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Int J Dev Biol. 1996 Feb;40(1):331-8.

Checkpoints in the life-cycle of Cassiopea spp.: control of metagenesis and metamorphosis in a tropical jellyfish.

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Ruhr-University Bochum, Department of Zoology, Germany.


Experimental data reveal that most, if not all, major events in the metagenetic life-cycle of Cassiopea spp. at these checkpoints depend on the interaction with specific biotic and physical cues. For medusa formation within a permissive temperature range by monodisk strobilation of the polyp, the presence of endosymbiotic dinoflagellates is indispensable. The priming effect of the algal symbionts is not primarily coupled with photosynthetic activity, but was found to be enhanced in the light. Budding of larva-like propagules by the polyp, however, is independent from such zooxanthellae. On the other hand the budding rate is influenced by various rearing conditions. Exogenous chemical cues control settlement and metamorphosis into scyphopolyps of both sexually produced planula larvae and asexual propagules. In laboratory experiments two classes of metamorphosis inducing compounds have been detected: a family of oligopeptides, featuring a proline-residue next to the carboxyterminal amino acid, and several phorbol esters. Using the peptide 14C-DNS-GPGGPA, induction of metamorphosis has been shown to be receptor-mediated. Furthermore, activation of protein kinase C, a key enzyme within the inositolphospholipid-signalling pathway appears to be involved in initiating metamorphosis. In mangrove habitats of Cassiopea spp. planula larvae specifically settle and metamorphose on submerged, deteriorating mangrove leaves from which biologically active fractions have been isolated. The chemical characterisation and comparison of these compounds from the natural environment with the properties and mode of action of oligopeptide inducers is in progress.

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