This week’s reading is Chapter 22.1 and 22.2 (Prokaryotes), Chapter 23.1 and 23.2 (Protists), 25.1 (Early Plant Life) and Chapter 27.1 and 27.2 (Animal Diversity) of the course textbook, which is acce

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This week’s reading is Chapter 22.1 and 22.2 (Prokaryotes), Chapter 23.1 and 23.2 (Protists), 25.1 (Early Plant Life) and Chapter 27.1 and 27.2 (Animal Diversity) of the course textbook, which is accessible through the Syllabus or through the course’s “Textbooks” page.

Optional: If you are having difficulties grasping particular concepts from the textbook or if you want to explore them more in details, you could watch videos about biology on Khan Academy at “Khan Academy Biology”. The videos are categorized and named according to the concept they explain, so it should be easy to find those that are relevant to study.

Part 1

In your assigned readings, you learned about different theories for the evolution of eukaryotic cells from prokaryotic organisms. Describe the hypothesized steps for the evolution of eukaryotic cells via endosymbiosis. How is evidence used to support this theory? Explain your position.

Be sure to use in text citation and provide references for your sources. While not required for this discussion, you may use outside resources. Any materials cited in this course should be referenced using the APA style guidelines.

Part 2

In your assigned readings, you were introduced to the major animal phyla. Choose an animal which represents a particular phylum. Briefly describe its features characteristic of its phylum including morphology, embryology, and physiology. Identify adaptations of your animal compared with other animals. If you chose a more primitive animal, identify adaptations compared with more primitive organisms outside of the animal kingdom.

This week’s reading is Chapter 22.1 and 22.2 (Prokaryotes), Chapter 23.1 and 23.2 (Protists), 25.1 (Early Plant Life) and Chapter 27.1 and 27.2 (Animal Diversity) of the course textbook, which is acce
Biology SENIOR CONTRIBUTING A UTHORS C ONNIE R YE , EAST M ISSISSIPPI C OMMUNITY C OLLEGE R OBERT W ISE , U NIVERSITY OF W ISCONSIN , O SHKOSH V LADIMIR JURUKOVSKI , SUFFOLK C OUNTY C OMMUNITY C OLLEGE JEAN D ESAIX , U NIVERSITY OF N ORTH C AROLINA AT C HAPEL H ILL JUNG C HOI , G EORGIA INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY YAEL A VISSAR , R HODE ISLAND C OLLEGE 21 | VIRUSES Figure 21.1 The tobacco mosaic virus (left), seen here by transmission electron microscopy, was the first virus to be discovered. The virus causes disease in tobacco and other plants, such as the orchid (right). (credit a: USDA ARS; credit b: modification of work by USDA Forest Service, Department of Plant Pathology Archive North Carolina State University; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Chapter Outline 21.1: Viral Evolution, Morphology, and Classification 21.2: Virus Infections and Hosts 21.3: Prevention and Treatment of Viral Infections 21.4: Other Acellular Entities: Prions and Viroids Introduction No one knows exactly when viruses emerged or from where they came, since viruses do not leave historical footprints such as fossils. Modern viruses are thought to be a mosaic of bits and pieces of nucleic acids picked up from various sources along their respective evolutionary paths. Viruses are acellular, parasitic entities that are not classified within any kingdom. Unlike most living organisms, viruses are not cells and cannot divide. Instead, they infect a host cell and use the host’s replication processes to produce identical progeny virus particles. Viruses infect organisms as diverse as bacteria, plants, and animals. They exist in a netherworld between a living organism and a nonliving entity. Living things grow, metabolize, and reproduce. Viruses replicate, but to do so, they are entirely dependent on their host cells. They do not metabolize or grow, but are assembled in their mature form. 21.1 | Viral Evolution, Morphology, and Classification By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Describe how viruses were first discovered and how they are detected • Discuss three hypotheses about how viruses evolved • Recognize the basic shapes of viruses • Understand past and emerging classification systems for viruses Viruses are diverse entities. They vary in their structure, their replication methods, and in their target hosts. Nearly all forms of life—from bacteria and archaea to eukaryotes such as plants, animals, and fungi—have viruses that infect them. While most biological diversity can be understood through evolutionary history, such as how species have adapted to conditions and environments, much about virus origins and evolution remains unknown. Chapter 21 | Viruses 535 Discovery and Detection Viruses were first discovered after the development of a porcelain filter, called the Chamberland-Pasteur filter, which could remove all bacteria visible in the microscope from any liquid sample. In 1886, Adolph Meyer demonstrated that a disease of tobacco plants, tobacco mosaic disease, could be transferred from a diseased plant to a healthy one via liquid plant extracts. In 1892, Dmitri Ivanowski showed that this disease could be transmitted in this way even after the Chamberland-Pasteur filter had removed all viable bacteria from the extract. Still, it was many years before it was proven that these “filterable” infectious agents were not simply very small bacteria but were a new type of very small, disease-causing particle. Virions , single virus particles, are very small, about 20–250 nanometers in diameter. These individual virus particles are the infectious form of a virus outside the host cell. Unlike bacteria (which are about 100-times larger), we cannot see viruses with a light microscope, with the exception of some large virions of the poxvirus family. It was not until the development of the electron microscope in the late 1930s that scientists got their first good view of the structure of the tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) ( Figure 21.1 ) and other viruses ( Figure 21.2 ). The surface structure of virions can be observed by both scanning and transmission electron microscopy, whereas the internal structures of the virus can only be observed in images from a transmission electron microscope. The use of these technologies has allowed for the discovery of many viruses of all types of living organisms. They were initially grouped by shared morphology. Later, groups of viruses were classified by the type of nucleic acid they contained, DNA or RNA, and whether their nucleic acid was single- or double-stranded. More recently, molecular analysis of viral replicative cycles has further refined their classification. Figure 21.2 In these transmission electron micrographs, (a) a virus is dwarfed by the bacterial cell it infects, while (b) these E. coli cells are dwarfed by cultured colon cells. (credit a: modification of work by U.S. Dept. of Energy, Office of Science, LBL, PBD; credit b: modification of work by J.P. Nataro and S. Sears, unpub. data, CDC; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Evolution of Viruses Although biologists have accumulated a significant amount of knowledge about how present-day viruses evolve, much less is known about how viruses originated in the first place. When exploring the evolutionary history of most organisms, scientists can look at fossil records and similar historic evidence. However, viruses do not fossilize, so researchers must conjecture by investigating how today’s viruses evolve and by using biochemical and genetic information to create speculative virus histories. While most findings agree that viruses don’t have a single common ancestor, scholars have yet to find a single hypothesis about virus origins that is fully accepted in the field. One such hypothesis, called devolution or the regressive hypothesis, proposes to explain the origin of viruses by suggesting that viruses evolved from free-living cells. However, many components of how this process might have occurred are a mystery. A second hypothesis (called escapist or the progressive hypothesis) accounts for viruses having either an RNA or a DNA genome and suggests that viruses originated from RNA and DNA molecules that escaped from a host cell. A third hypothesis posits a system of self-replication similar to that of 536 Chapter 21 | Viruses This OpenStax book is available for free at other self-replicating molecules, likely evolving alongside the cells they rely on as hosts; studies of some plant pathogens support this hypothesis. As technology advances, scientists may develop and refine further hypotheses to explain the origin of viruses. The emerging field called virus molecular systematics attempts to do just that through comparisons of sequenced genetic material. These researchers hope to one day better understand the origin of viruses, a discovery that could lead to advances in the treatments for the ailments they produce. Viral Morphology Viruses are acellular , meaning they are biological entities that do not have a cellular structure. They therefore lack most of the components of cells, such as organelles, ribosomes, and the plasma membrane. A virion consists of a nucleic acid core, an outer protein coating or capsid, and sometimes an outer envelope made of protein and phospholipid membranes derived from the host cell. Viruses may also contain additional proteins, such as enzymes. The most obvious difference between members of viral families is their morphology, which is quite diverse. An interesting feature of viral complexity is that the complexity of the host does not correlate with the complexity of the virion. Some of the most complex virion structures are observed in bacteriophages, viruses that infect the simplest living organisms, bacteria. Morphology Viruses come in many shapes and sizes, but these are consistent and distinct for each viral family. All virions have a nucleic acid genome covered by a protective layer of proteins, called a capsid . The capsid is made up of protein subunits called capsomeres . Some viral capsids are simple polyhedral “spheres,” whereas others are quite complex in structure. In general, the shapes of viruses are classified into four groups: filamentous, isometric (or icosahedral), enveloped, and head and tail. Filamentous viruses are long and cylindrical. Many plant viruses are filamentous, including TMV. Isometric viruses have shapes that are roughly spherical, such as poliovirus or herpesviruses. Enveloped viruses have membranes surrounding capsids. Animal viruses, such as HIV, are frequently enveloped. Head and tail viruses infect bacteria and have a head that is similar to icosahedral viruses and a tail shape like filamentous viruses. Many viruses use some sort of glycoprotein to attach to their host cells via molecules on the cell called viral receptors (Figure 21.3 ). For these viruses, attachment is a requirement for later penetration of the cell membrane, so they can complete their replication inside the cell. The receptors that viruses use are molecules that are normally found on cell surfaces and have their own physiological functions. Viruses have simply evolved to make use of these molecules for their own replication. For example, HIV uses the CD4 molecule on T lymphocytes as one of its receptors. CD4 is a type of molecule called a cell adhesion molecule, which functions to keep different types of immune cells in close proximity to each other during the generation of a T lymphocyte immune response. Figure 21.3 The KSHV virus binds the xCT receptor on the surface of human cells. xCT receptors protect cells against stress. Stressed cells express more xCT receptors than non-stressed cells. The KSHV virion causes cells to become stressed, thereby increasing expression of the receptor to which it binds. (credit: modification of work by NIAID, NIH) Chapter 21 | Viruses 537 Among the most complex virions known, the T4 bacteriophage, which infects the Escherichia coli bacterium, has a tail structure that the virus uses to attach to host cells and a head structure that houses its DNA. Adenovirus, a non-enveloped animal virus that causes respiratory illnesses in humans, uses glycoprotein spikes protruding from its capsomeres to attach to host cells. Non-enveloped viruses also include those that cause polio (poliovirus), plantar warts (papillomavirus), and hepatitis A (hepatitis A virus). Enveloped virions like HIV, the causative agent in AIDS, consist of nucleic acid (RNA in the case of HIV) and capsid proteins surrounded by a phospholipid bilayer envelope and its associated proteins. Glycoproteins embedded in the viral envelope are used to attach to host cells. Other envelope proteins are the matrix proteins that stabilize the envelope and often play a role in the assembly of progeny virions. Chicken pox, influenza, and mumps are examples of diseases caused by viruses with envelopes. Because of the fragility of the envelope, non-enveloped viruses are more resistant to changes in temperature, pH, and some disinfectants than enveloped viruses. Overall, the shape of the virion and the presence or absence of an envelope tell us little about what disease the virus may cause or what species it might infect, but they are still useful means to begin viral classification ( Figure 21.4 ). Figure 21.4 Viruses can be either complex in shape or relatively simple. This figure shows three relatively complex virions: the bacteriophage T4, with its DNA-containing head group and tail fibers that attach to host cells; adenovirus, which uses spikes from its capsid to bind to host cells; and HIV, which uses glycoproteins embedded in its envelope to bind to host cells. Notice that HIV has proteins called matrix proteins, internal to the envelope, which help stabilize virion shape. (credit “bacteriophage, adenovirus”: modification of work by NCBI, NIH; credit “HIV retrovirus”: modification of work by NIAID, NIH) Which of the following statements about virus structure is true? a. All viruses are encased in a viral membrane. b. The capsomere is made up of small protein subunits called capsids. c. DNA is the genetic material in all viruses. d. Glycoproteins help the virus attach to the host cell. Types of Nucleic Acid Unlike nearly all living organisms that use DNA as their genetic material, viruses may use either DNA or RNA as theirs. The virus core contains the genome or total genetic content of the virus. Viral genomes tend to be small, containing only 538 Chapter 21 | Viruses This OpenStax book is available for free at those genes that encode proteins that the virus cannot get from the host cell. This genetic material may be single- or double- stranded. It may also be linear or circular. While most viruses contain a single nucleic acid, others have genomes that have several, which are called segments. In DNA viruses, the viral DNA directs the host cell’s replication proteins to synthesize new copies of the viral genome and to transcribe and translate that genome into viral proteins. DNA viruses cause human diseases, such as chickenpox, hepatitis B, and some venereal diseases, like herpes and genital warts. RNA viruses contain only RNA as their genetic material. To replicate their genomes in the host cell, the RNA viruses encode enzymes that can replicate RNA into DNA, which cannot be done by the host cell. These RNA polymerase enzymes are more likely to make copying errors than DNA polymerases, and therefore often make mistakes during transcription. For this reason, mutations in RNA viruses occur more frequently than in DNA viruses. This causes them to change and adapt more rapidly to their host. Human diseases caused by RNA viruses include hepatitis C, measles, and rabies. Virus Classification To understand the features shared among different groups of viruses, a classification scheme is necessary. As most viruses are not thought to have evolved from a common ancestor, however, the methods that scientists use to classify living things are not very useful. Biologists have used several classification systems in the past, based on the morphology and genetics of the different viruses. However, these earlier classification methods grouped viruses differently, based on which features of the virus they were using to classify them. The most commonly used classification method today is called the Baltimore classification scheme and is based on how messenger RNA (mRNA) is generated in each particular type of virus. Past Systems of Classification Viruses are classified in several ways: by factors such as their core content ( Table 21.1 and Figure 21.3 ), the structure of their capsids, and whether they have an outer envelope. The type of genetic material (DNA or RNA) and its structure (single- or double-stranded, linear or circular, and segmented or non-segmented) are used to classify the virus core structures. Virus Classification by Genome Structure and Core Core Classifications Examples RNA DNA Rabies virus, retroviruses Herpesviruses, smallpox virus Single-stranded Double-stranded Rabies virus, retroviruses Herpesviruses, smallpox virus Linear Circular Rabies virus, retroviruses, herpesviruses, smallpox virus Papillomaviruses, many bacteriophages Non-segmented: genome consists of a single segment of genetic material Segmented: genome is divided into multiple segments Parainfluenza viruses Influenza viruses Table 21.1 Chapter 21 | Viruses 539 Figure 21.5 Viruses are classified based on their core genetic material and capsid design. (a) Rabies virus has a single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) core and an enveloped helical capsid, whereas (b) variola virus, the causative agent of smallpox, has a double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) core and a complex capsid. Rabies transmission occurs when saliva from an infected mammal enters a wound. The virus travels through neurons in the peripheral nervous system to the central nervous system where it impairs brain function, and then travels to other tissues. The virus can infect any mammal, and most die within weeks of infection. Smallpox is a human virus transmitted by inhalation of the variola virus, localized in the skin, mouth, and throat, which causes a characteristic rash. Before its eradication in 1979, infection resulted in a 30–35 percent mortality rate. (credit “rabies diagram”: modification of work by CDC; “rabies micrograph”: modification of work by Dr. Fred Murphy, CDC; credit “small pox micrograph”: modification of work by Dr. Fred Murphy, Sylvia Whitfield, CDC; credit “smallpox photo”: modification of work by CDC; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Viruses can also be classified by the design of their capsids ( Figure 21.4 and Figure 21.5 ). Capsids are classified as naked icosahedral, enveloped icosahedral, enveloped helical, naked helical, and complex ( Figure 21.6 and Figure 21.7 ). The type of genetic material (DNA or RNA) and its structure (single- or double-stranded, linear or circular, and segmented or non- segmented) are used to classify the virus core structures ( Table 21.2 ). Figure 21.6 Adenovirus (left) is depicted with a double-stranded DNA genome enclosed in an icosahedral capsid that is 90–100 nm across. The virus, shown clustered in the micrograph (right), is transmitted orally and causes a variety of illnesses in vertebrates, including human eye and respiratory infections. (credit “adenovirus”: modification of work by Dr. Richard Feldmann, National Cancer Institute; credit “micrograph”: modification of work by Dr. G. William Gary, Jr., CDC; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) 540 Chapter 21 | Viruses This OpenStax book is available for free at Virus Classification by Capsid Structure Capsid Classification Examples Naked icosahedral Hepatitis A virus, polioviruses Enveloped icosahedral Epstein-Barr virus, herpes simplex virus, rubella virus, yellow fever virus, HIV-1 Enveloped helical Influenza viruses, mumps virus, measles virus, rabies virus Naked helical Tobacco mosaic virus Complex with many proteins; some have combinations of icosahedral and helical capsid structures Herpesviruses, smallpox virus, hepatitis B virus, T4 bacteriophage Table 21.2 Figure 21.7 Transmission electron micrographs of various viruses show their structures. The capsid of the (a) polio virus is naked icosahedral; (b) the Epstein-Barr virus capsid is enveloped icosahedral; (c) the mumps virus capsid is an enveloped helix; (d) the tobacco mosaic virus capsid is naked helical; and (e) the herpesvirus capsid is complex. (credit a: modification of work by Dr. Fred Murphy, Sylvia Whitfield; credit b: modification of work by Liza Gross; credit c: modification of work by Dr. F. A. Murphy, CDC; credit d: modification of work by USDA ARS; credit e: modification of work by Linda Stannard, Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Cape Town, South Africa, NASA; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Baltimore Classification The most commonly used system of virus classification was developed by Nobel Prize-winning biologist David Baltimore in the early 1970s. In addition to the differences in morphology and genetics mentioned above, the Baltimore classification scheme groups viruses according to how the mRNA is produced during the replicative cycle of the virus. Group I viruses contain double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) as their genome. Their mRNA is produced by transcription in much the same way as with cellular DNA. Group II viruses have single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) as their genome. They convert their single-stranded genomes into a dsDNA intermediate before transcription to mRNA can occur. Group III viruses use dsRNA as their genome. The strands separate, and one of them is used as a template for the generation of mRNA using the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase encoded by the virus. Group IV viruses have ssRNA as their genome with a positive polarity. Positive polarity means that the genomic RNA can serve directly as mRNA. Intermediates of dsRNA, called replicative intermediates , are made in the process of copying the genomic RNA. Multiple, full-length RNA strands Chapter 21 | Viruses 541 of negative polarity (complimentary to the positive-stranded genomic RNA) are formed from these intermediates, which may then serve as templates for the production of RNA with positive polarity, including both full-length genomic RNA and shorter viral mRNAs. Group V viruses contain ssRNA genomes with a negative polarity , meaning that their sequence is complementary to the mRNA. As with Group IV viruses, dsRNA intermediates are used to make copies of the genome and produce mRNA. In this case, the negative-stranded genome can be converted directly to mRNA. Additionally, full- length positive RNA strands are made to serve as templates for the production of the negative-stranded genome. Group VI viruses have diploid (two copies) ssRNA genomes that must be converted, using the enzyme reverse transcriptase ,to dsDNA; the dsDNA is then transported to the nucleus of the host cell and inserted into the host genome. Then, mRNA can be produced by transcription of the viral DNA that was integrated into the host genome. Group VII viruses have partial dsDNA genomes and make ssRNA intermediates that act as mRNA, but are also converted back into dsDNA genomes by reverse transcriptase, necessary for genome replication. The characteristics of each group in the Baltimore classification are summarized in Table 21.3 with examples of each group. Baltimore Classification Group Characteristics Mode of mRNA Production Example I Double-stranded DNA mRNA is transcribed directly from the DNA template Herpes simplex (herpesvirus) II Single-stranded DNA DNA is converted to double-stranded form before RNA is transcribed Canine parvovirus (parvovirus) III Double-stranded RNA mRNA is transcribed from the RNA genome Childhood gastroenteritis (rotavirus) IV Single stranded RNA (+) Genome functions as mRNA Common cold (pircornavirus) V Single stranded RNA (-) mRNA is transcribed from the RNA genome Rabies (rhabdovirus) VI Single stranded RNA viruses with reverse transcriptase Reverse transcriptase makes DNA from the RNA genome; DNA is then incorporated in the host genome; mRNA is transcribed from the incorporated DNA Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) VII Double stranded DNA viruses with reverse transcriptase The viral genome is double-stranded DNA, but viral DNA is replicated through an RNA intermediate; the RNA may serve directly as mRNA or as a template to make mRNA Hepatitis B virus (hepadnavirus) Table 21.3 21.2 | Virus Infections and Hosts By the end of this section, you will be able to: • List the steps of replication and explain what occurs at each step • Describe the lytic and lysogenic cycles of virus replication • Explain the transmission and diseases of animal and plant viruses • Discuss the economic impact of animal and plant viruses Viruses can be seen as obligate, intracellular parasites. A virus must attach to a living cell, be taken inside, manufacture its proteins and copy its genome, and find a way to escape the cell so that the virus can infect other cells. Viruses can infect only 542 Chapter 21 | Viruses This OpenStax book is available for free at certain species of hosts and only certain cells within that host. Cells that a virus may use to replicate are called permissive . For most viruses, the molecular basis for this specificity is that a particular surface molecule known as the viral receptor must be found on the host cell surface for the virus to attach. Also, metabolic and host cell immune response differences seen in different cell types based on differential gene expression are a likely factor in which cells a virus may target for replication. The permissive cell must make the substances that the virus needs or the virus will not be able to replicate there. Steps of Virus Infections A virus must use cell processes to replicate. The viral replication cycle can produce dramatic biochemical and structural changes in the host cell, which may cause cell damage. These changes, called cytopathic (causing cell damage) effects, can change cell functions or even destroy the cell. Some infected cells, such as those infected by the common cold virus known as rhinovirus, die through lysis (bursting) or apoptosis (programmed cell death or “cell suicide”), releasing all progeny virions at once. The symptoms of viral diseases result from the immune response to the virus, which attempts to control and eliminate the virus from the body, and from cell damage caused by the virus. Many animal viruses, such as HIV (human immunodeficiency virus), leave the infected cells of the immune system by a