Genomics of the "immortal" jellyfish Turritopsis dohrnii

Most animals reproduce, age, and die. Turritopsis dohrnii (Cnidaria, Hydrozoa) has escaped this fate. Faced with unfavorable circumstances, the jellyfish of T. dohrnii avoid death by undergoing cell transdifferentiation and reverting to a younger life cycle stage, the polyp. Using a genomic approach, we are working  to identify genes that might be involved in T. dohrnii’s life cycle reversal and cell transdifferentiation.

Jellyfish blooms

Medusae (jellyfish) of the orders Scyphozoa, Cubozoa and Hydrozoa, represent one main component of gelatinous zooplankton. Their blooms are important events controlling plankton dynamics in coastal waters worldwide. Although generally neglected in the literature, they have a significant impact on fish populations (and thus on fishery  industries), both via predation and competition. Despite this ecological and economic importance, the factors that cause population fluctuations of gelatinous zooplankton are not well understood, and blooms are mostly unpredictable. This lack of knowledge is mainly due to the intrinsic difficulties of studying organisms that occur in temporally and spatially restricted peaks of abundance. Even more difficult is the study of the most abundant but least noticeable component of gelatinous zooplankton, the Hydromedusae (order Hydrozoa). These tiny medusae are usually overlooked in plankton ecology because they escape direct observation and standard plankton sampling techniques cannot detect their blooms. We plan to start a long term monitoring program of local hydromedusae population to understand biotic and abiotic factors that trigger their blooms.

Invasive species

Molecular data have been a useful tool for recognizing exotic species. We use molecular barcoding techniques to record invasive species within the Hydrozoa (Cnidaria).

Evolution, Taxonomy, and Systematics of Hydrozoa

We use phylogenetic methods to disentangle taxonomic issues  and study life cycle evolution in the class Hydrozoa.

Maria Pia Miglietta

Dr. Maria Pia Miglietta
Assistant Professor
Department of Marine Biology
Texas A&M University at Galveston
Phone: 409-740-4458 | Fax: 409-740-5001

Ocean and Coastal Studies Building
Building 3029, Room #264
200 Seawolf Parkway, P.O. Box 1675
Galveston, Texas 77553, USA

Marine Biology