Research project

Stress Response, regeneration & longevity

Eric RÖTTINGER, Research Director, DR2 CNRS

Certain marine animals such as cnidarians (sea anemones, corals and “jellyfish) possess so-called whole body regenerative capacities, as they are able to reform fully functional organisms from most isolated body parts or even dissociated cells. Another interesting property of symbiotic cnidarians is their ability to resists and adapt to very high expositions to intracellular ROS, produced by their symbionts, and known to be devastating for mammalian cells by enhancing the aging process. Importantly, this extreme regenerative potential, the impressive ROS resistance and plasticity to adapt to drastic environmental variations are accompanied by an extended live span / immortality in a large set of these marine animals. 

We take advantage of these interesting and intriguing biological features of cnidarians to decipher their underlying cellular, molecular, biochemical and genetic mechanisms. Our multidisciplinary and integrative research developed with local, national and international academic collaborators aims to obtain a novel view of cnidarian regeneration, stress response and adaptation. Ultimately, our research will participate in improving our understanding of how these marine invertebrates prevent aging and age-related diseases, discoveries that will subsequently be transfert to vertebrate/human related research within the IRCAN and our network of collaborators with the longterm goal of creating novel opportunities for regenerative medicine. 

Our principal research aims focusing on three complementary anthozoan cnidarian research models (Nematostella vectensis, Anemonia viridis and Astrangia poculata) are:

A) Characterize the tissular, cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying whole body regeneration of cnidarians.

B) Understand the cellular, molecular and genetic basis of adaptation to environmental variations and cnidarian stress response.

C) Determine how cnidarians prevent aging and aging-related diseases as well as how to assess aging in virtually “immortal” animals

Resources developed by the team are available as soon as possible through freely accessible and intuitive online repositories (e.g. In addition to our research, members of the team are intensely involved in teaching activities at the University Nice Sophia Antipolis and Université Côte d’Azur / University Cote d’Azur (e.g. MARRESLife Science School) as well as outreach activities (workshops, conferences, photo exhibitions) in tight interaction with the non-profit organization Kahi Kai ( in order to promote the importance of marine organisms for fundamental as well as applied research. Finally, the team is involved in the scientific coordination of the TARA-PACIFIC expedition that focuses on the understanding of the mechanisms of coral resilience or sensitivity in the context of global change.

Research teams