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Marquez, Gabriel

Jelena Bujan
BIOL 1121-016
14 March 2014

Feeding Behavior in Hydra littoralis

Abstract

The behavior of Hydra littoralis was studied in five groups. We observed their
reactions to specific substances such as water, brine shrimp, glutathione, tyrosine, and a
combination of water, glutathione, and tyrosine in order to determine whether or not
these substances had an effect on the behavior and response of the Hydra littoralis. The
control group had no effect on the behavior of Hydra littoralis. The treatment groups had
various reactions to each substance including curled tentacles, entangled tentacles, and
body shortening.


Introduction

The reaction of Hydra littoralis to feeding includes the use of its tentacles to
capture prey and opening its mouth to begin digestion. Due to this process, a variety of
sensory cells may have been used in order to detect food. A similar study has been
conducted by Case Western Reserve University that focused on the feeding behavior in
Hydra, specifically in the specimens tentacle movements (Rushforth & Hofman, 1972).
Their experiment included the reaction of Hydra and their behavior in capturing and
engulfing Artemia nauplius and their reaction time to capturing prey with their tentacles.
They found that reaction times and tentacle contractions differed with the concentration
of glutathione. Our experiment investigated the effect of water, brine shrimp, glutathione,
tyrosine, and a combination of water, glutathione, and tyrosine on the behavior of Hydra
littoralis. Our null hypothesis is that the Hydra littoralis will not react differently to each
chemical.

Materials and Methods

Five groups of Hydra littoralis were tested. Within these groups, one was in the
control, which received water, and four were treated with brine shrimp, glutathione,
tyrosine, and a combination of water, glutathione, and tyrosine, respectively.
The behavior of each Hydra littoralis was observed through a dissecting
microscope, with the Hydra littoralis contained in a Syracuse dish. By using a pipette,
each specimen was treated with 2 to 3 drops of each chemical, and then we carefully
observed their reaction after being treated with the substance.
We recorded the response to each chemical in each of the five groups. Then, we
compared the data within each group.


Results

We found that the control group had no effect on the Hydra littoralis, however,
the treatment groups had various reactions to each substance. The specimen treated with
brine shrimp used its tentacles immobilize and capture the brine shrimp by curling its
tentacles, slowly consuming it through its open mouth while the shrimp kept its shape as
it was being swallowed into the body. The specimen treated with glutathione had its
tentacles become entangled while its body was elongated. The specimen treated with
tyrosine had a reaction that caused its body to shorten into a ball-shape while extending
its tentacles. The specimen treated with subsequent drops of water, glutathione, and
tyrosine reacted similarly to the specimen treated with the brine shrimp; it reacted as if its
tentacles were reaching out for a shrimp, curling its tentacles and opening its mouth as if
it were about to digest food (Table 1).


Table 1: Comparison of Hydra littoralis behavior and reaction to water, brine shrimp,
glutathione, tyrosine, and a combination of water, glutathione, and tyrosine.
Substance Added Observations of Hydra
Behavior
Hydra I Water (control) No reaction
Hydra I I Brine Shrimp Used tentacles to
capture and
immobilize shrimp
Opened mouth
Hydra I I I Glutathione Tentacles entangled
Elongated body
Hydra I V Tyrosine Tentacles extended
Shortened body
(ball-shaped)
Hydra V Combination of Water,
Glutathione, and Tyrosine
Curled tentacles
similar to capture of
shrimp
Opened mouth as if
digestion had
occurred


Discussion and Conclusions

The results of the experiment show that the Hydra littoralis had no reaction to
water, but had various reactions to each of the chemicals in the experiment. Therefore,
our alternative hypothesis was retained. Our null hypothesis was rejected because we
found that the Hydra had different reactions to each of the chemicals.
Other research shows that the duration of the Hydras mouth opening is
dependent on the levels of concentration of glutathione (Grosvenor & Kass-Simon,
1996). This research supports our alternative hypothesis that the Hydra littoralis would
have a reaction to the glutathione chemical. The study by Case Western Reserve
University, which focused on tentacle movement behavior, also supports our alternative
hypothesis with its findings that reaction times and tentacle contractions differed with the
concentration of glutathione. (Rushforth & Hofman, 1972).
Problems consisting with this experiment were that we did not perform multiple
tests of each chemical to the Hydra littoralis so our results are based on a single reaction
and have not been confirmed through several tests. Other problems include that the drops
of each chemical may have been inaccurate, causing an alternate reaction compared to
what was supposed to happen within the boundaries of 2 to 3 drops of each chemical.
Possible future experiments may be performed with more controlled
measurements of each substance and multiple testing of each chemical, in order to
confirm the response and behavior of the Hydra littoralis.
The significance of this study was helpful in determining that Hydra littoralis
react differently to specific chemicals. The similarities between the specimen treated with
the brine shrimp and the specimen treated with a combination of water, glutathione, and
tyrosine give us the conclusion that both glutathione and tyrosine are most likely present
in brine shrimp, causing the Hydra littoralis to act as if it were swallowing food. As the
Hydra littoralis succeeded to behave and react differently to each chemical, the results of
this experiment are conclusive.



















Literature Cited

Rushforth, Norman B., and Florence Hofman. "Behavioral and Electrophysiological
Studies of Hydra. III. Components of Feeding Behavior." The Biological
Bulletin 142.1 (1972): 110-131.

Grosvenor, W., D. E. Rhoads, and G. Kass-Simon. "Chemoreceptive control of feeding
processes in hydra." Chemical Senses 21.3 (1996): 313-321.