(Mirror Daily, United States) – If you thought that eating with a chipped tooth is hard, just keep in mind the fact that the Hydra tears its skin every time it needs a mouth. The tiny sea creature now makes Deadpool and Wolverine look like little girls every time they complain about a self-healing injury.
The fresh-water Hydra Vulgaris is a small, hydroid animal. Its maximum length is about 0.6 inches (15 millimeters). The small, tentacled organism is part of the Anthoathecata order. According to the researchers, it feeds by extending its long tentacles and waiting for the food to touch them. But the food is not then directed towards a pre-existing oral cavity because the hydra tears its skin every time it needs a mouth.
The tiny animal creates a mouth every time it needs to feed. And after the food is ingested, the proto-mouth disappears, leaving the body intact.
A team of physicists and biologists at the San Diego University has studied in detail the complex process that allows the anemone-related animal to open and close a mouth on its body.
According to the article published in the latest number of the Biophysical Journal, previous studies attributed this strange occurrence to cellular rearrangement. But since the entire process takes only a bit under a minute, this hypothesis was not valid.
In order to better study the regular mouth formation, the researchers injected a number of transgenic Hydra specimens with red and green fluorescent proteins. This action allowed Jason Carter (master’s student in biology) and Callen Hyland (postdoctoral fellow) to analyze the cellular dynamics of the process that creates the opening that serves as a mouth.
It seems that the opening is realized by elastic deformations of the mouth surrounding cells, and not through cellular rearrangement. The deformation is rather dramatic, and it is achieved through myonemes (contractile elements that are radially oriented).
Furthermore, during their experiment, the researchers discovered that a Hydra is able to open a few mouths consecutively. However, the degree of the openings remained consistent throughout the experiment suggesting that the process involves nerve signaling.
Collins is excited about her and her team’s research because the simplicity of the hydra and its ability to regenerate at incredible speeds can open up the door to the examination of the development of an unstructured cells group into a body plan that presents complex arrangements. This roughly translates into tissue formation.
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