Nematostella By The Numbers

The world of research is a stage for this little starlet. The starlet sea anemone, known to researchers as Nematostella vectensis, is a model organism that is used to study a variety of biological questions related to evolution, genomics, reproductive biology, developmental biology, and ecology, but it is their appearance that can steal the show. Their nearly translucent body seems to glow pink when amply fed with brine shrimp, they sport a crown of tentacles that sway wildly with the gentlest movement of their salt water habitat, and they appear to float as if in an otherworldly state of suspension.

Nematostella vectensis is a superb organism for studying processes fundamental to human health and disease, in part because its genome is more like the human genome than some other model organisms used in research, including insects and roundworms. They are also relatively easy to cultivate and care for in the laboratory.