A modified view on octocorals: Heteroxenia fuscescens nematocysts are diverse, featuring both an ancestral and a novel type

Chen Yoffe, Tamar Lotan, Yehuda Benayhau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Cnidarians are characterized by the presence of stinging cells containing nematocysts, a sophisticated injection system targeted mainly at prey-capture and defense. In the anthozoan subclass Octocorallia nematocytes have been considered to exist only in low numbers, to be small, and all of the ancestral atrichous-isorhiza type. This study, in contrast, revealed numerous nematocytes in the octocoral Heteroxenia fuscescens. The study demonstrates the applicability of cresyl-violet dye for differential staining and stimulating discharge of the nematocysts. In addition to the atrichous isorhiza-type of nematocysts, a novel type of macrobasic-mastigophore nematocysts was found, featuring a shaft, uniquely comprised of three loops and densely packed arrow-like spines. In contrast to the view that octocorals possess a single type of nematocyst, Heteroxenia fuscescens features two distinct types, indicating for the first time the diversification and complexity of nematocysts for Octocorallia.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere31902
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume7
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 14 Feb 2012

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