Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Skin lights up when touched: swimming sea cucumber
 

The expendable skin of swimming sea cucumbers produces bioluminescence after mechanical stimulation using granular bodies.

         
  "Enypniastes eximia (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea) is a  prominent member of the benthic boundary layer community in deep  Caribbean waters. Like most holothurians it feeds on benthic sediments.  Feeding is episodic and after collecting food on the bottom it returns  to the water column at altitudes within about 50 m of the sea floor.  Direct observations from submersibles and laboratory studies of living  specimens have shown how bioluminescence is produced. Light production  in E. eximia is triggered mechanically, and is produced by  hundreds of granular bodies within the gelatinous integument of the  animal. Local stimulation yields a localized response which gradually  spreads to the entire surface of the animal. Broad impact yields a  whole-body luminescent response. The integument of E. eximia is  quite fragile, and strong physical contact readily causes the skin to  be sloughed off in a glowing cloud. The degree of luminous response is a  function of the severity of contact. In the laboratory the skin of E.  eximia, along with its luminescent capability, regenerated  rapidly. The anti-predatory role of bioluminescence in this species is  apparently a 'burglar alarm' strategy. In the dark, near-bottom habitat,  physical contact by a predator elicits light production which reveals  the presence of the attacker to its own visually-cued predators." (Robison 1992:463)

  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records: 288
Specimens with Sequences: 168
Specimens with Barcodes: 161
Species: 39
Species With Barcodes: 34
Public Records: 32
Public Species: 5
Public BINs: 10
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Barcode data

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