Turritopsis Nutricula – A Living Fountain of Youth

According to an account prepared by Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo in Historia Standard y Natural de las Indias (1535) Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon (1474-1521), the 1st governor of Puerto Rico (then termed Boriquien) attempted to uncover the fountain of youth, a mystical spring that restored youth to absolutely everyone who drank of its waters. Although the legend originally pointed to Ethiopia centered on Reserve III of The Heritage of Herodotus, when the Greek historian (c. 484 BC-c. 425 BC) wrote in c. 440 BC – “The Icthyophagi [a term synonymous with coastal dwelling peoples] then in their switch questioned the king regarding the expression of lifestyle, and eating plan of his men and women, and have been informed that most of them lived to be a hundred and 20 decades old, while some even went outside of that age- they ate boiled flesh, and experienced for their drink practically nothing but milk.

When the Icthyophagi showed speculate at the quantity of the years, [Egyptian Pharaoh Amasis (570 BC-526 BC)] led them to a fountain [in Ethiopia], wherein when they had washed, they found their flesh all glossy and sleek, as if they had bathed in oil- and a scent came from the spring like that of violets. The water was so weak, they mentioned, that nothing at all would float in it, neither wooden, nor any lighter substance, but all went to the bottom. If the account of this fountain be true, it would be their constant use of the water from it, which will make them so long-lived”[1] – later on stories pointed to an island referred to as Boinca located in Benini or Bimini, the westernmost district of the Bahamas.

With Boinca in access, Ponce de Leon designed two tries to locate the mystical fountain – just one in 1513 and the other in 1521. Although accounts point out he never discovered the fountain of youth, scientific proof implies he came tantalizingly shut. Experienced he looked beneath the pristine Caribbean waters, he could possibly have spotted a biologically immortal (absence of a sustained growing charge of mortality as the result of escalating chronological age as said by the Gompertz-Makeham legislation of mortality) jellyfish, the Turritopsis nutricula, which with its gelatinous composition (96% drinking water, 3% salt/other compounds, and 1% carbon and nitrogen), glossy, transparent bell-shape and capacity to revert back into a younger point out, is a living fountain of youth.

Having said that, it was not until March 1992 when Giorgio Bavestrello, Christian Somner, and Michele Sará revealed Bi-directional conversion in Turritopsis nutricula that this living fountain of youth was unveiled. Compared with other jellyfish that ordinarily die soon after propagating, Turritopsis nutricula, a tiny solitary organism that preys on shrimp brine, microscopic plankton, zooplankton, and other very small organisms, shown “a distinctive situation of ontogeny (the progress of an specific organism from embryo to adult) reversal.”

Turritopsis nutricula, which originated in the Caribbean (but has spread during the world’s oceans) is at this time the only recognized organism where by transdifferentiation (the irreversible transformation of cells from one differentiated variety to a further) requires place on an organismic level even however its person elements, by by themselves, are incapable of regeneration. Aside from Turritopsis nutricula’s transdifferentiation, the phenomenon which per C.D.M. Davey, Principle of Transdifferentiation (2 May possibly 2006) “is a incredibly uncommon event in mother nature,” generally occurs on an organic stage when particular organisms such as newts and salamanders regenerate lacking sections. In limited, though switching of cell types occurs in uncommon situations, generally when an organism regenerates an organ or component, it is an integral stage in Turritopsis nutricula’s lifetime cycle.

With its means to reverse the getting old system – reverting again from a experienced adult stage to immature polyp stage (its very first stage of lifetime) an indefinite quantity of instances based mostly on experimental final results that indicated a 100% transformation level dependent on a sample of 4000 Turritopsis nutricula medusae collected from the Gulf of Naples in the western Mediterranean from June 1993-Oct 1994, irrespective of exposure to adverse ailments or kind of stress aspect or absence thereof as documented by Stefano Piraino, Ferdinando Boero, Brigitte Aeschbach, and Volker Schmid in Reversing the Existence Cycle: Medusae Reworking into Polyps and Mobile Transdifferentiation in Turritopsis nutricula (Cnidaria, Hydrozoa) (Biology Bulletin, June 1996) – Turritopsis nutricula has no organic restrict to its lifespan considering that it can correctly regenerate its whole overall body. Turritopsis nutricula mainly utilizes transdifferentiation to address environmental tension components (e.g. raise/reduction in water temperature, reduction in salinity (salt-content), scarcity of foodstuff, and even senescence (organic growing old)) and to repair physical/internal problems (e.g. elements of its overall body particularly its bell are punctured or severed) irrespective of stage. In addition, Turritopsis nutricula also engages in transdifferentiation next sexual exercise irrespective if tension problems exist.

