Have you ever heard of the ‘immortal’ jellyfish, Turritopsis dohrnii? These tiny creatures (about 4.5 mm) are aptly named for their ability to essentially live forever. According to the Natural History Museum, when these jellyfish are damaged, they can actually revert to a prior life cycle as a polyp and become an adult jellyfish (aka, medusa) all over again. This process is called transdifferentiation. Check out this video from the Natural History Museum:
In a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers unveiled the genetic code of immortal jellyfish, which may hold the secrets that allow these animals to accomplish what humans can only dream of. By comparing these immortal jellyfish with a jellyfish species that is not capable of rejuvenation (Turritopsis rubra), they discovered differences in genes associated with stem cells, cell aging, DNA repair, communication between cells, as well as antioxidants that may be responsible for the rejuvenation abilities of the immortal jellyfish. Armed with this knowledge, researchers may one day be able to unlock new ways to help combat aging-related diseases.
Natural History Museum (video from YouTube)
M Pascual-Torner, D Carrero, JG Perez-Silva, D Alvarez-Puente, D Roiz-Valle, G Bretones, D Rodriguez, D Maeso, E Mateo-Gonzalez, Y Espanol, G Marino, JL Acuna, V Quesada, C Lopez-Otin. Comparative genomics of mortal and immortal cnidarians unveils novel keys behind rejuvenation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 119(36): e2118763119, 2022.