SRMP mentor Luciana Gusmao studies deep sea anemones: their diversity,
evolutionary biology, and ecology. Apparently the deep North Atlantic is pretty well studied at least relative to the southern Hemisphere where in the case of the waters off Brazil only one - ONE - deep sea anemone has ever been documented. Until now.
Luciana and her SRMP team, Elena and Sebastian, have in their possession
a treasure-trove of unidentified (and possibly undescribed) sea anemones from off the coast of Brazil. Whatever Elena and Sebastian find from these previously unexplored depths will be a valuable contribution science. The team is very likely to add new localities for species previously known from elsewhere. But it’s possible that they will uncover an anemone never seen before.
So just how do you identify an anemone? DNA always comes to mind, but is probably out of the question at the moment. The anemones were preserved in formalin which makes DNA amplification tricky at best. Next stop: old-school comparative anatomy. In this case, it’s the arrangement of muscle fibers, mesenteries and the study of small capsules found in different body tissues known as nematocyst that help us differentiate deep sea anemones. To examine these features, Elena and Sebastian need to create slides, a lot of them.