Publication Overview: Four Cerianthid Venoms!

My first first-author publication was recently accepted into Marine Drugs, a peer-reviewed open access journal that broadly explores how marine natural products can be used as therapeutic agents, including for drug discovery and other biotechnology applications. In our study, we reported, for the first time, the venom-like gene profiles of four species of tube anemones…… Continue reading Publication Overview: Four Cerianthid Venoms!

What Is the Worst a Jellyfish Could Do? Irukandji Syndrome

You may have heard that the Australian Box Jellyfish, Chironex fleckeri, has some of the most potent venom of any animal on the planet, powerful enough to kill an adult human in under two minutes. These animals can grow almost a foot-wide bell, and each animals has up to sixty tentacles, each up to three…… Continue reading What Is the Worst a Jellyfish Could Do? Irukandji Syndrome

Skype a Scientist Question Roundup – Fall 2018 and Spring 2019

A recent Twitter campaign, #SkypeaScientistQuestions, inspired me to write down some of the most common and most creative questions that I have gotten over the last six sessions with various classrooms through Skype a Scientist. Many of these were from 5th graders, of which only two were in coastal states and had regular access to…… Continue reading Skype a Scientist Question Roundup – Fall 2018 and Spring 2019

Man-of-War venom, and the discovery of anaphylaxis

Two jellies have contributed to Nobel Prize winning research: The Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1913 and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2008. In both cases the animals were actually hydrozoans: Physalia physalis, the Portuguese Man-of-War, and Aequorea victoria, the Crystal jelly. The 2008 prize was awarded for the discovery of green fluorescent protein, also…… Continue reading Man-of-War venom, and the discovery of anaphylaxis

Stung by a Moon – Celebration of the Aurelia aurita genome

On 3 December 2018, the first jellyfish genome was published online in Nature Ecology and Evolution. To clarify, the is the first genome of a cnidarian with a jellyfish stage (i.e. medusa). There are currently a few other “jellies”, like the hydroid Hydra vulgaris and starlet sea anemone Nematostella vectensis, that have had their genome available for…… Continue reading Stung by a Moon – Celebration of the Aurelia aurita genome

Jellyfish are Good Eatin’!

A couple of weeks ago, New York Times’s science writer Carl Zimmer wrote about a recent review of Hays et al (2018), which asked: how important are jellyfish in marine ecosystems? The answer: important. In fact, probably more important than we have been giving them credit for. Jellyfish (often referring to both cnidarians and ctenophores)… Continue reading Jellyfish are Good Eatin’!

Stinging Cells from the Summer!

I am busy cranking away at the Smithsonian NMNH, but I wanted to share some photos of one of my favorite complex animal features: the stinging cell! Stinging cells house nematocysts, the stinging cell organelles distinctive to all cnidarians (hence the Latin translation, nettle-bearing animals). Nematocysts are thread-like capsules secreted by stinging cells that are… Continue reading Stinging Cells from the Summer!

Lives of Jellies at the Mall!

In the 95F heat, jetlagged, and arriving in DC less than 24 hours prior, I cannot describe how happy I was to do a little jellyfish outreach with the interns and researchers of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) Invertebrate Biology Aquaroom at the Annual Smithsonian Staff Picnic! Along with Dr. Allen Collins, Dr.… Continue reading Lives of Jellies at the Mall!

Sea Anemones, Peptide Super Heros

Review of: J. Prentis, P., Pavasovic, A., & S Norton, R. (2018). Sea Anemones: Quiet Achievers in the Field of Peptide Toxins. Toxins, 10(1), 36. DOI:10.3390/toxins10010036 If you search the VenomZone website under the cnidarian section, you will find that most cnidarian toxins are derived from sea anemones (Class Anthozoa, order Actiniaria). My first literature review is a paper…… Continue reading Sea Anemones, Peptide Super Heros