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A metazoan Lineage ~700MY old Named after cindocytes stinging cells

Most common type - nematocyst Symmetry is radial or biradial

Body plan simple, sac-like

Aquatic - mostly marine, some freshwater species Show tissue level of organization


present cavity

No head Has oral & aboral ends Polyp (sessile) & medusa (free-swimming) body types



single opening (mouth/anus) surrounded by tentacles H2O within serves as hydrostatic skeleton

Stinging cell organelles, cnidae, prevalent on tentacles, epidermis, &/or gastrodermis Nematocysts most abundant type Nerve net present, some sensory organs Statocysts balance organs Ocelli simple light sensors Muscle fibers present Reproduction Asexual: budding (polyp) Sexual: planula larvae (medusa, some polyp forms) Individuals may be monoecious or dioecious No excretory or respiratory systems; diffusion suffices

Mouth & anus are the same opening

Oral End

Aboral End

Oral End

Pedal Disc Aboral End

Digestion extracellular in gastrovascular cavity; smaller particles ingested intracellularly



source for mollusks & fish

Some ctenophores, mollusks, & flatworms will eat hydroids w/ nematocysts


Coral reefs home to fish, arthropods Hydroids attach to underwater structures


on mollusk shells Aquatic organisms provide food source for cnidarians Rarely provide food for human consumption

Polyp: hydroid form; Medusa: umbrella sessile; aboral end shaped; free-swimming attached to substrate by pedal disc Body tubular; mouth upward ringed by tentacles Asexual reproduction: budding, fission, pedal laceration Sexual reproduction occurs too Body sac-like; mouth downward; tentacles ring umbrella Reproduction sexual &/or asexual Medusa usually dioecious

Sea anemones & corals Includes Scyphozoans are polyps no medusa & Cubozoans stage Locomotion: Hydras move freely, polyps sessile, sea anemones move on basal disc Locomotion: medusa move freely about, at mercy of waves


mostly voracious carnivores, but predatory capabilities hampered by body plan. Polyps rely on stinging cells to capture/paralyze any organism the tide brings by Medusa rely on stinging cells to do same even though they are free-swimming
(realize inability to totally control where they swim)

Stinging cells triggered by mechanical or chemical stimuli



generates osmotic pressure up to 140 atm that causes the ejection to occur Hydrostatic pressure increases as osmotic pressure decreases Due to high osmotic pressure, stimulus causes H2O to rush in opening operculum



hydrostatic pressure launches the thread within 3 milliseconds with an acceleration power of 40,000 g and a penetration force of 20-33 kPa; barbs point rear & anchor in victims tissue; poison injected Nematocysts are capable of penetrating up to a depth of 0.9 mm Lost nematocyst must be replaced


While the amount of toxin expressed by a single nematocyst is minute, several thousand nematocysts discharging at once have a significant effect. Functionally, the toxin causes Na+ and Ca++ ion transport abnormalities, disrupts cellular membranes, releases inflammatory mediators, and acts as a direct toxin on the myocardium, nervous tissue, hepatic tissue, and kidneys.



the toxin may contain catecholamines, vasoactive amines (eg, histamine, serotonin), kinins, collagenases, hyaluronidases, proteases, phospholipases, fibrinolysins, dermatoneurotoxins, cardiotoxins, neurotoxins, nephrotoxins, myotoxins, and antigenic proteins. The protein component of the toxin tends to be heat labile, nondialyzable, and is degradable by proteolytic agents.


United States Jellyfish stings occur most commonly during the summer along coastal regions. As the coastal population grows and more tourists come to the beaches, the frequency of jellyfish sting is likely to increase. One investigator reported 500,000 annual envenomations in the Chesapeake Bay area and 200,000 annually along the Florida coast. International Jellyfish stings occur in tropical oceans, especially between latitudes 30 south to 45 north, because of a high natural concentration of cnidarians. This is especially true of the east coast of Australia during the warm summer months between November and May. (Dont forget, theyre in the southern hemisphere, so their summer is during our winter)


Jellyfish stings usually are mild, except those caused by species in the South Pacific, such as the box jellyfish or Portuguese man-of-war. Exact mortality and morbidity is not known because of underreporting and the lack of an international jellyfish sting registry. However, a recent epidemiology study of 118 cases of jellyfish stings from the Texas gulf coast showed 0.8% had no effect, 80.5% had minor effects, and 18.6% had moderate effects.


