A sea anemone's environment affects discharge of its isolated nematocysts

  • Greenwood P
  • Balboni I
  • Lohmann C
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Nematocysts were isolated from individuals of Calliactis tricolor maintained under different feeding schedules or in different salinities in an attempt to determine how these culture conditions influence the discharge of isolated nematocysts. In addition, the discharge frequencies of nematocysts isolated from two different populations of sea anemones found in two different environments were also compared. Undischarged acontial nematocysts were isolated by extrusion into 1 M sodium citrate and were then treated with 5 mM EGTA to initiate discharge. Nematocysts isolated from anemones maintained under three different feeding schedules showed significantly different responses to the test solution. Nematocysts isolated from anemones maintained in two different salinities did not differ significantly in discharge frequency. Nematocysts isolated from individuals from two separate populations of C. tricolor responded significantly differently to 5 mM EGTA and to deionized water, and these responses also depended upon the isolation solution used. Environmental conditions are known to have an impact on the physiological state of most organisms, but this is the first study providing evidence that the environment or feeding state of an anemone affects discharge of isolated nematocysts. Inherent differences in ionic and osmotic characteristics among nematocysts could explain some of the ambiguities when comparing past studies of isolated nematocyst discharge. © 2002 Elsevier Science Inc. All rights reserved.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Acontia
  • Cnidaria
  • Discharge
  • Environment
  • Feeding
  • Nematocyst
  • Salinity
  • Sea anemone

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  • Paul G. Greenwood

  • Imelda M. Balboni

  • Cynthia Lohmann

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