Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

 This sea cucumber has a cylindrical body of up to 25 cm and has a flattened ventral side, which bears numerous tube feet in three or four longitudinal rows. It has raised conical papillae on its dorsal surface, with about 20 stumpy, branched tentacles around its mouth. The dorsal surface is dark brown or black and the underside is usually paler, often yellow. It derives its common name from the habit of discharging a mass of sticky white threads (the Cuvarian organs or cotton glands) when roughly handled, the threads being designed to entangle and disorientate potential predators.
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Description

A common large epifaunal sea cucumber. Colour is variable, usually black but sometimes with yellow mottling especially on the underside. The dorsal papillae may be white-tipped. The animal will readily eject white threads, the cuvierian organs, from the rear end if molested, hence the common name "Cotton-Spinner". The spicules are very small and rare in the body wall. To 30cm length. Several other species of Holothuria are known from the French Atlantic coast and could possibly turn up in southern Britain.
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Distribution

From low intertidal to about 50 m depth, on rocks or stones, with a preference for vertical faces; common around southwest England and western Ireland, rare in southwest Scotland
  • Southward, E.C.; Campbell, A.C. (2006). [Echinoderms: keys and notes for the identification of British species]. Synopses of the British fauna (new series), 56. Field Studies Council: Shrewsbury, UK. ISBN 1-85153-269-2. 272 pp.
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Also recorded from Mittelmeer (Selenka, 1867).
  • Rowe, F.W.E. (1969). A review of the family Holothuriidae (Holothurioidea: Aspidochirotida). Bull. Br. Mus. (Nat. Hist.) (Zool.) 18(4): 119-170
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Range Description

This species is found in the Mediterranean sea, Malta, Croatia, Ireland, Italy, Montenegro, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
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Common in rocky sites around SW Britain and on the west coast of Ireland. Very local on the west coast of Scotland.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Habitat and Ecology
This species is very communal in the Mediterranean basin. It usually occurs in hard bottom areas, especially in vertical faces between 0-50m of depth (Southward and Campbell 2006).

In Brittany, France it reproduces annually (Tuwo and Conand 1992).

Systems
  • Marine
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Depth range based on 196 specimens in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 68 samples.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 0 - 71
  Temperature range (°C): 10.625 - 19.203
  Nitrate (umol/L): 0.873 - 8.618
  Salinity (PPS): 35.199 - 38.362
  Oxygen (ml/l): 5.265 - 6.213
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.031 - 0.574
  Silicate (umol/l): 1.778 - 7.198

Graphical representation

Depth range (m): 0 - 71

Temperature range (°C): 10.625 - 19.203

Nitrate (umol/L): 0.873 - 8.618

Salinity (PPS): 35.199 - 38.362

Oxygen (ml/l): 5.265 - 6.213

Phosphate (umol/l): 0.031 - 0.574

Silicate (umol/l): 1.778 - 7.198
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

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 The cotton spinner is mostly found in the shallow sublittoral on rocky or, more rarely, sediment substrata. It has been recorded to depths of 300 m and occasionally on shores at extreme low water among rocks and stones.
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Lives in rocky sublittoral habitats with considerable wave exposure.
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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Breeding

Auricularia larva. Summer
  • Southward, E.C.; Campbell, A.C. (2006). [Echinoderms: keys and notes for the identification of British species]. Synopses of the British fauna (new series), 56. Field Studies Council: Shrewsbury, UK. ISBN 1-85153-269-2. 272 pp.
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Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Secretions gain adhesive/cohesive qualities: marine invertebrates
 

Secretions of several marine invertebrates may gain adhesive and cohesive qualities in part via phosphorylation of certain proteins.

       
  "Protein phosphorylation is an important regulator of both cellular and extracellular events. Recently, protein phosphorylation has also emerged as an important process in biological adhesives. During the last decade, Herbert Waite and his group have indeed characterized several polyphosphoproteins from the adhesive secretions of two different marine organisms, mussels and tube-building worms. This suggests the possibility that polyphosphoproteins could be important components of several bioadhesives and may, therefore, be widely distributed throughout the animal kingdomThese findings bring to three the number of animal groups in which adhesive processes involve polyphosphoproteins and raise interesting questions about the convergent evolution of these adhesives.

