Acetabularia is a type of green algae that belongs to the family Polyphysaceae.
It’s a single-celled organism but is very large and complex in form. This makes it an excellent model organism for studying cell biology.
Acetabularia is found in subtropical waters and is sometimes called Mermaid’s Wineglass because its shape resembles a cup used for dipping bread.
What Are the Parts of Mermaid’s Wineglass?
Mermaid’s Wineglass has three anatomical parts:
- The bottom rhizoid – This part looks like short roots and contains the nucleus of the cell.
- The long stalk in the middle – This part makes up most of the height of the organism.
- The top umbrella of branches – These branches may fuse into a cap, giving it the appearance of a cup or wineglass.
Unlike other large single-celled organisms, Mermaid’s Wineglass has just one nucleus located in the rhizoid. This allows the cell to completely regenerate if its cap is removed.
The caps of two Mermaid’s Wineglass may even be exchanged, even if they come from different species.
How Did Mermaid’s Wineglass Get Its Name?
The name Acetabularia comes from the Latin word “acetabulum,” which means a broad, shallow cup used for dipping bread.
The upturned cap of Acetabularia looks like such a cup, which is why it’s also called Mermaid’s Wineglass.
What Is the Life Cycle of Mermaid’s Wineglass?
Mermaid’s Wineglass is a single-celled organism with a single nucleus.
During sexual reproduction, the nucleus undergoes multiple rounds of mitosis, creating many daughter nuclei inside one nuclear membrane.
These nuclei then undergo meiosis and are transported to the tips of the branches, called sporangia, where they are released as gametes.
What Are Hämmerling’s Experiments on Mermaid’s Wineglass?
From the 1930s to the 1950s, a scientist named Joachim Hämmerling conducted experiments on Mermaid’s Wineglass.
He showed that the genetic information of the organism is contained in the nucleus. This was the first demonstration that genes are encoded by DNA in eukaryotes, a type of cell with a nucleus.
Earlier studies by Oswald Avery and others had shown that this was true for prokaryotes, a type of cell without a nucleus.
Hämmerling’s experiments involved exchanging caps between two species of Acetabularia and observing how the new cap changed to match the form typical for the species of the base it was now attached to.
This showed that the nucleus controlled the form of the cap.
Another experiment involved inserting a nucleus from one species into an intact Mermaid’s Wineglass of a different species.
The Mermaid’s Wineglass then produced a hybrid cap with characteristics of both species, showing that both nuclei influenced the cap’s form.
How Does Mermaid’s Wineglass Develop Its Complex Shape?
Although Mermaid’s Wineglass is a single cell, it has a very complex shape.
This makes it an interesting organism for studying gene expression and morphogenesis, which is how an organism develops its shape.
Mermaid’s Wineglass seems to transport messenger RNA molecules from the nucleus to its apical tips, where they are translated into proteins.
These molecules may be activated by proteolysis of their protein carrier molecules, but this has not been confirmed yet.
What Are the Internal Chemical Gradients in Mermaid’s Wineglass?
In addition to its gradient in specific mRNA molecules, Mermaid’s Wineglass shows concentration gradients in several types of molecules, such as ascorbic acid.
How Does Mermaid’s Wineglass Help in Studying Circadian Rhythms?
Mermaid’s Wineglass has been used to study circadian rhythms, which are daily cycles of activity in living organisms.
Studies have shown that Mermaid’s Wineglass has a diurnal circadian rhythm, meaning it has a 24-hour cycle of activity.
These rhythmic changes in respiratory and photosynthetic activity are maintained even when the nucleus is removed, showing that the regulation of the rhythm is independent of the nucleus.
However, the nucleus is responsible for shifting the cycles due to external changes.
Is Mermaid’s Wineglass Found in The Aquarium Trade?
Mermaid’s Wineglass species are occasionally found in the aquarium trade, but they are generally considered to be more difficult or unappealing macroalgae to care for in a reef aquarium, a fish-only, or a FOWL (Fish Only With Live Rock) system.
This is because they are delicate, easily eaten by herbivorous fish, grow slowly, and don’t have the high nutrient uptake that other reef aquarium species do.
However, they are suitable for a macroalgae display tank, and macroalgae suppliers often carry species of Mermaid’s Wineglass.
|Required Water Flow:||Low|
|Maximum Size:||4 in (10.2 cm)|