Anna Robinson — Marine Biology
Anna’s research is in the Marine Biology department under Dr. Nanette Chadwick. She’s researching a species of anemone called Entacmea quadricolor, or the “bubble tip anemone”. These are the only known species of anemone that create “bulbs” on their tentacle tips, which is basically where the ends of the tentacles puff up into structures that resemble a light bulb. The purpose of these bulbs as well as their triggers still remain unknown, but there was a lead in 2002 by Dr. Charles Delbeek of the Waikiki Aquarium that they might form somehow in response to irradiance. Her project is further expanding on this lead. She has already tested to see if increasing irradiance intensity forms the bulbs, but her experiment proved that it was not the case. For Anna’s fellowship, she will be experimenting to see if exposing the animals to various levels of UV light will induce tentacular bulb formation on a physiological level. She will also be examining the zooxanthellae count to see if the algal populations in the tentacle tips change in correspondence with exposure to the UV. Zooxanthellae are symbiotic algae that live in anemone tentacle tips and provide the animals with nutrients.
Bulbous anemones are preferred in the ornamental aquarium trade, so figuring out how to induce bulb formation in an aquarium will allow the animals to be grown there instead of being taken out of their natural environment.
Project Title: Effects of light on tentacle bulb formation in the clownfish sea anemone Entacmea quadricolor
Mentor: Dr. Nanette Chadwick, Department of Biological Sciences