Konnor von Emster L&S Sciences
Investigating the Role of RFamide and Taurine Neuromodulators on Cassiopea Behavior
The upside-down jellyfish, Cassiopea, is a model organism for sleep despite its decentralized nervous system (DNS). The nervous system consists of radially spaced, interconnected motor control nerve clusters, ganglia, that control Cassipeas pulsing behavior. Preliminary research indicates that a unique subset of these ganglia may command pulsing for days to weeks at a time instead of random command that current literature suggests. My research will be focused around answering the question: what molecular differences cause morphologically identical ganglia to have activity differences? RFamide and Taurine are neuromodulators known to exist in the ganglia and to be involved in behavioral control in other animals. By comparing quantitative antibody stains of these modulators to behavioral data I will attempt to determine whether or not these modulators are necessary and sufficient for ganglial control. Together, this will gain insight into the behavioral control of Cassiopea, building a foundation to understand why ganglia specialization occurs and how it relates to sleep in a DNS, which will inform research on sleep in a CNS.