An evolutionary comparative analysis of the medusozoan (Cnidaria) exoskeleton

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Mendoza-Becerril, Maria A.
Maronna, Maximiliano M.
Pacheco, Mirian L. A. F.
Simoes, Marcello G. [UNESP]
Leme, Juliana M.
Miranda, Lucilia S.
Morandini, Andre C.
Marques, Antonio C.

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The benthic polyp phase of Medusozoa (Staurozoa, Cubozoa, Scyphozoa, and Hydrozoa) has endoskeletal or exoskeletal support systems, but their composition, development, and evolution is poorly known. In this contribution the variation in synthesis, structure, and function of the medusozoan exoskeleton was examined. In addition, an evolutionary hypothesis for its origin and diversification is proposed for both extinct and extant medusozoans. We also critically reviewed the literature and included data from our own histological and microstructural analyses of some groups. Chitin is a characteristic component of exoskeleton in Medusozoa, functioning as support, protection, and a reserve for various ions and inorganic and organic molecules, which may persuade biomineralization, resulting in rigid biomineralized exoskeletons. Skeletogenesis in Medusozoa dates back to the Ediacaran, when potentially synergetic biotic, abiotic, and physiological processes resulted in development of rigid structures that became the exoskeleton. Of the many types of exoskeletons that evolved, the corneous (chitin-protein) exoskeleton predominates today in polyps of medusozoans, with its greatest variation and complexity in the polyps of Hydroidolina. A new type of bilayered exoskeleton in which there is an exosarc complementing the perisarc construction is here described.



chitin, exoskeleton, glycosaminoglycan, Hydroidolina, Medusozoa, perisarc, phylogenetics, Pseudohydrotheca

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Zoological Journal Of The Linnean Society. Hoboken: Wiley, v. 178, n. 2, p. 206-225, 2016.