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Morphology of the nematocysts of the medusae of two scyphozoans, Catostylus mosaicus and Phyllorhiza punctata (Rhizostomeae): implications for capture of prey

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We examined the cnidomes (total complement of nematocysts) of medusae of the zooxanthellate and azooxanthellate jellyfishes Phyllorhiza punctata and Catostylus mosaicus (Rhizostomeae, Scyphozoa), and compared the assemblage of zooplankton captured on the oral arms of each species to determine whether differences in the types or amount of zooplankton captured were consistent with possible differences in the cnidomes. Cnidomes were described using light and scanning electron microscopy. Each species had a distinct cnidome and, in general, specimens of P. punctata appeared to have far fewer nematocysts than those of C. mosaicus. Four types of nematocysts were identified in medusae of C. mosaicus; 2 types of holotrichous isorhizae, rhopaloids, and birhopaloids. In C. mosaicus, the oral arms and bell margins possessed all of these types, but the cnidomes of the 2 regions differed in relative abundances and sizes of isorhizae and rhopaloids. Five types of nematocysts were identified in medusae of P. punctata, although not all types were found in all specimens. Round holotrichous isorhizae were found only in the bell, while oval holotrichous isorhizae, rhopaloids of 2 distinct size ranges, and birhopaloids were found in the bell and oral arms. Cnidomes of the bell and oral arms in specimens of P. punctata also differed in the relative abundance and sizes of oval isorhizae and rhopaloids. Although there were clear differences in the overall cnidomes and absolute abundances of nematocysts in each species, the oral arms (feeding appendages) of specimens of both C. mosaicus and P. punctata had similar types and relative abundances of nematocysts. Zooplankton sampled from the oral arms of each species showed that both species preyed predominantly on copepod nauplii and larvae of gastropods and bivalves. Medusae of C. mosaicus captured ∼10 × more gastropod larvae and 5 × more bivalve larvae than those of P. punctata. Specimens of P. punctata captured approximately twice as many copepod nauplii as those of C. mosaicus. Differences in the relative abundance of types of zooplankton captured by each species could not be adequately explained by differences in the cnidomes of the oral arms.
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Keywords: cnidae; cnidome; jellyfish; nematocysts; predation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Technology, Sydney, NSW 2007, Australia 2: Centre for Aquatic Processes and Pollution, and School of Environmental and Applied Sciences, Griffith University, QLD 9726, Australia

Publication date: 01 June 2005

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