Environment & Biodiversity

A study reveals a distinct Nervous System in Comb Jellies

  • Comb jellies, also known as ctenophores, are sea creatures with jelly-like bodies and iridescent combs.
  • They are an old animal lineage with their own neurological system.
  • A recent study published in Science looked at the neurological system of comb jelly and made some interesting findings.

What exactly are Comb Jellies?

  • Ctenophores, or comb jellies, are marine creatures that belong to the phylum Ctenophora. They are enthralling creatures with a distinct and delicate appearance.
  • Contrary to popular belief, comb jellies are not genuine jellyfish.
  • They have a gelatinous, translucent body that is typically luminous and ornamented with rows of cilia, or comb-like features that give them their distinctive shimmering appearance.

Results of the new study

  • The researchers wanted to look into how nerve net neurons link in comb jellies.
  • Synapses (junctions between neurons) were not present in the nerve net, contrary to predictions.
  • Instead, nerve-net neurons were linked together indefinitely by a single plasma membrane.

Significance of ctenophores

  • Electron microscopy proved the separate-cell nature of neurons connected by synapses in the 1950s.
  • Ctenophores, as discovered in the present study, challenge this concept by having a syncytial nerve net.
  • Ctenophores drew attention since they were thought to be an early animal lineage.
  • Whole-genome sequencing research backs up the idea that ctenophores diverged early in animal evolution.

Ctenophore nervous systems evolve

  • Biologists are still puzzled about the evolution of ctenophore neural systems.
  • Leonid Moroz offered a contentious idea of ctenophores’ and other animals’ separate nervous system evolution.
  • Ctenophores have a distinct neural system that lacks traditional neurotransmitter routes and common neuronal genes.
  • The lack of muscular movement and reliance on cilia may have led to the evolution of a distinct signal conduction mechanism.

Further research questions

  • The researchers hope to learn more about the formation of nerve net neurons in ctenophores.
  • They want to know if adult ctenophores keep their syncytial nerve nets or acquire synapses.
  • The peculiarity of ctenophore neural systems provides vital insights into nervous system evolution.
  • Comparative studies of unusual animal systems, such as ctenophores, help to understand neural function and treat problems.


  • More research is needed to understand the functional and evolutionary importance of syncytial nerve net neurons in ctenophores.
  • This research lays the groundwork for future research on the evolution of neural systems in animals.
  • Comparative research on microscopic marine animals such as ctenophores reveal fundamental aspects of brain function.
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