Despite the fact that Turritopsis nutricula’s transdifferentiation capability renders it biologically immortal, it is not normally immortal for every se. Like any jellyfish, it is issue to predation and disorder (particularly all through the immature plankton phase therefore, the bulk of those that succumb perish prior to the medusa (experienced) phase). However, considering that the latter poses a diminished possibility, the population of Turritopsis nutricula is at the moment rising unchecked prompting Maria Pia Miglietta, Ph.D. of the Smithsonian Tropical Maritime Institute to declare, “We are hunting at a globally silent invasion.”[2]

Jellyfish and Turritopsis nutricula Existence Cycles:

The common jellyfish has a finite lifespan ranging from a number of hrs for scaled-down species to numerous months or even many years for much larger species. From the second of inception, jellyfish typically go through senescence with pure demise in the end resulting after propagation. Turritopsis nutricula, on the other hand, avoids senescence mainly because transdifferentiation or reversion back again to a youthful point out allows it to manage efficient DNA repair capabilities, keep superior concentrations of anti-oxidants, and lessen production of free of charge radicals (damaging oxidants that harm an organism’s mobile capacity to reply to homeostatic imbalances (reduction of equilibrium), sickness and other tension elements). In executing so, it avoids apoptosis or programmed cellular loss of life. Transdifferentiation, which is a essential component of Turritopsis nutricula’s daily life cycle is explained down below:

1. Eggs establish in gonads (situated in the abdomen partitions) of feminine Turritopsis nutricula.

2. Mature eggs are fertilized by sperm introduced in columns of h2o by male Turritopsis nutricula.

3. Fertilized eggs develop into planula larvae that settle on the sea floor and build polyp colonies named hydroids. Each polyp depends on minute feeding tubes for sustenance.

4. Each and every polyp then generates a medusa (jellyfish) bud.

5. In just a several days, the medusae (roughly 1 mm in diameter with 8 evenly spaced tentacles) crack away from the hydroid colony.

6. Within 18-30 times the medusae attain sexual maturity contingent on indicate drinking water temperature (18-22 times for a mean temperature of 72º F 25-30 days for a suggest temperature of 68º F). On achieving maturity, Turritopsis nutricula jellyfish assortment in measurement from approximately 4-5 mm and consist of amongst 80-90 tentacles.

7. Turritopsis nutricula then engages in reverse metamorphosis inverting or little by little contracting its bell with “intensive DNA replication happening in the cells of the exumbrella, the endoderm of the radial canals and all those of the subumbrellar plate endoderm” for each Reversing the Lifetime Cycle: Medusae Reworking into Polyps and Mobile Transdifferentiation in Turritopsis nutricula (Cnidaria, Hydrozoa) (Biology Bulletin, June 1996).

8. Its tentacles and meogloea (the middle layer) then shrink and are resorbed as Turritopsis nutricula regresses into a cyst or blob of tissue, settling onto a substrate (surface on which an organism grows or is attached).

9. Turritopsis nutricula jellyfish then deliver stolons that build into polyps in just a handful of times to sort another hydroid colony. Afterwards, every single polyp makes a medusa bud as the cycle resumes from action 4 only to be repeated above and over all over again owing to sexual action or publicity to tension, the latter which increases DNA replication, a vital prerequisite of the transdifferentiation process.


Experts and geneticists are presently studying Turritopsis nutricula to find out its outstanding means to reverse the getting old method. Although the method Turritopsis nutricula works by using stays mysterious, the organism’s simplicity, genetic code (DNA could be structured to initiate reversion to polyp state when certain senescence, organic or strain disorders are achieved based on changes in chemical composition that could serve as a catalyst) opportunity partial (in which fusion of grownup embryonic stem (ES) cells with pluripotent stem (PS) cells would like engage in a part in transdifferentiation) or comprehensive retention of pluripotency (in which its whole stem cell count would consist of PS cells) might perform a position. Turritopsis nutricula’s transdifferentiation means, although, is not only reliant on stem cells. Instead, it is considered that interstitial (differentiating stem cells) together with differentiating secretory (exumbrella or bell), digestive/circulatory (gastrovascular), and/or striated muscle cells also enjoy a part.

Need to researchers ultimately unravel the thriller of how Turritopsis nutricula engages in transdifferentiation, the magic formula to organic immortality could be attained ending the millennia-prolonged and normally perceived quixotic research for the fountain of youth. Even so, ought to these kinds of a progress occur, the variety of socio-financial, demographic, generational and even moral (would lifespan be determined by government by means of euthanasia to reply to larger competitiveness for confined, finite assets resulting from overpopulation?) problems that would in the long run have to be dealt with would be staggering and perhaps not possible to take care of. For that reason, even if scientific analysis at some point solves the mystery of this living fountain of youth, humanity may well be, figuratively speaking, forbidden from consuming of its waters to manage socio-economic, generational and ethical steadiness particularly considering that the choice may final result in considerable unintended consequences that could even direct to Armageddon and human extinction.