Transcriptome profiling of the dynamic life cycle of the scypohozoan jellyfish Aurelia aurita

Vera Brekhman, Assaf Malik, Brian Haas, Noa Sher, Tamar Lotan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: The moon jellyfish Aurelia aurita is a widespread scyphozoan species that forms large seasonal blooms. Here we provide the first comprehensive view of the entire complex life of the Aurelia Red Sea strain by employing transcriptomic profiling of each stage from planula to mature medusa. Results: A de novo transcriptome was assembled from Illumina RNA-Seq data generated from six stages throughout the Aurelia life cycle. Transcript expression profiling yielded clusters of annotated transcripts with functions related to each specific life-cycle stage. Free-swimming planulae were found highly enriched for functions related to cilia and microtubules, and the drastic morphogenetic process undergone by the planula while establishing the future body of the polyp may be mediated by specifically expressed Wnt ligands. Specific transcripts related to sensory functions were found in the strobila and the ephyra, whereas extracellular matrix functions were enriched in the medusa due to high expression of transcripts such as collagen, fibrillin and laminin, presumably involved in mesoglea development. The CL390-like gene, suggested to act as a strobilation hormone, was also highly expressed in the advanced strobila of the Red Sea species, and in the medusa stage we identified betaine-homocysteine methyltransferase, an enzyme that may play an important part in maintaining equilibrium of the medusa's bell. Finally, we identified the transcription factors participating in the Aurelia life-cycle and found that 70% of these 487 identified transcription factors were expressed in a developmental-stage-specific manner. Conclusions: This study provides the first scyphozoan transcriptome covering the entire developmental trajectory of the life cycle of Aurelia. It highlights the importance of numerous stage-specific transcription factors in driving morphological and functional changes throughout this complex metamorphosis, and is expected to be a valuable resource to the community.

Original languageEnglish
Article number74
JournalBMC Genomics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 14 Feb 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Brekhman et al.


  • Aurelia aurita
  • Jellyfish
  • Life-cycle stages
  • Scyphozoa
  • Transcriptomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Biotechnology


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