"In the marine environment, attachment mechanisms developed by animals usually rely on highly viscous or solid adhesive secretions, which all contain specialized proteins. Functional convergences are noted among marine animals, particularly in terms of the type of adhesion used: permanent, temporary, or instantaneous. Although marine adhesive proteins from non-related organisms do not present any sequence homologies, molecular convergences have been recognized, and some adhesive motifs have been found to be shared by phylogenetically different animals. DOPA has long been known as one such motif. Now, another modified amino acid, phosphoserine (pSer), is emerging as an important motif in biological adhesives. Indeed, our findings bring the number of polyphosphoprotein-containing marine adhesives to three. The occurrence of high levels of pSer in adhesive systems from totally unrelated animals, which moreover use different types of adhesion, raise questions about the convergent evolution of these adhesives." (Flammang et al. 2009:447, 462-3)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Flammang P; Lambert A; Bailly P; Hennebert E. 2009. Polyphosphoprotein-containing marine adhesives. The Journal of Adhesion. 85(8): 447 - 464.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Holothuria forskali

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 3 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.  Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.  See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

AACCGTTGACTTTTTTCCACAAACCATAAGGATATCGGAACACTATATTTAATCTTTGGAGCCTGAGCAGGAATGGTAGGAACAGCTATG---AGAGTAATTATCCGTACAGAGCTTGCCCAGCCTGGTTCTCTCCTTCAAGAT---GACCAAGTTTATAAAGTTGTAGTTACAGCTCACGCTTTAGTTATGATCTTTTTCATGGTTATGCCAATCATGATAGGAGGATTCGGAAACTGACTTATCCCATTAATG---ATAGGTGCCCCAGACATGGCTTTCCCTCGAATGAAAAATATGAGATTCTGATTAGTTCCCCCATCTTTTATACTATTACTAGCATCAGCTGGTGTTGAAAGAGGAGCTGGTACTGGATGGACTATTTACCCCCCTTTATCTAGGAATATTGCTCATGCCGGGGGATCAGTAGATTTA---GCAATTTTCTCTTTACATCTTGCTGGAGCCTCTTCAATCCTAGCCTCAATAAACTTTATTACTACCATTATCAATATGCGGACTCCAGGAGTAACATTTGACCGCCTACCCTTGTTTGTATGATCTGTATTTATTACAGCATTTTTGCTAATCCTTAGATTACCAGTTTTAGCAGGA---GCAATAACTATGTTACTAACAGACCGGAACATAAAAACAACCTTTTTTGACCCAGCTGGAGGGGGAGACCCAATTTTGTTTCAACACCTGTTTTGATTTTTTGGTCACCCAGAAGTTTATATCCTTATTCTACCAGGATTTGGTATGATTTCTCATGTAATTGCTCATTATAGAGGGAAGCAA---GAACCTTTTGGTTATCTAGGAATGGTATACGCAATGGTGGCCATAGGAATCCTAGGTTTTCTAGTATGAGCACATCACATGTTCACAGTAGGAATGGACGTAGATACCCGGGCTTACTTTACGGCTGCCACCATGATTATAGCTGTCCCTACAGGAATAAAGGTATTTAGTTGAATG---GCTACACTCCAAGGCT
-- end --

Download FASTA File
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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Holothuria forskali

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2013

Assessor/s
Mercier, A. & Hamel, J.-F.

Reviewer/s
Polidoro, B., Carpenter, K.E., Knapp, L. & Harwell, H.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species is widely distributed and has no known threats. Therefore, it is listed as Least Concern.
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Population

Population
There is no information available on the population of this species at this time.

Population Trend
Unknown
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Threats

Major Threats
There are no known major threats to this species.
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Management

Conservation Actions

Conservation Actions
There are no known species specific conservation measures for this species.
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Wikipedia

Holothuria forskali

Holothuria forskali, the black sea cucumber or cotton-spinner, is a species of sea cucumber in the family Holothuriidae. It is found at shallow depths in the eastern Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. It was placed in the subgenus Panningothuria by Rowe in 1969 and is the typetaxon of the subgenus.[2]

Sea cucumbers are marine invertebrates and are closely related to the sea urchins and starfish. All these groups tend to be radially symmetric and have a water vascular system that operates by hydrostatic pressure, enabling them to move around by use of many suckers known as tube feet. Sea cucumbers are usually leathery, gherkin-shaped animals with a cluster of short tentacles at one end.

