming larvae.

Adult Nematostella polyp.
Credit: Timm Nuechter & Thomas Holstein

A research group at the Sars Centre in Norway has shed new light on the evolutionary origin of the head. In a study published in the journal PLoS Biology they show that in a simple, brainless sea anemone, the same genes that control head development in higher animals regulate the development of the front end of the swimming larvae.

In many animals, the brain is located in a specific structure, the head, together with sensory organs and often together with the mouth. However, there are even more distantly related animals, which have a nervous system, but no brain, like sea anemones and corals.

In this study a research group led by Fabian Rentzsch used the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis to find out if one of the ends of the sea anemone corresponds to the head of higher animals. To do this they studied the function of genes that control head development in higher animals during the embryonic development of the starlet sea anemone.

"Despite looking completely different, it has become clear over the last decade, that all animals have a similar repertoire of genes, including those that are required to make the head of higher animals" , says first author and PhD-student Chiara Sinigaglia.

Stands on its head When the sea anemone is in the larval stage it swims. As adults, the sea anemone stands with one end on the sea floor and uses long tentacles on its upper end to catch small animals which they stuff into the only body opening in the middle of the ring of tentacles.

"Based on the appearance of the adult animals, the lower end of these animals has traditionally been called the foot and the upper end the head," explains Rentzsch.

What the research group found out was that in the sea anemone the "head gene" function is located at the end that corresponds to the "foot" of the adult animals. The key was to study the larvae of the sea anemones when theystill move around.

"The larvae swims with the "foot" end forward and this end carries their main sense organ, so at this stage it looks more like this might be their head," says Rentzsch. And indeed, the "head genes" function on this side of the animals.

Sea anemones and all higher animals, including humans, share a common brainless ancestor which lived between 600 and 700 million years ago.

"By revealing the function of "head genes" in Nematostella, we now understand better how and from where the head and brain of higher animals evolved," Sinigaglia and Rentzsch explain.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Uni Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Chiara Sinigaglia, Henriette Busengdal, Lucas Leclθre, Ulrich Technau, Fabian Rentzsch. The Bilaterian Head Patterning Gene six3/6 Controls Aboral Domain Development in a Cnidarian. PLoS Biology, 2013; 11 (2): e1001488 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1001488

Cite This Page:

Uni Research. "Where does our head come from? Brainless sea anemone sheds new light on the evolutionary origin of the head." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130220084436.htm>.
Uni Research. (2013, February 20). Where does our head come from? Brainless sea anemone sheds new light on the evolutionary origin of the head. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130220084436.htm
Uni Research. "Where does our head come from? Brainless sea anemone sheds new light on the evolutionary origin of the head." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130220084436.htm (accessed August 29, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Friday, August 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) — Hoping to break the record for world's wooliest, Shaun the sheep came up 10 pounds shy with his fleece weighing over 50 pounds after being shorn for the first time in years. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) — Canadian scientists looking into the very first land animals took a fish out of water and forced it to walk. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) — An international team uncovered a large ancient wine celler that likely belonged to a Cannonite ruler. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins