January 1, 2012.
Regeneration of body parts is a remarkable phenomenon that is shared by phylogenetically diverse organisms, including some chordates. Lizards can regenerate their tails and sea stars their arms when injured by predators. Humans can even regenerate small portions of the liver. However, colonial botryllid tunicates, basal chordates, have the incredible ability to regenerate the entire functioning body (zooids) from only a small sample of vasculature in a process called vascular budding. Regeneration processes for various botryllid species show some characteristic features in laboratory studies using application of retinoic acid as a developmental initiator. The three botryllid species, Botrylloides violaceus (n = 6), Botrylloides sp. (bicolor)(n = 4), and Botryllus schlosseri (n = 3) were collected from the San Francisco Bay, and settled onto glass plates in the laboratory. Zooids were removed and the remaining vasculature (ampullae and connecting vessels) were cut into fragments (mean = 9/ genotype) and observed for 8 - 14 days. Retinoic Acid (RA), a natural product of Vitamin A that accelerates regeneration (in botryllids, Rinkevich, 2007) was also used as a variable in this study to test regeneration ability with decreased artificial RA exposure. Regeneration in the field was also tested by deploying vascular fragments at a marina in Fort Baker after 2 day laboratory RA exposure. The purpose of this study is to characterize and compare regeneration variation between botryllid species under standardized conditions and to determine methods for studying regeneration in the field.
C. Sarah Cohen
Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies (RTC)
This material is based upon work supported by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0952013. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation or the National Science Foundation.