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Jellyfish Sting Newsletters: Number 38 - January 2008

Publications

  1. Brinkman D, Burnell J. Identification, cloning and sequencing of two major venom proteins from the box jellyfish, Chironex fleckeri. Toxicon. 2007; 50(6):850-860.

    Two of the most abundant proteins found in the nematocysts of the box jellyfish Chironex fleckeri have been identified as C. fleckeri toxin-1 (CfTX-1) and toxin-2 (CfTX-2). The molecular masses of CfTX-1 and CfTX-2, as determined by SDS-PAGE, are approximately 43 and 45 kDa, respectively, and both proteins are strongly antigenic to commercially available box jellyfish antivenom and rabbit polyclonal antibodies raised against C. fleckeri nematocyst extracts. The amino acid sequences of mature CfTX-1 and CfTX-2 (436 and 445 residues, respectively) share significant homology with three known proteins: CqTX-A from Chiropsalmus quadrigatus, CrTXs from Carybdea rastoni and CaTX-A from Carybdea alata, all of which are lethal, haemolytic box jellyfish toxins. Multiple sequence alignment of the five jellyfish proteins has identified several short, but highly conserved regions of amino acids that coincide with a predicted transmembrane spanning region, referred to as TSR1, which may be involved in a pore-forming mechanism of action. Furthermore, remote protein homology predictions for CfTX-2 and CaTX-A suggest weak structural similarities to pore-forming insecticidal delta-endotoxins Cry1Aa, Cry3Bb and Cry3A.

  2. Cartwright P, Halgedahl SL, Hendricks JR , Jarrard RD, Marques AC, Collins AG, Lieberman BS. Exceptionally Preserved Jellyfishes from the Middle Cambrian. PLoS ONE. 2007; 2(10):e1121. doi:10.1371

    Cnidarians represent an early diverging animal group and thus insight into their origin and diversification is key to understanding metazoan evolution. Further, cnidarian jellyfish comprise an important component of modern marine planktonic ecosystems. Here we report on exceptionally preserved cnidarian jellyfish fossils from the Middle Cambrian (~505 million years old) Marjum Formation of Utah. These are the first described Cambrian jellyfish fossils to display exquisite preservation of soft part anatomy including detailed features of structures interpreted as trailing tentacles and subumbrellar and exumbrellar surfaces. If the interpretation of these preserved characters is correct, their presence is diagnostic of modern jellyfish taxa. These new discoveries may provide insight into the scope of cnidarian diversity shortly after the Cambrian radiation, and would reinforce the notion that important taxonomic components of the modern planktonic realm were in place by the Cambrian period.

  3. Mallon T. Do jellyfish rule the world? Discover. Sept. 2007; 42-47.

    An article citing the increase in jellyfish blooms worldwide. Monterey Bay Aquarium scientists study the respiration and elemental content of jellyfish captured by submersibles.

  4. Tamás I, Veres I, Remenyik E. Jellyfish sting. A case report. Orv Hetil. 2008; 149(1):35-41.

    A report of a 10 year old girl stung in the Adriatic Sea who developed a recurrent, pruritic eruption in the sting site 3 months later. This is a well known event occurring predominantly in females. Therapy was not spectacular.

  5. Rallis E, Limas C. Recurrent dermatitis after solitary envenomation by jellyfish partially responded to tacrolimus ointment 0.1%. J European Academy of Dermatology and Venerology.2007;21:1287-1288.

    A 4 year old girl was stung by a jellyfish on the shoulder and cheek in July '04.Twenty four days later the first of 9 recurrent episodes appeared at the injury site. The patient received topical steroids, amoxacillin and topical tacrolimus none of which were dramatic on the episode and prevented future outbreaks. This case is significant because she is a prepubertal female (the third known case), had 9 recurrences (the prior record for relapses was 4) within 5 months and neither topical tacrolimus nor steroids could break the chain of eruptions.

  6. Elston DM. Aquatic antanoists: Portuguese man-of-war (Physalia physalis). Cutis. 2007; 80:186-188.

    An excellent review article on this animal except erythema nodosum has not been known to be a result of jellyfish sting (see Cutis – February 2008).

  7. Marino A, Crupi R, Rizzo G, Morabito R, Musci G, La Spada G. The unusual toxicity and stability properties of crude venom from isolated nematocysts of Pelagia noctiluca (Cnidaria, Scyphozoa). Cell Mol Biol. 2007; 53:994-1002.

    An investigation was conducted of the toxicological activity (hemolytic assay) of crude extract obtained by sonication of holotrichous isorhiza isolated nematocysts of the Scyphozoan Pelagia noctiluca, collected in the Strait of Messina. The hemolytic activity was both time- and dose-dependent on fish, rabbit, chicken and human red blood cells. At lowest doses rabbit and chicken erythrocytes were the most sensitive, whereas those of eel were the most resistant to the crude extract. Different storage conditions, such as -20 degrees C, -80 degrees C for up to 6 months and lyophilization, did not affect the stability of crude venom. Moreover, neither treatment at 4 degrees C, 20 degrees C and 37 degrees C for different time periods ranging between 30 min and 24 h, nor harsh thermal treatment at 80 degrees C and 100 degrees C affected the hemolytic power. The crude venom resulted even stable towards proteolysis and alkaline pH values.