process known as budding , where virions leave the cell individually. During the budding process, the cell does not undergo lysis and is not immediately killed. However, the damage to the cells that the virus infects may make it impossible for the cells to function normally, even though the cells remain alive for a period of time. Most productive viral infections follow similar steps in the virus replication cycle: attachment, penetration, uncoating, replication, assembly, and release ( Figure 21.8 ). Attachment A virus attaches to a specific receptor site on the host cell membrane through attachment proteins in the capsid or via glycoproteins embedded in the viral envelope. The specificity of this interaction determines the host—and the cells within the host—that can be infected by a particular virus. This can be illustrated by thinking of several keys and several locks, where each key will fit only one specific lock. This video ( explains how influenza attacks the body. Entry The nucleic acid of bacteriophages enters the host cell naked, leaving the capsid outside the cell. Plant and animal viruses can enter through endocytosis, in which the cell membrane surrounds and engulfs the entire virus. Some enveloped viruses enter the cell when the viral envelope fuses directly with the cell membrane. Once inside the cell, the viral capsid is degraded, and the viral nucleic acid is released, which then becomes available for replication and transcription. Replication and Assembly The replication mechanism depends on the viral genome. DNA viruses usually use host cell proteins and enzymes to make additional DNA that is transcribed to messenger RNA (mRNA), which is then used to direct protein synthesis. RNA viruses usually use the RNA core as a template for synthesis of viral genomic RNA and mRNA. The viral mRNA directs the host cell to synthesize viral enzymes and capsid proteins, and assemble new virions. Of course, there are exceptions to this pattern. If a host cell does not provide the enzymes necessary for viral replication, viral genes supply the information to direct synthesis of the missing proteins. Retroviruses, such as HIV, have an RNA genome that must be reverse transcribed into DNA, which then is incorporated into the host cell genome. They are within group VI of the Baltimore classification scheme. To convert RNA into DNA, retroviruses must contain genes that encode the virus-specific enzyme reverse transcriptase that transcribes an RNA template to DNA. Reverse transcription never occurs in uninfected host cells—the needed enzyme reverse transcriptase is only derived from the expression of viral genes within the infected host cells. The fact that HIV produces some of its own enzymes not found in the host has allowed researchers to develop drugs that inhibit these enzymes. These drugs, including the reverse transcriptase inhibitor AZT , inhibit HIV replication by reducing the activity of the enzyme without affecting the host’s metabolism. This approach has led to the development of a variety of drugs used to treat HIV and has been effective at reducing the number of infectious virions (copies of viral RNA) in the blood to non-detectable levels in many HIV-infected individuals. Chapter 21 | Viruses 543 Egress The last stage of viral replication is the release of the new virions produced in the host organism, where they are able to infect adjacent cells and repeat the replication cycle. As you’ve learned, some viruses are released when the host cell dies, and other viruses can leave infected cells by budding through the membrane without directly killing the cell. Figure 21.8 In influenza virus infection, glycoproteins attach to a host epithelial cell. As a result, the virus is engulfed. RNA and proteins are made and assembled into new virions. Influenza virus is packaged in a viral envelope that fuses with the plasma membrane. This way, the virus can exit the host cell without killing it. What advantage does the virus gain by keeping the host cell alive? Wa t c h a video ( on viruses, identifying structures, modes of transmission, replication, and more. Different Hosts and Their Viruses As you’ve learned, viruses are often very specific as to which hosts and which cells within the host they will infect. This feature of a virus makes it specific to one or a few species of life on Earth. On the other hand, so many different types of viruses exist on Earth that nearly every living organism has its own set of viruses that tries to infect its cells. Even the smallest and simplest of cells, prokaryotic bacteria, may be attacked by specific types of viruses. 544 Chapter 21 | Viruses This OpenStax book is available for free at Bacteriophages Figure 21.9 This transmission electron micrograph shows bacteriophages attached to a bacterial cell. (credit: modification of work by Dr. Graham Beards; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria ( Figure 21.9 ). When infection of a cell by a bacteriophage results in the production of new virions, the infection is said to be productive . If the virions are released by bursting the cell, the virus replicates by means of a lytic cycle (Figure 21.10 ). An example of a lytic bacteriophage is T4, which infects Escherichia coli found in the human intestinal tract. Sometimes, however, a virus can remain within the cell without being released. For example, when a temperate bacteriophage infects a bacterial cell, it replicates by means of a lysogenic cycle (Figure 21.10 ), and the viral genome is incorporated into the genome of the host cell. When the phage DNA is incorporated into the host cell genome, it is called a prophage . An example of a lysogenic bacteriophage is the λ (lambda) virus, which also infects the E.coli bacterium. Viruses that infect plant or animal cells may also undergo infections where they are not producing virions for long periods. An example is the animal herpesviruses, including herpes simplex viruses, the cause of oral and genital herpes in humans. In a process called latency , these viruses can exist in nervous tissue for long periods of time without producing new virions, only to leave latency periodically and cause lesions in the skin where the virus replicates. Even though there are similarities between lysogeny and latency, the term lysogenic cycle is usually reserved to describe bacteriophages. Latency will be described in more detail below. Chapter 21 | Viruses 545 Figure 21.10 A temperate bacteriophage has both lytic and lysogenic cycles. In the lytic cycle, the phage replicates and lyses the host cell. In the lysogenic cycle, phage DNA is incorporated into the host genome, where it is passed on to subsequent generations. Environmental stressors such as starvation or exposure to toxic chemicals may cause the prophage to excise and enter the lytic cycle. Which of the following statements is false? a. In the lytic cycle, new phage are produced and released into the environment. b. In the lysogenic cycle, phage DNA is incorporated into the host genome. c. An environmental stressor can cause the phage to initiate the lysogenic cycle. d. Cell lysis only occurs in the lytic cycle. Animal Viruses Animal viruses, unlike the viruses of plants and bacteria, do not have to penetrate a cell wall to gain access to the host cell. Non-enveloped or “naked” animal viruses may enter cells in two different ways. As a protein in the viral capsid binds to its receptor on the host cell, the virus may be taken inside the cell via a vesicle during the normal cell process of receptor- mediated endocytosis. An alternative method of cell penetration used by non-enveloped viruses is for capsid proteins to undergo shape changes after binding to the receptor, creating channels in the host cell membrane. The viral genome is then “injected” into the host cell through these channels in a manner analogous to that used by many bacteriophages. Enveloped viruses also have two ways of entering cells after binding to their receptors: receptor-mediated endocytosis, or fusion . Many enveloped viruses enter the cell by receptor-mediated endocytosis in a fashion similar to some non-enveloped viruses. On the other hand, fusion only occurs with enveloped virions. These viruses, which include HIV among others, use special fusion proteins in their envelopes to cause the envelope to fuse with the plasma membrane of the cell, thus releasing the genome and capsid of the virus into the cell cytoplasm. After making their proteins and copying their genomes, animal viruses complete the assembly of new virions and exit the cell. As we have already discussed using the example of HIV, enveloped animal viruses may bud from the cell membrane as they assemble themselves, taking a piece of the cell’s plasma membrane in the process. On the other hand, non-enveloped viral progeny, such as rhinoviruses, accumulate in infected cells until there is a signal for lysis or apoptosis, and all virions are released together. 546 Chapter 21 | Viruses This OpenStax book is available for free at As you will learn in the next module, animal viruses are associated with a variety of human diseases. Some of them follow the classic pattern of acute disease , where symptoms get increasingly worse for a short period followed by the elimination of the virus from the body by the immune system and eventual recovery from the infection. Examples of acute viral diseases are the common cold and influenza. Other viruses cause long-term chronic infections , such as the virus causing hepatitis C, whereas others, like herpes simplex virus, only cause intermittent symptoms. Still other viruses, such as human herpesviruses 6 and 7, which in some cases can cause the minor childhood disease roseola, often successfully cause productive infections without causing any symptoms at all in the host, and thus we say these patients have an asymptomatic infection . In hepatitis C infections, the virus grows and reproduces in liver cells, causing low levels of liver damage. The damage is so low that infected individuals are often unaware that they are infected, and many infections are detected only by routine blood work on patients with risk factors such as intravenous drug use. On the other hand, since many of the symptoms of viral diseases are caused by immune responses, a lack of symptoms is an indication of a weak immune response to the virus. This allows for the virus to escape elimination by the immune system and persist in individuals for years, all the while producing low levels of progeny virions in what is known as a chronic viral disease. Chronic infection of the liver by this virus leads to a much greater chance of developing liver cancer, sometimes as much as 30 years after the initial infection. As already discussed, herpes simplex virus can remain in a state of latency in nervous tissue for months, even years. As the virus “hides” in the tissue and makes few if any viral proteins, there is nothing for the immune response to act against, and immunity to the virus slowly declines. Under certain conditions, including various types of physical and psychological stress, the latent herpes simplex virus may be reactivated and undergo a lytic replication cycle in the skin, causing the lesions associated with the disease. Once virions are produced in the skin and viral proteins are synthesized, the immune response is again stimulated and resolves the skin lesions in a few days by destroying viruses in the skin. As a result of this type of replicative cycle, appearances of cold sores and genital herpes outbreaks only occur intermittently, even though the viruses remain in the nervous tissue for life. Latent infections are common with other herpesviruses as well, including the varicella- zoster virus that causes chickenpox. After having a chickenpox infection in childhood, the varicella-zoster virus can remain latent for many years and reactivate in adults to cause the painful condition known as “shingles” ( Figure 21.11 ab ). Figure 21.11 (a) Varicella-zoster, the virus that causes chickenpox, has an enveloped icosahedral capsid visible in this transmission electron micrograph. Its double-stranded DNA genome becomes incorporated in the host DNA and can reactivate after latency in the form of (b) shingles, often exhibiting a rash. (credit a: modification of work by Dr. Erskine Palmer, B. G. Martin, CDC; credit b: modification of work by “rosmary”/Flickr; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Some animal-infecting viruses, including the hepatitis C virus discussed above, are known as oncogenic viruses : They have the ability to cause cancer. These viruses interfere with the normal regulation of the host cell cycle either by either introducing genes that stimulate unregulated cell growth (oncogenes) or by interfering with the expression of genes that inhibit cell growth. Oncogenic viruses can be either DNA or RNA viruses. Cancers known to be associated with viral infections include cervical cancer caused by human papillomavirus (HPV) ( Figure 21.12 ), liver cancer caused by hepatitis B virus, T-cell leukemia, and several types of lymphoma. Chapter 21 | Viruses 547 Figure 21.12 HPV, or human papillomavirus, has a naked icosahedral capsid visible in this transmission electron micrograph and a double-stranded DNA genome that is incorporated into the host DNA. The virus, which is sexually transmitted, is oncogenic and can lead to cervical cancer. (credit: modification of work by NCI, NIH; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Visit the interactive animations ( showing the various stages of the replicative cycles of animal viruses and click on the flash animation links. Plant Viruses Plant viruses, like other viruses, contain a core of either DNA or RNA. You have already learned about one of these, the tobacco mosaic virus. As plant viruses have a cell wall to protect their cells, these viruses do not use receptor-mediated endocytosis to enter host cells as is seen with animal viruses. For many plant viruses to be transferred from plant to plant, damage to some of the plants’ cells must occur to allow the virus to enter a new host. This damage is often caused by weather, insects, animals, fire, or human activities like farming or landscaping. Additionally, plant offspring may inherit viral diseases from parent plants. Plant viruses can be transmitted by a variety of vectors, through contact with an infected plant’s sap, by living organisms such as insects and nematodes, and through pollen. When plants viruses are transferred between different plants, this is known as horizontal transmission , and when they are inherited from a parent, this is called vertical transmission . Symptoms of viral diseases vary according to the virus and its host ( Table 21.4 ). One common symptom is hyperplasia , the abnormal proliferation of cells that causes the appearance of plant tumors known as galls . Other viruses induce hypoplasia , or decreased cell growth, in the leaves of plants, causing thin, yellow areas to appear. Still other viruses affect the plant by directly killing plant cells, a process known as cell necrosis . Other symptoms of plant viruses include malformed leaves, black streaks on the stems of the plants, altered growth of stems, leaves, or fruits, and ring spots, which are circular or linear areas of discoloration found in a leaf. 548 Chapter 21 | Viruses This OpenStax book is available for free at Some Common Symptoms of Plant Viral Diseases Symptom Appears as Hyperplasia Galls (tumors) Hypoplasia Thinned, yellow splotches on leaves Cell necrosis Dead, blackened stems, leaves, or fruit Abnormal growth patterns Malformed stems, leaves, or fruit Discoloration Yellow, red, or black lines, or rings in stems, leaves, or fruit Table 21.4 Plant viruses can seriously disrupt crop growth and development, significantly affecting our food supply. They are responsible for poor crop quality and quantity globally, and can bring about huge economic losses annually. Others viruses may damage plants used in landscaping. Some viruses that infect agricultural food plants include the name of the plant they infect, such as tomato spotted wilt virus, bean common mosaic virus, and cucumber mosaic virus. In plants used for landscaping, two of the most common viruses are peony ring spot and rose mosaic virus. There are far too many plant viruses to discuss each in detail, but symptoms of bean common mosaic virus result in lowered bean production and stunted, unproductive plants. In the ornamental rose, the rose mosaic disease causes wavy yellow lines and colored splotches on the leaves of the plant. 21.3 | Prevention and Treatment of Viral Infections By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Identify major viral illnesses that affect humans • Compare vaccinations and anti-viral drugs as medical approaches to viruses Viruses cause a variety of diseases in animals, including humans, ranging from the common cold to potentially fatal illnesses like meningitis ( Figure 21.13 ). These diseases can be treated by antiviral drugs or by vaccines, but some viruses, such as HIV, are capable of both avoiding the immune response and mutating to become resistant to antiviral drugs. Chapter 21 | Viruses 549 Figure 21.13 Viruses can cause dozens of ailments in humans, ranging from mild illnesses to serious diseases. (credit: modification of work by Mikael Häggström) Vaccines for Prevention While we do have limited numbers of effective antiviral drugs, such as those used to treat HIV and influenza, the primary method of controlling viral disease is by vaccination, which is intended to prevent outbreaks by building immunity to a virus or virus family ( Figure 21.14 ).Vaccines may be prepared using live viruses, killed viruses, or molecular subunits of the virus. The killed viral vaccines and subunit viruses are both incapable of causing disease. Live viral vaccines are designed in the laboratory to cause few symptoms in recipients while giving them protective immunity against future infections. Polio was one disease that represented a milestone in the use of vaccines. Mass immunization campaigns in the 1950s (killed vaccine) and 1960s (live vaccine) significantly reduced the incidence of the disease, which caused muscle paralysis in children and generated a great amount of fear in the general population when regional epidemics occurred. The success of the polio vaccine paved the way for the routine dispensation of childhood vaccines against measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, and other diseases. The danger of using live vaccines, which are usually more effective than killed vaccines, is the low but significant danger that these viruses will revert to their disease-causing form by back mutations . Live vaccines are usually made by attenuating (weakening) the “wild-type” (disease-causing) virus by growing it in the laboratory in tissues or at temperatures different from what the virus is accustomed to in the host. Adaptations to these new cells or temperatures induce mutations in the genomes of the virus, allowing it to grow better in the laboratory while inhibiting its ability to cause disease when reintroduced into conditions found in the host. These attenuated viruses thus still cause infection, but they do not grow very well, allowing the immune response to develop in time to prevent major disease. Back mutations occur when the vaccine undergoes mutations in the host such that it readapts to the host and can again cause disease, which can then be spread to other humans in an epidemic. This type of scenario happened as recently as 2007 in Nigeria where mutations in a polio vaccine led to an epidemic of polio in that country. Some vaccines are in continuous development because certain viruses, such as influenza and HIV, have a high mutation rate compared to other viruses and normal host cells. With influenza, mutations in the surface molecules of the virus help the organism evade the protective immunity that may have been obtained in a previous influenza season, making it necessary for individuals to get vaccinated every year. Other viruses, such as those that cause the childhood diseases measles, mumps, and rubella, mutate so infrequently that the same vaccine is used year after year. 550 Chapter 21 | Viruses This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 21.14 Vaccinations are designed to boost immunity to a virus to prevent infection. (credit: USACE Europe District) Watch this NOVA video ( to learn how microbiologists are attempting to replicate the deadly 1918 Spanish influenza virus so they can understand more about virology. Vaccines and Anti-viral Drugs for Treatment In some cases, vaccines can be used to treat an active viral infection. The concept behind this is that by giving the vaccine, immunity is boosted without adding more disease-causing virus. In the case of rabies, a fatal neurological disease transmitted via the saliva of rabies virus-infected animals, the progression of the disease from the time of the animal bite to the time it enters the central nervous system may be 2 weeks or longer. This is enough time to vaccinate an individual who suspects that they have been bitten by a rabid animal, and their boosted immune response is sufficient to prevent the virus from entering nervous tissue. Thus, the potentially fatal neurological consequences of the disease are averted, and the individual only has to recover from the infected bite. This approach is also being used for the treatment of Ebola, one of the fastest and most deadly viruses on earth. Transmitted by bats and great apes, this disease can cause death in 70–90 percent of infected humans within 2 weeks. Using newly developed vaccines that boost the immune response in this way, there is hope that affected individuals will be better able to control the virus, potentially saving a greater percentage of infected persons from a rapid and very painful death. Another way of treating viral infections is the use of antiviral drugs. These drugs often have limited success in curing viral disease, but in many cases, they have been used to control and reduce symptoms for a wide variety of viral diseases. For most viruses, these drugs can inhibit the virus by blocking the actions of one or more of its proteins. It is important that the targeted proteins be encoded by viral genes and that these molecules are not present in a healthy host cell. In this way, viral growth is inhibited without damaging the host. There are large numbers of antiviral drugs available to treat infections, some specific for a particular virus and others that can affect multiple viruses. Antivirals have been developed to treat genital herpes (herpes simplex II) and influenza. For genital herpes, drugs such as acyclovir can reduce the number and duration of episodes of active viral disease, during which patients develop viral lesions in their skin cells. As the virus remains latent in nervous tissue of the body for life, this drug is not curative but can make the symptoms of the disease more manageable. For influenza, drugs like Tamiflu (oseltamivir) ( Figure 21.15 ) can reduce the duration of “flu” symptoms by 1 or 2 days, but the drug does not prevent symptoms entirely. Tamiflu works by inhibiting Chapter 21 | Viruses 551 an enzyme (viral neuraminidase) that allows new virions to leave their infected cells. Thus, Tamiflu inhibits the spread of virus from infected to uninfected cells. Other antiviral drugs, such as Ribavirin, have been used to treat a variety of viral infections, although its mechanism of action against certain viruses remains unclear. Figure 21.15 (a) Tamiflu inhibits a viral enzyme called neuraminidase (NA) found in the influenza viral envelope. (b) Neuraminidase cleaves the connection between viral hemagglutinin (HA), also found in the viral envelope, and glycoproteins on the host cell surface. Inhibition of neuraminidase prevents the virus from detaching from the host cell, thereby blocking further infection. (credit a: modification of work by M. Eickmann) By far, the most successful use of antivirals has been in the treatment of the retrovirus HIV, which causes a disease that, if untreated, is usually fatal within 10–12 years after infection. Anti-HIV drugs have been able to control viral replication to the point that individuals receiving these drugs survive for a significantly longer time than the untreated. Anti-HIV drugs inhibit viral replication at many different phases of the HIV replicative cycle ( Figure 21.16 ). Drugs have been developed that inhibit the fusion of the HIV viral envelope with the plasma membrane of the host cell (fusion inhibitors), the conversion of its RNA genome into double-stranded DNA (reverse transcriptase inhibitors), the integration of the viral DNA into the host genome (integrase inhibitors), and the processing of viral proteins (protease inhibitors). 