Hydrozoans and the shape of things to come.


The physiological mechanisms that regulate adaptive plasticity of clonal organisms are key to their success in changing environments. Here, we review the mechanisms that regulate morphological plasticity of colonial hydrozoans. There is a heritable, genetic basis to colony form, but environmentally-induced plasticity and self-reinforcing developmental physiology explain much of total phenotypic variance. Morphological development of colonial hydrozoans emerges from interactions among (1) behaviors which drive gastrovascular transport, (2) architecture of the gastrovascular system that determines hydrodynamic characteristics of vascular flow, and, (3) gene products that vary in response to physiological signals provided by gastrovascular transport. Several morphogenetic signaling mechanisms have been identified, including, reactive oxygen species and nutrient concentrations in the hydroplasm, and hydromechanical forces associated with gastrovascular transport. We present a conceptual model of the interacting forces that drive hydrozoan morphological development. Several avenues for future research are suggested by the synthesis of information from prior studies of hydrozoans. Elucidating the morphogenetic signaling pathways responsive to metabolites or hydromechanical forces and the epigenetic effect of vascular architecture on colony form may give new insight into the self-maintenance of indeterminately growing and continuously developing vascular systems.

DOI: 10.1016/B978-0-12-385536-7.00003-0

Cite this paper

@article{Dudgeon2011HydrozoansAT, title={Hydrozoans and the shape of things to come.}, author={Steve R. Dudgeon and Janet E. K{\"{u}bler}, journal={Advances in marine biology}, year={2011}, volume={59}, pages={107-44} }