Jellyfish are radially symmetric organisms without a brain that arose more than 500 million years ago. They achieve organismal behaviors through coordinated interactions between autonomously functioning body parts. Jellyfish neurons have been studied electrophysiologically, but not at the systems level. We introduce Clytia hemisphaerica as a transparent, genetically tractable jellyfish model for systems and evolutionary neuroscience. We generate stable F1 transgenic lines for cell-type-specific conditional ablation and whole-organism GCaMP imaging. Using these tools and computational analyses, we find that an apparently diffuse network of RFamide-expressing umbrellar neurons is functionally subdivided into a series of spatially localized subassemblies whose synchronous activation controls directional food transfer from the tentacles to the mouth. These data reveal an unanticipated degree of structured neural organization in this species. Clytia affords a platform for systems-level studies of neural function, behavior, and evolution within a clade of marine organisms with growing ecological and economic importance.
- nerve net
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)