Gut-spilling in chordates: evisceration in the tropical ascidian Polycarpa mytiligera.
ABSTRACT: The ejection of internal organs, i.e., evisceration, is a well-known phenomenon in sea-cucumbers. We report the ability of a member of the Chordate phyla, the tropical ascidian Polycarpa mytiligera, to eviscerate and regenerate its gut within 12 days, and to rebuild its branchial sac within 19 days. Evisceration occurred within 4-43 seconds of gentle mechanical pressure exerted on the tunic in 47% of the tested P. mytiligera. Individuals were able to discard up to 3/4 of their digestive tract via the incurrent siphon by rupture of the branchial sac in this area. Although chemical analysis revealed no significant levels of toxic compounds, the eviscerated guts were unpalatable to the triggerfish and pufferfish on which they were tested, suggesting evisceration as a defense mechanism. Given the close affinity of ascidians to vertebrates, the regeneration pathway of the viscera and branchial sac of ascidians suggests its potential beneficial application in soft tissue regeneration research.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Ascidians (phylum Chordata, class Ascidiacea) represent the closest living invertebrate relatives of the vertebrates and constitute an important model for studying the evolution of chordate development. The solitary ascidian <i>Polycarpa mytiligera</i> exhibits a robust regeneration ability, unique among solitary chordates, thus offering a promising new model for regeneration studies. Understanding its reproductive development and establishing land-based culturing methods is pivotal for utilizing this species for experimental studies. Its reproduction cycle, spawning behavior, and developmental processes were therefore studied in both the field and the lab, and methods were developed for its culture in both open and closed water systems.<h4>Results</h4>Field surveys revealed that <i>P. mytiligera's</i> natural recruitment period starts in summer (June) and ends in winter (December) when seawater temperature decreases. Laboratory experiments revealed that low temperature (21?°C) has a negative effect on its fertilization and development. Although spontaneous spawning events occur only between June and December, we were able to induce spawning under controlled conditions year-round by means of gradual changes in the environmental conditions. Spawning events, followed by larval development and metamorphosis, took place in ascidians maintained in either artificial or natural seawater facilities. <i>P. mytiligera</i>'s fast developmental process indicated its resemblance to other oviparous species, with the larvae initiating settlement and metamorphosis at about 12?h post-hatching, and reaching the juvenile stage 3 days later.<h4>Conclusions</h4><i>Polycarpa mytiligera</i> can be induced to spawn in captivity year-round, independent of the natural reproduction season. The significant advantages of <i>P. mytiligera</i> as a model system for regenerative studies, combined with the detailed developmental data and culturing methods presented here, will contribute to future research addressing developmental and evolutionary questions, and promote the use of this species as an applicable model system for experimental studies.
Project description:Applying a proteomic approach for biomonitoring marine environments offers a useful tool for identifying organisms' stress responses, with benthic filter-feeders being ideal candidates for this practice. Here, we investigated the proteomic profile of two solitary ascidians (Chordata, Ascidiacea): Microcosmus exasperatus, collected from five sites along the Mediterranean coast of Israel; and Polycarpa mytiligera collected from four sites along the Red Sea coast. 193 and 13 proteins in M. exasperatus and P. mytiligera, respectively, demonstrated a significant differential expression. Significant differences were found between the proteomes from the northern and the southern sites along both the Mediterranean and the Red Sea coasts. Some of the significant proteins had previously been shown to be affected by environmental stressors, and thus have the potential to be further developed as biomarkers. Obtaining a proteomic profile of field-collected ascidians provides a useful tool for the early-detection of a stress response in ascidians worldwide.
Project description:Extensive regenerative ability is a common trait of animals capable of asexual development. The current study reveals the extraordinary regeneration abilities of the solitary ascidian <i>Polycarpa mytiligera</i>. Dissection of a single individual into separate fragments along two body axes resulted in the complete regeneration of each fragment into an independent, functional individual. The ability of a solitary ascidian, incapable of asexual development, to achieve bidirectional regeneration and fully regenerate all body structures and organs is described here for the first time. Amputation initiated cell proliferation in proximity to the amputation line. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated the close affinity of <i>P. mytiligera</i> to colonial species. This evolutionary proximity suggests the ability for regeneration as an exaptation feature for colonial lifestyle. <i>P. mytiligera</i>'s exceptional regenerative abilities and phylogenetic position highlight its potential to serve as a new comparative system for studies seeking to uncover the evolution of regeneration and coloniality among the chordates.
