Author(s): Shostak S
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Abstract Did cnidarian cnidocysts originate from cnidocyst-bearing protoctistans living as symbiotic partners with an epithelial placula? If an increase in the fitness of symbiotic partners was "locked in" by an evolutionary stable strategy, co-evolution and compartmentalization could have led phyletically separate, eukaryotic symbionts to fuse and undergo nuclear merger. Traits originating in the symbiotic partners would have been brought to the "synthetic" organism and reworked through evolution into the development of an integrated organism. Support for the theory of symbiogenetic origins of Cnidaria rests on traces of symbiosis detected in the relationship of cnidarian epithelium to interstitial cells (I-cells), the precursors of cnidocyst-producing cnidoblasts: (1) epithelium and I-cell are autonomous and differ in morphology, cellular dynamics, the relationship of differentiation to proliferation and the variety of cell types formed; (2) hydras and planulas can be "cured" of I-cells and their derivatives, thereby creating "epithelial" animals which lack responsiveness but retain vegetative properties. (3) The reintroduction of I-cells into "epithelial" animals which lack responsiveness but retain vegetative properties. (3) The reintroduction of I-cells into "epithelial" animals restores missing differentiated cell and organismic characteristics. Symbiogenesis as a source of metazoan species has consequences for concepts of development, from the origins of cell lines to the evolution of differentiation.
This article was published in Biosystems
and referenced in Biological Systems: Open Access