Tentacle morphological variation coincides with differential expression of toxins in sea anemones

Ashwood, Lauren M., Mitchell, Michela L., Madio, Bruno, Hurwood, David A., King, Glenn F., Undheim, Eivind A.B., Norton, Raymond S., and Prentis, Peter J. (2021) Tentacle morphological variation coincides with differential expression of toxins in sea anemones. Toxins, 13 (7). 452.

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Phylum Cnidaria is an ancient venomous group defined by the presence of cnidae, specialised organelles that serve as venom delivery systems. The distribution of cnidae across the body plan is linked to regionalisation of venom production, with tissue-specific venom composition observed in multiple actiniarian species. In this study, we assess whether morphological variants of tentacles are associated with distinct toxin expression profiles and investigate the functional significance of specialised tentacular structures. Using five sea anemone species, we analysed differential expression of toxin-like transcripts and found that expression levels differ significantly across tentacular structures when substantial morphological variation is present. Therefore, the differential expression of toxin genes is associated with morphological variation of tentacular structures in a tissue-specific manner. Furthermore, the unique toxin profile of spherical tentacular structures in families Aliciidae and Thalassianthidae indicate that vesicles and nematospheres may function to protect branched structures that host a large number of photosynthetic symbionts. Thus, hosting zooxanthellae may account for the tentacle-specific toxin expression profiles observed in the current study. Overall, specialised tentacular structures serve unique ecological roles and, in order to fulfil their functions, they possess distinct venom cocktails.

Item ID: 80121
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2072-6651
Keywords: Actiniaria,ecology,toxin expression,transcriptomics,venom
Copyright Information: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC).
Projects and Grants: ARC LP150100621, ARC P140100832, NHMRC APP1136889
Date Deposited: 08 May 2024 23:40
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3103 Ecology > 310305 Marine and estuarine ecology (incl. marine ichthyology) @ 30%
31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3101 Biochemistry and cell biology > 310199 Biochemistry and cell biology not elsewhere classified @ 70%
SEO Codes: 28 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 2801 Expanding knowledge > 280102 Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences @ 100%
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