Live-culture of Cnidaria is an important method to investigate their life cycles and to determine specific taxonomic characters of different life-stages. Many cnidarian species have a complex insufficient investigated life cycle with diverse asexual and sexual reproduction strategies. In most large jellyfish species (Scyphozoa) the large medusae are produced asexually by small and inconspicuous, sessile polyps. more about life-cycles. This process of transversal fission is called “strobilation” (see photo). It is suggested that intense strobilation of polyps contributes to the development of jellyfish mass occurrences. more about jellyfish blooms more about the causes of mass occurences.
All cnidarian species have sting capsules = cnidocysts and the different cnidocyst types are an important taxonomic character to differentiate species. Since sting capsules are only a few micrometer in size scanning electron microscopy is a useful method for imaging the capsules and the spined tubules (see photo). more about cnidocysts
Molecular taxonomy provides an additional tool for species identification, particularly useful for the identification of species and stages with very similar or few diagnostic morphological features. Our studies provide the link between morphological and molecular genetic discrimination and identification methods.
more about integrated morphological and molecular genetic taxonomy
Statocysts, the balance organs of medsae, contain tiny crystals, the statoliths.The size, growth, and number of scyphozoan statoliths increase with increasing medusa size, indicating the potential of these crystals for medusa age determination. Moreover, investigations on scyphozoan statocysts indicate taxa-specific differences in the morphology of the statolith arrangement and in statolith shapes.more about statocysts and statoliths.
With the research on taxonomy and ecology of Cnidaria we contribute to the Senckenberg Research Areas:
RA 1.1 Taxonomy and Systematics
RA 1.2 Biogeography
RA 1.3 Structure and Function