Mentor: Dr. Stephen Gardiner
The polychaetes,or bristled worms, comprise an enormous number of unique marine worm species, each displaying a variety of forms and specialized structures. The object of our research is to collect live specimens of polychaete worms from the Delaware coast and take them back to the lab to perform a full range of morphological assays using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). We are particularly interested in one widely-spread genus of marine worm, Magelona. Magelona can be somewhat fragile and are relatively difficult to collect, but should we find any specimens of this type, we would focus on examining the morphology of the creature’s unique feeding palps. Unlike other species with the more common grooved palps, Magelona’s long palps are studded with sticky projections to capture small prey. Using the TEM, we hope to provide a clearer picture of these, and a wide range of other unique structures from different polychaete species. With the resulting micrographs, we hope to create a comparative analysis of structures such as palps, chaete, etc., across the types of specimens collected. Larval specimens, if collected, will be used to examine the growth and development of those species of polychaetes. Proper techniques of specimen fixing, embedding, and sectioning will be observed for all laboratory work.