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Concept: Polyp


BACKGROUND: Cnidaria (corals, sea anemones, hydroids, jellyfish) is a phylum of relatively simple aquatic animals characterized by the presence of the cnidocyst: a cell containing a giant capsular organelle with an eversible tubule (cnida). Species within Cnidaria have life cycles that involve one or both of the two distinct body forms, a typically benthic polyp, which may or may not be colonial, and a typically pelagic mostly solitary medusa. The currently accepted taxonomic scheme subdivides Cnidaria into two main assemblages: Anthozoa (Hexacorallia + Octocorallia) – cnidarians with a reproductive polyp and the absence of a medusa stage – and Medusozoa (Cubozoa, Hydrozoa, Scyphozoa, Staurozoa) – cnidarians that usually possess a reproductive medusa stage. Hypothesized relationships among these taxa greatly impact interpretations of cnidarian character evolution. RESULTS: We expanded the sampling of cnidarian mitochondrial genomes, particularly from Medusozoa, to reevaluate phylogenetic relationships within Cnidaria. Our phylogenetic analyses based on a mitochogenomic dataset support many prior hypotheses, including monophyly of Hexacorallia, Octocorallia, Medusozoa, Cubozoa, Staurozoa, Hydrozoa, Carybdeida, Chirodropida, and Hydroidolina, but reject the monophyly of Anthozoa, indicating that the Octocorallia + Medusozoa relationship is not the result of sampling bias, as proposed earlier. Further, our analyses contradict Scyphozoa [Discomedusae + Coronatae], Acraspeda [Cubozoa + Scyphozoa], as well as the hypothesis that Staurozoa is the sister group to all the other medusozoans. CONCLUSIONS: Cnidarian mitochondrial genomic data contain phylogenetic signal informative for understanding the evolutionary history of this phylum. Mitogenome-based phylogenies, which reject the monophyly of Anthozoa, provide further evidence for the polyp-first hypothesis. By rejecting the traditional Acraspeda and Scyphozoa hypotheses, these analyses suggest that the shared morphological characters in these groups are plesiomorphies, originated in the branch leading to Medusozoa. The expansion of mitogenomic data along with improvements in phylogenetic inference methods and use of additional nuclear markers will further enhance our understanding of the phylogenetic relationships and character evolution within Cnidaria.

Concepts: Coral, Cnidaria, Jellyfish, Anthozoa, Polyp, Hydrozoa, Sea anemone, Medusa


The early life stages of the cubomedusa Alatina cf. moseri from Osprey Reef (North Queensland, Australia) and Waikiki (Oahu, Hawaii) were studied using laboratory-based culturing conditions. Spawning populations from both regions were observed with reliable periodicity allowing polyp cultures from these locations to be collected and established under laboratory conditions. The polyps of this species were successfully reared from spawning adults. Polyps of Alatina cf. moseri were cultured at temperatures of 23-28°C, developed up to 19 tentacles and reached up to 1.70 mm in height. The balloon-shaped hypostomes possessed 4 well-defined lips. The polyps increased their numbers by means of formation of either sedentary polyp buds or creeping-polyp buds, which attached after 2-3 days. Metamorphosis occurred at temperatures of 25-28°C. Development of polyps and medusae were achieved for the first time within the genus Alatina and allowed comparisons of early life history between these and other species of the Carybdeida families. The metamorphosis and young medusa of this genus showed characters that differed distinctly from those noted for other Carybdeida species, but are very similar to the one described from Puerto Rico by Arneson and Cutress in 1976 for Alatina sp. (named by them Carybdea alata). Based on this evidence, the discrepancies in original specimen descriptions and the previous genetic comparisons, we support the suggestion that the two previously described species of Alatina from Australia and Hawaii (Alatina mordens and Alatina moseri) appear to represent artificial taxonomic units and may in fact be the same as the original Carybdea alata species named from Puerto Rico. Further taxonomic studies are desperately needed in order to clarify the various species and description discrepancies that exist within this newly proposed genus.