552 Chapter 21 | Viruses This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 21.16 HIV, an enveloped, icosahedral virus, attaches to the CD4 receptor of an immune cell and fuses with the cell membrane. Viral contents are released into the cell, where viral enzymes convert the single-stranded RNA genome into DNA and incorporate it into the host genome. (credit: NIAID, NIH) When any of these drugs are used individually, the high mutation rate of the virus allows it to easily and rapidly develop resistance to the drug, limiting the drug’s effectiveness. The breakthrough in the treatment of HIV was the development of HAART, highly active anti-retroviral therapy, which involves a mixture of different drugs, sometimes called a drug “cocktail.” By attacking the virus at different stages of its replicative cycle, it is much more difficult for the virus to develop resistance to multiple drugs at the same time. Still, even with the use of combination HAART therapy, there is concern that, over time, the virus will develop resistance to this therapy. Thus, new anti-HIV drugs are constantly being developed with the hope of continuing the battle against this highly fatal virus. Chapter 21 | Viruses 553 Applied Virology The study of viruses has led to the development of a variety of new ways to treat non-viral diseases. Viruses have been used in gene therapy . Gene therapy is used to treat genetic diseases such as severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), a heritable, recessive disease in which children are born with severely compromised immune systems. One common type of SCID is due to the lack of an enzyme, adenosine deaminase (ADA), which breaks down purine bases. To treat this disease by gene therapy, bone marrow cells are taken from a SCID patient and the ADA gene is inserted. This is where viruses come in, and their use relies on their ability to penetrate living cells and bring genes in with them. Viruses such as adenovirus, an upper respiratory human virus, are modified by the addition of the ADA gene, and the virus then transports this gene into the cell. The modified cells, now capable of making ADA, are then given back to the patients in the hope of curing them. Gene therapy using viruses as carrier of genes (viral vectors), although still experimental, holds promise for the treatment of many genetic diseases. Still, many technological problems need to be solved for this approach to be a viable method for treating genetic disease. Another medical use for viruses relies on their specificity and ability to kill the cells they infect. Oncolytic viruses are engineered in the laboratory specifically to attack and kill cancer cells. A genetically modified adenovirus known as H101 has been used since 2005 in clinical trials in China to treat head and neck cancers. The results have been promising, with a greater short-term response rate to the combination of chemotherapy and viral therapy than to chemotherapy treatment alone. This ongoing research may herald the beginning of a new age of cancer therapy, where viruses are engineered to find and specifically kill cancer cells, regardless of where in the body they may have spread. A third use of viruses in medicine relies on their specificity and involves using bacteriophages in the treatment of bacterial infections. Bacterial diseases have been treated with antibiotics since the 1940s. However, over time, many bacteria have developed resistance to antibiotics. A good example is methicillin- resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA, pronounced “mersa”), an infection commonly acquired in hospitals. This bacterium is resistant to a variety of antibiotics, making it difficult to treat. The use of bacteriophages specific for such bacteria would bypass their resistance to antibiotics and specifically kill them. Although phage therapy is in use in the Republic of Georgia to treat antibiotic-resistant bacteria, its use to treat human diseases has not been approved in most countries. However, the safety of the treatment was confirmed in the United States when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved spraying meats with bacteriophages to destroy the food pathogen Listeria. As more and more antibiotic- resistant strains of bacteria evolve, the use of bacteriophages might be a potential solution to the problem, and the development of phage therapy is of much interest to researchers worldwide. 21.4 | Other Acellular Entities: Prions and Viroids By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Describe prions and their basic properties • Define viroids and their targets of infection Prions and viroids are pathogens (agents with the ability to cause disease) that have simpler structures than viruses but, in the case of prions, still can produce deadly diseases. Prions Prions , so-called because they are proteinaceous, are infectious particles—smaller than viruses—that contain no nucleic acids (neither DNA nor RNA). Historically, the idea of an infectious agent that did not use nucleic acids was considered impossible, but pioneering work by Nobel Prize-winning biologist Stanley Prusiner has convinced the majority of biologists that such agents do indeed exist. 554 Chapter 21 | Viruses This OpenStax book is available for free at Fatal neurodegenerative diseases, such as kuru in humans and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle (commonly known as “mad cow disease”) were shown to be transmitted by prions. The disease was spread by the consumption of meat, nervous tissue, or internal organs between members of the same species. Kuru, native to humans in Papua New Guinea, was spread from human to human via ritualistic cannibalism. BSE, originally detected in the United Kingdom, was spread between cattle by the practice of including cattle nervous tissue in feed for other cattle. Individuals with kuru and BSE show symptoms of loss of motor control and unusual behaviors, such as uncontrolled bursts of laughter with kuru, followed by death. Kuru was controlled by inducing the population to abandon its ritualistic cannibalism. On the other hand, BSE was initially thought to only affect cattle. Cattle dying of the disease were shown to have developed lesions or “holes” in the brain, causing the brain tissue to resemble a sponge. Later on in the outbreak, however, it was shown that a similar encephalopathy in humans known as variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) could be acquired from eating beef from animals with BSE, sparking bans by various countries on the importation of British beef and causing considerable economic damage to the British beef industry ( Figure 21.17 ). BSE still exists in various areas, and although a rare disease, individuals that acquire CJD are difficult to treat. The disease can be spread from human to human by blood, so many countries have banned blood donation from regions associated with BSE. The cause of spongiform encephalopathies, such as kuru and BSE, is an infectious structural variant of a normal cellular protein called PrP (prion protein). It is this variant that constitutes the prion particle. PrP exists in two forms, PrP c, the normal form of the protein, and PrP sc, the infectious form. Once introduced into the body, the PrP sccontained within the prion binds to PrP cand converts it to PrP sc. This leads to an exponential increase of the PrP scprotein, which aggregates. PrP scis folded abnormally, and the resulting conformation (shape) is directly responsible for the lesions seen in the brains of infected cattle. Thus, although not without some detractors among scientists, the prion seems likely to be an entirely new form of infectious agent, the first one found whose transmission is not reliant upon genes made of DNA or RNA. Figure 21.17 (a) Endogenous normal prion protein (PrP c) is converted into the disease-causing form (PrP sc) when it encounters this variant form of the protein. PrP sc may arise spontaneously in brain tissue, especially if a mutant form of the protein is present, or it may occur via the spread of misfolded prions consumed in food into brain tissue. (b) This prion-infected brain tissue, visualized using light microscopy, shows the vacuoles that give it a spongy texture, typical of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. (credit b: modification of work by Dr. Al Jenny, USDA APHIS; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Viroids Viroids are plant pathogens: small, single-stranded, circular RNA particles that are much simpler than a virus. They do not have a capsid or outer envelope, but like viruses can reproduce only within a host cell. Viroids do not, however, manufacture any proteins, and they only produce a single, specific RNA molecule. Human diseases caused by viroids have yet to be identified. Viroids are known to infect plants ( Figure 21.18 ) and are responsible for crop failures and the loss of millions of dollars in agricultural revenue each year. Some of the plants they infect include potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, chrysanthemums, avocados, and coconut palms. Chapter 21 | Viruses 555 Figure 21.18 These potatoes have been infected by the potato spindle tuber viroid (PSTV), which is typically spread when infected knives are used to cut healthy potatoes, which are then planted. (credit: Pamela Roberts, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, USDA ARS) 556 Chapter 21 | Viruses This OpenStax book is available for free at Virologist Virology is the study of viruses, and a virologist is an individual trained in this discipline. Training in virology can lead to many different career paths. Virologists are actively involved in academic research and teaching in colleges and medical schools. Some virologists treat patients or are involved in the generation and production of vaccines. They might participate in epidemiologic studies ( Figure 21.19 ) or become science writers, to name just a few possible careers. Figure 21.19 This virologist is engaged in fieldwork, sampling eggs from this nest for avian influenza. (credit: Don Becker, USGS EROS, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) If you think you may be interested in a career in virology, find a mentor in the field. Many large medical centers have departments of virology, and smaller hospitals usually have virology labs within their microbiology departments. Volunteer in a virology lab for a semester or work in one over the summer. Discussing the profession and getting a first-hand look at the work will help you decide whether a career in virology is right for you. The American Society of Virology’s website ( is a good resource for information regarding training and careers in virology. Chapter 21 | Viruses 557 acellular acute disease asymptomatic disease attenuation AZT back mutation bacteriophage budding capsid capsomere cell necrosis chronic infection cytopathic envelope fusion gall gene therapy group I virus group II virus group III virus group IV virus group V virus group VI virus group VII virus horizontal transmission hyperplasia hypoplasia intermittent symptom latency lysis KEY TERMS lacking cells disease where the symptoms rise and fall within a short period of time disease where there are no symptoms and the individual is unaware of being infected unless lab tests are performed weakening of a virus during vaccine development anti-HIV drug that inhibits the viral enzyme reverse transcriptase when a live virus vaccine reverts back to it disease-causing phenotype virus that infects bacteria method of exit from the cell used in certain animal viruses, where virions leave the cell individually by capturing a piece of the host plasma membrane protein coating of the viral core protein subunit that makes up the capsid cell death describes when the virus persists in the body for a long period of time causing cell damage lipid bilayer that envelopes some viruses method of entry by some enveloped viruses, where the viral envelope fuses with the plasma membrane of the host cell appearance of a plant tumor treatment of genetic disease by adding genes, using viruses to carry the new genes inside the cell virus with a dsDNA genome virus with a ssDNA genome virus with a dsRNA genome virus with a ssRNA genome with positive polarity virus with a ssRNA genome with negative polarity virus with a ssRNA genomes converted into dsDNA by reverse transcriptase virus with a single-stranded mRNA converted into dsDNA for genome replication transmission of a disease from parent to offspring abnormally high cell growth and division abnormally low cell growth and division symptom that occurs periodically virus that remains in the body for a long period of time but only causes intermittent symptoms bursting of a cell 558 Chapter 21 | Viruses This OpenStax book is available for free at lysogenic cycle lytic cycle matrix protein negative polarity oncogenic virus oncolytic virus pathogen permissive phage therapy positive polarity prion productive prophage PrP c PrP sc replicative intermediate reverse transcriptase vaccine vertical transmission viral receptor virion viroid virus core type of virus replication in which the viral genome is incorporated into the genome of the host cell type of virus replication in which virions are released through lysis, or bursting, of the cell envelope protein that stabilizes the envelope and often plays a role in the assembly of progeny virions ssRNA viruses with genomes complimentary to their mRNA virus that has the ability to cause cancer virus engineered to specifically infect and kill cancer cells agent with the ability to cause disease cell type that is able to support productive replication of a virus treatment of bacterial diseases using bacteriophages specific to a particular bacterium ssRNA virus with a genome that contains the same base sequences and codons found in their mRNA infectious particle that consists of proteins that replicate without DNA or RNA viral infection that leads to the production of new virions phage DNA that is incorporated into the host cell genome normal prion protein infectious form of a prion protein dsRNA intermediate made in the process of copying genomic RNA enzyme found in Baltimore groups VI and VII that converts single-stranded RNA into double- stranded DNA weakened solution of virus components, viruses, or other agents that produce an immune response transmission of disease between unrelated individuals glycoprotein used to attach a virus to host cells via molecules on the cell individual virus particle outside a host cell plant pathogen that produces only a single, specific RNA contains the virus genome CHAPTER SUMMARY 21.1 Viral Evolution, Morphology, and Classification Viruses are tiny, acellular entities that can usually only be seen with an electron microscope. Their genomes contain either DNA or RNA—never both—and they replicate using the replication proteins of a host cell. Viruses are diverse, infecting archaea, bacteria, fungi, plants, and animals. Viruses consist of a nucleic acid core surrounded by a protein capsid with or without an outer lipid envelope. The capsid shape, presence of an envelope, and core composition dictate some elements of the classification of viruses. The most commonly used classification method, the Baltimore classification, categorizes viruses based on how they produce their mRNA. 21.2 Virus Infections and Hosts Viral replication within a living cell always produces changes in the cell, sometimes resulting in cell death and sometimes slowly killing the infected cells. There are six basic stages in the virus replication cycle: attachment, penetration, uncoating, replication, assembly, and release. A viral infection may be productive, resulting in new virions, or Chapter 21 | Viruses 559 nonproductive, which means that the virus remains inside the cell without producing new virions. Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria. They have two different modes of replication: the lytic cycle, where the virus replicates and bursts out of the bacteria, and the lysogenic cycle, which involves the incorporation of the viral genome into the bacterial host genome. Animal viruses cause a variety of infections, with some causing chronic symptoms (hepatitis C), some intermittent symptoms (latent viruses such a herpes simplex virus 1), and others that cause very few symptoms, if any (human herpesviruses 6 and 7). Oncogenic viruses in animals have the ability to cause cancer by interfering with the regulation of the host cell cycle. Viruses of plants are responsible for significant economic damage in both agriculture and plants used for ornamentation. 21.3 Prevention and Treatment of Viral Infections Viruses cause a variety of diseases in humans. Many of these diseases can be prevented by the use of viral vaccines, which stimulate protective immunity against the virus without causing major disease. Viral vaccines may also be used in active viral infections, boosting the ability of the immune system to control or destroy the virus. A series of antiviral drugs that target enzymes and other protein products of viral genes have been developed and used with mixed success. Combinations of anti-HIV drugs have been used to effectively control the virus, extending the lifespans of infected individuals. Viruses have many uses in medicines, such as in the treatment of genetic disorders, cancer, and bacterial infections. 21.4 Other Acellular Entities: Prions and Viroids Prions are infectious agents that consist of protein, but no DNA or RNA, and seem to produce their deadly effects by duplicating their shapes and accumulating in tissues. They are thought to contribute to several progressive brain disorders, including mad cow disease and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Viroids are single-stranded RNA pathogens that infect plants. Their presence can have a severe impact on the agriculture industry. ART CONNECTION QUESTIONS 1. Figure 21.4 Which of the following statements about virus structure is true? a. All viruses are encased in a viral membrane. b. The capsomere is made up of small protein subunits called capsids. c. DNA is the genetic material in all viruses. d. Glycoproteins help the virus attach to the host cell. 2. Figure 21.8 Influenza virus is packaged in a viral envelope that fuses with the plasma membrane. This way, the virus can exit the host cell without killing it. What advantage does the virus gain by keeping the host cell alive? 3. Figure 21.10 Which of the following statements is false? a. In the lytic cycle, new phage are produced and released into the environment. b. In the lysogenic cycle, phage DNA is incorporated into the host genome. c. An environmental stressor can cause the phage to initiate the lysogenic cycle. d. Cell lysis only occurs in the lytic cycle. REVIEW QUESTIONS 4. Which statement is true? a. A virion contains DNA and RNA. b. Viruses are acellular. c. Viruses replicate outside of the cell. d. Most viruses are easily visualized with a light microscope. 5. The viral ________ plays a role in attaching a virion to the host cell. a. core b. capsid c. envelope d. both b and c 6. Viruses_______. a. all have a round shape b. cannot have a long shape c. do not maintain any shape d. vary in shape 7. Which statement is not true of viral replication? a. A lysogenic cycle kills the host cell. b. There are six basic steps in the viral replication cycle. c. Viral replication does not affect host cell function. d. Newly released virions can infect adjacent cells. 8. Which statement is true of viral replication? a. In the process of apoptosis, the cell survives. b. During attachment, the virus attaches at specific sites on the cell surface. c. The viral capsid helps the host cell produce more copies of the viral genome. 560 Chapter 21 | Viruses This OpenStax book is available for free at d. mRNA works outside of the host cell to produce enzymes and proteins. 9. Which statement is true of reverse transcriptase? a. It is a nucleic acid. b. It infects cells. c. It transcribes RNA to make DNA. d. It is a lipid. 10. Oncogenic virus cores can be_______. a. RNA b. DNA c. neither RNA nor DNA d. either RNA or DNA 11. Which is true of DNA viruses? a. They use the host cell’s machinery to produce new copies of their genome. b. They all have envelopes. c. They are the only kind of viruses that can cause cancer. d. They are not important plant pathogens. 12. A bacteriophage can infect ________. a. the lungs b. viruses c. prions d. bacteria 13. Which of the following is NOT used to treat active viral disease? a. vaccines b. antiviral drugs c. antibiotics d. phage therapy 14. Vaccines_______. a. are similar to viroids b. are only needed once c. kill viruses d. stimulate an immune response 15. Which of the following is not associated with prions? a. replicating shapes b. mad cow disease c. DNA d. toxic proteins 16. Which statement is true of viroids? a. They are single-stranded RNA particles. b. They reproduce only outside of the cell. c. They produce proteins. d. They affect both plants and animals. CRITICAL THINKING QUESTIONS 17. The first electron micrograph of a virus (tobacco mosaic virus) was produced in 1939. Before that time, how did scientists know that viruses existed if they could not see them? (Hint: Early scientists called viruses “filterable agents.”) 18. Why can’t dogs catch the measles? 19. One of the first and most important targets for drugs to fight infection with HIV (a retrovirus) is the reverse transcriptase enzyme. Why? 20. In this section, you were introduced to different types of viruses and viral diseases. Briefly discuss the most interesting or surprising thing you learned about viruses. 21. Although plant viruses cannot infect humans, what are some of the ways in which they affect humans? 22. Why is immunization after being bitten by a rabid animal so effective and why aren’t people vaccinated for rabies like dogs and cats are? 23. Prions are responsible for variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which has resulted in over 100 human deaths in Great Britain during the last 10 years. How do humans obtain this disease? 24. How are viroids like viruses? Chapter 21 | Viruses 561 562 Chapter 21 | Viruses This OpenStax book is available for free at 22 | PROKARYOTES: BACTERIA AND ARCHAEA Figure 22.1 Certain prokaryotes can live in extreme environments such as the Morning Glory pool, a hot spring in Yellowstone National Park. The spring’s vivid blue color is from the prokaryotes that thrive in its very hot waters. (credit: modification of work by Jon Sullivan) Chapter Outline 22.1: Prokaryotic Diversity 22.2: Structure of Prokaryotes 22.3: Prokaryotic Metabolism 22.4: Bacterial Diseases in Humans 22.5: Beneficial Prokaryotes Introduction In the recent past, scientists grouped living things into five kingdoms—animals, plants, fungi, protists, and prokaryotes—based on several criteria, such as the absence or presence of a nucleus and other membrane-bound organelles, the absence or presence of cell walls, multicellularity, and so on. In the late 20 thcentury, the pioneering work of Carl Woese and others compared sequences of small-subunit ribosomal RNA (SSU rRNA), which resulted in a more fundamental way to group organisms on Earth. Based on differences in the structure of cell membranes and in rRNA, Woese and his colleagues proposed that all life on Earth evolved along three lineages, called domains. The domain Bacteria comprises all organisms in the kingdom Bacteria, the domain Archaea comprises the rest of the prokaryotes, and the domain Eukarya comprises all eukaryotes—including organisms in the kingdoms Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, and Protista. Two of the three domains—Bacteria and Archaea—are prokaryotic. Prokaryotes were the first inhabitants on Earth, appearing 3.5 to 3.8 billion years ago. These organisms are abundant and ubiquitous; that is, they are present everywhere. Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea 563 In addition to inhabiting moderate environments, they are found in extreme conditions: from boiling springs to permanently frozen environments in Antarctica; from salty environments like the Dead Sea to environments under tremendous pressure, such as the depths of the ocean; and from areas without oxygen, such as a waste management plant, to radioactively contaminated regions, such as Chernobyl. Prokaryotes reside in the human digestive system and on the skin, are responsible for certain illnesses, and serve an important role in the preparation of many foods. 22.1 | Prokaryotic Diversity By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Describe the evolutionary history of prokaryotes • Discuss the distinguishing features of extremophiles • Explain why it is difficult to culture prokaryotes Prokaryotes are ubiquitous. They cover every imaginable surface where there is sufficient moisture, and they live on and inside of other living things. In the typical human body, prokaryotic cells outnumber human body cells by about ten to one. They comprise the majority of living things in all ecosystems. Some prokaryotes thrive in environments that are inhospitable for most living things. Prokaryotes recycle nutrients —essential substances (such as carbon and nitrogen)—and they drive the evolution of new ecosystems, some of which are natural and others man-made. Prokaryotes have been on Earth since long before multicellular life appeared. Prokaryotes, the First Inhabitants of Earth When and where did life begin? What were the conditions on Earth when life began? Prokaryotes were the first forms of life on Earth, and they existed for billions of years before plants and animals appeared. The Earth and its moon are thought to be about 4.54 billion years old. This estimate is based on evidence from radiometric dating of meteorite material together with other substrate material from Earth and the moon. Early Earth had a very different atmosphere (contained less molecular oxygen) than it does today and was subjected to strong radiation; thus, the first organisms would have flourished where they were more protected, such as in ocean depths or beneath the surface of the Earth. At this time too, strong volcanic activity was common on Earth, so it is likely that these first organisms—the first prokaryotes—were adapted to very high temperatures. Early Earth was prone to geological upheaval and volcanic eruption, and was subject to bombardment by mutagenic radiation from the sun. The first organisms were prokaryotes that could withstand these harsh conditions. Microbial Mats Microbial mats or large biofilms may represent the earliest forms of life on Earth; there is fossil evidence of their presence starting about 3.5 billion years ago. A microbial mat is a multi-layered sheet of prokaryotes ( Figure 22.2 ) that includes mostly bacteria, but also archaea. Microbial mats are a few centimeters thick, and they typically grow where different types of materials interface, mostly on moist surfaces. The various types of prokaryotes that comprise them carry out different metabolic pathways, and that is the reason for their various colors. Prokaryotes in a microbial mat are held together by a glue-like sticky substance that they secrete called extracellular matrix. The first microbial mats likely obtained their energy from chemicals found near hydrothermal vents. A hydrothermal vent is a breakage or fissure in the Earth’s surface that releases geothermally heated water. With the evolution of photosynthesis about 3 billion years ago, some prokaryotes in microbial mats came to use a more widely available energy source—sunlight—whereas others were still dependent on chemicals from hydrothermal vents for energy and food. 564 Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 22.2 This (a) microbial mat, about one meter in diameter, grows over a hydrothermal vent in the Pacific Ocean in a region known as the “Pacific Ring of Fire.” The mat helps retain microbial nutrients. Chimneys such as the one indicated by the arrow allow gases to escape. (b) In this micrograph, bacteria are visualized using fluorescence microscopy. (credit a: modification of work by Dr. Bob Embley, NOAA PMEL, Chief Scientist; credit b: modification of work by Ricardo Murga, Rodney Donlan, CDC; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Stromatolites Fossilized microbial mats represent the earliest record of life on Earth. A stromatolite is a sedimentary structure formed when minerals are precipitated out of water by prokaryotes in a microbial mat ( Figure 22.3 ). Stromatolites form layered rocks made of carbonate or silicate. Although most stromatolites are artifacts from the past, there are places on Earth where stromatolites are still forming. For example, growing stromatolites have been found in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in San Diego County, California. Figure 22.3 (a) These living stromatolites are located in Shark Bay, Australia. (b) These fossilized stromatolites, found in Glacier National Park, Montana, are nearly 1.5 billion years old. (credit a: Robert Young; credit b: P. Carrara, NPS) The Ancient Atmosphere Evidence indicates that during the first two billion years of Earth’s existence, the atmosphere was anoxic , meaning that there was no molecular oxygen. Therefore, only those organisms that can grow without oxygen— anaerobic organisms—were able to live. Autotrophic organisms that convert solar energy into chemical energy are called phototrophs , and they appeared within one billion years of the formation of Earth. Then, cyanobacteria , also known as blue-green algae, evolved from these simple phototrophs one billion years later. Cyanobacteria ( Figure 22.4 ) began the oxygenation of the atmosphere. Increased atmospheric oxygen allowed the development of more efficient O 2-utilizing catabolic pathways. It also opened up the land to increased colonization, because some O 2is converted into O 3(ozone) and ozone effectively absorbs the ultraviolet light that would otherwise cause lethal mutations in DNA. Ultimately, the increase in O 2 concentrations allowed the evolution of other life forms. Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea 565 Figure 22.4 This hot spring in Yellowstone National Park flows toward the foreground. Cyanobacteria in the spring are green, and as water flows down the gradient, the intensity of the color increases as cell density increases. The water is cooler at the edges of the stream than in the center, causing the edges to appear greener. (credit: Graciela Brelles- Mariño) Microbes Are Adaptable: Life in Moderate and Extreme Environments Some organisms have developed strategies that allow them to survive harsh conditions. Prokaryotes thrive in a vast array of environments: Some grow in conditions that would seem very normal to us, whereas others are able to thrive and grow under conditions that would kill a plant or animal. Almost all prokaryotes have a cell wall, a protective structure that allows them to survive in both hyper- and hypo-osmotic conditions. Some soil bacteria are able to form endospores that resist heat and drought, thereby allowing the organism to survive until favorable conditions recur. These adaptations, along with others, allow bacteria to be the most abundant life form in all terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Other bacteria and archaea are adapted to grow under extreme conditions and are called extremophiles , meaning “lovers of extremes.” Extremophiles have been found in all kinds of environments: the depth of the oceans, hot springs, the Artic and the Antarctic, in very dry places, deep inside Earth, in harsh chemical environments, and in high radiation environments (Figure 22.5 ), just to mention a few. These organisms give us a better understanding of prokaryotic diversity and open up the possibility of finding new prokaryotic species that may lead to the discovery of new therapeutic drugs or have industrial applications. Because they have specialized adaptations that allow them to live in extreme conditions, many extremophiles cannot survive in moderate environments. There are many different groups of extremophiles: They are identified based on the conditions in which they grow best, and several habitats are extreme in multiple ways. For example, a soda lake is both salty and alkaline, so organisms that live in a soda lake must be both alkaliphiles and halophiles ( Table 22.1 ). Other extremophiles, like radioresistant organisms, do not prefer an extreme environment (in this case, one with high levels of radiation), but have adapted to survive in it ( Figure 22.5 ). Extremophiles and Their Preferred Conditions Extremophile Type Conditions for Optimal Growth Acidophiles pH 3 or below Alkaliphiles pH 9 or above Thermophiles Temperature 60–80 °C (140–176 °F) Hyperthermophiles Temperature 80–122 °C (176–250 °F) Psychrophiles Temperature of -15-10 °C (5-50 °F) or lower Halophiles Salt concentration of at least 0.2 M Osmophiles High sugar concentration Table 22.1 566 Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 22.5 Deinococcus radiodurans , visualized in this false color transmission electron micrograph, is a prokaryote that can tolerate very high doses of ionizing radiation. It has developed DNA repair mechanisms that allow it to reconstruct its chromosome even if it has been broken into hundreds of pieces by radiation or heat. (credit: modification of work by Michael Daly; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Prokaryotes in the Dead Sea One example of a very harsh environment is the Dead Sea, a hypersaline basin that is located between Jordan and Israel. Hypersaline environments are essentially concentrated seawater. In the Dead Sea, the sodium concentration is 10 times higher than that of seawater, and the water contains high levels of magnesium (about 40 times higher than in seawater) that would be toxic to most living things. Iron, calcium, and magnesium, elements that form divalent ions (Fe 2+,Ca 2+, and Mg 2+), produce what is commonly referred to as “hard” water. Taken together, the high concentration of divalent cations, the acidic pH (6.0), and the intense solar radiation flux make the Dead Sea a unique, and uniquely hostile, ecosystem [1] (Figure 22.6 ). What sort of prokaryotes do we find in the Dead Sea? The extremely salt-tolerant bacterial mats include Halobacterium , Haloferax volcanii (which is found in other locations, not only the Dead Sea), Halorubrum sodomense , and Halobaculum gomorrense , and the archaea Haloarcula marismortui , among others. Figure 22.6 (a) The Dead Sea is hypersaline. Nevertheless, salt-tolerant bacteria thrive in this sea. (b) These halobacteria cells can form salt-tolerant bacterial mats. (credit a: Julien Menichini; credit b: NASA; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Unculturable Prokaryotes and the Viable-but-Non-Culturable State Microbiologists typically grow prokaryotes in the laboratory using an appropriate culture medium containing all the nutrients needed by the target organism. The medium can be liquid, broth, or solid. After an incubation time at the right temperature, there should be evidence of microbial growth ( Figure 22.7 ). The process of culturing bacteria is complex 1. Bodaker, I, Itai, S, Suzuki, MT, Feingersch, R, Rosenberg, M, Maguire, ME, Shimshon, B, and others. Comparative community genomics in the DeadSea: An increasingly extreme environment. The ISME Journal 4 (2010): 399–407, doi:10.1038/ismej.2009.141 . published online 24 December 2009. Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea 567 and is one of the greatest discoveries of modern science. German physician Robert Koch is credited with discovering the techniques for pure culture, including staining and using growth media. His assistant Julius Petri invented the Petri dish whose use persists in today’s laboratories. Koch worked primarily with the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium that causes tuberculosis and developed postulates to identify disease-causing organisms that continue to be widely used in the medical community. Koch’s postulates include that an organism can be identified as the cause of disease when it is present in all infected samples and absent in all healthy samples, and it is able to reproduce the infection after being cultured multiple times. Today, cultures remain a primary diagnostic tool in medicine and other areas of molecular biology. Figure 22.7 In these agar plates, the growth medium is supplemented with red blood cells. Blood agar becomes transparent in the presence of hemolytic Streptococcus , which destroys red blood cells and is used to diagnose Streptococcus infections. The plate on the left is inoculated with non-hemolytic Staphylococcus (large white colonies), and the plate on the right is inoculated with hemolytic Streptococcus (tiny clear colonies). If you look closely at the right plate, you can see that the agar surrounding the bacteria has turned clear. (credit: Bill Branson, NCI) Some prokaryotes, however, cannot grow in a laboratory setting. In fact, over 99 percent of bacteria and archaea are unculturable. For the most part, this is due to a lack of knowledge as to what to feed these organisms and how to grow them; they have special requirements for growth that remain unknown to scientists, such as needing specific micronutrients, pH, temperature, pressure, co-factors, or co-metabolites. Some bacteria cannot be cultured because they are obligate intracellular parasites and cannot be grown outside a host cell. In other cases, culturable organisms become unculturable under stressful conditions, even though the same organism could be cultured previously. Those organisms that cannot be cultured but are not dead are in a viable-but-non-culturable (VBNC) state. The VBNC state occurs when prokaryotes respond to environmental stressors by entering a dormant state that allows their survival. The criteria for entering into the VBNC state are not completely understood. In a process called resuscitation , the prokaryote can go back to “normal” life when environmental conditions improve. Is the VBNC state an unusual way of living for prokaryotes? In fact, most of the prokaryotes living in the soil or in oceanic waters are non-culturable. It has been said that only a small fraction, perhaps one percent, of prokaryotes can be cultured under laboratory conditions. If these organisms are non-culturable, then how is it known whether they are present and alive? Microbiologists use molecular techniques, such as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), to amplify selected portions of DNA of prokaryotes, demonstrating their existence. Recall that PCR can make billions of copies of a DNA segment in a process called amplification. The Ecology of Biofilms Until a couple of decades ago, microbiologists used to think of prokaryotes as isolated entities living apart. This model, however, does not reflect the true ecology of prokaryotes, most of which prefer to live in communities where they can interact. A biofilm is a microbial community ( Figure 22.8 ) held together in a gummy-textured matrix that consists primarily of polysaccharides secreted by the organisms, together with some proteins and nucleic acids. Biofilms grow attached to surfaces. Some of the best-studied biofilms are composed of prokaryotes, although fungal biofilms have also been described as well as some composed of a mixture of fungi and bacteria. Biofilms are present almost everywhere: they can cause the clogging of pipes and readily colonize surfaces in industrial settings. In recent, large-scale outbreaks of bacterial contamination of food, biofilms have played a major role. They also colonize household surfaces, such as kitchen counters, cutting boards, sinks, and toilets, as well as places on the human body, such as the surfaces of our teeth. Interactions among the organisms that populate a biofilm, together with their protective exopolysaccharidic (EPS) environment, make these communities more robust than free-living, or planktonic, prokaryotes. The sticky substance that holds bacteria together also excludes most antibiotics and disinfectants, making biofilm bacteria hardier than their 568 Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea This OpenStax book is available for free at planktonic counterparts. Overall, biofilms are very difficult to destroy because they are resistant to many common forms of sterilization. Figure 22.8 Five stages of biofilm development are shown. During stage 1, initial attachment, bacteria adhere to a solid surface via weak van der Waals interactions. During stage 2, irreversible attachment, hairlike appendages called pili permanently anchor the bacteria to the surface. During stage 3, maturation I, the biofilm grows through cell division and recruitment of other bacteria. An extracellular matrix composed primarily of polysaccharides holds the biofilm together. During stage 4, maturation II, the biofilm continues to grow and takes on a more complex shape. During stage 5, dispersal, the biofilm matrix is partly broken down, allowing some bacteria to escape and colonize another surface. Micrographs of a Pseudomonas aeruginosa biofilm in each of the stages of development are shown. (credit: D. Davis, Don Monroe, PLoS) Compared to free-floating bacteria, bacteria in biofilms often show increased resistance to antibiotics and detergents. Why do you think this might be the case? 22.2 | Structure of Prokaryotes By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Describe the basic structure of a typical prokaryote • Describe important differences in structure between Archaea and Bacteria There are many differences between prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. However, all cells have four common structures: the plasma membrane, which functions as a barrier for the cell and separates the cell from its environment; the cytoplasm, a jelly-like substance inside the cell; nucleic acids, the genetic material of the cell; and ribosomes, where protein synthesis takes place. Prokaryotes come in various shapes, but many fall into three categories: cocci (spherical), bacilli (rod-shaped), and spirilli (spiral-shaped) ( Figure 22.9 ). Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea 569 Figure 22.9 Prokaryotes fall into three basic categories based on their shape, visualized here using scanning electron microscopy: (a) cocci, or spherical (a pair is shown); (b) bacilli, or rod-shaped; and (c) spirilli, or spiral-shaped. (credit a: modification of work by Janice Haney Carr, Dr. Richard Facklam, CDC; credit c: modification of work by Dr. David Cox; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) The Prokaryotic Cell Recall that prokaryotes ( Figure 22.10 ) are unicellular organisms that lack organelles or other internal membrane-bound structures. Therefore, they do not have a nucleus but instead generally have a single chromosome—a piece of circular, double-stranded DNA located in an area of the cell called the nucleoid. Most prokaryotes have a cell wall outside the plasma membrane. Figure 22.10 The features of a typical prokaryotic cell are shown. Recall that prokaryotes are divided into two different domains, Bacteria and Archaea, which together with Eukarya, comprise the three domains of life ( Figure 22.11 ). 570 Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 22.11 Bacteria and Archaea are both prokaryotes but differ enough to be placed in separate domains. An ancestor of modern Archaea is believed to have given rise to Eukarya, the third domain of life. Archaeal and bacterial phyla are shown; the evolutionary relationship between these phyla is still open to debate. The composition of the cell wall differs significantly between the domains Bacteria and Archaea. The composition of their cell walls also differs from the eukaryotic cell walls found in plants (cellulose) or fungi and insects (chitin). The cell wall functions as a protective layer, and it is responsible for the organism’s shape. Some bacteria have an outer capsule outside the cell wall. Other structures are present in some prokaryotic species, but not in others ( Table 22.2 ). For example, the capsule found in some species enables the organism to attach to surfaces, protects it from dehydration and attack by phagocytic cells, and makes pathogens more resistant to our immune responses. Some species also have flagella (singular, flagellum) used for locomotion, and pili (singular, pilus) used for attachment to surfaces. Plasmids, which consist of extra- chromosomal DNA, are also present in many species of bacteria and archaea. Characteristics of phyla of Bacteria are described in Figure 22.12 and Figure 22.13 ; Archaea are described in Figure 22.14 . Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea 571 Figure 22.12 Phylum Proteobacteria is one of up to 52 bacteria phyla. Proteobacteria is further subdivided into five classes, Alpha through Epsilon. (credit “Rickettsia rickettsia”: modification of work by CDC; credit “Spirillum minus”: modification of work by Wolframm Adlassnig; credit “Vibrio cholera”: modification of work by Janice Haney Carr, CDC; credit “Desulfovibrio vulgaris”: modification of work by Graham Bradley; credit “Campylobacter”: modification of work by De Wood, Pooley, USDA, ARS, EMU; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) 572 Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 22.13 Chlamydia, Spirochetes, Cyanobacteria, and Gram-positive bacteria are described in this table. Note that bacterial shape is not phylum-dependent; bacteria within a phylum may be cocci, rod-shaped, or spiral. (credit “Chlamydia trachomatis”: modification of work by Dr. Lance Liotta Laboratory, NCI; credit “Treponema pallidum”: modification of work by Dr. David Cox, CDC; credit “Phormidium”: modification of work by USGS; credit “Clostridium difficile”: modification of work by Lois S. Wiggs, CDC; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea 573 Figure 22.14 Archaea are separated into four phyla: the Korarchaeota, Euryarchaeota, Crenarchaeota, and Nanoarchaeota. (credit “Halobacterium”: modification of work by NASA; credit “Nanoarchaeotum equitans”: modification of work by Karl O. Stetter; credit “korarchaeota”: modification of work by Office of Science of the U.S. Dept. of Energy; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) The Plasma Membrane The plasma membrane is a thin lipid bilayer (6 to 8 nanometers) that completely surrounds the cell and separates the inside from the outside. Its selectively permeable nature keeps ions, proteins, and other molecules within the cell and prevents them from diffusing into the extracellular environment, while other molecules may move through the membrane. Recall that the general structure of a cell membrane is a phospholipid bilayer composed of two layers of lipid molecules. In archaeal cell membranes, isoprene (phytanyl) chains linked to glycerol replace the fatty acids linked to glycerol in bacterial membranes. Some archaeal membranes are lipid monolayers instead of bilayers ( Figure 22.14 ). 574 Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 22.15 Archaeal phospholipids differ from those found in Bacteria and Eukarya in two ways. First, they have branched phytanyl sidechains instead of linear ones. Second, an ether bond instead of an ester bond connects the lipid to the glycerol. The Cell Wall The cytoplasm of prokaryotic cells has a high concentration of dissolved solutes. Therefore, the osmotic pressure within the cell is relatively high. The cell wall is a protective layer that surrounds some cells and gives them shape and rigidity. It is located outside the cell membrane and prevents osmotic lysis (bursting due to increasing volume). The chemical composition of the cell walls varies between archaea and bacteria, and also varies between bacterial species. Bacterial cell walls contain peptidoglycan , composed of polysaccharide chains that are cross-linked by unusual peptides containing both L- and D-amino acids including D-glutamic acid and D-alanine. Proteins normally have only L-amino acids; as a consequence, many of our antibiotics work by mimicking D-amino acids and therefore have specific effects on bacterial cell wall development. There are more than 100 different forms of peptidoglycan. S-layer (surface layer) proteins are also present on the outside of cell walls of both archaea and bacteria. Bacteria are divided into two major groups: Gram positive and Gram negative , based on their reaction to Gram staining. Note that all Gram-positive bacteria belong to one phylum; bacteria in the other phyla (Proteobacteria, Chlamydias, Spirochetes, Cyanobacteria, and others) are Gram-negative. The Gram staining method is named after its inventor, Danish scientist Hans Christian Gram (1853–1938). The different bacterial responses to the staining procedure are ultimately due to cell wall structure. Gram-positive organisms typically lack the outer membrane found in Gram-negative organisms ( Figure 22.15 ). Up to 90 percent of the cell wall in Gram-positive bacteria is composed of peptidoglycan, and most of the rest is composed of acidic substances called teichoic acids . Teichoic acids may be covalently linked to lipids in the plasma membrane to form lipoteichoic acids. Lipoteichoic acids anchor the cell wall to the cell membrane. Gram-negative bacteria have a relatively thin cell wall composed of a few layers of peptidoglycan (only 10 percent of the total cell wall), surrounded by an outer envelope containing lipopolysaccharides (LPS) and lipoproteins. This outer envelope is sometimes referred to as a second lipid bilayer. The chemistry of this outer envelope is very different, however, from that of the typical lipid bilayer that forms plasma membranes. Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea 575 Figure 22.16 Bacteria are divided into two major groups: Gram positive and Gram negative. Both groups have a cell wall composed of peptidoglycan: in Gram-positive bacteria, the wall is thick, whereas in Gram-negative bacteria, the wall is thin. In Gram-negative bacteria, the cell wall is surrounded by an outer membrane that contains lipopolysaccharides and lipoproteins. Porins are proteins in this cell membrane that allow substances to pass through the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. In Gram-positive bacteria, lipoteichoic acid anchors the cell wall to the cell membrane. (credit: modification of work by “Franciscosp2″/Wikimedia Commons) Which of the following statements is true? a. Gram-positive bacteria have a single cell wall anchored to the cell membrane by lipoteichoic acid. b. Porins allow entry of substances into both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. c. The cell wall of Gram-negative bacteria is thick, and the cell wall of Gram-positive bacteria is thin. d. Gram-negative bacteria have a cell wall made of peptidoglycan, whereas Gram-positive bacteria have a cell wall made of lipoteichoic acid. Archaean cell walls do not have peptidoglycan. There are four different types of Archaean cell walls. One type is composed of pseudopeptidoglycan , which is similar to peptidoglycan in morphology but contains different sugars in the polysaccharide chain. The other three types of cell walls are composed of polysaccharides, glycoproteins, or pure protein. Structural Differences and Similarities between Bacteria and Archaea Structural Characteristic Bacteria Archaea Cell type Prokaryotic Prokaryotic Cell morphology Variable Variable Cell wall Contains peptidoglycan Does not contain peptidoglycan Cell membrane type Lipid bilayer Lipid bilayer or lipid monolayer Plasma membrane lipids Fatty acids Phytanyl groups Table 22.2 Reproduction Reproduction in prokaryotes is asexual and usually takes place by binary fission. Recall that the DNA of a prokaryote exists as a single, circular chromosome. Prokaryotes do not undergo mitosis. Rather the chromosome is replicated and the two resulting copies separate from one another, due to the growth of the cell. The prokaryote, now enlarged, is pinched inward at its equator and the two resulting cells, which are clones, separate. Binary fission does not provide an opportunity for genetic recombination or genetic diversity, but prokaryotes can share genes by three other mechanisms. 576 Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea This OpenStax book is available for free at In transformation , the prokaryote takes in DNA found in its environment that is shed by other prokaryotes. If a nonpathogenic bacterium takes up DNA for a toxin gene from a pathogen and incorporates the new DNA into its own chromosome, it too may become pathogenic. In transduction , bacteriophages, the viruses that infect bacteria, sometimes also move short pieces of chromosomal DNA from one bacterium to another. Transduction results in a recombinant organism. Archaea are not affected by bacteriophages but instead have their own viruses that translocate genetic material from one individual to another. In conjugation , DNA is transferred from one prokaryote to another by means of a pilus, which brings the organisms into contact with one another. The DNA transferred can be in the form of a plasmid or as a hybrid, containing both plasmid and chromosomal DNA. These three processes of DNA exchange are shown in Figure 22.17 . Reproduction can be very rapid: a few minutes for some species. This short generation time coupled with mechanisms of genetic recombination and high rates of mutation result in the rapid evolution of prokaryotes, allowing them to respond to environmental changes (such as the introduction of an antibiotic) very quickly. Figure 22.17 Besides binary fission, there are three other mechanisms by which prokaryotes can exchange DNA. In (a) transformation, the cell takes up prokaryotic DNA directly from the environment. The DNA may remain separate as plasmid DNA or be incorporated into the host genome. In (b) transduction, a bacteriophage injects DNA into the cell that contains a small fragment of DNA from a different prokaryote. In (c) conjugation, DNA is transferred from one cell to another via a mating bridge that connects the two cells after the sex pilus draws the two bacteria close enough to form the bridge. Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea 577 The Evolution of Prokaryotes How do scientists answer questions about the evolution of prokaryotes? Unlike with animals, artifacts in the fossil record of prokaryotes offer very little information. Fossils of ancient prokaryotes look like tiny bubbles in rock. Some scientists turn to genetics and to the principle of the molecular clock, which holds that the more recently two species have diverged, the more similar their genes (and thus proteins) will be. Conversely, species that diverged long ago will have more genes that are dissimilar. Scientists at the NASA Astrobiology Institute and at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory collaborated to analyze the molecular evolution of 32 specific proteins common to 72 species of prokaryotes. [2] The model they derived from their data indicates that three important groups of bacteria—Actinobacteria, Deinococcus , and Cyanobacteria (which the authors call Terrabacteria )—were the first to colonize land. (Recall that Deinococcus is a genus of prokaryote—a bacterium—that is highly resistant to ionizing radiation.) Cyanobacteria are photosynthesizers, while Actinobacteria are a group of very common bacteria that include species important in decomposition of organic wastes. The timelines of divergence suggest that bacteria (members of the domain Bacteria) diverged from common ancestral species between 2.5 and 3.2 billion years ago, whereas archaea diverged earlier: between 3.1 and 4.1 billion years ago. Eukarya later diverged off the Archaean line. The work further suggests that stromatolites that formed prior to the advent of cyanobacteria (about 2.6 billion years ago) photosynthesized in an anoxic environment and that because of the modifications of the Terrabacteria for land (resistance to drying and the possession of compounds that protect the organism from excess light), photosynthesis using oxygen may be closely linked to adaptations to survive on land. 22.3 | Prokaryotic Metabolism By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Identify the macronutrients needed by prokaryotes, and explain their importance • Describe the ways in which prokaryotes get energy and carbon for life processes • Describe the roles of prokaryotes in the carbon and nitrogen cycles Prokaryotes are metabolically diverse organisms. There are many different environments on Earth with various energy and carbon sources, and variable conditions. Prokaryotes have been able to live in every environment by using whatever energy and carbon sources are available. Prokaryotes fill many niches on Earth, including being involved in nutrient cycles such as nitrogen and carbon cycles, decomposing dead organisms, and thriving inside living organisms, including humans. The very broad range of environments that prokaryotes occupy is possible because they have diverse metabolic processes. Needs of Prokaryotes The diverse environments and ecosystems on Earth have a wide range of conditions in terms of temperature, available nutrients, acidity, salinity, and energy sources. Prokaryotes are very well equipped to make their living out of a vast array of nutrients and conditions. To live, prokaryotes need a source of energy, a source of carbon, and some additional nutrients. Macronutrients Cells are essentially a well-organized assemblage of macromolecules and water. Recall that macromolecules are produced by the polymerization of smaller units called monomers. For cells to build all of the molecules required to sustain life, they need certain substances, collectively called nutrients . When prokaryotes grow in nature, they obtain their nutrients from the environment. Nutrients that are required in large amounts are called macronutrients, whereas those required in smaller 2. Battistuzzi, FU, Feijao, A, and Hedges, SB. A genomic timescale of prokaryote evolution: Insights into the origin of methanogenesis, phototrophy, andthe colonization of land. BioMed Central: Evolutionary Biology 4 (2004): 44, doi:10.1186/1471-2148-4-44. 578 Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea This OpenStax book is available for free at or trace amounts are called micronutrients. Just a handful of elements are considered macronutrients—carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur. (A mnemonic for remembering these elements is the acronym CHONPS .) Why are these macronutrients needed in large amounts? They are the components of organic compounds in cells, including water. Carbon is the major element in all macromolecules: carbohydrates, proteins, nucleic acids, lipids, and many other compounds. Carbon accounts for about 50 percent of the composition of the cell. Nitrogen represents 12 percent of the total dry weight of a typical cell and is a component of proteins, nucleic acids, and other cell constituents. Most of the nitrogen available in nature is either atmospheric nitrogen (N 2) or another inorganic form. Diatomic (N 2) nitrogen, however, can be converted into an organic form only by certain organisms, called nitrogen-fixing organisms. Both hydrogen and oxygen are part of many organic compounds and of water. Phosphorus is required by all organisms for the synthesis of nucleotides and phospholipids. Sulfur is part of the structure of some amino acids such as cysteine and methionine, and is also present in several vitamins and coenzymes. Other important macronutrients are potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), calcium (Ca), and sodium (Na). Although these elements are required in smaller amounts, they are very important for the structure and function of the prokaryotic cell. Micronutrients In addition to these macronutrients, prokaryotes require various metallic elements in small amounts. These are referred to as micronutrients or trace elements. For example, iron is necessary for the function of the cytochromes involved in electron-transport reactions. Some prokaryotes require other elements—such as boron (B), chromium (Cr), and manganese (Mn)—primarily as enzyme cofactors. The Ways in Which Prokaryotes Obtain Energy Prokaryotes can use different sources of energy to assemble macromolecules from smaller molecules. Phototrophs (or phototrophic organisms) obtain their energy from sunlight. Chemotrophs (or chemosynthetic organisms) obtain their energy from chemical compounds. Chemotrophs that can use organic compounds as energy sources are called chemoorganotrophs. Those that can also use inorganic compounds as energy sources are called chemolitotrophs. The Ways in Which Prokaryotes Obtain Carbon Prokaryotes not only can use different sources of energy but also different sources of carbon compounds. Recall that organisms that are able to fix inorganic carbon are called autotrophs. Autotrophic prokaryotes synthesize organic molecules from carbon dioxide. In contrast, heterotrophic prokaryotes obtain carbon from organic compounds. To make the picture more complex, the terms that describe how prokaryotes obtain energy and carbon can be combined. Thus, photoautotrophs use energy from sunlight, and carbon from carbon dioxide and water, whereas chemoheterotrophs obtain energy and carbon from an organic chemical source. Chemolitoautotrophs obtain their energy from inorganic compounds, and they build their complex molecules from carbon dioxide. The table below ( Table 22.3 ) summarizes carbon and energy sources in prokaryotes. Carbon and Energy Sources in Prokaryotes Energy Sources Carbon Sources Light Chemicals Carbon dioxide Organic compounds Phototrophs Chemotrophs Autotrophs Heterotrophs Organic chemicals Inorganic chemicals Chemo-organotrophs Chemolithotrophs Table 22.3 Role of Prokaryotes in Ecosystems Prokaryotes are ubiquitous: There is no niche or ecosystem in which they are not present. Prokaryotes play many roles in the environments they occupy. The roles they play in the carbon and nitrogen cycles are vital to life on Earth. Prokaryotes and the Carbon Cycle Carbon is one of the most important macronutrients, and prokaryotes play an important role in the carbon cycle ( Figure 22.18 ). Carbon is cycled through Earth’s major reservoirs: land, the atmosphere, aquatic environments, sediments and rocks, and biomass. The movement of carbon is via carbon dioxide, which is removed from the atmosphere by land plants and marine prokaryotes, and is returned to the atmosphere via the respiration of chemoorganotrophic organisms, including Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea 579 prokaryotes, fungi, and animals. Although the largest carbon reservoir in terrestrial ecosystems is in rocks and sediments, that carbon is not readily available. A large amount of available carbon is found in land plants. Plants, which are producers, use carbon dioxide from the air to synthesize carbon compounds. Related to this, one very significant source of carbon compounds is humus, which is a mixture of organic materials from dead plants and prokaryotes that have resisted decomposition. Consumers such as animals use organic compounds generated by producers and release carbon dioxide to the atmosphere. Then, bacteria and fungi, collectively called decomposers , carry out the breakdown (decomposition) of plants and animals and their organic compounds. The most important contributor of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere is microbial decomposition of dead material (dead animals, plants, and humus) that undergo respiration. In aqueous environments and their anoxic sediments, there is another carbon cycle taking place. In this case, the cycle is based on one-carbon compounds. In anoxic sediments, prokaryotes, mostly archaea, produce methane (CH 4). This methane moves into the zone above the sediment, which is richer in oxygen and supports bacteria called methane oxidizers that oxidize methane to carbon dioxide, which then returns to the atmosphere. Figure 22.18 Prokaryotes play a significant role in continuously moving carbon through the biosphere. (credit: modification of work by John M. Evans and Howard Perlman, USGS) Prokaryotes and the Nitrogen Cycle Nitrogen is a very important element for life because it is part of proteins and nucleic acids. It is a macronutrient, and in nature, it is recycled from organic compounds to ammonia, ammonium ions, nitrate, nitrite, and nitrogen gas by myriad processes, many of which are carried out only by prokaryotes. As illustrated in Figure 22.19 , prokaryotes are key to the nitrogen cycle. The largest pool of nitrogen available in the terrestrial ecosystem is gaseous nitrogen from the air, but this nitrogen is not usable by plants, which are primary producers. Gaseous nitrogen is transformed, or “fixed” into more readily available forms such as ammonia through the process of nitrogen fixation . Ammonia can be used by plants or converted to other forms. Another source of ammonia is ammonification , the process by which ammonia is released during the decomposition of nitrogen-containing organic compounds. Ammonia released to the atmosphere, however, represents only 15 percent of the total nitrogen released; the rest is as N 2and N 2O. Ammonia is catabolized anaerobically by some prokaryotes, yielding N 2 as the final product. Nitrification is the conversion of ammonium to nitrite and nitrate. Nitrification in soils is carried out by bacteria belonging to the genera Nitrosomas ,Nitrobacter , and Nitrospira . The bacteria performs the reverse process, the reduction of nitrate from the soils to gaseous compounds such as N 2O, NO, and N 2, a process called denitrification . 580 Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 22.19 Prokaryotes play a key role in the nitrogen cycle. (credit: Environmental Protection Agency) Which of the following statements about the nitrogen cycle is false? a. Nitrogen fixing bacteria exist on the root nodules of legumes and in the soil. b. Denitrifying bacteria convert nitrates (NO 3-) into nitrogen gas (N 2). c. Ammonification is the process by which ammonium ion (NH 4+) is released from decomposing organic compounds. d. Nitrification is the process by which nitrites (NO 2-) are converted to ammonium ion (NH 4+). 22.4 | Bacterial Diseases in Humans By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Identify bacterial diseases that caused historically important plagues and epidemics • Describe the link between biofilms and foodborne diseases • Explain how overuse of antibiotic may be creating “super bugs” • Explain the importance of MRSA with respect to the problems of antibiotic resistance Devastating pathogen-borne diseases and plagues, both viral and bacterial in nature, have affected humans since the beginning of human history. The true cause of these diseases was not understood at the time, and some people thought that diseases were a spiritual punishment. Over time, people came to realize that staying apart from afflicted persons, and disposing of the corpses and personal belongings of victims of illness, reduced their own chances of getting sick. Epidemiologists study how diseases affect a population. An epidemic is a disease that occurs in an unusually high number of individuals in a population at the same time. A pandemic is a widespread, usually worldwide, epidemic. An endemic disease is a disease that is constantly present, usually at low incidence, in a population. Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea 581 Long History of Bacterial Disease There are records about infectious diseases as far back as 3000 B.C. A number of significant pandemics caused by bacteria have been documented over several hundred years. Some of the most memorable pandemics led to the decline of cities and nations. In the 21 stcentury, infectious diseases remain among the leading causes of death worldwide, despite advances made in medical research and treatments in recent decades. A disease spreads when the pathogen that causes it is passed from one person to another. For a pathogen to cause disease, it must be able to reproduce in the host’s body and damage the host in some way. The Plague of Athens In 430 B.C., the Plague of Athens killed one-quarter of the Athenian troops that were fighting in the great Peloponnesian War and weakened Athens’ dominance and power. The plague impacted people living in overcrowded Athens as well as troops aboard ships that had to return to Athens. The source of the plague may have been identified recently when researchers from the University of Athens were able to use DNA from teeth recovered from a mass grave. The scientists identified nucleotide sequences from a pathogenic bacterium, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi ( Figure 22.20 ), which causes typhoid fever. [ This disease is commonly seen in overcrowded areas and has caused epidemics throughout recorded history. Figure 22.20 Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi, the causative agent of Typhoid fever, is a Gram-negative, rod- shaped gamma protobacterium. Typhoid fever, which is spread through feces, causes intestinal hemorrhage, high fever, delirium and dehydration. Today, between 16 and 33 million cases of this re-emerging disease occur annually, resulting in over 200,000 deaths. Carriers of the disease can be asymptomatic. In a famous case in the early 1900s, a cook named Mary Mallon unknowingly spread the disease to over fifty people, three of whom died. Other Salmonella serotypes cause food poisoning. (credit: modification of work by NCI, CDC) Bubonic Plagues From 541 to 750, an outbreak of what was likely a bubonic plague (the Plague of Justinian), eliminated one-quarter to one- half of the human population in the eastern Mediterranean region. The population in Europe dropped by 50 percent during this outbreak. Bubonic plague would strike Europe more than once. One of the most devastating pandemics was the Black Death (1346 to 1361) that is believed to have been another outbreak of bubonic plague caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis . It is thought to have originated initially in China and spread along the Silk Road, a network of land and sea trade routes, to the Mediterranean region and Europe, carried by rat fleas living on black rats that were always present on ships. The Black Death reduced the world’s population from an estimated 450 million to about 350 to 375 million. Bubonic plague struck London hard again in the mid-1600s ( Figure 22.21 ). In modern times, approximately 1,000 to 3,000 cases of plague arise globally each year. Although contracting bubonic plague before antibiotics meant almost certain death, the bacterium responds to several types of modern antibiotics, and mortality rates from plague are now very low. 3. Papagrigorakis MJ , Synodinos PN , and Yapijakis C . Ancient typhoid epidemic reveals possible ancestral strain of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi. Infect Genet Evol 7 (2007): 126–7, Epub 2006 Jun. 582 Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 22.21 The (a) Great Plague of London killed an estimated 200,000 people, or about twenty percent of the city’s population. The causative agent, the (b) bacterium Yersinia pestis , is a Gram-negative, rod-shaped bacterium from the class Gamma Proteobacteria. The disease is transmitted through the bite of an infected flea, which is infected by a rodent. Symptoms include swollen lymph nodes, fever, seizure, vomiting of blood, and (c) gangrene. (credit b: Rocky Mountain Laboratories, NIAID, NIH; scale-bar data from Matt Russell; credit c: Textbook of Military Medicine, Washington, D.C., U.S. Dept. of the Army, Office of the Surgeon General, Borden Institute) Wa t c h a video ( on the modern understanding of the Black Death—bubonic plague in Europe during the 14 thcentury. Migration of Diseases to New Populations Over the centuries, Europeans tended to develop genetic immunity to endemic infectious diseases, but when European conquerors reached the western hemisphere, they brought with them disease-causing bacteria and viruses, which triggered epidemics that completely devastated populations of Native Americans, who had no natural resistance to many European diseases. It has been estimated that up to 90 percent of Native Americans died from infectious diseases after the arrival of Europeans, making conquest of the New World a foregone conclusion. Emerging and Re-emerging Diseases The distribution of a particular disease is dynamic. Therefore, changes in the environment, the pathogen, or the host population can dramatically impact the spread of a disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) an emerging disease (Figure 22.22 ) is one that has appeared in a population for the first time, or that may have existed previously but is rapidly increasing in incidence or geographic range. This definition also includes re-emerging diseases that were previously under control. Approximately 75 percent of recently emerging infectious diseases affecting humans are zoonotic diseases, zoonoses , diseases that primarily infect animals and are transmitted to humans; some are of viral origin and some are of bacterial origin. Brucellosis is an example of a prokaryotic zoonosis that is re-emerging in some regions, and necrotizing fasciitis (commonly known as flesh-eating bacteria) has been increasing in virulence for the last 80 years for unknown reasons. Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea 583 Figure 22.22 The map shows regions where bacterial diseases are emerging or reemerging. (credit: modification of work by NIH) Some of the present emerging diseases are not actually new, but are diseases that were catastrophic in the past ( Figure 22.23 ). They devastated populations and became dormant for a while, just to come back, sometimes more virulent than before, as was the case with bubonic plague. Other diseases, like tuberculosis, were never eradicated but were under control in some regions of the world until coming back, mostly in urban centers with high concentrations of immunocompromised people. The WHO has identified certain diseases whose worldwide re-emergence should be monitored. Among these are two viral diseases (dengue fever and yellow fever), and three bacterial diseases (diphtheria, cholera, and bubonic plague). The war against infectious diseases has no foreseeable end. Figure 22.23 Lyme disease often, but not always, results in (a) a characteristic bullseye rash. The disease is caused by a (b) Gram-negative spirochete bacterium of the genus Borrelia . The bacteria (c) infect ticks, which in turns infect mice. Deer are the preferred secondary host, but the ticks also may feed on humans. Untreated, the disease causes chronic disorders in the nervous system, eyes, joints, and heart. The disease is named after Lyme, Connecticut, where an outbreak occurred in 1995 and has subsequently spread. The disease is not new, however. Genetic evidence suggests that Ötzi the Iceman, a 5,300-year-old mummy found in the Alps, was infected with Borrelia . (credit a: James Gathany, CDC; credit b: CDC; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Biofilms and Disease Recall that biofilms are microbial communities that are very difficult to destroy. They are responsible for diseases such as infections in patients with cystic fibrosis, Legionnaires’ disease, and otitis media. They produce dental plaque and colonize catheters, prostheses, transcutaneous and orthopedic devices, contact lenses, and internal devices such as pacemakers. They also form in open wounds and burned tissue. In healthcare environments, biofilms grow on hemodialysis machines, mechanical ventilators, shunts, and other medical equipment. In fact, 65 percent of all infections acquired in the hospital (nosocomial infections) are attributed to biofilms. Biofilms are also related to diseases contracted from food because they colonize the surfaces of vegetable leaves and meat, as well as food-processing equipment that isn’t adequately cleaned. Biofilm infections develop gradually; sometimes, they do not cause symptoms immediately. They are rarely resolved by host defense mechanisms. Once an infection by a biofilm is established, it is very difficult to eradicate, because biofilms 584 Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea This OpenStax book is available for free at tend to be resistant to most of the methods used to control microbial growth, including antibiotics. Biofilms respond poorly or only temporarily to antibiotics; it has been said that they can resist up to 1,000 times the antibiotic concentrations used to kill the same bacteria when they are free-living or planktonic. An antibiotic dose that large would harm the patient; therefore, scientists are working on new ways to get rid of biofilms. Antibiotics: Are We Facing a Crisis? The word antibiotic comes from the Greek anti meaning “against” and bios meaning “life.” An antibiotic is a chemical, produced either by microbes or synthetically, that is hostile to the growth of other organisms. Today’s news and media often address concerns about an antibiotic crisis. Are the antibiotics that easily treated bacterial infections in the past becoming obsolete? Are there new “superbugs”—bacteria that have evolved to become more resistant to our arsenal of antibiotics? Is this the beginning of the end of antibiotics? All these questions challenge the healthcare community. One of the main causes of resistant bacteria is the abuse of antibiotics. The imprudent and excessive use of antibiotics has resulted in the natural selection of resistant forms of bacteria. The antibiotic kills most of the infecting bacteria, and therefore only the resistant forms remain. These resistant forms reproduce, resulting in an increase in the proportion of resistant forms over non-resistant ones. Another major misuse of antibiotics is in patients with colds or the flu, for which antibiotics are useless. Another problem is the excessive use of antibiotics in livestock. The routine use of antibiotics in animal feed promotes bacterial resistance as well. In the United States, 70 percent of the antibiotics produced are fed to animals. These antibiotics are given to livestock in low doses, which maximize the probability of resistance developing, and these resistant bacteria are readily transferred to humans. Watch a recent news report ( on the problem of routine antibiotic administration to livestock and antibiotic-resistant bacteria. One of the Superbugs: MRSA The imprudent use of antibiotics has paved the way for bacteria to expand populations of resistant forms. For example, Staphylococcus aureu s, often called “staph,” is a common bacterium that can live in the human body and is usually easily treated with antibiotics. A very dangerous strain, however, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) has made the news over the past few years ( Figure 22.24 ). This strain is resistant to many commonly used antibiotics, including methicillin, amoxicillin, penicillin, and oxacillin. MRSA can cause infections of the skin, but it can also infect the bloodstream, lungs, urinary tract, or sites of injury. While MRSA infections are common among people in healthcare facilities, they have also appeared in healthy people who haven’t been hospitalized but who live or work in tight populations (like military personnel and prisoners). Researchers have expressed concern about the way this latter source of MRSA targets a much younger population than those residing in care facilities. The Journal of the American Medical Association reported that, among MRSA-afflicted persons in healthcare facilities, the average age is 68, whereas people with “community-associated MRSA” ( CA-MRSA ) have an average age of 23. [4] 4. Naimi, TS, LeDell, KH, Como-Sabetti, K, et al. Comparison of community- and health care-associated methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection. JAMA 290 (2003): 2976–84, doi: 10.1001/jama.290.22.2976 . Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea 585 Figure 22.24 This scanning electron micrograph shows methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, commonly known as MRSA. S. aureus is not always pathogenic, but can cause diseases such as food poisoning and skin and respiratory infections. (credit: modification of work by Janice Haney Carr; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) In summary, the medical community is facing an antibiotic crisis. Some scientists believe that after years of being protected from bacterial infections by antibiotics, we may be returning to a time in which a simple bacterial infection could again devastate the human population. Researchers are developing new antibiotics, but it takes many years to of research and clinical trials, plus financial investments in the millions of dollars, to generate an effective and approved drug. Foodborne Diseases Prokaryotes are everywhere: They readily colonize the surface of any type of material, and food is not an exception. Most of the time, prokaryotes colonize food and food-processing equipment in the form of a biofilm. Outbreaks of bacterial infection related to food consumption are common. A foodborne disease (colloquially called “food poisoning”) is an illness resulting from the consumption the pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or other parasites that contaminate food. Although the United States has one of the safest food supplies in the world, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that “76 million people get sick, more than 300,000 are hospitalized, and 5,000 Americans die each year from foodborne illness.” The characteristics of foodborne illnesses have changed over time. In the past, it was relatively common to hear about sporadic cases of botulism , the potentially fatal disease produced by a toxin from the anaerobic bacterium Clostridium botulinum . Some of the most common sources for this bacterium were non-acidic canned foods, homemade pickles, and processed meat and sausages. The can, jar, or package created a suitable anaerobic environment where Clostridium could grow. Proper sterilization and canning procedures have reduced the incidence of this disease. While people may tend to think of foodborne illnesses as associated with animal-based foods, most cases are now linked to produce. There have been serious, produce-related outbreaks associated with raw spinach in the United States and with vegetable sprouts in Germany, and these types of outbreaks have become more common. The raw spinach outbreak in 2006 was produced by the bacterium E. coli serotype O157:H7. A serotype is a strain of bacteria that carries a set of similar antigens on its cell surface, and there are often many different serotypes of a bacterial species. Most E. coli are not particularly dangerous to humans, but serotype O157:H7 can cause bloody diarrhea and is potentially fatal. All types of food can potentially be contaminated with bacteria. Recent outbreaks of Salmonella reported by the CDC occurred in foods as diverse as peanut butter, alfalfa sprouts, and eggs. A deadly outbreak in Germany in 2010 was caused by E. coli contamination of vegetable sprouts ( Figure 22.25 ). The strain that caused the outbreak was found to be a new serotype not previously involved in other outbreaks, which indicates that E. coli is continuously evolving. 