DATABASE: Path to a Tunicate

Science  22 Sep 2006:
Vol. 313, Issue 5794, pp. 1709
DOI: 10.1126/science.313.5794.1709d

The filter-feeding marine animals called ascidians, or tunicates, have sucked in evolutionary and developmental biologists. The fascination stems in part from the creatures' close kinship to vertebrates and their simple embryos, which serve as good models for development. Hosted by French and Japanese labs, ANISEED* is packed with embryological and molecular information on ascidians. With free visualization software, you can pick an embryo such as the 44-cell stage of Ciona intestinalis and highlight developmental lineages or pinpoint areas of contact between cells. The site also houses gene-expression data from in situ hybridization experiments. To enjoy some pretty photos, visit the Dutch Ascidians Homepage. Graduate student Arjan Gittenberger of the National Museum of Natural History in Leiden, the Netherlands, has corralled shots of more than 100 ascidian species from around the world.

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