Sea Urchin Module

Sea urchins and Sea stars are Echinoderms and have long been used for experiments to understand how development works.  These animals are found in abundance in marine environments around the world and there are several species of each that have been studied in some detail.  The genomes of a number of Echinoderms have been sequenced and a number of cellular and molecular approaches are available for experimentation.  Sea urchins and sea star embryos are model embryos for the laboratory for a number of reasons.  They are easy to obtain, shedding gametes and fertilizing the embryos is simple, the embryos develop rapidly, the embryos are transparent so that many imaging methods can readily be used, and the embryos are especially valuable for the study of gene regulatory networks, for dynamics of morphogenesis, for cut and paste experiments, and for many different molecular perturbations to study function.   Each of these approaches will be introduced and available for experimentation in the module.

The sea urchin and sea star module will introduce methods of animal husbandry to obtain gametes and embryos, and will introduce methods of egg injection, embryo microdissection, cell recombination, morpholino and CRISPR perturbations, antibody staining, and a number of reagents will be available for experimentation. In each case the embryos will then be available for time lapse, confocal, light sheet, immunofluorescence, DIC, and other forms of microscopy in each case providing pairing a highly photogenic embryo with the rich microscope resources available for student use in the course.  Students will be encouraged to think of their own hypotheses to test and the instructors and TAs will also provide suggested avenues to explore.