Project title: Mapping peptidergic motoneurons in an echinoderm
Summary: Echinoderms (e.g. starfish) are unique amongst bilaterian animals in exhibiting radial symmetry as adult animals and consequently they do not have a “brain”. For example, the central nervous system of the common starfish Asterias rubens comprises five radial nerve cords linked by a circumoral nerve ring, with somatic motoneurons located segmentally in the hyponeural region of the nerve cords/ring. However, little is known about the molecular/functional anatomy of echinoderm nervous systems. The aim of this project is to map the cell bodies and axonal projections of hyponeural peptidergic motoneurons in A. rubens. This will be accomplished using whole-mount immunohistochemistry with antibodies to a variety of neuropeptides in combination with other techniques.