Turritopsis nutricula (Immortal jellyfish) - Essay Example

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Phylogeny or the evolutionary relationships of Turritopsis nutricula is a subject that requires further research (Schuchert 315-369). The basic scientific classification is as follows: Kingdom – Animalia
Phylum – Cnidaria
Class – Hydrozoa
Order – Hydroida…
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Turritopsis nutricula (Immortal jellyfish)
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Turritopsis nutricula (Immortal jellyfish) Phylogeny or the evolutionary relationships of Turritopsis nutricula is a that requires further research (Schuchert 315-369). The basic scientific classification is as follows: Kingdom – Animalia Phylum – Cnidaria Class – Hydrozoa Order – Hydroida Family – Clavidae Genus – Turritopsis Species – T. nutricula Turritopsis nutricula belongs to the family of Clavidae and is a hydrozoa. The size of a sexually mature jellyfish is about 4.5 to 5 mm in diameter. They move and eat using their tentacles. Younger Turritopsis nutricula have about 8-24 tentacles and the mature adults may have as much as 90 tentacles. When these are free floating they have a bell shaped transparent body with a distinctive red color stomach. Habitat Though today Turritopsis can be found world wide, it is supposed to have instigated in the Caribbean. More specifically Turritopsis are established in the ocean floors of temperate to tropical regions (Miglietta et al. 11-19). In fact due to the human interference, such as boating activity, these jelly fishes are easily transported and are of common occurrence in most of the ocean floors. Turritopsis nutricula (The Immortal Jellyfish) The biological immortality of Turritopsis nutricula, has incurred attention from the world wide scientific communities as it is probably the only species with an extraordinary quality of immortality. According to scientific studies the sexual and asexual reproduction continues as long as its nerve center remains intact. In general, other species of jellyfish die soon after reproducing where as Turritopsis does not die. It is competent enough to return to a polyp stage after producing offsprings. In this way the Turritopsis escape the natural death. Transdifferentiation The process involved in the immortality of Turritopsis nutricula is called transdifferentiation. This is a very rare process and even if it happens, it is only in specific organs of an organism. An example of transdifferentiation of organ is the eye of the salamander. Today, transdifferentiation is also studied in stem cells. Nevertheless, the immortal jellyfish has integrated this process of transdifferentiation into its lifecycle (Figure 1). At the end of the lifecycle, the immortal jellyfish becomes a young polyp, ready to restart life (Ma and Yang 15-20). The sexual reproduction is common as in other species of jellyfish. The sperms are released into the water, it fertilizes the eggs from the female jellyfish. Later during the embryonic stage, they are either settled onto the mouth or the oral arms of the female. Thereafter, these embryonic forms are released into the ocean where they and are allowed to swim freely and are called planulae. After swimming for a few days they settle down to the bottom of the ocean and attach themselves to a hard surface such as a rock. The medusa of the jellyfish is changed into the polyps of a new polyp colony. Foremost, the umbrella reverts itself and then the tentacles and mesoglea get resorbed. Later the reverted medusa attaches itself to the hard substrate and starts giving rise to new polyps that are identical to each other and form the new colony. The polyps are stationary and their main sources of food are the microscopic plankton and zooplankton that provide the energy to grow and multiply identical polyps. The nourishment from the microscopic diet is uniformly distributed with minute feeding tubes to all the polyps in a colony. It is possible that the polyps may continue this stage for several years until the conditions are suitable. When the situation is right, this colony of polyp begins to grow horizontal grooves. The groove at the top is quick enough to mature and will free itself and become a free swimming jellyfish (Ma and Yang 15-20). While most jellyfishes die after their sexual maturity, Turritopsis nutricula get altered back into a polyp and restart the process of asexual reproduction. This cycle goes on and on and there is almost no death in their life unless they are eaten by other animals. In this way the Turritopsis nutricula remain immortal for years and years. Work Cited Ma, Hongbao and Yang, Y. “Turritopsis nutricula”. Nature and Science. 2010;8(2) :15-20. Miglietta, M. P., S. Piraino, S. Kubota, P. Schuchert. "Species in the genus Turritopsis (Cnidaria, Hydrozoa): a molecular evaluation". Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 45 (1) 2006: 11–19. Schuchert, P. “Reveision of the European athecate hydroids and their medusae (Hydrozoa, Cnidaria): Families Oceanidae and Pachycordylidae”. Revue Suisse de Zoologie, 111 (2) 2004:315-369. Read More
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