Turritopsis Dohrnii Immortality and Jellyfish As Unique Aquatic Creatures

Categories: Ocean

Immortality and eternal youth have been incredibly sought after things for as far as history predates. While many animals have regenerative abilities when it comes to most wounds, there are not many animals in the world that have the ability to essentially revert to earlier life stages or never die of old age, and humans are certainly not one of them. The only currently known biological lifeform that has this ability is the Turritopsis Dohrnii, more commonly known as simply as the Immortal Jellyfish.

At a certain point in their life cycle, T. Dohrnii has the ability to break off at a certain point and transformed back into a polyp, which has continued to amaze people in the scientific community internationally.

Knowing base information aids in the understanding of the T. Dohrnii. Beginning with the life cycle of the animal in question, the jellyfish will start as a planula larva. The next stage is a polyp, a budding polyp follows, then a ephyra, and finally the adult medusa.

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It only takes a few weeks for this growth to occur. It is also important to mention that this is the same life cycle that any another jellyfish would go through. These jellyfish can be usually found in warmer waters and are most prominent in the Mediterrianian and bodies of water near Japan. However, there has been documentation of them in colder waters. T. Dohrnii does not exceed 4.5mm in height and width. For a reference point, a human’s pinky fingernail is usually at least doubled the size of the jellyfish.

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For the most part, regenerative and reverse abilities become increasingly more convoluted with increased size, but the T. Dohrnii shows that this is not always the case. Their diets primarily consist of plankton, small mollusks, or small fish eggs. With a brief summary of what these medusa are, it’s time to begin to figure out how the tiny creatures complete the incredible processes that reverse the life cycles of it.

Ensuring understanding for normal and typical cell processes is important when it comes to the learning and understanding of transdifferentiation. Cell aging occurs in all living things and is usually called cellular senescence. It’s a process that normal diploid cells go through when they lose their ability to continue dividing. Usually, it occurs when the gene expression begins to change or when the double helix of DNA is broken or begins to break. Essentially, once renewable cells will no longer be able to be renewed because they will no longer be expressed in the gene. If they continued to renew and never “aged” or “get older”, that could potentially pose more of a risk for cancer to develop because of a mutation of a cell that occured in the cell cycle that has been completed so many times. When the diploid cell stops renewing, it begins the process of cellular senesce. With cellular senescence, the potentially problematic cells would be permanently restricted. Point being, cellular senescence is natural and stand to reason.

The only difference between the T. Dohrnii and other occupants of the Medusozoa subphylum is that T. Dohrnii has the ability to revert back to a stationary polyp at any point in its life cycle if, for example, damage was caused to at any stage in life. For many years, it was unknown how this sort of transformation was even done by such a small and simple seeming aquatic creature. Although it stumped various research teams for many years, it didn’t take forever to finally narrow down that T. Dohrnii operates and regresses its age with a process that is known as transdifferentiation.

Transdifferentiation, to be defined, is the rare natural transformation of cells other than stem cells into a different type of cell (Oxford). As mentioned previously, according to cellular senescence, something such as transdifferentiation shouldn’t be possible. Cellular senescence is mentioned to be irreverseible, but the transdifferentiation proves that wrong to an extent. The cell cycle climaxes with the activation of a p5 tumor suppressor or p16, the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor. However, transdifferentiation starts to head in a very backwards direction. The easiest way to understand it is some cells of things such as tissues or organs are able to convert into another type of tissue or organ without completely living through a life cycle.

T. Dohrnii is able to use transdifferentiation for several potential reasons, some of which were previously briefly mentioned. One prime example of a reason transdifferentiation would be used if T. Dohrnii endured physical damage. It’s much easier for the jellyfish to restart its life cycle from a younger point in its life cycle than sometimes to try and attempt to heal whatever part may have been damaged, whether it was internally or externally. Another reason T. Dohrnii would potentially use transdifferentiation was if it was stressed out, or even going through starvation.

In order to complete transdifferentiation, certain things need to happen inside the T. Dohrnii. At any time in its life cycle, it has the ability to revert back into a polyp. When the reversion begins, full body transformation starts to be underwent and the injured or weakened jellyfish will become a cloud or cluster of differentiated cells. The cells of the T. Dohrnii then go from the cells of the stage it was at, and completely change back and reserve creating a new cell type. The plasticity of a cell is suggustivally age dependent, and when the cells become too old, they become less malleable. Somehow, T. Dohrnii has managed to surpass that suggestion. The reversion can continue to take place as long as the circulatory canal remains in tact. Gene expression is said to play a large part in the cell reversal. Most of the time the cells were sequenced in de novo approaches (from the beginning) and got to be worked through certain stages of life in T. Dohrnii to identify which transcriptomes were being used and to compare them. These turned out to be contigs 92,569, 74,639 and 86,373, according to Texas A&M University researchers Matsumoto, Piraino, and Miglietta .

Cellular reprogramming has been something being worked on for years by the scientific community and the secrets behind it are very sought after. Almost everyone has heard of stem cells and how there could be an extremely great use for them since they are golden options for cellular reprogramming and rebuilding. One of the most popular cells used is called the induced pluripotent stem cell, or iPSC. They begin as a skin cell and reprogram, essentially, to become a young version of whatever cell is needed. These cells would be fantastic to use normally as stem cells, however the cost is high both with money and time. It’s very expensive to do and it also can take many months. Experts have taken the idea of using transdifferentiation and took off running. Their goal is to eventually be able to force the adult cells of one tissue or organ to change into a completely separate without reverting back to a regular mature cells first. This would be much faster than coaxing adult skin cells to completely get redone to be the needed liver cell. The dream for transdifferentiation being used in humans is primarily targeted towards helping the brain after a stroke. Now while this wouldn’t be the only use for it, it would be a major one! It has even been suggested that it could help pose a solution to quick aging, which has become an issue to some people with skin, but also neurodegenerative diseases. With life spans increasing thanks to new technological advances, adjustments need to be made.

Updated: Feb 19, 2024
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Turritopsis Dohrnii Immortality and Jellyfish As Unique Aquatic Creatures. (2024, Feb 19). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/turritopsis-dohrnii-immortality-and-jellyfish-as-unique-aquatic-creatures-essay

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