Ultrastructure of the mesoglea of the sea anemone Nematostella vectensis (Edwardsiidae)

Richard P Tucker, Bradley Shibata, Thomas N. Blankenship

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Cnidarians have extracellular matrix, or mesoglea, situated between an outer epidermis and an inner gastrodermis. In this article, we describe the ultrastructure of the mesoglea of polyps of Nematostella vectensis during development and regeneration. The column wall of recently metamorphosed polyps had basal laminae composed of a meshwork of thin filaments underlying each epithelium and a network of unstriated thick (20-25nm in diameter) and thin fibrils (∼5nm) decorated with particulate matter. In juvenile polyps with eight tentacles, the system of thick fibrils was concentrated near the gastrodermis. In the column wall and mesenteries of the adult there were bundles of thick fibrils that ran parallel to the myonemes. In regenerating polyps 2 days after transection, the network of thin fibrils and particulate material as well as the basal lamina largely disappeared in the healing part of the oral, but not aboral, half. In the regenerating portion of the aboral half 1 and 2 days after transection, the bundles of thick fibrils were smaller and less organized, and the basal laminae were thicker than in the column wall of untransected polyps. In both regenerating halves, the general organization of the mesoglea of normal polyps was reattained by 5 days after transection. At all stages the mesoglea contained cellular processes that may belong to amebocytes; nucleated amebocytes with a range of shapes were present in the mesoglea of the column wall and mesenteries of adult polyps. Certain features of the mesoglea of members of N. vectensis and Hydra are similar, especially the ultrastructure of the basal laminae, but the fibrillar systems of these two model cnidarians are different. Temporal and spatial differences in the composition of the mesoglea of N. vectensis point to different roles for its components during development and regeneration.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-24
Number of pages14
JournalInvertebrate Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2011


  • Anthozoa
  • Cnidaria
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Regeneration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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