Biology Question #2116

Nick Reed, a 16 year old male from Cherry Hill asks on June 1, 2004,

I have a question regarding starfish, or seastars, whichever you would like. Is there a species of seastar that has an exceptionally fast regeneration as compared to other seastars? If so do you know if said seastar can be easily purchased from a science supplier? If not, do you know of a seastar that can be bought that is relatively small (im assuming smaller seastars regenerate faster), cheap, and boasts good regenerative ability (average or above average)? Also, is regenerative ability hereditarily influenced, meaning are there differences (distinct) in regenerative ability derived from differences in the seastar's genes. (Im asking this question in hopes that the answer be that the differences are small). Thank you for your time.

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The answer

Peter Fankboner answered on June 10, 2004

Sea star is the better term since asteroids (i.e. sea stars) are not, strictly speaking, fish. Species of several genera of asteriods which have been extensively worked upon regarding regeneration of sea star arms and bodies include Linckia, Coscinasterias, and Asterias. Species within these genera should provide you with working material to studying asteriod regeneration. In addition, you should search both the web and the data base Zoological Record for references to rates of regeneration in sea stars, and echinoderms in general. Running "Biological Supply" on "Google" will turn up a listing of supply houses which might suit your needs. A favorite of mine which I have used over the years is "Gulf Specimen and Marine Laboratory" located in Panacea, Florida. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute has in past sold specimens to students and researchers. You might do better yet to find a university marine station which has a 10-12 week summer program where you would have access to sea stars, biology professors, marine aquaria and library facilities to help you carry out your experiments.

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