Investigating the environmental and genetic cues for jellyfish blooms in the invasive freshwater jellyfish (Craspedacusta sowerbii)

Major Goals and Objectives

Our overall goal is to is to is to gain insight into the basic biology of Craspedacusta in order to better predict its ecological impact in response to climate change. In particular, we are interested in the following questions:

  1. What are the environmental cues for Craspedacusta jellyfish blooms and can these cues predict when and where Craspedacusta blooms will occur in southern Lake Michigan?
  2. Can these conditions be replicated in a laboratory environment to induce jellyfish formation?
  3. Are the genetic mechanisms that control jellyfish blooms in Craspedacusta similar to that of their marine relatives, and thus likely to have a parallel response to climate change?

To address these questions we have three primary objectives:

  1. Determine environmental parameters required for jellyfish blooms through field work and citizen science approaches;
  2. With the involvement of undergraduates we will design and conduct laboratory experiments utilizing environmental parameters and zooplankton composition data from objective 1, with the intention of culturing Craspedacusta medusae to their reproductive stage.
  3. Conduct transcriptional analyses to document differential gene expression in the different life cycle stages to determine the genetic cues for life cycle transitions. 

We have a fourth objective to improve scientific literacy on invasive aquatic species though developing educational modules with live Craspedacusta jellyfish for the public, K-12 classrooms, focusing on underserved communities.

Accomplishments / Benefits

Video: The environmental & genetic cues for jellyfish blooms in the invasive freshwater jellyfish

Research Information

Principal Investigator:
Nadine Folino Rorem
Initiation Date:
Wheaton College


Nadine Folino Rorem
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