Box jellyfish venom has a median lethal dose of

40 mcg/kg, which makes it the most potent marine toxin. The venom may kill a person

weighing 70 kg within 3 minutes and is

responsible for a mortality rate of 20%.

Box jellyfish venom has caused 72 deaths secondary to respiratory paralysis, neuromuscular paralysis drowning, and cardiovascular collapse.


pain and spasms spread centrally as the

venom travels to the central circulatory system, inducing parasympathetic overstimulation and respiratory-cardiac arrest.

fatalities occur within 20 minutes of the

envenomation; according to animal studies,

approximately 5-10 mcg/kg of venom is

required to induce cardiac arrest.


sting of the Portuguese man-of-war is more painful than a common jellyfish sting. It has been described as feeling like being struck by a lightning bolt, and some victims dread it more than a shark bite. This sting has been responsible for 2 reported deaths.


The Arctic jellyfish is the largest, with tentacles

reaching 200 ft, allowing the jellyfish to sweep an area slightly larger than a basketball court.



2 nerve nets at base of epidermis and gastrodermis which connect Nerve impulses carried by neurotransmitters via snapses

Transmission can go either direction Lack myelin sheath around axons


brain, no centralized nervous system Sense organs simple

Statocysts & Ocelli


The statocyst is a balance organ present in some aquatic invertebrates (Cnidarians,Ctenophores, Bilaterians). It consists of a sac-like structure containing a mineralized mass (statolith) and numerous innervated sensory hairs (setae). The statolith possesses inertia, causing the mass to move when accelerated. Deflection of setae by the statolith in response to gravity activates neurons, providing feedback to the animal on change in orientation and allowing balance to be maintained. Because organism has no brain, they are limited in their actions and responses to stimuli. The statocyst is therefore useful for telling the animal whether it is upside down or not.


The phylum Cnidaria includes the first multicellular animals to form eyes; this group exhibits a diversity of eye designs ranging from a simple photosensitive sheet of cells to the complex image forming eyes of cubozoan jellyfish. Because of their basal position on the phylogenetic

tree, cnidarians provide an excellent system in which

to study the evolution of the first multicellular animal eyes and the evolution of photosensory mechanisms.

The camera-type eyes of cubozoans represent the

most highly evolved eyes in the Cnidaria.

Further they contain the visual pigments involved in phototransduction: rhodopsin and opsins.

These eyes resemble the proposed ancestral prototype eye.




Marine & freshwater, colonial, polyp & medusa forms


Scyphozoa Cubozoa

Marine, most medusa forms Marine, medusa form prominent, no known polyp forms, toxin lethal to humans




Marine, polyps only, no medusa form



& Obelia are good examples of this class Hydra:

Freshwater species, 16 in N. America Solitary polyps (typical form) Eat larvae, worms, crustaceans Asexual rep budding; Sexual Rep prod of sperm/ova Overwinter as cysts



has base, stalk, & terminal polyps (zooids)

Gastrozooids (feeding) Gonophores (reproduction) Dactylozooids (defense, tentacles)


crustaceans, worms, larvae Buds remain attached, incr colony size

Medusa produced by asex. Budding, released


dioecious, reprod sexually

Planula larva attach, forming new colony





jellyfish belong here Medusa body form Marine, free-swimming (mostly), open sea Aurelia example of scyphozoan Dioecious, fertilization internal, planula zygote Zygote develops, forms buds (asexually) which produce new medusa


prominent eyes



dom body form

form unknown


swimmers, good



Pedalium: flat blade at base of each tentacle

(see arrow)



anemones & coral found in this class;

another is sea pens

Medusa All

body form not seen

are marine, shallow water dwellers



large, heavy

Attach to substrate via pedal discs, may burrow in sand/mud/silt Tentacles ring the oral opening; mouth/anus slit shaped


