Saturday, December 4

Scientists genetically modify a jellyfish and manage to read its mind | Digital Trends Spanish

A team of researchers from the California Institute of Technology genetically modified a jellyfish so that its neurons light up when they register activity. The colorful experiment aimed to record how the jellyfish’s nervous system, seemingly dispersed, works together to solve basic actions such as feeding.

Jellyfish, the researchers explain in a study published in the journal Cellare ideal organisms to study systems neuroscience, and is that unlike organisms such as humans, which have a centralized nervous system in the brain, jellyfish have it diffuse throughout their bodies. In addition, its transparent and relatively small body makes it easy to observe.

The scientists modified jellyfish Clytia hemisphaerica so that their neurons light up when they register activity. Photo: B. Weissbourd, Caltech

In this way, scientists modified jellyfish Clytia hemisphaerica so that their neurons would light up when registering activity. Scientists say that doing so was tantamount to reading the minds of tiny jellyfish, no more than a centimeter wide and round in body.

With luminescent jellyfish, the experiment revolved around observing which parts of the jellyfish lit up when feeding. When they ate, they noticed that the jellyfish would bend one of its tentacles towards its mouth and vice versa. The luminescence effect allowed them to record that, instead of behaving like a diffuse nervous system, the neurons acted as an organized network.

The experts compared that system to a whole pizza cut into slices.

“Our experiments revealed that the seemingly diffuse network of neurons that underlies the jellyfish’s circular umbrella is actually subdivided into patches of active neurons, arranged in wedges like pizza slices.” David Anderson explained, one of the study authors.

“When the jellyfish caught the shrimp with its tentacle, the pizza slice closest to the tentacle registered activity, causing that part of its body to bend inward, bringing the food to its mouth,” he added.

In their conclusions, the experts also found that by registering activity, neurons generate a peptide responsible for the individualized folding of certain areas of the body.

The experts pointed out that their study will determine whether this type of neuronal behavior is related to other more complex organisms, for example, the nervous systems of mice or even humans.

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