Campus News

Featured Academic News Story: Bowdoin Researchers Seek Methods to Spur Sea Urchin Growth

Story posted August 02, 2004

When Bowdoin Biology Department Chair Amy Johnson and Biology Research Associate Olaf Ellers published their discovery of the mechanism by which sea urchins grow in 2002, marine biologists took note. No one had yet understood how echinoderms could increase the size of their shells, or skeletal plates, without shedding them.

They discovered that as urchins grow, the collagenous tissue inside, outside, and between their skeletal plates softens. The shell inflates like a balloon. The collagen stretches and expands gaps between the plates from the inside, while containing them from the outside. Eventually, the tissue between the plates is reabsorbed and is replaced by hard shell. This mechanism is similar to the growth of a vertebrate skull.

The bust of Maine's sea urchin industry now makes this information invaluable to researchers, regulators and harvesters struggling to find ways to replenish Maine's once-bountiful sea urchin population.

Read the full story on Bowdoin's Academic News site.

« Back | Campus News | Academic Spotlight | | Subscribe to Bowdoin News by Email