Sexual or asexual

Monoecious & dioecious individuals

Gonads internal; fertilization external Zygote becomes a ciliated larva

Budding, pedal laceration, & fission may produce new individual asexually

Bonaire Giant Anemone

Note fluorescence

Commensal relationships between fish & anemone Clown fish Pink Anemone Fish

Saddleback Clownfish

Brain Coral

Two types of corals:

Zoantharian corals true or stony corals Octocorallian corals soft corals, colonial

Both form coral reefs

structures produced by living organisms. In most reefs the predominant organisms are colonial cnidarians that secrete an exoskeleton of calcium carbonate. The accumulation of this skeletal material, broken and piled up by wave action and bioeroders, produces massive calcareous formations that make ideal habitats for living corals and a great variety of other animal and plant life.


reefs are estimated to cover 284,300 km2, with the Indo-Pacific region (including the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia and the Pacific) accounting for 91.9% of the total. Southeast Asia accounts for 32.3% of that figure, while the Pacific including Australia accounts for 40.8%. Atlantic and Carribean coral reefs only account for 7.6% of the world total.

The Great Barrier Reef - largest coral reef system in the world, Queensland, Australia; The Belize Barrier Reef - second largest in the world, stretching from southern Quintana Roo, Mexico and all along the coast of Belize down to the Bay Islands of Honduras. The New Caledonia Barrier Reef - second longest double barrier reef in the world, with a length of about 1500km. The Andros, Bahamas Barrier Reef - third largest in the world, following along the east coast of Andros Island, Bahamas between Andros and Nassau. The Red Sea Coral Reef - located off the coast of Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Pulley Ridge - deepest photosynthetic coral reef, Florida


The coral polyps do not photosynthesize, but have a symbiotic relationship with single-celled algae called zooanthellae these algal cells within the tissues of the coral polyps carry out photosynthesis and produce excess organic nutrients that are then used by the coral polyps. Because of this relationship, coral reefs grow much faster in clear water, which admits more sunlight. Indeed, the relationship is responsible for coral reefs in the sense that without their symbionts, coral growth would be too slow for the corals to form impressive reef structures. Corals can get up to 90% of their nutrients from their zooxanthellae symbionts. 40

Elkhorn Coral

Star Coral
Fluorescent Coral


Coral reefs support an extraordinary biodiversity; although they are located in nutrient-poor tropical waters. The process of nutrient cycling between corals, zooanthellae, and other reef organisms provides an explanation for why coral reefs flourish in these waters: recycling ensures that fewer nutrients are needed overall to support the community. Cyanobacteria also provide soluble nitrates for the coral reef through the process of nitrogen oxigen. Corals absorb nutrients, including inorganic nitrogen and phosporus, directly from the water, and they feed upon zooplankton that are carried past the polyps by water motion. 42


primary productivity on a coral reef

is very high, which results in the highest biomass per square meter, at 5-10g C m-2 day-1.

in coral reef communities

include the symbiotic zooxanthellae, sponges, marine worms, seaweed, coralline algae(especially small types called turf algae.

Red Stalk Jellyfish

Portuguese Man-o-War

This scyphozoan is unusual; it is attached not free floating


Velella & Man-o-war are only scyphozoans with floats

Note: Large float in this species


Orange Sea Pen


Sea Fan

Arctic Jellyfish


Jellyfish washed ashore



prefer warmer H2O About 100 species known

Size range: few mm to 1.5m

contains 8 rows of fused cilia plates for locomotion Some bioluminescent Have 2 tentacles; only 1 species known to have nematocysts



plates extend from aboral to oral end

Fused cilia along plate which beat from aboral to oral ends All plates beat in unison, moving food toward mouth


tentacles; long & retractable

Surface bearing colloblasts which are sticky



central nervous system Statocysts present for balance Sensory cells in epidermis Individuals are monoecious Fertilization external Some brood eggs Larva free swimming



Benthic Ctenophoran

Tortugas Red Comb Jelly