586 Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 22.25 (a) Vegetable sprouts grown at an organic farm were the cause of an (b) E. coli outbreak that killed 32 people and sickened 3,800 in Germany in 2011. The strain responsible, E. coli O104:H4, produces Shiga toxin, a substance that inhibits protein synthesis in the host cell. The toxin (c) destroys red blood cells resulting in bloody diarrhea. Deformed red blood cells clog the capillaries of the kidney, which can lead to kidney failure, as happened to 845 patients in the 2011 outbreak. Kidney failure is usually reversible, but some patients experience kidney problems years later. (credit c: NIDDK, NIH) Epidemiologist Epidemiology is the study of the occurrence, distribution, and determinants of health and disease in a population. It is, therefore, part of public health. An epidemiologist studies the frequency and distribution of diseases within human populations and environments. Epidemiologists collect data about a particular disease and track its spread to identify the original mode of transmission. They sometimes work in close collaboration with historians to try to understand the way a disease evolved geographically and over time, tracking the natural history of pathogens. They gather information from clinical records, patient interviews, surveillance, and any other available means. That information is used to develop strategies, such as vaccinations ( Figure 22.26 ), and design public health policies to reduce the incidence of a disease or to prevent its spread. Epidemiologists also conduct rapid investigations in case of an outbreak to recommend immediate measures to control it. An epidemiologist has a bachelor’s degree, plus a master’s degree in public health (MPH). Many epidemiologists are also physicians (and have an M.D.), or they have a Ph.D. in an associated field, such as biology or microbiology. Figure 22.26 Vaccinations can slow the spread of communicable diseases. (credit: modification of work by Daniel Paquet) Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea 587 22.5 | Beneficial Prokaryotes By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Explain the need for nitrogen fixation and how it is accomplished • Identify foods in which prokaryotes are used in the processing • Describe the use of prokaryotes in bioremediation • Describe the beneficial effects of bacteria that colonize our skin and digestive tracts Not all prokaryotes are pathogenic. On the contrary, pathogens represent only a very small percentage of the diversity of the microbial world. In fact, our life would not be possible without prokaryotes. Just think about the role of prokaryotes in biogeochemical cycles. Cooperation between Bacteria and Eukaryotes: Nitrogen Fixation Nitrogen is a very important element to living things, because it is part of nucleotides and amino acids that are the building blocks of nucleic acids and proteins, respectively. Nitrogen is usually the most limiting element in terrestrial ecosystems, with atmospheric nitrogen, N 2, providing the largest pool of available nitrogen. However, eukaryotes cannot use atmospheric, gaseous nitrogen to synthesize macromolecules. Fortunately, nitrogen can be “fixed,” meaning it is converted into ammonia (NH 3) either biologically or abiotically. Abiotic nitrogen fixation occurs as a result of lightning or by industrial processes. Biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) is exclusively carried out by prokaryotes: soil bacteria, cyanobacteria, and Frankia spp. (filamentous bacteria interacting with actinorhizal plants such as alder, bayberry, and sweet fern). After photosynthesis, BNF is the second most important biological process on Earth. The equation representing the process is as follows N2 + 16ATP + 8e − + 8H + → 2NH 3 + 16ADP + 16Pi + H 2 where Pi stands for inorganic phosphate. The total fixed nitrogen through BNF is about 100 to 180 million metric tons per year. Biological processes contribute 65 percent of the nitrogen used in agriculture. Cyanobacteria are the most important nitrogen fixers in aquatic environments. In soil, members of the genus Clostridium are examples of free-living, nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Other bacteria live symbiotically with legume plants, providing the most important source of BNF. Symbionts may fix more nitrogen in soils than free-living organisms by a factor of 10. Soil bacteria, collectively called rhizobia, are able to symbiotically interact with legumes to form nodules , specialized structures where nitrogen fixation occurs ( Figure 22.27 ). Nitrogenase, the enzyme that fixes nitrogen, is inactivated by oxygen, so the nodule provides an oxygen-free area for nitrogen fixation to take place. This process provides a natural and inexpensive plant fertilizer, as it reduces atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia, which is easily usable by plants. The use of legumes is an excellent alternative to chemical fertilization and is of special interest to sustainable agriculture, which seeks to minimize the use of chemicals and conserve natural resources. Through symbiotic nitrogen fixation, the plant benefits from using an endless source of nitrogen: the atmosphere. Bacteria benefit from using photosynthates (carbohydrates produced during photosynthesis) from the plant and having a protected niche. Additionally, the soil benefits from being naturally fertilized. Therefore, the use of rhizobia as biofertilizers is a sustainable practice. Why are legumes so important? Some, like soybeans, are key sources of agricultural protein. Some of the most important grain legumes are soybean, peanuts, peas, chickpeas, and beans. Other legumes, such as alfalfa, are used to feed cattle. 588 Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 22.27 Soybean ( Glycine max ) is a legume that interacts symbiotically with the soil bacterium Bradyrhizobium japonicum to form specialized structures on the roots called nodules where nitrogen fixation occurs. (credit: USDA) Early Biotechnology: Cheese, Bread, Wine, Beer, and Yogurt According to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, biotechnology is “any technological application that uses biological systems, living organisms, or derivatives thereof, to make or modify products or processes for specific use.” [5]The concept of “specific use” involves some sort of commercial application. Genetic engineering, artificial selection, antibiotic production, and cell culture are current topics of study in biotechnology. However, humans have used prokaryotes before the term biotechnology was even coined. In addition, some of the goods and services are as simple as cheese, bread, wine, beer, and yogurt, which employ both bacteria and other microbes, such as yeast, a fungus ( Figure 22.28 ). 5., United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity: Article 2: Use of Terms. Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea 589 Figure 22.28 Some of the products derived from the use of prokaryotes in early biotechnology include (a) cheese, (b) wine, (c) beer and bread, and (d) yogurt. (credit bread: modification of work by F. Rodrigo/Wikimedia Commons; credit wine: modification of work by Jon Sullivan; credit beer and bread: modification of work by Kris Miller; credit yogurt: modification of work by Jon Sullivan) Cheese production began around 4,000–7,000 years ago when humans began to breed animals and process their milk. Fermentation in this case preserves nutrients: Milk will spoil relatively quickly, but when processed as cheese, it is more stable. As for beer, the oldest records of brewing are about 6,000 years old and refer to the Sumerians. Evidence indicates that the Sumerians discovered fermentation by chance. Wine has been produced for about 4,500 years, and evidence suggests that cultured milk products, like yogurt, have existed for at least 4,000 years. Using Prokaryotes to Clean up Our Planet: Bioremediation Microbial bioremediation is the use of prokaryotes (or microbial metabolism) to remove pollutants. Bioremediation has been used to remove agricultural chemicals (pesticides, fertilizers) that leach from soil into groundwater and the subsurface. Certain toxic metals and oxides, such as selenium and arsenic compounds, can also be removed from water by bioremediation. The reduction of SeO 4-2to SeO 3-2and to Se 0(metallic selenium) is a method used to remove selenium ions from water. Mercury is an example of a toxic metal that can be removed from an environment by bioremediation. As an active ingredient of some pesticides, mercury is used in industry and is also a by-product of certain processes, such as battery production. Methyl mercury is usually present in very low concentrations in natural environments, but it is highly toxic because it accumulates in living tissues. Several species of bacteria can carry out the biotransformation of toxic mercury into nontoxic forms. These bacteria, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa , can convert Hg +2 into Hg 0, which is nontoxic to humans. One of the most useful and interesting examples of the use of prokaryotes for bioremediation purposes is the cleanup of oil spills. The importance of prokaryotes to petroleum bioremediation has been demonstrated in several oil spills in recent years, such as the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska (1989) ( Figure 22.29 ), the Prestige oil spill in Spain (2002), the spill into the Mediterranean from a Lebanon power plant (2006), and more recently, the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (2010). To clean up these spills, bioremediation is promoted by the addition of inorganic nutrients that help bacteria to grow. Hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria feed on hydrocarbons in the oil droplet, breaking down the hydrocarbons. Some species, such as Alcanivorax borkumensis , produce surfactants that solubilize the oil, whereas other bacteria degrade the oil into carbon dioxide. In the case of oil spills in the ocean, ongoing, natural bioremediation tends to occur, inasmuch as there are 590 Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea This OpenStax book is available for free at oil-consuming bacteria in the ocean prior to the spill. In addition to naturally occurring oil-degrading bacteria, humans select and engineer bacteria that possess the same capability with increased efficacy and spectrum of hydrocarbon compounds that can be processed. Under ideal conditions, it has been reported that up to 80 percent of the nonvolatile components in oil can be degraded within one year of the spill. Other oil fractions containing aromatic and highly branched hydrocarbon chains are more difficult to remove and remain in the environment for longer periods of time. Figure 22.29 (a) Cleaning up oil after the Valdez spill in Alaska, workers hosed oil from beaches and then used a floating boom to corral the oil, which was finally skimmed from the water surface. Some species of bacteria are able to solubilize and degrade the oil. (b) One of the most catastrophic consequences of oil spills is the damage to fauna. (credit a: modification of work by NOAA; credit b: modification of work by GOLUBENKOV, NGO: Saving Taman) Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea 591 Microbes on the Human Body The commensal bacteria that inhabit our skin and gastrointestinal tract do a host of good things for us. They protect us from pathogens, help us digest our food, and produce some of our vitamins and other nutrients. These activities have been known for a long time. More recently, scientists have gathered evidence that these bacteria may also help regulate our moods, influence our activity levels, and even help control weight by affecting our food choices and absorption patterns. The Human Microbiome Project has begun the process of cataloging our normal bacteria (and archaea) so we can better understand these functions. A particularly fascinating example of our normal flora relates to our digestive systems. People who take high doses of antibiotics tend to lose many of their normal gut bacteria, allowing a naturally antibiotic- resistant species called Clostridium difficile to overgrow and cause severe gastric problems, especially chronic diarrhea ( Figure 22.30 ). Obviously, trying to treat this problem with antibiotics only makes it worse. However, it has been successfully treated by giving the patients fecal transplants from healthy donors to reestablish the normal intestinal microbial community. Clinical trials are underway to ensure the safety and effectiveness of this technique. Figure 22.30 This scanning electron micrograph shows Clostridium difficile , a Gram-positive, rod-shaped bacterium that causes severe diarrhea. Infection commonly occurs after the normal gut fauna is eradicated by antibiotics. (credit: modification of work by CDC, HHS; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Scientists are also discovering that the absence of certain key microbes from our intestinal tract may set us up for a variety of problems. This seems to be particularly true regarding the appropriate functioning of the immune system. There are intriguing findings that suggest that the absence of these microbes is an important contributor to the development of allergies and some autoimmune disorders. Research is currently underway to test whether adding certain microbes to our internal ecosystem may help in the treatment of these problems as well as in treating some forms of autism. 592 Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea This OpenStax book is available for free at acidophile alkaliphile ammonification anaerobic anoxic antibiotic biofilm biological nitrogen fixation bioremediation biotechnology Black Death botulism CA-MRSA capsule chemotroph conjugation cyanobacteria decomposer denitrification emerging disease endemic disease epidemic extremophile foodborne disease Gram negative Gram positive halophile hydrothermal vent KEY TERMS organism with optimal growth pH of three or below organism with optimal growth pH of nine or above process by which ammonia is released during the decomposition of nitrogen-containing organic compounds refers to organisms that grow without oxygen without oxygen biological substance that, in low concentration, is antagonistic to the growth of prokaryotes microbial community that is held together by a gummy-textured matrix conversion of atmospheric nitrogen into ammonia exclusively carried out by prokaryotes use of microbial metabolism to remove pollutants any technological application that uses living organisms, biological systems, or their derivatives to produce or modify other products devastating pandemic that is believed to have been an outbreak of bubonic plague caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis disease produce by the toxin of the anaerobic bacterium Clostridium botulinum MRSA acquired in the community rather than in a hospital setting external structure that enables a prokaryote to attach to surfaces and protects it from dehydration organism that obtains energy from chemical compounds process by which prokaryotes move DNA from one individual to another using a pilus bacteria that evolved from early phototrophs and oxygenated the atmosphere; also known as blue-green algae organism that carries out the decomposition of dead organisms transformation of nitrate from soil to gaseous nitrogen compounds such as N 2O, NO and N 2 disease making an initial appearance in a population or that is increasing in incidence or geographic range disease that is constantly present, usually at low incidence, in a population disease that occurs in an unusually high number of individuals in a population at the same time organism that grows under extreme or harsh conditions any illness resulting from the consumption of contaminated food, or of the pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or other parasites that contaminate food bacterium whose cell wall contains little peptidoglycan but has an outer membrane bacterium that contains mainly peptidoglycan in its cell walls organism that require a salt concentration of at least 0.2 M fissure in Earth’s surface that releases geothermally heated water Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea 593 hyperthermophile microbial mat MRSA nitrification nitrogen fixation nodule nutrient osmophile pandemic peptidoglycan phototroph pilus pseudopeptidoglycan psychrophile radioresistant resuscitation S-layer serotype stromatolite teichoic acid thermophile transduction transformation viable-but-non-culturable (VBNC) state zoonosis organism that grows at temperatures between 80–122 °C multi-layered sheet of prokaryotes that may include bacteria and archaea (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus ) very dangerous Staphylococcus aureus strain resistant to multiple antibiotics conversion of ammonium into nitrite and nitrate in soils process by which gaseous nitrogen is transformed, or “fixed” into more readily available forms such as ammonia novel structure on the roots of certain plants (legumes) that results from the symbiotic interaction between the plant and soil bacteria, is the site of nitrogen fixation essential substances for growth, such as carbon and nitrogen organism that grows in a high sugar concentration widespread, usually worldwide, epidemic disease material composed of polysaccharide chains cross-linked to unusual peptides organism that is able to make its own food by converting solar energy to chemical energy surface appendage of some prokaryotes used for attachment to surfaces including other prokaryotes component of archaea cell walls that is similar to peptidoglycan in morphology but contains different sugars organism that grows at temperatures of -15 °C or lower organism that grows in high levels of radiation process by which prokaryotes that are in the VBNC state return to viability surface-layer protein present on the outside of cell walls of archaea and bacteria strain of bacteria that carries a set of similar antigens on its cell surface, often many in a bacterial species layered sedimentary structure formed by precipitation of minerals by prokaryotes in microbial mats polymer associated with the cell wall of Gram-positive bacteria organism that lives at temperatures between 60–80 °C process by which a bacteriophage moves DNA from one prokaryote to another process by which a prokaryote takes in DNA found in its environment that is shed by other prokaryotes survival mechanism of bacteria facing environmental stress conditions disease that primarily infects animals that is transmitted to humans CHAPTER SUMMARY 22.1 Prokaryotic Diversity Prokaryotes existed for billions of years before plants and animals appeared. Hot springs and hydrothermal vents may have been the environments in which life began. Microbial mats are thought to represent the earliest forms of life on Earth, and there is fossil evidence of their presence about 3.5 billion years ago. A microbial mat is a multi-layered sheet of prokaryotes that grows at interfaces between different types of material, mostly on moist surfaces. During the first 2 billion years, the atmosphere was anoxic and only anaerobic organisms were able to live. Cyanobacteria evolved from early 594 Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea This OpenStax book is available for free at phototrophs and began the oxygenation of the atmosphere. The increase in oxygen concentration allowed the evolution of other life forms. Fossilized microbial mats are called stromatolites and consist of laminated organo-sedimentary structures formed by precipitation of minerals by prokaryotes. They represent the earliest fossil record of life on Earth. Bacteria and archaea grow in virtually every environment. Those that survive under extreme conditions are called extremophiles (extreme lovers). Some prokaryotes cannot grow in a laboratory setting, but they are not dead. They are in the viable-but-non-culturable (VBNC) state. The VBNC state occurs when prokaryotes enter a dormant state in response to environmental stressors. Most prokaryotes are social and prefer to live in communities where interactions take place. A biofilm is a microbial community held together in a gummy-textured matrix. 22.2 Structure of Prokaryotes Prokaryotes (domains Archaea and Bacteria) are single-celled organisms lacking a nucleus. They have a single piece of circular DNA in the nucleoid area of the cell. Most prokaryotes have a cell wall that lies outside the boundary of the plasma membrane. Some prokaryotes may have additional structures such as a capsule, flagella, and pili. Bacteria and Archaea differ in the lipid composition of their cell membranes and the characteristics of the cell wall. In archaeal membranes, phytanyl units, rather than fatty acids, are linked to glycerol. Some archaeal membranes are lipid monolayers instead of bilayers. The cell wall is located outside the cell membrane and prevents osmotic lysis. The chemical composition of cell walls varies between species. Bacterial cell walls contain peptidoglycan. Archaean cell walls do not have peptidoglycan, but they may have pseudopeptidoglycan, polysaccharides, glycoproteins, or protein-based cell walls. Bacteria can be divided into two major groups: Gram positive and Gram negative, based on the Gram stain reaction. Gram-positive organisms have a thick cell wall, together with teichoic acids. Gram-negative organisms have a thin cell wall and an outer envelope containing lipopolysaccharides and lipoproteins. 22.3 Prokaryotic Metabolism Prokaryotes are the most metabolically diverse organisms; they flourish in many different environments with various carbon energy and carbon sources, variable temperature, pH, pressure, and water availability. Nutrients required in large amounts are called macronutrients, whereas those required in trace amounts are called micronutrients or trace elements. Macronutrients include C, H, O, N, P, S, K, Mg, Ca, and Na. In addition to these macronutrients, prokaryotes require various metallic elements for growth and enzyme function. Prokaryotes use different sources of energy to assemble macromolecules from smaller molecules. Phototrophs obtain their energy from sunlight, whereas chemotrophs obtain energy from chemical compounds. Prokaryotes play roles in the carbon and nitrogen cycles. Carbon is returned to the atmosphere by the respiration of animals and other chemoorganotrophic organisms. Consumers use organic compounds generated by producers and release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The most important contributor of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere is microbial decomposition of dead material. Nitrogen is recycled in nature from organic compounds to ammonia, ammonium ions, nitrite, nitrate, and nitrogen gas. Gaseous nitrogen is transformed into ammonia through nitrogen fixation. Ammonia is anaerobically catabolized by some prokaryotes, yielding N 2as the final product. Nitrification is the conversion of ammonium into nitrite. Nitrification in soils is carried out by bacteria. Denitrification is also performed by bacteria and transforms nitrate from soils into gaseous nitrogen compounds, such as N 2O, NO, and N 2. 22.4 Bacterial Diseases in Humans Devastating diseases and plagues have been among us since early times. There are records about microbial diseases as far back as 3000 B.C. Infectious diseases remain among the leading causes of death worldwide. Emerging diseases are those rapidly increasing in incidence or geographic range. They can be new or re-emerging diseases (previously under control). Many emerging diseases affecting humans, such as brucellosis, are zoonoses. The WHO has identified a group of diseases whose re-emergence should be monitored: Those caused by bacteria include bubonic plague, diphtheria, and cholera. Biofilms are considered responsible for diseases such as bacterial infections in patients with cystic fibrosis, Legionnaires’ disease, and otitis media. They produce dental plaque; colonize catheters, prostheses, transcutaneous, and orthopedic devices; and infect contact lenses, open wounds, and burned tissue. Biofilms also produce foodborne diseases because they colonize the surfaces of food and food-processing equipment. Biofilms are resistant to most of the methods used to control microbial growth. The excessive use of antibiotics has resulted in a major global problem, since resistant forms of bacteria have been selected over time. A very dangerous strain, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), has wreaked havoc recently. Foodborne diseases result from the consumption of contaminated food, pathogenic bacteria, viruses, or parasites that contaminate food. Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea 595 22.5 Beneficial Prokaryotes Pathogens are only a small percentage of all prokaryotes. In fact, our life would not be possible without prokaryotes. Nitrogen is usually the most limiting element in terrestrial ecosystems; atmospheric nitrogen, the largest pool of available nitrogen, is unavailable to eukaryotes. Nitrogen can be “fixed,” or converted into ammonia (NH 3) either biologically or abiotically. Biological nitrogen fixation (BNF) is exclusively carried out by prokaryotes. After photosynthesis, BNF is the second most important biological process on Earth. The most important source of BNF is the symbiotic interaction between soil bacteria and legume plants. Microbial bioremediation is the use of microbial metabolism to remove pollutants. Bioremediation has been used to remove agricultural chemicals that leach from soil into groundwater and the subsurface. Toxic metals and oxides, such as selenium and arsenic compounds, can also be removed by bioremediation. Probably one of the most useful and interesting examples of the use of prokaryotes for bioremediation purposes is the cleanup of oil spills. Human life is only possible due to the action of microbes, both those in the environment and those species that call us home. Internally, they help us digest our food, produce crucial nutrients for us, protect us from pathogenic microbes, and help train our immune systems to function correctly. ART CONNECTION QUESTIONS 1. Figure 22.8 Compared to free-floating bacteria, bacteria in biofilms often show increased resistance to antibiotics and detergents. Why do you think this might be the case? 2. Figure 22.15 Which of the following statements is true? a. Gram-positive bacteria have a single cell wall anchored to the cell membrane by lipoteichoic acid. b. Porins allow entry of substances into both Gram- positive and Gram-negative bacteria. c. The cell wall of Gram-negative bacteria is thick, and the cell wall of Gram-positive bacteria is thin. d. Gram-negative bacteria have a cell wall made of peptidoglycan, whereas Gram-positive bacteria have a cell wall made of lipoteichoic acid. 3. Figure 22.19 Which of the following statements about the nitrogen cycle is false? a. Nitrogen fixing bacteria exist on the root nodules of legumes and in the soil. b. Denitrifying bacteria convert nitrates (NO 3-) into nitrogen gas (N 2). c. Ammonification is the process by which ammonium ion (NH 4+) is released from decomposing organic compounds. d. Nitrification is the process by which nitrites (NO 2-) are converted to ammonium ion (NH 4+). REVIEW QUESTIONS 4. The first forms of life on Earth were thought to be_________. a. single-celled plants b. prokaryotes c. insects d. large animals such as dinosaurs 5. Microbial mats __________. a. are the earliest forms of life on Earth b. obtained their energy and food from hydrothermal vents c. are multi-layered sheet of prokaryotes including mostly bacteria but also archaea d. all of the above 6. The first organisms that oxygenated the atmosphere were a. cyanobacteria b. phototrophic organisms c. anaerobic organisms d. all of the above 7. Halophiles are organisms that require________. a. a salt concentration of at least 0.2 M b. high sugar concentration c. the addition of halogens d. all of the above 8. The presence of a membrane-enclosed nucleus is a characteristic of ________. a. prokaryotic cells b. eukaryotic cells c. all cells d. viruses 9. Which of the following consist of prokaryotic cells? a. bacteria and fungi b. archaea and fungi c. protists and animals d. bacteria and archaea 10. The cell wall is ________. a. interior to the cell membrane 596 Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea This OpenStax book is available for free at b. exterior to the cell membrane c. a part of the cell membrane d. interior or exterior, depending on the particular cell 11. Organisms most likely to be found in extreme environments are ________. a. fungi b. bacteria c. viruses d. archaea 12. Prokaryotes stain as Gram-positive or Gram-negative because of differences in the cell _______. a. wall b. cytoplasm c. nucleus d. chromosome 13. Pseudopeptidoglycan is a characteristic of the walls of ________. a. eukaryotic cells b. bacterial prokaryotic cells c. archaean prokaryotic cells d. bacterial and archaean prokaryotic cells 14. The lipopolysaccharide layer (LPS) is a characteristic of the wall of ________. a. archaean cells b. Gram-negative bacteria c. bacterial prokaryotic cells d. eukaryotic cells 15. Which of the following elements is not a micronutrient? a. boron b. calcium c. chromium d. manganese 16. Prokaryotes that obtain their energy from chemical compounds are called _____. a. phototrophs b. auxotrophs c. chemotrophs d. lithotrophs 17. Ammonification is the process by which _____. a. ammonia is released during the decomposition of nitrogen-containing organic compounds b. ammonium is converted to nitrite and nitrate in soils c. nitrate from soil is transformed to gaseous nitrogen compounds such as NO, N 2O, and N 2 d. gaseous nitrogen is fixed to yield ammonia 18. Plants use carbon dioxide from the air and are therefore called _____. a. consumers b. producers c. decomposer d. carbon fixers 19. A disease that is constantly present in a population is called _____. a. pandemic b. epidemic c. endemic d. re-emerging 20. Which of the statements about biofilms is incorrect? a. Biofilms are considered responsible for diseases such as cystic fibrosis. b. Biofilms produce dental plaque, and colonize catheters and prostheses. c. Biofilms colonize open wounds and burned tissue. d. All statements are incorrect. 21. Which of these statements is true? a. An antibiotic is any substance produced by a organism that is antagonistic to the growth of prokaryotes. b. An antibiotic is any substance produced by a prokaryote that is antagonistic to the growth of other viruses. c. An antibiotic is any substance produced by a prokaryote that is antagonistic to the growth of eukaryotic cells. d. An antibiotic is any substance produced by a prokaryote that prevents growth of the same prokaryote. 22. Which of these occurs through symbiotic nitrogen fixation? a. The plant benefits from using an endless source of nitrogen. b. The soil benefits from being naturally fertilized. c. Bacteria benefit from using photosynthates from the plant. d. All of the above occur. 23. Synthetic compounds found in an organism but not normally produced or expected to be present in that organism are called _____. a. pesticides b. bioremediators c. recalcitrant compounds d. xenobiotics 24. Bioremediation includes _____. a. the use of prokaryotes that can fix nitrogen b. the use of prokaryotes to clean up pollutants c. the use of prokaryotes as natural fertilizers d. All of the above CRITICAL THINKING QUESTIONS Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea 597 25. Describe briefly how you would detect the presence of a non-culturable prokaryote in an environmental sample. 26. Why do scientists believe that the first organisms on Earth were extremophiles? 27. Mention three differences between bacteria and archaea. 28. Explain the statement that both types, bacteria and archaea, have the same basic structures, but built from different chemical components. 29. Think about the conditions (temperature, light, pressure, and organic and inorganic materials) that you may find in a deep-sea hydrothermal vent. What type of prokaryotes, in terms of their metabolic needs (autotrophs, phototrophs, chemotrophs, etc.), would you expect to find there? 30. Explain the reason why the imprudent and excessive use of antibiotics has resulted in a major global problem. 31. Researchers have discovered that washing spinach with water several times does not prevent foodborne diseases due to E. coli . How can you explain this fact? 32. Your friend believes that prokaryotes are always detrimental and pathogenic. How would you explain to them that they are wrong? 598 Chapter 22 | Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea This OpenStax book is available for free at 23 | PROTISTS Figure 23.1 Protists range from the microscopic, single-celled (a) Acanthocystis turfacea and the (b) ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila , both visualized here using light microscopy, to the enormous, multicellular (c) kelps (Chromalveolata) that extend for hundreds of feet in underwater “forests.” (credit a: modification of work by Yuiuji Tsukii; credit b: modification of work by Richard Robinson, Public Library of Science; credit c: modification of work by Kip Evans, NOAA; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Chapter Outline 23.1: Eukaryotic Origins 23.2: Characteristics of Protists 23.3: Groups of Protists 23.4: Ecology of Protists Introduction Humans have been familiar with macroscopic organisms (organisms big enough to see with the unaided eye) since before there was a written history, and it is likely that most cultures distinguished between animals and land plants, and most probably included the macroscopic fungi as plants. Therefore, it became an interesting challenge to deal with the world of microorganisms once microscopes were developed a few centuries ago. Many different naming schemes were used over the last couple of centuries, but it has become the most common practice to refer to eukaryotes that are not land plants, animals, or fungi as protists. This name was first suggested by Ernst Haeckel in the late nineteenth century. It has been applied in many contexts and has been formally used to represent a kingdom-level taxon called Protista. However, many modern systematists (biologists who study the relationships among organisms) are beginning to shy away from the idea of formal ranks such as kingdom and phylum. Instead, they are naming taxa as groups of organisms thought to include all the descendants of a last common ancestor (monophyletic group). During the past two decades, the field of molecular genetics has demonstrated that some protists are more related to animals, plants, or fungi than they are to other protists. Therefore, not including animals, plants and fungi make the kingdom Protista a paraphyletic group, or one that does not include all descendents of its common ancestor. For this reason, protist lineages originally classified into the kingdom Protista continue to be examined and debated. In the meantime, the term “protist” still is used informally to describe this tremendously diverse group of eukaryotes. Most protists are microscopic, unicellular organisms that are abundant in soil, freshwater, brackish, and marine environments. They are also common in the digestive tracts of animals and in the vascular tissues of plants. Others invade the cells of other protists, animals, and plants. Not all protists are microscopic. Some have huge, macroscopic cells, such as the plasmodia (giant amoebae) of myxomycete slime molds or the marine green alga Caulerpa , which can have single cells Chapter 23 | Protists 599 that can be several meters in size. Some protists are multicellular, such as the red, green, and brown seaweeds. It is among the protists that one finds the wealth of ways that organisms can grow. 23.1 | Eukaryotic Origins By the end of this section, you will be able to: • List the unifying characteristics of eukaryotes • Describe what scientists know about the origins of eukaryotes based on the last common ancestor • Explain endosymbiotic theory Living things fall into three large groups: Archaea, Bacteria, and Eukarya. The first two have prokaryotic cells, and the third contains all eukaryotes. A relatively sparse fossil record is available to help discern what the first members of each of these lineages looked like, so it is possible that all the events that led to the last common ancestor of extant eukaryotes will remain unknown. However, comparative biology of extant organisms and the limited fossil record provide some insight into the history of Eukarya. The earliest fossils found appear to be Bacteria, most likely cyanobacteria. They are about 3.5 billion years old and are recognizable because of their relatively complex structure and, for prokaryotes, relatively large cells. Most other prokaryotes have small cells, 1 or 2 µm in size, and would be difficult to pick out as fossils. Most living eukaryotes have cells measuring 10 µm or greater. Structures this size, which might be fossils, appear in the geological record about 2.1 billion years ago. Characteristics of Eukaryotes Data from these fossils have led comparative biologists to the conclusion that living eukaryotes are all descendants of a single common ancestor. Mapping the characteristics found in all major groups of eukaryotes reveals that the following characteristics must have been present in the last common ancestor, because these characteristics are present in at least some of the members of each major lineage. 1. Cells with nuclei surrounded by a nuclear envelope with nuclear pores. This is the single characteristic that is both necessary and sufficient to define an organism as a eukaryote. All extant eukaryotes have cells with nuclei. 2. Mitochondria. Some extant eukaryotes have very reduced remnants of mitochondria in their cells, whereas other members of their lineages have “typical” mitochondria. 3. A cytoskeleton containing the structural and motility components called actin microfilaments and microtubules. All extant eukaryotes have these cytoskeletal elements. 4. Flagella and cilia, organelles associated with cell motility. Some extant eukaryotes lack flagella and/or cilia, but they are descended from ancestors that possessed them. 5. Chromosomes, each consisting of a linear DNA molecule coiled around basic (alkaline) proteins called histones. The few eukaryotes with chromosomes lacking histones clearly evolved from ancestors that had them. 6. Mitosis, a process of nuclear division wherein replicated chromosomes are divided and separated using elements of the cytoskeleton. Mitosis is universally present in eukaryotes. 7. Sex, a process of genetic recombination unique to eukaryotes in which diploid nuclei at one stage of the life cycle undergo meiosis to yield haploid nuclei and subsequent karyogamy, a stage where two haploid nuclei fuse together to create a diploid zygote nucleus. 8. Members of all major lineages have cell walls, and it might be reasonable to conclude that the last common ancestor could make cell walls during some stage of its life cycle. However, not enough is known about eukaryotes’ cell walls and their development to know how much homology exists among them. If the last common ancestor could make cell walls, it is clear that this ability must have been lost in many groups. Endosymbiosis and the Evolution of Eukaryotes In order to understand eukaryotic organisms fully, it is necessary to understand that all extant eukaryotes are descendants of a chimeric organism that was a composite of a host cell and the cell(s) of an alpha-proteobacterium that “took up residence” inside it. This major theme in the origin of eukaryotes is known as endosymbiosis , one cell engulfing another such that the 600 Chapter 23 | Protists This OpenStax book is available for free at engulfed cell survives and both cells benefit. Over many generations, a symbiotic relationship can result in two organisms that depend on each other so completely that neither could survive on its own. Endosymbiotic events likely contributed to the origin of the last common ancestor of today’s eukaryotes and to later diversification in certain lineages of eukaryotes (Figure 23.5 ). Before explaining this further, it is necessary to consider metabolism in prokaryotes. Prokaryotic Metabolism Many important metabolic processes arose in prokaryotes, and some of these, such as nitrogen fixation, are never found in eukaryotes. The process of aerobic respiration is found in all major lineages of eukaryotes, and it is localized in the mitochondria. Aerobic respiration is also found in many lineages of prokaryotes, but it is not present in all of them, and many forms of evidence suggest that such anaerobic prokaryotes never carried out aerobic respiration nor did their ancestors. While today’s atmosphere is about one-fifth molecular oxygen (O 2), geological evidence shows that it originally lacked O 2. Without oxygen, aerobic respiration would not be expected, and living things would have relied on fermentation instead. At some point before, about 3.5 billion years ago, some prokaryotes began using energy from sunlight to power anabolic processes that reduce carbon dioxide to form organic compounds. That is, they evolved the ability to photosynthesize. Hydrogen, derived from various sources, was captured using light-powered reactions to reduce fixed carbon dioxide in the Calvin cycle. The group of Gram-negative bacteria that gave rise to cyanobacteria used water as the hydrogen source and released O 2as a waste product. Eventually, the amount of photosynthetic oxygen built up in some environments to levels that posed a risk to living organisms, since it can damage many organic compounds. Various metabolic processes evolved that protected organisms from oxygen, one of which, aerobic respiration, also generated high levels of ATP. It became widely present among prokaryotes, including in a group we now call alpha-proteobacteria. Organisms that did not acquire aerobic respiration had to remain in oxygen-free environments. Originally, oxygen-rich environments were likely localized around places where cyanobacteria were active, but by about 2 billion years ago, geological evidence shows that oxygen was building up to higher concentrations in the atmosphere. Oxygen levels similar to today’s levels only arose within the last 700 million years. Recall that the first fossils that we believe to be eukaryotes date to about 2 billion years old, so they appeared as oxygen levels were increasing. Also, recall that all extant eukaryotes descended from an ancestor with mitochondria. These organelles were first observed by light microscopists in the late 1800s, where they appeared to be somewhat worm-shaped structures that seemed to be moving around in the cell. Some early observers suggested that they might be bacteria living inside host cells, but these hypotheses remained unknown or rejected in most scientific communities. Endosymbiotic Theory As cell biology developed in the twentieth century, it became clear that mitochondria were the organelles responsible for producing ATP using aerobic respiration. In the 1960s, American biologist Lynn Margulis developed endosymbiotic theory , which states that eukaryotes may have been a product of one cell engulfing another, one living within another, and evolving over time until the separate cells were no longer recognizable as such. In 1967, Margulis introduced new work on the theory and substantiated her findings through microbiological evidence. Although Margulis’ work initially was met with resistance, this once-revolutionary hypothesis is now widely (but not completely) accepted, with work progressing on uncovering the steps involved in this evolutionary process and the key players involved. Much still remains to be discovered about the origins of the cells that now make up the cells in all living eukaryotes. Broadly, it has become clear that many of our nuclear genes and the molecular machinery responsible for replication and expression appear closely related to those in Archaea. On the other hand, the metabolic organelles and genes responsible for many energy-harvesting processes had their origins in bacteria. Much remains to be clarified about how this relationship occurred; this continues to be an exciting field of discovery in biology. For instance, it is not known whether the endosymbiotic event that led to mitochondria occurred before or after the host cell had a nucleus. Such organisms would be among the extinct precursors of the last common ancestor of eukaryotes. Mitochondria One of the major features distinguishing prokaryotes from eukaryotes is the presence of mitochondria. Eukaryotic cells may contain anywhere from one to several thousand mitochondria, depending on the cell’s level of energy consumption. Each mitochondrion measures 1 to 10 or greater micrometers in length and exists in the cell as an organelle that can be ovoid to worm-shaped to intricately branched ( Figure 23.2 ). Mitochondria arise from the division of existing mitochondria; they may fuse together; and they may be moved around inside the cell by interactions with the cytoskeleton. However, mitochondria cannot survive outside the cell. As the atmosphere was oxygenated by photosynthesis, and as successful aerobic prokaryotes evolved, evidence suggests that an ancestral cell with some membrane compartmentalization engulfed a free-living aerobic prokaryote, specifically an alpha-proteobacterium, thereby giving the host cell the ability to use oxygen to release energy stored in nutrients. Alpha-proteobacteria are a large group of bacteria that includes species symbiotic with plants, disease organisms that can infect humans via ticks, and many free-living species that use light for energy. Several Chapter 23 | Protists 601 lines of evidence support that mitochondria are derived from this endosymbiotic event. Most mitochondria are shaped like alpha-proteobacteria and are surrounded by two membranes, which would result when one membrane-bound organism was engulfed into a vacuole by another membrane-bound organism. The mitochondrial inner membrane is extensive and involves substantial infoldings called cristae that resemble the textured, outer surface of alpha-proteobacteria. The matrix and inner membrane are rich with the enzymes necessary for aerobic respiration. Figure 23.2 In this transmission electron micrograph of mitochondria in a mammalian lung cell, the cristae, infoldings of the mitochondrial inner membrane, can be seen in cross-section. (credit: Louise Howard) Mitochondria divide independently by a process that resembles binary fission in prokaryotes. Specifically, mitochondria are not formed from scratch (de novo) by the eukaryotic cell; they reproduce within it and are distributed with the cytoplasm when a cell divides or two cells fuse. Therefore, although these organelles are highly integrated into the eukaryotic cell, they still reproduce as if they are independent organisms within the cell. However, their reproduction is synchronized with the activity and division of the cell. Mitochondria have their own (usually) circular DNA chromosome that is stabilized by attachments to the inner membrane and carries genes similar to genes expressed by alpha-proteobacteria. Mitochondria also have special ribosomes and transfer RNAs that resemble these components in prokaryotes. These features all support that mitochondria were once free-living prokaryotes. Mitochondria that carry out aerobic respiration have their own genomes, with genes similar to those in alpha-proteobacteria. However, many of the genes for respiratory proteins are located in the nucleus. When these genes are compared to those of other organisms, they appear to be of alpha-proteobacterial origin. Additionally, in some eukaryotic groups, such genes are found in the mitochondria, whereas in other groups, they are found in the nucleus. This has been interpreted as evidence that genes have been transferred from the endosymbiont chromosome to the host genome. This loss of genes by the endosymbiont is probably one explanation why mitochondria cannot live without a host. Some living eukaryotes are anaerobic and cannot survive in the presence of too much oxygen. Some appear to lack organelles that could be recognized as mitochondria. In the 1970s to the early 1990s, many biologists suggested that some of these eukaryotes were descended from ancestors whose lineages had diverged from the lineage of mitochondrion-containing eukaryotes before endosymbiosis occurred. However, later findings suggest that reduced organelles are found in most, if not all, anaerobic eukaryotes, and that all eukaryotes appear to carry some genes in their nuclei that are of mitochondrial origin. In addition to the aerobic generation of ATP, mitochondria have several other metabolic functions. One of these functions is to generate clusters of iron and sulfur that are important cofactors of many enzymes. Such functions are often associated with the reduced mitochondrion-derived organelles of anaerobic eukaryotes. Therefore, most biologists accept that the last common ancestor of eukaryotes had mitochondria. Plastids Some groups of eukaryotes are photosynthetic. Their cells contain, in addition to the standard eukaryotic organelles, another kind of organelle called a plastid . When such cells are carrying out photosynthesis, their plastids are rich in the pigment chlorophyll aand a range of other pigments, called accessory pigments, which are involved in harvesting energy from light. Photosynthetic plastids are called chloroplasts ( Figure 23.3 ). 602 Chapter 23 | Protists This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 23.3 (a) This chloroplast cross-section illustrates its elaborate inner membrane organization. Stacks of thylakoid membranes compartmentalize photosynthetic enzymes and provide scaffolding for chloroplast DNA. (b) In this micrograph of Elodea sp., the chloroplasts can be seen as small green spheres. (credit b: modification of work by Brandon Zierer; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Like mitochondria, plastids appear to have an endosymbiotic origin. This hypothesis was also championed by Lynn Margulis. Plastids are derived from cyanobacteria that lived inside the cells of an ancestral, aerobic, heterotrophic eukaryote. This is called primary endosymbiosis, and plastids of primary origin are surrounded by two membranes. The best evidence is that this has happened twice in the history of eukaryotes. In one case, the common ancestor of the major lineage/ supergroup Archaeplastida took on a cyanobacterial endosymbiont; in the other, the ancestor of the small amoeboid rhizarian taxon, Paulinella , took on a different cyanobacterial endosymbiont. Almost all photosynthetic eukaryotes are descended from the first event, and only a couple of species are derived from the other. Cyanobacteria are a group of Gram-negative bacteria with all the conventional structures of the group. However, unlike most prokaryotes, they have extensive, internal membrane-bound sacs called thylakoids. Chlorophyll is a component of these membranes, as are many of the proteins of the light reactions of photosynthesis. Cyanobacteria also have the peptidoglycan wall and lipopolysaccharide layer associated with Gram-negative bacteria. Chloroplasts of primary origin have thylakoids, a circular DNA chromosome, and ribosomes similar to those of cyanobacteria. Each chloroplast is surrounded by two membranes. In the group of Archaeplastida called the glaucophytes and in Paulinella , a thin peptidoglycan layer is present between the outer and inner plastid membranes. All other plastids lack this relictual cyanobacterial wall. The outer membrane surrounding the plastid is thought to be derived from the vacuole in the host, and the inner membrane is thought to be derived from the plasma membrane of the symbiont. There is also, as with the case of mitochondria, strong evidence that many of the genes of the endosymbiont were transferred to the nucleus. Plastids, like mitochondria, cannot live independently outside the host. In addition, like mitochondria, plastids are derived from the division of other plastids and never built from scratch. Researchers have suggested that the endosymbiotic event that led to Archaeplastida occurred 1 to 1.5 billion years ago, at least 5 hundred million years after the fossil record suggests that eukaryotes were present. Not all plastids in eukaryotes are derived directly from primary endosymbiosis. Some of the major groups of algae became photosynthetic by secondary endosymbiosis, that is, by taking in either green algae or red algae (both from Archaeplastida) as endosymbionts ( Figure 23.4 ab ). Numerous microscopic and genetic studies have supported this conclusion. Secondary plastids are surrounded by three or more membranes, and some secondary plastids even have clear remnants of the nucleus of endosymbiotic alga. Others have not “kept” any remnants. There are cases where tertiary or higher-order endosymbiotic events are the best explanations for plastids in some eukaryotes. Chapter 23 | Protists 603 Figure 23.4 (a) Red algae and (b) green algae (visualized by light microscopy) share similar DNA sequences with photosynthetic cyanobacteria. Scientists speculate that, in a process called endosymbiosis, an ancestral prokaryote engulfed a photosynthetic cyanobacterium that evolved into modern-day chloroplasts. (credit a: modification of work by Ed Bierman; credit b: modification of work by G. Fahnenstiel, NOAA; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Figure 23.5 The first eukaryote may have originated from an ancestral prokaryote that had undergone membrane proliferation, compartmentalization of cellular function (into a nucleus, lysosomes, and an endoplasmic reticulum), and the establishment of endosymbiotic relationships with an aerobic prokaryote, and, in some cases, a photosynthetic prokaryote, to form mitochondria and chloroplasts, respectively. What evidence is there that mitochondria were incorporated into the ancestral eukaryotic cell before chloroplasts? 