Date of Award

2013

First Advisor

Robert Schmidt

Second Advisor

Erin McMullin

Abstract

The phylum Porifera, sponges, has many members and all of them have unique qualities. However, they have a common characteristic that sets them apart from the other members of the animal kingdom: the ability to reaggregate. Sponge cell reaggregation is a process wherein a sponge fragment or the cells of an individual sponge may be separated and then the cells are able to reconnect and pull themselves back together to form a functional new sponge. Many scientists have studied this phenomenon over the course of the last century and have had some interesting findings. For this thesis, I explored a selection of that prior research and then conducted my own sponge cell reaggregation experiments. Other researchers had done three of the experiments previously: for example, the mechanical disaggregation and reaggregation experiment had been done by sever scientists whose results I compared with my own. I also did two experiments of my own involving the staining of the live sponge cells in order to tell the cells of various species apart, while the other required that I design and fabricate my own experimental chambers based on basic Y-chamber design. The barriers in the Y-chambers served as semipermeable membranes, which allowed for testing of directional behaviors if they were present. Throughout the thesis, the anatomy, physiology, behavior, and phylogeny of sponges are reviewed.

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