Chimeras on the rise

Researchers observe sea anemone embryos fuse to form chimeric organisms, adding to evidence that chimerism may occur commonly in nature

Hannah Waters
Apr 20, 2011
Sea anemones can form chimeras as a result of the fusion of two or more individuals, according to a linkurl:study; published yesterday (April 20) in Proceedings of the Royal Society: B. The observation adds to a growing list of chimeric organisms, supporting the suspicion that chimerism is a fairly widespread phenomenon.
Bi-chimeric sea anemone
Image: Courtesy of Annie Mercier
"This is another example from a group of organisms that we didn't know [could be chimeric] and there are probably so many other undisclosed cases of chimerism in nature," said linkurl:Baruch Rinkevich,; a marine developmental biologist at the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research institute who was not involved with the research. "As we look around, we find chimeras in so many groups of organisms. Maybe not to be a chimera is the exception."Chimerism has even been noted in humans: When two zygotes fuse in the womb, the different sets of...
Bi-chimeric sea anemone
Image: Courtesy of Annie Mercier
Urticina feline
Multi-chimeric sea anemone
Image: Courtesy of Annie Mercier
A. Mercier et al., "Internal brooding favours pre-metamorphic chimerism in a non-colonial cnidarian, the sea anemone Urticina felina," Proceedings of the Royal Society: B, doi: 10.1098/rspb.2011.0605, 2011.

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