Cristian Barrera


Omics applied to the bioadhesion mechanism of the arrow worm Spadella cephaloptera

PhD Student
Advisor: Tim Wollesen

Unit for Integrative Zoology, Department of Evolutionary Biology
University of Vienna


To cope with extreme environmental conditions, different marine species have developed mechanisms that allow them to permanently or temporarily attach to substrates. In the intertidal zone of marine habitats, where tidal ranges and currents could drift organisms apart from their ecological niche, temporary adhesive systems such as the one exhibited by the arrow worm Spadella cephaloptera (Chaetognatha) constitute an essential trait for the survival of this taxon. The underlying molecular mechanism of this system has not been described yet, and the existing morphological information is limited to the adult stage. However, previous research performed on other marine invertebrates suggests that it could be a mechanical process (e.g., via suction), a biochemical process mediated by adhesion molecules, or a mix of both latter mechanisms. To address questions regarding this adhesion system, "omic" approaches will be used to understand the underlying molecular mechanisms.