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Biology
Completed Project

Gonadotropin Hormones May Increase Frequency of Spawning in the Sea Anemone Nematostella vectensis

Chloe Chinnadurai ‘22 and Sedona Ryan ’22 and Professor Jodi Schwarz (Biology)

Cnidarians, such as corals and anemones, reproduce through highly synchronized mass spawning events induced by temperature and lunar cues, but little is known about the biological mechanisms involved in this synchronization. We are interested in whether gonadotropin hormones play a role in controlling the timing of spawning, as they do in many other animals, including humans. We used the model organism Nematostella vectensis, a sea anemone, to examine the baseline timing of spawning, and to begin to determine if these reproductive hormones have an influence on spawning. To establish the baseline timing of spawning events we conducted 5 trials, each with more than 20 anemones, during which we exposed the anemones to light and temperature cues and collected photo data of the spawning event over about a 15 hour period for each trial. We found that most spawning happens between 8.25 and 11 hours after the cue, with an average of 9.42 hours.  We conducted one additional trial investigating exposure to a gonadotropin hormone and found that anemones treated with hormones spawned more frequently than anemones in a control treatment. These data will be used to determine the effect of reproductive hormone signaling in the synchronization of cnidarian spawning.