Contents

Description

This sea cucumber has a cylindrical body and can grow to thirty centimetres long. It is usually deep brown or black but sometimes has an underlying yellowish mottling, especially on the underside. The skin is soft yet coarse and tough and is covered with fleshy papillae which are often tipped with white. The papillae are believed to be sensory organs sensitive to touch and possibly to chemicals dissolved in the water.[3] The underside has three rows of tube feet for walking and climbing while the upper side has two rows of rudimentary suckers. The anterior end has a bunch of twenty yellowish short, retractable tentacles encircling the mouth. At the posterior, inside the body cavity, there are a bundle of Cuvierian tubules or cotton glands which can be ejected as a tangle of sticky white threads to confuse or enmesh predators.[4]

Distribution

The black sea cucumber occurs around the Atlantic coasts of northwest Europe, the Canary Islands, the Azores and in the Mediterranean Sea. It is found on boulders and rocks, particularly vertical surfaces, from the intertidal zone down to a depth of about fifty metres.[1]

Biology

The black sea cucumber is a detritivore and feeds mostly at night. When feeding, it bends its body down towards the substrate, presses the ring of oral papillae against the surface and opens its mouth wide. It then extends and retracts its short tentacles repeatedly and "vacuums" up sediment, extracts the nutritious part and deposits the unmetabolised portion as a sausage-like string of droppings. When not feeding, the mouth is closed and the tentacles retracted and it is difficult to tell which is the head end of the animal.[5]

Adult black sea cucumbers are normally either male or female. The gonads take a long time to mature and gametes are released synchronously into the water column in early spring, probably as a result of a rise in water temperatures.[6] The larvae become part of the zooplankton. After several moults they grow tentacles and settle out onto the sea floor. Juveniles are seldom seen so it is surmised that they live by day in crevices and under rocks for protection from predators whereas the adults take no particular care to remain hidden.[5]

Ecology

The parasitic copepod Asterocheres boecki is an endoparasite of the black sea cucumber.[1]

It has been found that twenty-six saponins (triterpene glycosides) are present in the Cuvierian tubules and twelve in the animal's body wall. During stressful times, such as the presence of a predator, saponins are released into the surrounding water. It is thought that, though these are insufficient to harm a potential predator, they may serve as a warning that the cucumber is unpalatable.[7]

References

  1. ^ a b c Holothuria (Panningothuria) forskali Delle Chiaje, 1823. World Register of Marine Species. Retrieved July 29, 2011.
  2. ^ Rowe, F.W.E. (1969). A review of the family Holothuriidae (Holothurioidea: Aspidochirotida). Bull. Br. Mus. (Nat. Hist.) (Zool.) 18(4): 119-170
  3. ^ Vandenspiegel, D.; Flammang, P.; Fourmeau, D.; Jangoux, M. (1995). "Fine structure of the dorsal papillae in the holothurioid Holothuria forskali (Echinodermata)". Tissue & cell 27 (4): 457–465. doi:10.1016/S0040-8166(95)80066-2. PMID 18621308.  edit
  4. ^ Barrett, J. & C. M. Yonge (1958) Collins Pocket Guide to the Sea Shore. Collins, London
  5. ^ a b The Cotton-Spinner
  6. ^ Tuwo, A.; Conand, C. (2009). "Reproductive biology of the holothurian Holothuria forskali (Echinodermata)". Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 72 (4): 745. doi:10.1017/S0025315400060021.  edit
  7. ^ Van Dyck, S.; Caulier, G.; Todesco, M.; Gerbaux, P.; Fournier, I.; Wisztorski, M.; Flammang, P. (2011). "The triterpene glycosides of Holothuria forskali: Usefulness and efficiency as a chemical defense mechanism against predatory fish". Journal of Experimental Biology 214 (8): 1347–1356. doi:10.1242/jeb.050930. PMID 21430212.  edit
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