  8. Garm A, Coates MM, Gad R, Seymour J, Nilsson DE. The lens eyes of the box jellyfish Tripedalia cystophora and Chiropsalmus sp. are slow and color-blind. J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2007; 193:547-57.

    Box jellyfish, or cubomedusae, possess an impressive total of 24 eyes of four morphologically different types. Compared to other cnidarians they also have an elaborate behavioral repertoire, which for a large part seems to be visually guided. Two of the four types of cubomedusean eyes, called the upper and the lower lens eye, are camera type eyes with spherical fish-like lenses. Here we explore the electroretinograms of the lens eyes of the Caribbean species, Tripedalia cystophora, and the Australian species, Chiropsalmus sp. using suction electrodes. We show that the photoreceptors of the lens eyes of both species have dynamic ranges of about 3 log units and slow responses. The spectral sensitivity curves for all eyes peak in the blue-green region, but the lower lens eye of T. cystophora has a small additional peak in the near UV range. All spectral sensitivity curves agree well with the theoretical absorbance curve of a single opsin, strongly suggesting color-blind vision in box jellyfish with a single receptor type. A single opsin is supported by selective adaptation experiments.

  9. Garm A, O'Connor M, Parkefelt L, Nilsson DE. Visually guided obstacle avoidance in the box jellyfish Tripedalia cystophora and Chiropsella bronzie. J Exp Biol. 2007; 210:3616-3623.

    Box jellyfish, cubomedusae, possess an impressive total of 24 eyes of four morphologically different types. Two of these eye types, called the upper and lower lens eyes, are camera-type eyes with spherical fish-like lenses. Compared with other cnidarians, cubomedusae also have an elaborate behavioral repertoire, which seems to be predominantly visually guided. Still, positive phototaxis is the only behavior described so far that is likely to be correlated with the eyes. We have explored the obstacle avoidance response of the Caribbean species Tripedalia cystophora and the Australian species Chiropsella bronzie in a flow chamber. Our results show that obstacle avoidance is visually guided. Avoidance behavior is triggered when the obstacle takes up a certain angle in the visual field. The results do not allow conclusions on whether color vision is involved but the strength of the response had a tendency to follow the intensity contrast between the obstacle and the surroundings (chamber walls). In the flow chamber Tripedalia cystophora displayed a stronger obstacle avoidance response than Chiropsella bronzie since they had less contact with the obstacles. This seems to follow differences in their habitats.

Newsprint 

  1. BBC News 6/3/03. Oil and jellyfish close beaches.

    Parts of two beaches in Cornwall have had to be closed because of swarms of Velella velella.

  2. BBC News 7/22/03. Expert disputes jellyfish claims.

    A marine biologist who has studied jellyfish for 40 years is disputing whether global warming was the reason large numbers of the creatures arrived in the South West last month (Velella velella).

  3. BBC News 9/24/04. Jelly creatures invade beaches.

    Thousands of jellyfish-like creatures have been washed ashore the south Wales coastline (Velella velella).

  4. BBC News 12/9/06. Millions of sea creatures wash up.

    Millions of small dead jellyfish-like creatures have been washed ashore on South West beaches (Velella velella).

  5. Wall Street Journal 11/27/07. Invasion of jellyfish envelops Japan in ocean of slime.

    Pink 450-pound blobs of Neopolema nomuri jellyish clog nets but spur new recipes: pointing fingers at China.

  6. BBC News 8/21/07. Jellyfish warning to beachgoers.

    Beachgoers in Cornwall are being urged to look out for potentially dangerous jellyfish-like creatures after a Portuguese Man-o’-War was washed up.

  7. BBC News 11/21/07. Jellyfish attach destroys salmon.

    An invasion of Pelagia noctiluca medusae wiped out Northern Ireland’s only salmon farm, killing more than 100,000 fish over an area of 10 square miles going 35 feet deep.

  8. New Era, Lancaster, PA USA 11/21/07. New sea life in "Coral" triangle.

    Dr. Larry Madin of Woods Hole (Mass) Oceanographic Institute mentioned 100 new species of marine life including one schyphozoa-like jellyfish in the Celebes Sea near the Philippines.

Books 

  1. Haddad Jr, V., Barreiros JP. Dangerous Azorean marine animals. A field guide. BLU edicoes; Ica Tericera, Azores, 2007.

    An excellent review of marine venomous animals in the Azores.

Correspondence 

  1. Peter Fenner sends us a copy of a Northern Territory (Australia) newspaper with a strange history of a patient with Irunkandji-like symptoms. Another case of a patient on an off shore island that may been overdosed with narcotics for Irukandji pain recovered in a mainland hospital.