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2009 (29) - A Novel Green fluorescent protein from Echinoderms

Biscayne National Park » 2009 (29) - A Novel Green fluorescent protein from Echinoderms » Document List

Our purpose for collecting the ophiuroid, Ophiopsila riisie, is to acquire live animals to carry out experiments outlined in our recently funded grant from the National Institutes of Health (MH 085497-01). Ophiopsila riisie has been sighted within the Biscayne National Park area as well as select areas throughout the Caribbean. The primary goal of the proposed experiments is to clone the cDNA that encodes the protein responsible for light emission in this bioluminescent brittle star.

We currently have a large and stable marine aquarium on the campus of Oregon Health & Science University, Portland OR, which houses several species of commercially available ophiuroids. Our marine environment is kept at a constant temperature of 65°F, which closely matches the natural environmental temperature of ophiopsila riisie's habitat. Additionally, two laboratory technicians are responsible for maintenance of the aquatic environment, including but not limited to, monitoring pH, salinity, nitrates, nitrites, and ammonia concentrations. Ophiopsila riisie are filter feeders and will be fed daily a combination of brine shrimp prepared in our facility along with commercially available food for filter feeding invertebrates.

All proposed experiments are conducted under the direct supervision of zoologist Dr. Paul H. Brehm. Our experiments require the use of animal tissue but none of the experiments requires sacrificing animals. For all experiments, animals are removed from the marine aquarium and anesthetized in calcium free artificial seawater. A small segment of one arm is carefully removed with a precision dissecting tool and then the animal is returned to the marine tank where it quickly recovers. Additionally, because all ophiuroids robustly regenerate arm tissue it does not harm the animal long term. However, to ensure that animals are given ample time to regenerate their arm tissue we need to establish a large enough colony in our facility so that we can perform approximately three months of experiments before we harvest tissue from the same animal a second time. We estimate that we will need to collect 100 animals annually to establish such a colony. Given their size and density, this is a very reasonable number of animals to take into captivity without disturbing local populations.

Contact Information

Mark Verdecia
Vollum Institute
Oregon Health and Science University, L474
3183 S.W. Sam Jackson Park Road
Protalnd, OR 97239