Aequorea spp. : Crystal Jelly
Phylum Cnidaria / Class Hydrozoa / Order Leptomedusae / Family Aequoreidae
Crystal jelly, Aequorea, Point Lobos CA, Pacific Ocean
A green bioluminescent pattern is produced around the margin of the bell due to the presence of green fluorescent protein (GFP), which is coupled to another photoprotein known as aequorin. For many years Aequorea was collected commercially to harvest the minute quantities of these proteins for use as markers in biomedical research. Although Aequorea will feed on crustaceans, it tends to favor gelatinous prey, including other hydromedusae, comb jellies and appendicularians. Aequorea are not a commonly found jelly in Monterey Bay, and are more reliably found during spring and summer in coastal waters of Washington and British Columbia. It is relatively easy to establish hydroid colonies and culture Aequorea in captivity. When provided appropriate aquarium conditions (such as a kreisel tank), the medusae do well under captive conditions. Crystal jellies are one of the more popular species for display at public aquariums. Several species of Aequorea inhabit the West Coast of North America, but the taxonomy of the group has not been thoroughly worked out. Although individuals in some populations are capable of reaching a bell diameter of 25 cm, those in Monterey Bay rarely exceed 8 cm. The colorless, transparent bell is marked by conspicuous radial canals, along which are attached the gonads. Numerous fine tentacles extend from the bell margin.

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