Jellyfish bloom in spring when winter ‘timer’ dings

Colder water triggers moon jellyfish to secrete a protein that kicks off their metamorphosis from polyp to adult form. 

Luc Viatour/Wikimedia Commons

In the spring, moon jellyfish emerge all at once, as if blooming like flowers.

The coordinated appearance of the adult form of the animal (Aurelia aurita) is a result of a temperature-sensitive protein that acts as a “timer.” The timer, set off by colder water temperatures, triggers the beginning of the jellyfish metamorphosis, scientists report January 16 in Current Biology

Understanding the molecular triggers of moon jellyfish blooms may lead to better ways to control them, the scientists suggest.

Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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