Slug Science Moves Forward an Inch
In response to hounding from some of my students, I have been trying to move the science portion of the project forward. That has required some hard thinking about the short-term goals of the project, and how to approach them. For a project that involves neurobiology, the biggest gap is a dearth of information regarding the layout of the nervous system Although there is some literature on Sacoglossan anatomy, the description of the nervous system stops at the circumesophageal nerve ring. It is time to know more.
In order to understand the nervous system, we need to do some staining and microscopy. That would be significantly easier if the animals could be observed in wholemount, rather than having to dissect or section them. But the adults are too big! Juveniles, however, would be perfect, but how to obtain them?
It took a little while, but it dawned on me that we could make juveniles. The slugs are laying egg masses regularly, and they are developing perfectly well. On top of that, the veligers are lecithotrophic and settle on Bryopsis in less than a week! We just need to collect egg masses and grow them out in dishes, and then provide conditions for settling.
Egg mass in a dish: Check!
Incubator to maintain a constant temperature. Unfortunately, the one we have available does not like to hold 26 degrees C, so a bookshelf in the office will have to do.
The good news is that the embryos do not seem to mind the conditions in the office, and are developing nicely. Photos and videos to follow.