Concepts: Biology, Cnidaria, Jellyfish, Polyp, Hydrozoa, Box jellyfish, Medusa, Cubozoa


Detection of polypoid lesions of the gallbladder is increasing in conjunction with better imaging modalities. Accepted management of these lesions depends on their size and symptomatology. Polyps that are symptomatic and/or greater than 10 mm are generally removed, while smaller, asymptomatic polyps simply monitored. Here, a case of carcinoma-in-situ is presented in a 7 mm gallbladder polyp. A 25-year-old woman, who had undergone a routine cholecystectomy, was found to have an incidental 7 mm polyp containing carcinoma in situ. She had few to no risk factors to alert to her condition. There are few reported cases of cancer transformation in gallbladder polyps smaller than 10 mm reported in the literature. The overwhelming consensus, barring significant risk factors for cancer being present, is that such lesions should be monitored until they become symptomatic or develop signs suspicious for malignancy. In our patient’s case this could have led to the possibility of missing a neoplastic lesion, which could then have gone on to develop invasive cancer. As gallbladder carcinoma is an aggressive cancer, this may have led to a tragic outcome.

Concepts: Cancer, Carcinoma in situ, Anatomical pathology, Neoplasm, Carcinoma, Squamous cell carcinoma, Polyp, Gallbladder polyp


Gallbladder polyps (GBP) are a common clinical finding that can express malignant potential. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether vegetarianism protects against GBP, together with other putative risk factors.

Concepts: Epidemiology, Cancer, Medical statistics, Gallbladder, Polyp, Vegetarianism, Gallbladder polyp


Green Fluorescent Proteins (GFPs) have been reported from a wide diversity of medusae, but only a few observations of green fluorescence have been reported for hydroid colonies. In this study, we report on fluorescence displayed by hydroid polyps of the genus Cytaeis Eschscholtz, 1829 (Hydrozoa: Anthoathecata: Filifera) found at night time in the southern Red Sea (Saudi Arabia) living on shells of the gastropod Nassarius margaritifer (Dunker, 1847) (Neogastropoda: Buccinoidea: Nassariidae). We examined the fluorescence of these polyps and compare with previously reported data. Intensive green fluorescence with a spectral peak at 518 nm was detected in the hypostome of the Cytaeis polyps, unlike in previous reports that reported fluorescence either in the basal parts of polyps or in other locations on hydroid colonies. These results suggest that fluorescence may be widespread not only in medusae, but also in polyps, and also suggests that the patterns of fluorescence localization can vary in closely related species. The fluorescence of polyps may be potentially useful for field identification of cryptic species and study of geographical distributions of such hydroids and their hosts.

Concepts: Saudi Arabia, Cnidaria, Jellyfish, Polyp, Hydrozoa, Yemen, Red Sea, Jeddah


Little is known about venom in young developmental stages of animals. The appearance of toxins and stinging cells during early embryonic stages in the sea anemone Nematostellavectensis suggests that venom is already expressed in eggs and larvae of this species. Here we harness transcriptomic, biochemical and transgenic tools to study venom production dynamics in Nematostella. We find that venom composition and arsenal of toxin-producing cells change dramatically between developmental stages of this species. These findings can be explained by the vastly different interspecific interactions of each life stage, as individuals develop from a miniature non-feeding mobile planula to a larger sessile polyp that predates on other animals and interact differently with predators. Indeed, behavioral assays involving prey, predators and Nematostella are consistent with this hypothesis. Further, the results of this work suggest a much wider and dynamic venom landscape than initially appreciated in animals with a complex life cycle.

