Effects of environmental pollutants on the Nematostella holobiont

The starlet sea anemone Nematostella vectensis is widespread along the US East Coast. The animals are few centimeters in size and have the amazing ability to regenerate their tentacles. (Photo: Karen Echeverri)

The natural habitat of Nematostella is marsh lands, hence they constantly adapt to changes in salinity, temperature, oxygen concentration and pH. Due to its ability to adapt to a changing environment, its genetic tractability and its ability to survive without their microbiome we have selected Nematostella as a model system to investigate the effect of pollutants on tissue regeneration and the microbiome. The project is in collaboration with the labs of A. Murat Eren at the University of Chicago and Karen Echeverri at MBL. We received pilot funding from the Microbiome Center as well as support from the McDonnell Initiative.

We published first insights into the effects of pollutants here, showing that nitrate and phthalate have severe effects on the development and regeneration of the Nematostella holobiont.

The Hakai Magazine published a nice article about this work titled “The Anemone in the Coal Mine.

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