Neuroscience

Articles and news from the latest research reports.

124 notes

Where does our head come from?
A research group at the Sars Centre in Bergen has shed new light on the evolutionary origin of the head. In a study published in the journal PLoS Biology they show that in a simple, brainless sea anemone, the same genes that control head development in higher animals regulate the development of the front end of the swimming larvae.
In many animals, the brain is located in a specific structure, the head, together with sensory organs and often together with the mouth. However, there are even more distantly related animals, which have a nervous system, but no brain, like sea anemones and corals. In this study a research group led by Fabian Rentzsch used the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis to find out if one of the ends of the sea anemone corresponds to the head of higher animals. To do this they studied the function of genes that control head development in higher animals during the embryonic development of the starlet sea anemone.
“Despite looking completely different, it has become clear over the last decade, that all animals have a similar repertoire of genes, including those that are required to make the head of higher animals”, says first author and PhD-student Chiara Sinigaglia.
Stands on its head When the sea anemone is in the larval stage it swims. As adults, the sea anemone stands with one end on the sea floor and uses long tentacles on its upper end to catch small animals which they stuff into the only body opening in the middle of the ring of tentacles.
“Based on the appearance of the adult animals, the lower end of these animals has traditionally been called the foot and the upper end the head”, explains Rentzsch. What the research group found out was that in the sea anemone the “head gene” function is located at the end that corresponds to the “foot” of the adult animals. The key was to study the larvae of the sea anemones when theystill move around.
“The larvae swims with the “foot” end forward and this end carries their main sense organ, so at this stage it looks more like this might be their head”, says Rentzsch. And indeed, the “head genes” function on this side of the animals. Sea anemones and all higher animals, including humans, share a common brainless ancestor which lived between 600 and 700 million years ago.
“By revealing the function of “head genes” in Nematostella, we now understand better how and from where the head and brain of higher animals evolved”, Sinigaglia and Rentzsch explain.

Where does our head come from?

A research group at the Sars Centre in Bergen has shed new light on the evolutionary origin of the head. In a study published in the journal PLoS Biology they show that in a simple, brainless sea anemone, the same genes that control head development in higher animals regulate the development of the front end of the swimming larvae.

In many animals, the brain is located in a specific structure, the head, together with sensory organs and often together with the mouth. However, there are even more distantly related animals, which have a nervous system, but no brain, like sea anemones and corals.
In this study a research group led by Fabian Rentzsch used the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis to find out if one of the ends of the sea anemone corresponds to the head of higher animals. To do this they studied the function of genes that control head development in higher animals during the embryonic development of the starlet sea anemone.

“Despite looking completely different, it has become clear over the last decade, that all animals have a similar repertoire of genes, including those that are required to make the head of higher animals”, says first author and PhD-student Chiara Sinigaglia.

Stands on its head
When the sea anemone is in the larval stage it swims. As adults, the sea anemone stands with one end on the sea floor and uses long tentacles on its upper end to catch small animals which they stuff into the only body opening in the middle of the ring of tentacles.

“Based on the appearance of the adult animals, the lower end of these animals has traditionally been called the foot and the upper end the head”, explains Rentzsch.
What the research group found out was that in the sea anemone the “head gene” function is located at the end that corresponds to the “foot” of the adult animals. The key was to study the larvae of the sea anemones when theystill move around.

“The larvae swims with the “foot” end forward and this end carries their main sense organ, so at this stage it looks more like this might be their head”, says Rentzsch. And indeed, the “head genes” function on this side of the animals.
Sea anemones and all higher animals, including humans, share a common brainless ancestor which lived between 600 and 700 million years ago.

“By revealing the function of “head genes” in Nematostella, we now understand better how and from where the head and brain of higher animals evolved”, Sinigaglia and Rentzsch explain.

Filed under head development head genes sea anemones nematostella genes evolution science

  1. zerotica reblogged this from vhsfuneral
  2. jordypumpkin reblogged this from frobishounen
  3. wachabe reblogged this from frobishounen
  4. frobishounen reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  5. clarissasauter reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  6. toastfunnypants reblogged this from dermoosealini
  7. opus-pocus reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  8. suu802 reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  9. dominiq379 reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  10. ferretburrow reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  11. eccolassu reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  12. sequoiawintersnight reblogged this from nifeandaccurateprophefies
  13. alivingroomatthebottomofalake reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  14. unexpected--things reblogged this from starsaremymuse
  15. sleepyloque reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  16. frosty-gardener reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  17. mensjournalberlin reblogged this from starsaremymuse
  18. starsaremymuse reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  19. sirlowkey reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  20. alex-turner-is-batman reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  21. the-electric-boogaloo reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  22. george-allan reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
  23. naalamana reblogged this from neurosciencestuff
free counters