Comb jellies aren't all bad news. Also at the MLB this summer is Anthony Moss, an associate professor of biology at Auburn University, who is studying the ability of M. ledyi to quickly repair itself - a few minutes to a few hours depending on the injury - without scarring. The jellies have exceptional regenerative powers, capable of repairing up to 50 percent of their bodies. He hopes to apply his observations to wound healing across all organisms.
With Skate Eyes, Scientists Peer Into Human Disease
Paradoxically, the photoreceptor cells in our retinas release more of their neurotransmitter, glutamate, in the dark, when there is nothing to see, than they do in the light. This is doubly surprising since although glutamate is a major signaling molecule in the retina and throughout the CNS, it is also a potent cytotoxin that, in large doses, can kill nearby cells. What keeps our retinas from disintegrating each night as glutamate continues to be released is unknown, but growing evidence suggests our molecular protector may be zinc, a metal abundant in tissues throughout the body.
Zinc's relationship to vision was first recognized when it was found that night blindness is associated with zinc deficiency, and recent studies have shown that a diet supplemented with this trace metal can reduce the progression of one form of age-related blindness. But despite its apparent benefits, not much is known about the relationship between zinc and the eye.
Richard Chappell, a professor of biological sciences at Hunter College, is at the MBL this summer with doctoral student Ivan Anastassov and Harris Ripps, a senior research scientist at MBL and
|Contact: Diana Kenney|
Marine Biological Laboratory