Jon M. Gebhardt

and the immortal jellyfish
Who is Dr. Shin Kubota?
 Professor of marine biology at
Kyoto University.
Born and still has a home in
Shirahama Japan.
Author of 12 books on various
subjects (4 of which are on
 Self described “avid jellyfish
karaoke singer”, and owner of
an outstanding jellyfish hat.
 His webpage listing his books
and latest research (although
his English isn’t the best)
Scarlett Jellyfish (Turritopsis dohrnii)
 Approximately 3-4mm in diameter.
 Young specimens 1 mm in diameter
have only eight tentacles evenly
spaced out along the edge, while
adult specimens have 80-90
 Thought to have originated in the
Caribbean they now span all over the
 Can regenerate itself back through its
entire life cycle in about two months.
 100% of specimens have successfully
regenerated in a controlled
The Hundred Year Study
 Kubota’s “teacher’s teacher” as he
worded it began researching these
jellyfish with no idea of its
regenerative properties.
 Kubota’s teacher focused the study
more in 1971 looking to decipher why
the population was experiencing
rapid growth.
 Shin Kubota himself has been
studying the Scarlet Jellyfish since
 He noted during an interview
however that the Scarlet Jellyfish
had actually hidden this ability
since the late 1800s when Showa
Emperor Hirohito began a study
on local jellyfish.
How This Discovery Was Made?
 "One day in my plankton net,
there was a small scarlet
jellyfish from the south, which
had many sharp sticks stuck
into its body, I thought 'poor
thing' and removed all of the
sticks, hoping it may become
better and swim again. But it
didn't and shrunk. However, it
rejuvenated!“ - Dr. Shin
 A wounded or diseased medusa Scarlett Jellyfish can revert itself back into a
polyp and restart its own life cycle. It does this by:
 First going into a “meatball” type form in which a Scarlet Jellyfish degenerates and
sheds all of its tentacles leaving just the bell.
 Second it gently sinks down to the ocean floor where it will develop a stolon and
root itself. Soon after it develops into a hydroid (polyp form) so it can extract
nutrients as it regenerates.
 Third it begins to regenerate itself inside of the polyp. Cells from both the
circulatory and bell surface have to be present for the regeneration to take place.
This is because it clones its damaged cells and needs some of each to complete its
cellular differentiation.
 Finally the hydroid sprout branches one of which will develop a medusa bud, when
it blooms the jellyfish reemerges in its infant state. This process takes
approximately three days total, however it takes about 2 months to reach maturity
Moses Znaimer’s Ideacity Conference
Life Cycle of the Scarlet Jellyfish
A Short Video Explanation
Cellular Differentiation
 In developmental biology,
cellular differentiation (CD) is
the process by which a less
specialized cell becomes a
more specialized cell type.
 This takes place numerous
times throughout the Scarlet
Jellyfish’s regeneration cycle
and this particular form of CD is
unique to only this species.
Why It Matters?
 Since the beginning of time
alchemist clergymen and a
plethora of others devoted their
lives to unlock the secrets of
immortality, but it turns out they
just needed to look in the water.
 Given the (strangely) close genetic
relationship that humans and
jellyfish share scientist are now
scrambling to see if this unique
ability be harnessed and utilized
to advance modern medicine.
What the Future May Hold….
 Currently Dr. Kubota is conducting
research at the Seto Marine Biological
Laboratory. Attempting to pinpoint
exactly what genetically gives these
jellyfish this extraordinary power.
 This could theoretically be used to
regrow lost limbs, damaged organs,
and even possibly allow humanity
to extend life itself.
 "There should be a key to
rejuvenation in the system of scarlet
jellyfish. I'd like to believe it could be
applied to human beings, because
genetically, jellyfish and humans are
not so different."
Dr. Kubota’s Kareoke
Works Cited
 Shin Kubota. Shin Kubota sings a song of jellyfish. The IdeaCity Conference.
 Ocean Today World News. NOAA. September 14 2014.
 Nathaniel Rich. Can a Jellyfish Unlock the Secret of Immortality. The New
York Times Online. November 18
 Lauren Said-Moorhouse. Does 'immortal' jellyfish have the secret to
everlasting life? August 29, 2014.