Overview

Brief Summary

“Ctenophores have been described as the most beautiful, delicate, seemingly innocent yet most voracious, sinister and destructive of plankton organisms.” (Mianzan et al., 2009)

Ctenophores are gelatinous marine animals, similar in many ways to jellyfish but lack stinging cnidae, and movement is via the coordinated beating of cilia (“combs”) instead of muscular contractions. As of 2008, about 150 species had been described. They occur throughout the ocean, at all depths and are mostly planktonic, though a few are benthic. Comb jellies are efficient predators, consuming zooplankton such as fish eggs, copepods, amphipods, and larvae. Some eat jellyfish, salps, and other ctenophores. They range in size from a few millimeters to 2 m long, and most are transparent and bioluminescent.

(Ruppert et al., 2004; Mianzan et al., 2009)

Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

© Soulanille, Elaine

Source: EOL Rapid Response Team

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Physical Description

Type Information

Syntype for Ctenophora nigricoxa
Catalog Number: USNM
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Entomology
Locality: Palmen / Jorois, Unknown
  • Syntype:
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Entomology

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Ecology

Habitat

Depth range based on 1 specimen in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 1 sample.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 223 - 223
  Temperature range (°C): 0.579 - 0.579
  Nitrate (umol/L): 11.652 - 11.652
  Salinity (PPS): 33.849 - 33.849
  Oxygen (ml/l): 6.628 - 6.628
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.938 - 0.938
  Silicate (umol/l): 10.951 - 10.951
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.
All rights reserved

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Depth range based on 1 specimen in 1 taxon.
Water temperature and chemistry ranges based on 1 sample.

Environmental ranges
  Depth range (m): 223 - 223
  Temperature range (°C): 0.579 - 0.579
  Nitrate (umol/L): 11.652 - 11.652
  Salinity (PPS): 33.849 - 33.849
  Oxygen (ml/l): 6.628 - 6.628
  Phosphate (umol/l): 0.938 - 0.938
  Silicate (umol/l): 10.951 - 10.951
 
Note: this information has not been validated. Check this *note*. Your feedback is most welcome.

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Ctenophores occur in all oceans and all depths. Most species are planktonic, so live within the water column, but the platyctenids are benthic and attach to the surfaces of sessile organisms. (Unlike most ctenophores, which are transparent, the platyctenids are pigmented in camouflaging patterns.)

(Ruppert et al., 2004)

Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

© Soulanille, Elaine

Source: EOL Rapid Response Team

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Trophic Strategy

All ctenophores are carnivores (Mianzan et al., 2009).

Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

© Soulanille, Elaine

Source: EOL Rapid Response Team

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Associations

Known predators

Ctenophora (Ctenophores) is prey of:
Peprilus triacanthus
invertebrate predators
Ctenophora
Chaetognatha
Actinopterygii
Clupea harengus
Alosa pseudoharengus
Scomber
Pollachius pollachius
Merluccius bilinearis
Urophycis regia
Urophycis tenuis
Urophycis chuss
Gadidae
Melanogrammus aeglefinus
Leucoraja erinacea
Leucoraja ocellata
Amblyraja radiata
Paralichthys dentatus
Pleuronectes americanus
Mustelus canis
Squalus acanthias
Odontoceti
Scombridae
Other suspension feeders
Mya arenaria
Crassostrea virginica
Polychaeta
Nereis
meiofauna
Callinectes sapidus
Alosa chrysochloris
Anchoa mitchilli
Brevoortia tyrannus
Alosa sapidissima
Micropogonius undulatus
Trinectes maculatus
Morone americana
Arius felis
Pomatomus saltatrix

Based on studies in:
USA: Rhode Island (Coastal)
USA, Northeastern US contintental shelf (Coastal)
unknown (Marine, Pelagic)
USA: Maryland, Chesapeake Bay (Estuarine)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • Baird D, Ulanowicz RE (1989) The seasonal dynamics of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. Ecol Monogr 59:329–364
  • J. N. Kremer and S. W. Nixon, A Coastal Marine Ecosystem: Simulation and Analysis, Vol. 24 of Ecol. Studies (Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1978), from p. 12.
  • Link J (2002) Does food web theory work for marine ecosystems? Mar Ecol Prog Ser 230:1–9
  • M. R. Landry, A review of important concepts in the trophic organization of pelagic ecosystems, Helgolander wiss. Meeresunters. 30:8-17, from p. 12 (1977).
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© SPIRE project

Source: SPIRE

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Known prey organisms

Ctenophora (Ctenophores) preys on:
Acartia
Acartia tonsa
detritus
bacteria
Copepoda
Calanus
Oithona-Oncaea type
Euchaeta
Centropages
Amphipoda
Euphausia
ciliates and nauplii
Pseudocalanus
invertebrate predators
Ctenophora
Chaetognatha
phytoplankton
Pteropods
Bacteria attached to suspended POM
Bacillariophyceae

