Cnidaria Ecology, Evolution, and Genetics

In the Miglietta laboratory we study Cnidaria. One of our main subjects is the “immortal jellyfish” Turritopsis dohrnii. Faced with unfavorable circumstances, the jellyfish T. dohrnii can avoid death by undergoing cell transdifferentiation and reverting to the younger stage in its life cycle known as the polyp stage. We are working to identify the genes that are involved in the life cycle reversal of T. dohrnii, and its immortality.  

Our laboratory also investigates jellyfish blooms in the Gulf of Mexico, invasive species, and we have ongoing projects in collaboration with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute on the diversity of Hydrozoa on the eastern coasts of Panama in the Caribbean Sea.

Looking for a specific type of jellyfish or hydroid in the ocean can be a difficult task, and so SCUBA diving technology and methods are often required to ensure the success of projects. This research is heavily reliant upon fieldwork and active learning experiences for students because we do not work with model systems, and the animals we work with are small, inconspicuous, and hard to find.

Click here for more information.

Research Products

Miglietta, M. P., Odegard, D., Faure, B., & Faucci, A., 2015, Barcoding Techniques Help Tracking the Evolutionary History of the Introduced Species Pennaria disticha (Hydrozoa, Cnidaria). PloS One, 10(12), e0144762.

Miglietta M.P., and Cunningham C.W., 2012, Evolution of life cycle, colony morphology and host-specificity in the Hydractiniidae (Hydrozoa, Cnidaria). Evolution 66 (12), 3876-3901

Miglietta M.P., Lessios H., 2009, A Silent Invasion. Biological Invasions 11 (4), 825-834.

For more information, contact:

Maria Pia Miglietta

Maria Pia Miglietta, PhD

Assistant Professor
+1 (409) 740-4458

Bld# 3029, Office 264