Concepts: Predation, Animal, Symbiosis, Coral, Cnidaria, Polyp, Sea anemone, Biological interaction


To assess the potential impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on offshore ecosystems, 11 sites hosting deep-water coral communities were examined 3 to 4 mo after the well was capped. Healthy coral communities were observed at all sites >20 km from the Macondo well, including seven sites previously visited in September 2009, where the corals and communities appeared unchanged. However, at one site 11 km southwest of the Macondo well, coral colonies presented widespread signs of stress, including varying degrees of tissue loss, sclerite enlargement, excess mucous production, bleached commensal ophiuroids, and covering by brown flocculent material (floc). On the basis of these criteria the level of impact to individual colonies was ranked from 0 (least impact) to 4 (greatest impact). Of the 43 corals imaged at that site, 46% exhibited evidence of impact on more than half of the colony, whereas nearly a quarter of all of the corals showed impact to >90% of the colony. Additionally, 53% of these corals' ophiuroid associates displayed abnormal color and/or attachment posture. Analysis of hopanoid petroleum biomarkers isolated from the floc provides strong evidence that this material contained oil from the Macondo well. The presence of recently damaged and deceased corals beneath the path of a previously documented plume emanating from the Macondo well provides compelling evidence that the oil impacted deep-water ecosystems. Our findings underscore the unprecedented nature of the spill in terms of its magnitude, release at depth, and impact to deep-water ecosystems.

Concepts: Petroleum, Symbiosis, Coral, Coral reef, Gulf of Mexico, Polyp, Exxon Valdez oil spill, Oil spill


Low adenoma detection rates (ADR) are linked to increased postcolonoscopy colorectal cancer rates and reduced cancer survival. Devices to enhance mucosal visualisation such as Endocuff Vision (EV) may improve ADR. This multicentre randomised controlled trial compared ADR between EV-assisted colonoscopy (EAC) and standard colonoscopy (SC).

Concepts: Epidemiology, Improve, Randomized controlled trial, Colorectal cancer, Ulcerative colitis, Colorectal polyp, Sigmoidoscopy, Polyp


Coloniality, as displayed by most hydrozoans, is thought to confer a size advantage in substrate-limited benthic marine environments and affects nearly every aspect of a species' ecology and evolution. Hydrozoan colonies normally develop through asexual budding of polyps that remain interconnected by continuous epithelia. The clade Aplanulata is unique in that it comprises mostly solitary species, including the model organism Hydra, with only a few colonial species. We reconstruct a multigene phylogeny to trace the evolution of coloniality in Aplanulata, revealing that the ancestor of Aplanulata was solitary and that coloniality was regained in the genus Ectopleura. Examination of Ectopleura larynx development reveals a unique type of colony formation never before described in Hydrozoa, in that colonies form through sexual reproduction followed by epithelial fusion of offspring polyps to adults. We characterize the expression of manacle, a gene involved in foot development in Hydra, to determine polyp-colony boundaries. Our results suggest that stalks beneath the neck do not have polyp identity and instead are specialized structures that interconnect polyps. Epithelial fusion, brooding behavior, and the presence of a skeleton were all key factors behind the evolution of this novel pathway to coloniality in Ectopleura.

Concepts: Reproduction, Biology, Organism, Asexual reproduction, Cnidaria, Polyp, Hydra, Hydrozoa


The genus Aurelia is one of the major contributors to jellyfish blooms in coastal waters, possibly due in part to hydroclimatic and anthropogenic causes, as well as their highly adaptive reproductive traits. Despite the wide plasticity of cnidarian life cycles, especially those recognized in certain Hydroza species, the known modifications of Aurelia life history were mostly restricted to its polyp stage. In this study, we document the formation of polyps directly from the ectoderm of degenerating juvenile medusae, cell masses from medusa tissue fragments, and subumbrella of living medusae. This is the first evidence for back-transformation of sexually mature medusae into polyps in Aurelia sp.1. The resulting reconstruction of the schematic life cycle of Aurelia reveals the underestimated potential of life cycle reversal in scyphozoan medusae, with possible implications for biological and ecological studies.

Concepts: Cnidaria, Jellyfish, Scyphozoa, Polyp, Hydrozoa, Sea anemone, Medusa, Portuguese Man o' War