Student researchers discover new species of marine invertebrate

Work published in peer-reviewed journal Zootaxa

July 09, 2020 11:19 pm | Updated 11:19 pm IST - CHENNAI

A scientist from the Centre for Climate Change Studies at the Sathyabama Institute of Science and Technology and two of his students have identified a new species of marine invertebrate. The researchers’ work has been published in Zootaxa , a peer-reviewed journal based in New Zealand.

S. Prakash, scientist, said that his M. Tech. students M.S. Vignesh and Ruchi P. Jain had been collecting seaweed along the coast of Tamil Nadu for the past two years. “The worm, Tetrastemma freyae , is associated with sediments and is predatory as it has a role in maintaining the food chain. It feeds on dead and decaying material and helps to recycle nutrients in coastal and deep water sediments. The worm uses its proboscis just as a butterfly does to collect nectar,” he said.

The researchers got in touch with Alexei V. Chernyshev at the A.V. Zhirmunsky National Scientific Center of Marine Biology, Vladivostok, an expert in the field to understand the morphology of the species. “He told us that another person in Smithsonian Institute was working on a similar specimen identified in Hawaii,” Mr. Prakash explained.

To the surprise of the researchers, the species identified by Jon L. Norenburg of the Department of Invertebrate Zoology, National Museum of Natural History in Smithsonian Institution, had similar morphological characters. The researchers then sequenced the DNA of the organism. “For the first time we used DNA sequencing for Nemertea in our lab. The researcher from Smithsonian also sequenced the DNA in his lab. There was not much divergence between the two species. That is why our discovery was jointly published in the journal,” Mr. Prakash said.

According to Mr. Prakash, the discovery could lead to developing drugs as the species has neurotoxins in its proboscis. “We have also identified two more species which would be further studied,” he said.

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.