Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Scientists uncover secrets of starfish’s bizarre feeding mechanism

Date:
August 1, 2013
Source:
Queen Mary, University of London
Summary:
Scientists have identified a molecule that enables starfish to carry out one of the most remarkable forms of feeding in the natural world. A starfish feeds by first extending its stomach out of its mouth and over the digestible parts of its prey, such as mussels and clams. The prey tissue is partially digested externally before the soup-like "chowder" produced is drawn back into its 10 digestive glands.

Starfish. Scientists have identified a molecule that enables starfish (also known as sea stars) to carry out one of the most remarkable forms of feeding in the natural world.
Credit: icanbearleec / Fotolia

Scientists have identified a molecule that enables starfish to carry out one of the most remarkable forms of feeding in the natural world.

A starfish feeds by first extending its stomach out of its mouth and over the digestible parts of its prey, such as mussels and clams. The prey tissue is partially digested externally before the soup-like "chowder" produced is drawn back into its 10 digestive glands.

The researchers at Queen Mary, University of London and the University of Warwick have discovered a neuropeptide -- a molecule which carries signals between neurons -- called NGFFYamide, which triggers the stomach to contract and retract back into the starfish.

The findings could have economic and environmental implications by providing a potential mechanism for controlling starfish predation.

Maurice Elphick, Professor of Physiology and Neuroscience at Queen Mary's School of Biological and Chemical Sciences who led the research, said: "These findings open up the possibility of designing chemical-based strategies to control the feeding of starfish.

"Starfish predation has an economic impact as they feed on important shellfish, such as mussels and clams. Periodic increases in starfish populations can also cause major destruction to Pacific reef tracts, such as the Great Barrier Reef, as certain species feed on reef-building corals."

The study, published today in The Journal of Experimental Biology, was carried out using computer analysis of DNA sequence data, chemical analysis of starfish nerves and pharmacological tests.

Professor Elphick added: "Interestingly, we have also found that the neuropeptide behind the stomach retraction is evolutionarily related to a neuropeptide that regulates anxiety and arousal in humans."

The new findings build on previous work from the team at Queen Mary in which they identified neuropeptides called SALMFamides that trigger the relaxation and eversion of the starfish stomach.

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l6dnmLDu6Eg


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Queen Mary, University of London. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Dean C. Semmens, Robyn E. Dane, Mahesh R. Pancholi, Susan E. Slade, James H. Scrivens and Maurice R. Elphick. Discovery of a novel neurophysin-associated neuropeptide that triggers cardiac stomach contraction and retraction in starfish. Journal of Experimental Biology, August 2, 2013 DOI: 10.1242/jeb.092171

Cite This Page:

Queen Mary, University of London. "Scientists uncover secrets of starfish’s bizarre feeding mechanism." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 August 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130801233100.htm>.
Queen Mary, University of London. (2013, August 1). Scientists uncover secrets of starfish’s bizarre feeding mechanism. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130801233100.htm
Queen Mary, University of London. "Scientists uncover secrets of starfish’s bizarre feeding mechanism." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/08/130801233100.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

'Cadaver Dog' Sniffs out Human Remains

AP (Oct. 21, 2014) Where's a body buried? Buster's nose can often tell you. He's a cadaver dog, specially trained to find human remains and increasingly being used by law enforcement and accepted in courts. These dogs are helping solve even decades-old mysteries. (Oct. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

White Lion Cubs Born in Belgrade Zoo

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) Two white lion cubs, an extremely rare subspecies of the African lion, were recently born at Belgrade Zoo. They are being bottle fed by zoo keepers after they were rejected by their mother after birth. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Goliath Spider Will Give You Nightmares

Buzz60 (Oct. 20, 2014) An entomologist stumbled upon a South American Goliath Birdeater. With a name like that, you know it's a terrifying creepy crawler. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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