10.4: Reading: Cnidarians - Biology

10.4: Reading: Cnidarians - Biology

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This laboratory exercise covers the following animals. You should learn this classification scheme and be able to classify the animals into these categories.

  • Phylum: Cnidaria
    • Class: Hydrozoa (Hydra and relatives)
    • Class: Anthozoa (Sea Anemones and Corals)
    • Class: Scyphozoa (Jellyfishes)

Some examples of Cnidarians are hydra, jellyfishes, corals, sea anemones, and Portuguese man-of-wars.


Radial Symmetry

The body parts of a radially symmetrical animal are arranged around a central axis so that each part extends from the center. The animal can be cut along the axis in more than one plane to produce identical halves. Animals that exhibit radial symmetry tend to be sessile (immobile). Radial symmetry allows them to reach out in all directions.

Cnidarians have two tissue layers. The outer layer is the epidermis. It is formed from ectoderm. The inner layer, the gastrodermis, secretes digestive juices into the inner space called the gastrovascular cavity. The gastrodermis is formed from endoderm.

Cnidarians do not have mesoderm and therefore do not have organs.

A nonliving gelatinous material called mesoglea separates the two tissue layers. A nerve net is located between the epidermis and mesoglea. The body contains long structures called tentacles that can be moved to capture prey. The tentacles contain stinging cells called cnidocytes and within each one is a capsule called a nematocyst, which discharges to either trap or sting the prey. Contractile (muscle-like) fibers are found in both the epidermis and the gastrodermis. Their movements are not complex because they do not have a brain.

Cnidarians have a hydrostatic skeleton. The contractile fibers act against the fluid-filled gastrovascular cavity. The movements are like a balloon; the animal can be short and thick or long and thin. Cnidarians have a saclike gut and extracellular digestion.

Two body forms are found among the Cnidarians, a polyp and a medusa. A polyp is attached and has the tentacles and mouth directed upward. A medusa is free-floating and has the mouth and tentacles on the ventral surface. It resembles an upside-down polyp. Some species have both a polyp and a medusa in their life cycle, others have one or the other form dominant.


Other Hydrozoans

Examine preserved specimens of Gonionemius, Polyorchis, and Physalia.

Sea Anemones and Coral (Class Anthozoa)

Examine a sea anemone and coral.

Jellyfish (Class Schyphozoa)

Examine preserved jellyfish on display.

10.4: Reading: Cnidarians - Biology

DNA replication is a highly accurate process, but mistakes can occasionally occur, such as a DNA polymerase inserting a wrong base. Uncorrected mistakes may sometimes lead to serious consequences, such as cancer. Repair mechanisms correct the mistakes. In rare cases, mistakes are not corrected, leading to mutations in other cases, repair enzymes are themselves mutated or defective.

Most of the mistakes during DNA replication are promptly corrected by DNA polymerase by proofreading the base that has just been added (Figure 1). In proofreading, the DNA pol reads the newly added base before adding the next one, so a correction can be made. The polymerase checks whether the newly added base has paired correctly with the base in the template strand. If it is the right base, the next nucleotide is added. If an incorrect base has been added, the enzyme makes a cut at the phosphodiester bond and releases the wrong nucleotide. This is performed by the exonuclease action of DNA pol III. Once the incorrect nucleotide has been removed, a new one will be added again.

Figure 1. Proofreading by DNA polymerase corrects errors during replication.

Some errors are not corrected during replication, but are instead corrected after replication is completed this type of repair is known as mismatch repair (Figure 2). The enzymes recognize the incorrectly added nucleotide and excise it this is then replaced by the correct base. If this remains uncorrected, it may lead to more permanent damage. How do mismatch repair enzymes recognize which of the two bases is the incorrect one? In E. coli, after replication, the nitrogenous base adenine acquires a methyl group the parental DNA strand will have methyl groups, whereas the newly synthesized strand lacks them. Thus, DNA polymerase is able to remove the wrongly incorporated bases from the newly synthesized, non-methylated strand. In eukaryotes, the mechanism is not very well understood, but it is believed to involve recognition of unsealed nicks in the new strand, as well as a short-term continuing association of some of the replication proteins with the new daughter strand after replication has completed.

Figure 2. In mismatch repair, the incorrectly added base is detected after replication. The mismatch repair proteins detect this base and remove it from the newly synthesized strand by nuclease action. The gap is now filled with the correctly paired base.

In another type of repair mechanism, nucleotide excision repair, enzymes replace incorrect bases by making a cut on both the 3′ and 5′ ends of the incorrect base (Figure 3).

Figure 3. Nucleotide excision repairs thymine dimers. When exposed to UV, thymines lying adjacent to each other can form thymine dimers. In normal cells, they are excised and replaced.

The segment of DNA is removed and replaced with the correctly paired nucleotides by the action of DNA pol. Once the bases are filled in, the remaining gap is sealed with a phosphodiester linkage catalyzed by DNA ligase. This repair mechanism is often employed when UV exposure causes the formation of pyrimidine dimers.

Watch the video: Phylum Coelenterates or Cnidaria (January 2023).