|The pretty striped 'Thumbs up' sea squirt is common in Singapore.|
As ascidians are closely related to vertebrates, studying them helps us humans! This recent article in ABC News reports ascidians are believed to have been among "the first invertebrates to have a vasculature heart system, similar to that in humans, with blood cells traveling through blood vessels. But astonishingly, it can regrow everything just with its blood vessels. Scientists have just sequenced the genome of an ascidian: Botryllus schlosseri. Once scientists understand how these genes operate, they will be able to come up with new treatments for a wide range of human diseases."
|This solitary ascidian is growing inside a hard coral,|
with only its siphons showing.
Sixteen species of solitary ascidians were identified from subtidal marine fouling communities present on navigational buoys, jetty pilings, floating pontoons and nettings around the coastal waters of Singapore. Of these, twelve are new records: Ascidia gemmata, Phallusia arabica, Phallusia nigra, Rhodosoma turcicum, Rhopalaea crassa, Polycarpa argentata, Polycarpa aurita, Polycarpa captiosa, Polycarpa olitoria?, Styela canopus, Pyura curvigona and Herdmania pallida. The other four species include Ascidia sydneiensis, Phallusia philippinensis, Polycarpa papillata and Microcosmus exasperatus. A detailed morphological comparison of Phallusia nigra and P. philippinensis is included because these two species have been frequently confused, resulting in a significant under-reporting of the latter in the literature.
Read more in Serina Siew-Chen Lee, Serena Lay-Ming Teo and Gretchen Lamberta, New records of solitary ascidians on artificial structures in Singapore waters, Marine Biodiversity Records, Volume 6, 2013, e93 (18 pages) DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S1755267213000638 Published online: 06 August 2013