Back to the Basics: Cnidarians Start to Fire.

Bosch, Thomas C. G., Klimovich, Alexander, Domazet-Lošo, Tomislav, Gründer, Stefan, Holstein, Thomas W., Jékely, Gáspár, Miller, David J., Murillo-Rincon, Andrea P., Rentzsch, Fabian, Richards, Gemma S., Schröder, Katja, Technau, Ulrich and Yuste, Rafael (2017) Back to the Basics: Cnidarians Start to Fire. Trends in Neurosciences, 40 (2). pp. 92-105. DOI 10.1016/j.tins.2016.11.005.

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The nervous systems of cnidarians, pre-bilaterian animals that diverged close to the base of the metazoan radiation, are structurally simple and thus have great potential to reveal fundamental principles of neural circuits. Unfortunately, cnidarians have thus far been relatively intractable to electrophysiological and genetic techniques and consequently have been largely passed over by neurobiologists. However, recent advances in molecular and imaging methods are fueling a renaissance of interest in and research into cnidarians nervous systems. Here, we review current knowledge on the nervous systems of cnidarian species and propose that researchers should seize this opportunity and undertake the study of members of this phylum as strategic experimental systems with great basic and translational relevance for neuroscience.

Accumulating genomic data strongly support the position of Cnidaria as the sister clade to Bilateria. The emergence of a simple nerve net together with biological, structural and functional diversity within this taxonomic group make cnidarians highly informative for comparative approaches.

Recently sequenced genomes and transcriptomes provide insights into the molecular complexity of cnidarian nerve nets. The diversity of synaptic proteins, small neurotransmitters, neuropeptides, and their processing machinery and receptors, is comparable with that of chordates.

Recent advances in imaging and gene manipulation techniques make cnidarians now amenable to functional analysis addressing molecular, behavioral and evolutionary questions.

Accumulating evidences point to multiple roles of the simple nervous systems. Emerging evidence points to functions of nervous systems beyond simple sensory and motor coordination.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: BRAIN Initiative; imaging; CRISPR; Hydra; Nematostella
Research affiliation: Kiel University
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence > FO-R08
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
DOI etc.: 10.1016/j.tins.2016.11.005
ISSN: 0166-2236
Projects: Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 26 Mar 2017 19:14
Last Modified: 23 Sep 2019 20:00

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