Project description:Ascidians or sea squirts form a diverse group within chordates, which includes a few thousand members of marine sessile filter-feeding animals. Their mitochondrial genomes are characterized by particularly high evolutionary rates and rampant gene rearrangements. This extreme variability complicates standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) based techniques for molecular characterization studies, and consequently only a few complete Ascidian mitochondrial genome sequences are available. Using the standard PCR and Sanger sequencing approach, we produced the mitochondrial genome of Ascidiella aspersa only after a great effort. In contrast, we produced five additional mitogenomes (Botrylloides aff. leachii, Halocynthia spinosa, Polycarpa mytiligera, Pyura gangelion, and Rhodosoma turcicum) with a novel strategy, consisting in sequencing the pooled total DNA samples of these five species using one Illumina HiSeq 2000 flow cell lane. Each mitogenome was efficiently assembled in a single contig using de novo transcriptome assembly, as de novo genome assembly generally performed poorly for this task. Each of the new six mitogenomes presents a different and novel gene order, showing that no syntenic block has been conserved at the ordinal level (in Stolidobranchia and in Phlebobranchia). Phylogenetic analyses support the paraphyly of both Ascidiacea and Phlebobranchia, with Thaliacea nested inside Phlebobranchia, although the deepest nodes of the Phlebobranchia-Thaliacea clade are not well resolved. The strategy described here thus provides a cost-effective approach to obtain complete mitogenomes characterized by a highly plastic gene order and a fast nucleotide/amino acid substitution rate.
Project description:To investigate the usefulness of addition type liquid silicone rubber (ATLSR) as injectable implant after evisceration to maintain the eyeball volume in an animal experiment.Twelve adult New Zealand white rabbits were included. One eye of each rabbit was randomly selected for evisceration with the fellow eye as control. ATLSR was injected to fill the eyeball socket after evisceration. In vivo observation and photographs were performed up to 24 weeks post-op. Two rabbits were sacrificed respectively at post-operative week 1, 2, 4, 8, 12 and 24. After enucleation, the vertical, horizontal and sagittal diameters of the experimental eyeballs were measured and compared with the control eyes. Histopathological studies were performed to evaluate signs of inflammation.Cornea remained clear throughout the observation period despite mild epithelial edema and neovascularization. Compared to the control eyes, the experimental eyes were significantly smaller in vertical diameter (17.00±1.17 vs. 17.54±1.11 mm, P<0.001), but larger in sagittal diameter (16.85±1.48 vs. 16.40±1.38 mm, P = 0.008), and had no significant difference in horizontal diameter (17.49±1.53 vs. 17.64±1.21 mm, P = 0.34). Postoperative inflammation was observed at one week after surgery, which peaked at 2-3 weeks, then regressed gradually. At week 12 and week 24, most of the inflammatory cells disappeared with some residual plasma cells and eosinophils.Injectable addition type silicon rubber may be a good choice for ocular implantation after evisceration, maintaining eyeball volume and cosmetically satisfactory when compared to the fellow eye. Spontaneous regression of inflammation implied good biocompatibility for at least 24 weeks.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Ascidians can associate with abundant and diverse consortia of microbial symbionts, yet these communities remain unexamined for the majority of host ascidians and little is known about host-symbiont interactions. METHODS:We coupled electron microscopy and 16S rRNA gene tag pyrosequencing to investigate the bacterial communities associated with the colonial ascidian Pseudodistoma crucigaster, a species endemic to the Mediterranean Sea that has a life cycle with two phases: actively-filtering (active) and non-filtering (resting) forms. RESULTS:Resting colonies exhibited a reduced branchial sac (feeding apparatus) and a thickened cuticle. Electron microscope images also suggested higher abundance of colonizing microorganisms on surfaces of resting colonies. Accordingly, bacterial sequences associated with environmental sources (sediment and biofilms, >99 % similarity) were detected exclusively in resting colonies. Bacterial communities of P. crucigaster colonies (active and resting) were dominated by 3 core taxa affiliated (>94 % similarity) with previously described symbiotic Alphaproteobacteria in marine invertebrates. Shifts in rare bacteria were detected when ascidians entered the resting phase, including the appearance of strictly anaerobic lineages and nitrifying bacterial guilds. CONCLUSIONS:These findings suggest that physical (thickened cuticle) and metabolic (feeding cessation) changes in host ascidians have cascading effects on associated bacteria, where modified oxygen concentrations and chemical substrates for microbial metabolism may create anaerobic microhabitats and promote colonization by environmental microorganisms.
Project description:High amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in vegetable oil are not desirable for biodiesel or food oil due to their lower oxidative stability. The oil from Idesia polycarpa fruit contains 65?80% (mol%) linoleic acid (C18:2). Therefore, development of Idesia polycarpa cultivars with low PUFAs is highly desirable for Idesia polycarpa oil quality. Fatty acid desaturase 2 (FAD2) is the key enzyme converting oleic acid (C18:1) to C18:2. We isolated four FAD2 homologs from the fruit of Idesia polycarpa. Yeast transformed with IpFAD2-1, IpFAD2-2 and IpFAD2-3 can generate appreciable amounts of hexadecadienoic acid (C16:2) and C18:2, which are not present in wild-type yeast cells, revealing that the proteins encoded by these genes have ?12 desaturase activity. Only trace amounts of C18:2 and little C16:2 were detected in yeast cells transformed with IpFAD2-4, suggesting IpFAD2-4 displays low activity. We also analyzed the activity of several FAD2 natural variants of Idesia polycarpa in yeast and found that a highly conserved Gly376 substitution caused the markedly reduced products catalyzed by IpFAD2-3. This glycine is also essential for the activity of IpFAD2-1 and IpFAD2-2, but its replacement in other plant FAD2 proteins displays different effects on the desaturase activity, suggesting its distinct roles across plant FAD2s proteins.