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Korea Institute of Ocean Science & Technology

KIOST Unlocks the Secrets of Jellyfish Through Genetic Analysis

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  • Date : 2019-04-10
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The Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST, President Kim Woong-seo) announced that, by conducting a genetic analysis of DNA from Nomura’s jellyfish (Nemopilema nomurai), it has obtained genetic information on the jellyfish’s proliferation regulator and venom proteins. 
Although jellyfish belong to the cnidarian phylum, along with hydras, corals, and sea anemones, they are unique in that they drift on the oceans, while other cnidarians spend their lives in a fixed location, and can adapt themselves to rapid changes in their marine ecosystems.
 Among jellyfish, Nomura’s jellyfish, which have strong venom, has been rapidly increasing in number in the summer every year since 2000, causing enormous damage to fisheries and beaches. The cause of this population growth is assumed to be attributed to an increase in water temperature or decrease in natural enemies due to global warming. As such, we have no biological information on this increase in population.
Dr. Yeom Seung-sik, head researcher of KIOST, and his research team decoded the genome of Nomura’s jellyfish collected by KIOST’s Marine Science Station in Tongyeong City, Gyeongsangnam-do, in cooperation with Professor Park Jong-hwa of the Korean Genomics Industrialization and Commercialization Center of the Ulsan Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST). As a result, they discovered genes related to the retinoic acid signaling system1 (signaling agent that plays an important role in the transformation of jellyfish polyps2) and laid the foundation for the prevention of jellyfish mass reproduction in the future. They also obtained genetic information on proteins in Nomura’s jellyfish venom.
 1) Retinoic acid signaling system: Retinoic acid is a derivative of vitamin A and a morphogenic factor. Through the morphogenic factor (retinoic acid), the growth and development process, including the growth and differentiation of epithelial tissues and development of an embryo’s central nervous system, are induced.
 2) One jellyfish polyp can grow into 5,000 adults through metamorphosis and growth (approximately six to seven months). Therefore, eliminating jellyfish polyps is considered to be the easiest and most fundamental means of preventing the mass reproduction of jellyfish in the future.


 President Kim Woong-seo said, “We expect that the achievements of this research will contribute to the development of pharmaceutical materials using venom protein and the identification and prevention of the mass reproduction of jellyfish in the future.”


 This research was carried out as part of the “Project for the Development of Marine Protein-Based Biomedical Materials,” which is funded by the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, and the results were published in the online version of the March 2019 issue3) of BMC Biology, an international journal of biology.
 3) The genome of the giant Nomura’s jellyfish sheds light on the early evolution of active predation.
Authors: Hak-Min Kim, Jessica A. Weber, Nayoung Lee, Seung Gu Park, Yun Sung Cho, Youngjune Bhak, Nayun Lee, Yeonsu Jeon, Sungwon Jeon, Victor Luria, Amir Karger, Marc W. Kirschner, Ye Jin Jo, Seonock Woo, Kyoungsoon Shin, Oksung Chung, Jae-Chun Ryu, Hyung-Soon Yim, Jung-Hyun Lee, Jeremy S. Edwards, Andrea Manica, Jong Bhak, and Seungshic Yum



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Last Update : 2020-03-07