Marine Model Organism Development




Sepioloidea lineolata – the pajama squid.

Traditionally, model organisms were selected based on their biological attributes. For example, some squid possess axons large enough to thread a wire down their length, allowing neuroscientist to better understand the fundamentals of excitability. By studying marine models we have learned about universal mechanisms that underlie biological processes; but also much about the diversity of biological solutions to problems. Over the past three decades, the landscape of model organisms has changed. Fueled by a focus on genetics, scientists have turned to a handful of the most genetically tractable models, like the fruit fly and the mouse, at the exclusion of most others. This state of affairs is about to change. Cheap DNA sequencing and new technologies for genome editing have opened the floodgates on potential new models. The MBL wants to be on the forefront of developing the marine models that will revolutionize biological discovery. Cephalopods are fixed in our focus, as are other emerging models from the Cnidaria and Crustacea. However, we are very open to suggestions, and to supporting model development. Do you have an interesting marine organism under consideration? Let’s talk.