Marine Biology

, Volume 156, Issue 11, pp 2331–2341 | Cite as

Derivation of the reduced life cycle of Thecoscyphus zibrowii Werner, 1984 (Cnidaria, Scyphozoa)

  • Ilka SötjeEmail author
  • Gerhard Jarms
Original Paper


The species Thecoscyphus zibrowii Werner, 1984 has an exceptional life cycle, which lacks a medusa stage but develops an extraordinary structure (egg sac) for reproduction. Investigation of the life cycle, as well as anatomical and histological studies of the different developmental stages of T. zibrowii were performed to provide evidence for a possible homology of the egg sac with the medusa stage and to determine whether the reduced metagenesis of T. zibrowii is derived from strobilation. The egg sac showed several characteristics, which were compared to those of coronate medusae. The ectodermis of the egg sac had a plate-like appearance and was completely ciliated as is typical for coronate medusae. The number and the location of the gonads were similar to those of coronate medusae. The cnidocysts were significantly larger in the egg sac than in the polyp. A size difference of cnidocysts in the medusa and the polyp stage is known for several Coronatae. Characteristics of egg sac formation were compared to characteristics of strobilation. The formation of the early operculum was similar in T. zibrowii and N. eumedusoides. The constriction of egg sac and strobila occurred in the same mode and the gastric cavities of two egg sacs stayed in contact in a similar fashion to the gastric cavities of the strobila discs. The developmental zones of cnidoblasts of the egg sac and polyp were separated during the formation of the egg sac which showed a similar developmental gradient to a strobila. The existence of all of these consistent characteristics makes it very likely that the egg sac structure was homologous to a medusa. The species T. zibrowii would therefore be derived from a metagenetic ancestor. This species has reduced the medusa generation to the greatest extent within the Nausithoidae and has demonstrated thus far the endpoint of a regressive evolution of the medusa generation.


Soft Body Gastric Cavity Developmental Gradient Tissue Bridge Polyp Stage 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



As part of a PhD thesis the Biocenter Grindel and Zoological Museum provided the financial support for the study. We are grateful to R. Walter for the technical assistance with the electron microscopy and thankful to B. D. Johnston for the English language revision.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biocenter Grindel and Zoological MuseumUniversity of HamburgHamburgGermany

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