Based on studies in:
USA: Rhode Island (Coastal)
Pacific (Tropical)
USA: North Carolina, Pamlico (Estuarine)
USA, Northeastern US contintental shelf (Coastal)
unknown (Marine, Pelagic)
USA: Maryland, Chesapeake Bay (Estuarine)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • B. J. Copeland, K. R. Tenore, D. B. Horton, Oligohaline regime. In: Coastal Ecological Systems of the United States, H. T. Odum, B. J. Copeland, E. A. McMahan, Eds. (Conservation Foundation, Washington, DC, 1974) 2:315-357, from p. 318.
  • Baird D, Ulanowicz RE (1989) The seasonal dynamics of the Chesapeake Bay ecosystem. Ecol Monogr 59:329–364
  • J. N. Kremer and S. W. Nixon, A Coastal Marine Ecosystem: Simulation and Analysis, Vol. 24 of Ecol. Studies (Springer-Verlag, Berlin, 1978), from p. 12.
  • Link J (2002) Does food web theory work for marine ecosystems? Mar Ecol Prog Ser 230:1–9
  • M. R. Landry, A review of important concepts in the trophic organization of pelagic ecosystems, Helgolander wiss. Meeresunters. 30:8-17, from p. 12 (1977).
  • T. S. Petipa, Trophic relationships in communities and the functioning of marine ecosystems: I. Studies in trophic relationships in pelagic communities of the southern seas of the USSR and in the tropical Pacific. In: Marine Production Mechanisms, M. J. D
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© SPIRE project

Source: SPIRE

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Evolution and Systematics

Evolution

An interdisciplinary team recently sequenced the full genome of the ctenophore Pleurobrachia bachei (Cydippida).  This group analyzed the genetics and neural physiology of P. bachei in the context of genetic sequence available for other ctenophore species, finding that ctenophores have a very different set of genes and signal molecules involved in their nervous system, immune system and development than do all other animals.  Ctenophores have a “highly reduced complement of animal-specific genes,” lacking, for example, HOX genes (as do sponges), neuron-specific genes such as classic neurotransmitters, and immune system-related receptors and mediators (Moroz et al., 2014).

The placement of ctenophores in the tree of life has long been controversial.  Moroz et al. (2014) found that phylogenetic analyses of 114 genes from representatives of the Ctenophora, Porifera, Placozoa, Cnidaria and Bilateria recover ctenophores as basal to all other animals, suggesting that neural muscular systems evolved twice independently in the animal lineage: once in ctenophores, and subsequently in the bilateria+cnidaria lineage.  This is consistent with the remarkably distinct underlying organizations of neural muscular systems in theses two lineages.

This study also recovered strong resolution of relationships within the ctenophores, which suggest a new understanding of ctenophore evolution, including derivation of larval stages, tentacle apparatuses and benthic ecology and bilaterial nature.

Moroz et al. published their work in Nature under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 licence, available at this link: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v510/n7503/full/nature13400.html

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Dana Campbell

Supplier: Dana Campbell

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Light used for instant signaling: comb jellies
 

An enzyme called photoprotein in comb jellies produces light when calcium changes the enzyme's shape, releasing energy.

   
  "In a firefly bioluminescence reaction, an enzyme known as a luciferase uses adenosine triphosphate (ATP) to activate a molecule called a luciferin. The product of this reaction combines with molecular oxygen to produce an excited-state oxyluciferin species. When oxyluciferin relaxes back to its ground state, energy is released in the form of light…Jellyfish-like animals called ctenophores—can do without [ATP to jump-start bioluminescence]. Instead, they use a luciferin of intrinsically higher energy and prepackage it with oxygen in an enzyme known as a photoprotein. Calcium activates the reaction by changing the shape of the photoprotein, which releases the invested energy in the form of light." (Pepling 2006)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Pepling, Rachel Sheremeta. 2006. All That Glows: Bioluminescence provides practical applications while still remaining a mystery. Chemical & Engineering News. 84(14): 36-38.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© The Biomimicry Institute

Source: AskNature

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Problepsis ctenophora

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ctenophora hoppo

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ctenophora ctenophorina

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Ctenophora ardens

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Genomic DNA is available from 1 specimen with morphological vouchers housed at British Antarctic Survey
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© Ocean Genome Legacy

Source: Ocean Genome Resource

Trusted

Article rating from 0 people

Default rating: 2.5 of 5

Disclaimer

EOL content is automatically assembled from many different content providers. As a result, from time to time you may find pages on EOL that are confusing.

To request an improvement, please leave a comment on the page. Thank you!