Indoles induce metamorphosis in a broad diversity of jellyfish, but not in a crown jelly (Coronatae)
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Many animals go through one or more metamorphoses during their lives, however, the molecular underpinnings of metamorphosis across diverse species are not well understood. Medusozoa (Cnidaria) is a clade of animals with complex life cycles, these life cycles can include a polyp stage that metamorphoses into a medusa (jellyfish). Medusae are produced through a variety of different developmental mechanisms—in some species polyps bud medusae (Hydrozoa), in others medusae are formed through polyp fission (Scyphozoa), while in others medusae are formed through direct transformation of the polyp (Cubozoa). To better understand the molecular mechanisms that may coordinate these different forms of metamorphosis, we tested two compounds first identified to induce metamorphosis in the moon jellyfish Aurelia aurita (indomethacin and 5-methoxy-2-methylindole) on a broad diversity of medusozoan polyps. We discovered that indole-containing compounds trigger metamorphosis across a broad diversity of species. All tested discomedusan polyps metamorphosed in the presence of both compounds, including species representatives of several major lineages within the clade (Pelagiidae, Cyaneidae, both clades of Rhizostomeae). In a cubozoan, low levels of 5-methoxy-2-methylindole reliably induced complete and healthy metamorphosis. In contrast, neither compound induced medusa metamorphosis in a coronate scyphozoan, or medusa production in either hydrozoan tested. Our results support the hypothesis that metamorphosis is mediated by a conserved induction pathway within discomedusan scyphozoans, and possibly cubozoans. However, failure of these compounds to induce metamorphosis in a coronate suggests this induction mechanism may have been lost in this clade, or is convergent between Scyphozoa and Cubozoa.
© The Author(s), 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in PLoS One 12 (2017): e0188601, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0188601.
Suggested CitationPLoS One 12 (2017): e0188601
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