604 Chapter 23 | Protists This OpenStax book is available for free at Secondary Endosymbiosis in Chlorarachniophytes Endosymbiosis involves one cell engulfing another to produce, over time, a coevolved relationship in which neither cell could survive alone. The chloroplasts of red and green algae, for instance, are derived from the engulfment of a photosynthetic cyanobacterium by an early prokaryote. This leads to the question of the possibility of a cell containing an endosymbiont to itself become engulfed, resulting in a secondary endosymbiosis. Molecular and morphological evidence suggest that the chlorarachniophyte protists are derived from a secondary endosymbiotic event. Chlorarachniophytes are rare algae indigenous to tropical seas and sand that can be classified into the rhizarian supergroup. Chlorarachniophytes extend thin cytoplasmic strands, interconnecting themselves with other chlorarachniophytes, in a cytoplasmic network. These protists are thought to have originated when a eukaryote engulfed a green alga, the latter of which had already established an endosymbiotic relationship with a photosynthetic cyanobacterium ( Figure 23.6 ). Figure 23.6 The hypothesized process of endosymbiotic events leading to the evolution of chlorarachniophytes is shown. In a primary endosymbiotic event, a heterotrophic eukaryote consumed a cyanobacterium. In a secondary endosymbiotic event, the cell resulting from primary endosymbiosis was consumed by a second cell. The resulting organelle became a plastid in modern chlorarachniophytes. Several lines of evidence support that chlorarachniophytes evolved from secondary endosymbiosis. The chloroplasts contained within the green algal endosymbionts still are capable of photosynthesis, making chlorarachniophytes photosynthetic. The green algal endosymbiont also exhibits a stunted vestigial nucleus. In fact, it appears that chlorarachniophytes are the products of an evolutionarily recent secondary endosymbiotic event. The plastids of chlorarachniophytes are surrounded by four membranes: The first two correspond to the inner and outer membranes of the photosynthetic cyanobacterium, the third corresponds to the green alga, and the fourth corresponds to the vacuole that surrounded the green alga when it was engulfed by the chlorarachniophyte ancestor. In other lineages that involved secondary endosymbiosis, only three membranes can be identified around plastids. This is currently rectified as a sequential loss of a membrane during the course of evolution. The process of secondary endosymbiosis is not unique to chlorarachniophytes. In fact, secondary endosymbiosis of green algae also led to euglenid protists, whereas secondary endosymbiosis of red algae led to the evolution of dinoflagellates, apicomplexans, and stramenopiles. 23.2 | Characteristics of Protists By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Describe the cell structure characteristics of protists • Describe the metabolic diversity of protists • Describe the life cycle diversity of protists Chapter 23 | Protists 605 There are over 100,000 described living species of protists, and it is unclear how many undescribed species may exist. Since many protists live as commensals or parasites in other organisms and these relationships are often species-specific, there is a huge potential for protist diversity that matches the diversity of hosts. As the catchall term for eukaryotic organisms that are not animal, plant, or fungi, it is not surprising that very few characteristics are common to all protists. Cell Structure The cells of protists are among the most elaborate of all cells. Most protists are microscopic and unicellular, but some true multicellular forms exist. A few protists live as colonies that behave in some ways as a group of free-living cells and in other ways as a multicellular organism. Still other protists are composed of enormous, multinucleate, single cells that look like amorphous blobs of slime, or in other cases, like ferns. In fact, many protist cells are multinucleated; in some species, the nuclei are different sizes and have distinct roles in protist cell function. Single protist cells range in size from less than a micrometer to three meters in length to hectares. Protist cells may be enveloped by animal-like cell membranes or plant-like cell walls. Others are encased in glassy silica-based shells or wound with pellicles of interlocking protein strips. The pellicle functions like a flexible coat of armor, preventing the protist from being torn or pierced without compromising its range of motion. Metabolism Protists exhibit many forms of nutrition and may be aerobic or anaerobic. Protists that store energy by photosynthesis belong to a group of photoautotrophs and are characterized by the presence of chloroplasts. Other protists are heterotrophic and consume organic materials (such as other organisms) to obtain nutrition. Amoebas and some other heterotrophic protist species ingest particles by a process called phagocytosis, in which the cell membrane engulfs a food particle and brings it inward, pinching off an intracellular membranous sac, or vesicle, called a food vacuole ( Figure 23.7 ). The vesicle containing the ingested particle, the phagosome, then fuses with a lysosome containing hydrolytic enzymes to produce a phagolysosome , and the food particle is broken down into small molecules that can diffuse into the cytoplasm and be used in cellular metabolism. Undigested remains ultimately are expelled from the cell via exocytosis. Figure 23.7 The stages of phagocytosis include the engulfment of a food particle, the digestion of the particle using hydrolytic enzymes contained within a lysosome, and the expulsion of undigested materials from the cell. Subtypes of heterotrophs, called saprobes, absorb nutrients from dead organisms or their organic wastes. Some protists can function as mixotrophs , obtaining nutrition by photoautotrophic or heterotrophic routes, depending on whether sunlight or organic nutrients are available. Motility The majority of protists are motile, but different types of protists have evolved varied modes of movement ( Figure 23.8 ). Some protists have one or more flagella, which they rotate or whip. Others are covered in rows or tufts of tiny cilia that they coordinately beat to swim. Still others form cytoplasmic extensions called pseudopodia anywhere on the cell, anchor the pseudopodia to a substrate, and pull themselves forward. Some protists can move toward or away from a stimulus, a movement referred to as taxis. Movement toward light, termed phototaxis, is accomplished by coupling their locomotion strategy with a light-sensing organ. 606 Chapter 23 | Protists This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 23.8 Protists use various methods for transportation. (a) Paramecium waves hair-like appendages called cilia to propel itself. (b) Amoeba uses lobe-like pseudopodia to anchor itself to a solid surface and pull itself forward. (c) Euglena uses a whip-like tail called a flagellum to propel itself. Life Cycles Protists reproduce by a variety of mechanisms. Most undergo some form of asexual reproduction, such as binary fission, to produce two daughter cells. In protists, binary fission can be divided into transverse or longitudinal, depending on the axis of orientation; sometimes Paramecium exhibits this method. Some protists such as the true slime molds exhibit multiple fission and simultaneously divide into many daughter cells. Others produce tiny buds that go on to divide and grow to the size of the parental protist. Sexual reproduction, involving meiosis and fertilization, is common among protists, and many protist species can switch from asexual to sexual reproduction when necessary. Sexual reproduction is often associated with periods when nutrients are depleted or environmental changes occur. Sexual reproduction may allow the protist to recombine genes and produce new variations of progeny that may be better suited to surviving in the new environment. However, sexual reproduction is often associated with resistant cysts that are a protective, resting stage. Depending on their habitat, the cysts may be particularly resistant to temperature extremes, desiccation, or low pH. This strategy also allows certain protists to “wait out” stressors until their environment becomes more favorable for survival or until they are carried (such as by wind, water, or transport on a larger organism) to a different environment, because cysts exhibit virtually no cellular metabolism. Protist life cycles range from simple to extremely elaborate. Certain parasitic protists have complicated life cycles and must infect different host species at different developmental stages to complete their life cycle. Some protists are unicellular in the haploid form and multicellular in the diploid form, a strategy employed by animals. Other protists have multicellular stages in both haploid and diploid forms, a strategy called alternation of generations that is also used by plants. Habitats Nearly all protists exist in some type of aquatic environment, including freshwater and marine environments, damp soil, and even snow. Several protist species are parasites that infect animals or plants. A few protist species live on dead organisms or their wastes, and contribute to their decay. 23.3 | Groups of Protists By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Describe representative protist organisms from each of the six presently recognized supergroups of eukaryotes • Identify the evolutionary relationships of plants, animals, and fungi within the six presently recognized supergroups of eukaryotes In the span of several decades, the Kingdom Protista has been disassembled because sequence analyses have revealed new genetic (and therefore evolutionary) relationships among these eukaryotes. Moreover, protists that exhibit similar morphological features may have evolved analogous structures because of similar selective pressures—rather than because of recent common ancestry. This phenomenon, called convergent evolution, is one reason why protist classification is so challenging. The emerging classification scheme groups the entire domain Eukaryota into six “supergroups” that contain all of the protists as well as animals, plants, and fungi that evolved from a common ancestor ( Figure 23.9 ). The supergroups Chapter 23 | Protists 607 are believed to be monophyletic, meaning that all organisms within each supergroup are believed to have evolved from a single common ancestor, and thus all members are most closely related to each other than to organisms outside that group. There is still evidence lacking for the monophyly of some groups. Figure 23.9 This diagram shows a proposed classification of the domain Eukara. Currently, the domain Eukarya is divided into six supergroups. Within each supergroup are multiple kingdoms. Dotted lines indicate suggested evolutionary relationships that remain under debate. The classification of eukaryotes is still in flux, and the six supergroups may be modified or replaced by a more appropriate hierarchy as genetic, morphological, and ecological data accumulate. Keep in mind that the classification scheme presented here is just one of several hypotheses, and the true evolutionary relationships are still to be determined. When learning about protists, it is helpful to focus less on the nomenclature and more on the commonalities and differences that define the groups themselves. 608 Chapter 23 | Protists This OpenStax book is available for free at Excavata Many of the protist species classified into the supergroup Excavata are asymmetrical, single-celled organisms with a feeding groove “excavated” from one side. This supergroup includes heterotrophic predators, photosynthetic species, and parasites. Its subgroups are the diplomonads, parabasalids, and euglenozoans. Diplomonads Among the Excavata are the diplomonads, which include the intestinal parasite, Giardia lamblia (Figure 23.10 ). Until recently, these protists were believed to lack mitochondria. Mitochondrial remnant organelles, called mitosomes , have since been identified in diplomonads, but these mitosomes are essentially nonfunctional. Diplomonads exist in anaerobic environments and use alternative pathways, such as glycolysis, to generate energy. Each diplomonad cell has two identical nuclei and uses several flagella for locomotion. Figure 23.10 The mammalian intestinal parasite Giardia lamblia , visualized here using scanning electron microscopy, is a waterborne protist that causes severe diarrhea when ingested. (credit: modification of work by Janice Carr, CDC; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Parabasalids A second Excavata subgroup, the parabasalids, also exhibits semi-functional mitochondria. In parabasalids, these structures function anaerobically and are called hydrogenosomes because they produce hydrogen gas as a byproduct. Parabasalids move with flagella and membrane rippling. Trichomonas vaginalis , a parabasalid that causes a sexually transmitted disease in humans, employs these mechanisms to transit through the male and female urogenital tracts. T.vaginalis causes trichamoniasis, which appears in an estimated 180 million cases worldwide each year. Whereas men rarely exhibit symptoms during an infection with this protist, infected women may become more susceptible to secondary infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and may be more likely to develop cervical cancer. Pregnant women infected with T.vaginalis are at an increased risk of serious complications, such as pre-term delivery. Euglenozoans Euglenozoans includes parasites, heterotrophs, autotrophs, and mixotrophs, ranging in size from 10 to 500 µm. Euglenoids move through their aquatic habitats using two long flagella that guide them toward light sources sensed by a primitive ocular organ called an eyespot. The familiar genus, Euglena , encompasses some mixotrophic species that display a photosynthetic capability only when light is present. In the dark, the chloroplasts of Euglena shrink up and temporarily cease functioning, and the cells instead take up organic nutrients from their environment. The human parasite, Trypanosoma brucei , belongs to a different subgroup of Euglenozoa, the kinetoplastids. The kinetoplastid subgroup is named after the kinetoplast , a DNA mass carried within the single, oversized mitochondrion possessed by each of these cells. This subgroup includes several parasites, collectively called trypanosomes, which cause devastating human diseases and infect an insect species during a portion of their life cycle. T.brucei develops in the gut of the tsetse fly after the fly bites an infected human or other mammalian host. The parasite then travels to the insect salivary glands to be transmitted to another human or other mammal when the infected tsetse fly consumes another blood meal. T. Chapter 23 | Protists 609 brucei is common in central Africa and is the causative agent of African sleeping sickness, a disease associated with severe chronic fatigue, coma, and can be fatal if left untreated. Figure 23.11 Trypanosoma brucei , the causative agent of sleeping sickness, spends part of its life cycle in the tsetse fly and part in humans. (credit: modification of work by CDC) Wa t c h this video ( to see T.brucei swimming. Chromalveolata Current evidence suggests that species classified as chromalveolates are derived from a common ancestor that engulfed a photosynthetic red algal cell, which itself had already evolved chloroplasts from an endosymbiotic relationship with a photosynthetic prokaryote. Therefore, the ancestor of chromalveolates is believed to have resulted from a secondary endosymbiotic event. However, some chromalveolates appear to have lost red alga-derived plastid organelles or lack plastid genes altogether. Therefore, this supergroup should be considered a hypothesis-based working group that is subject to change. Chromalveolates include very important photosynthetic organisms, such as diatoms, brown algae, and significant disease agents in animals and plants. The chromalveolates can be subdivided into alveolates and stramenopiles. Alveolates: Dinoflagellates, Apicomplexians, and Ciliates A large body of data supports that the alveolates are derived from a shared common ancestor. The alveolates are named for the presence of an alveolus, or membrane-enclosed sac, beneath the cell membrane. The exact function of the alveolus is unknown, but it may be involved in osmoregulation. The alveolates are further categorized into some of the better-known protists: the dinoflagellates, the apicomplexans, and the ciliates. Dinoflagellates exhibit extensive morphological diversity and can be photosynthetic, heterotrophic, or mixotrophic. Many dinoflagellates are encased in interlocking plates of cellulose. Two perpendicular flagella fit into the grooves between the cellulose plates, with one flagellum extending longitudinally and a second encircling the dinoflagellate ( Figure 23.12 ). Together, the flagella contribute to the characteristic spinning motion of dinoflagellates. These protists exist in freshwater 610 Chapter 23 | Protists This OpenStax book is available for free at and marine habitats, and are a component of plankton , the typically microscopic organisms that drift through the water and serve as a crucial food source for larger aquatic organisms. Figure 23.12 The dinoflagellates exhibit great diversity in shape. Many are encased in cellulose armor and have two flagella that fit in grooves between the plates. Movement of these two perpendicular flagella causes a spinning motion. Some dinoflagellates generate light, called bioluminescence , when they are jarred or stressed. Large numbers of marine dinoflagellates (billions or trillions of cells per wave) can emit light and cause an entire breaking wave to twinkle or take on a brilliant blue color ( Figure 23.13 ). For approximately 20 species of marine dinoflagellates, population explosions (also called blooms) during the summer months can tint the ocean with a muddy red color. This phenomenon is called a red tide, and it results from the abundant red pigments present in dinoflagellate plastids. In large quantities, these dinoflagellate species secrete an asphyxiating toxin that can kill fish, birds, and marine mammals. Red tides can be massively detrimental to commercial fisheries, and humans who consume these protists may become poisoned. Figure 23.13 Bioluminescence is emitted from dinoflagellates in a breaking wave, as seen from the New Jersey coast. (credit: “catalano82”/Flickr) The apicomplexan protists are so named because their microtubules, fibrin, and vacuoles are asymmetrically distributed at one end of the cell in a structure called an apical complex ( Figure 23.14 ). The apical complex is specialized for entry and infection of host cells. Indeed, all apicomplexans are parasitic. This group includes the genus Plasmodium , which causes malaria in humans. Apicomplexan life cycles are complex, involving multiple hosts and stages of sexual and asexual reproduction. Chapter 23 | Protists 611 Figure 23.14 (a) Apicomplexans are parasitic protists. They have a characteristic apical complex that enables them to infect host cells. (b) Plasmodium , the causative agent of malaria, has a complex life cycle typical of apicomplexans. (credit b: modification of work by CDC) The ciliates, which include Paramecium and Tetrahymena , are a group of protists 10 to 3,000 micrometers in length that are covered in rows, tufts, or spirals of tiny cilia. By beating their cilia synchronously or in waves, ciliates can coordinate directed movements and ingest food particles. Certain ciliates have fused cilia-based structures that function like paddles, funnels, or fins. Ciliates also are surrounded by a pellicle, providing protection without compromising agility. The genus Paramecium includes protists that have organized their cilia into a plate-like primitive mouth, called an oral groove, which is used to capture and digest bacteria ( Figure 23.15 ). Food captured in the oral groove enters a food vacuole, where it combines with digestive enzymes. Waste particles are expelled by an exocytic vesicle that fuses at a specific region on the cell membrane, called the anal pore. In addition to a vacuole-based digestive system, Paramecium also uses contractile vacuoles , which are osmoregulatory vesicles that fill with water as it enters the cell by osmosis and then contract to squeeze water from the cell. Figure 23.15 Paramecium has a primitive mouth (called an oral groove) to ingest food, and an anal pore to excrete it. Contractile vacuoles allow the organism to excrete excess water. Cilia enable the organism to move. (credit “paramecium micrograph”: modification of work by NIH; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Watch the video ( of the contractile vacuole of Paramecium expelling water to keep the cell osmotically balanced. 612 Chapter 23 | Protists This OpenStax book is available for free at Paramecium has two nuclei, a macronucleus and a micronucleus, in each cell. The micronucleus is essential for sexual reproduction, whereas the macronucleus directs asexual binary fission and all other biological functions. The process of sexual reproduction in Paramecium underscores the importance of the micronucleus to these protists. Paramecium and most other ciliates reproduce sexually by conjugation. This process begins when two different mating types of Paramecium make physical contact and join with a cytoplasmic bridge ( Figure 23.16 ). The diploid micronucleus in each cell then undergoes meiosis to produce four haploid micronuclei. Three of these degenerate in each cell, leaving one micronucleus that then undergoes mitosis, generating two haploid micronuclei. The cells each exchange one of these haploid nuclei and move away from each other. A similar process occurs in bacteria that have plasmids. Fusion of the haploid micronuclei generates a completely novel diploid pre-micronucleus in each conjugative cell. This pre-micronucleus undergoes three rounds of mitosis to produce eight copies, and the original macronucleus disintegrates. Four of the eight pre-micronuclei become full-fledged micronuclei, whereas the other four perform multiple rounds of DNA replication and go on to become new macronuclei. Two cell divisions then yield four new Paramecia from each original conjugative cell. Chapter 23 | Protists 613 Figure 23.16 The complex process of sexual reproduction in Paramecium creates eight daughter cells from two original cells. Each cell has a macronucleus and a micronucleus. During sexual reproduction, the macronucleus dissolves and is replaced by a micronucleus. (credit “micrograph”: modification of work by Ian Sutton; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Which of the following statements about Paramecium sexual reproduction is false? a. The macronuclei are derived from micronuclei. b. Both mitosis and meiosis occur during sexual reproduction. c. The conjugate pair swaps macronucleii. d. Each parent produces four daughter cells. Stramenopiles: Diatoms, Brown Algae, Golden Algae and Oomycetes The other subgroup of chromalveolates, the stramenopiles, includes photosynthetic marine algae and heterotrophic protists. The unifying feature of this group is the presence of a textured, or “hairy,” flagellum. Many stramenopiles also have an 614 Chapter 23 | Protists This OpenStax book is available for free at additional flagellum that lacks hair-like projections ( Figure 23.17 ). Members of this subgroup range in size from single- celled diatoms to the massive and multicellular kelp. Figure 23.17 This stramenopile cell has a single hairy flagellum and a secondary smooth flagellum. The diatoms are unicellular photosynthetic protists that encase themselves in intricately patterned, glassy cell walls composed of silicon dioxide in a matrix of organic particles ( Figure 23.18 ). These protists are a component of freshwater and marine plankton. Most species of diatoms reproduce asexually, although some instances of sexual reproduction and sporulation also exist. Some diatoms exhibit a slit in their silica shell, called a raphe . By expelling a stream of mucopolysaccharides from the raphe, the diatom can attach to surfaces or propel itself in one direction. Figure 23.18 Assorted diatoms, visualized here using light microscopy, live among annual sea ice in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. Diatoms range in size from 2 to 200 µm. (credit: Prof. Gordon T. Taylor, Stony Brook University, NSF, NOAA) During periods of nutrient availability, diatom populations bloom to numbers greater than can be consumed by aquatic organisms. The excess diatoms die and sink to the sea floor where they are not easily reached by saprobes that feed on dead organisms. As a result, the carbon dioxide that the diatoms had consumed and incorporated into their cells during photosynthesis is not returned to the atmosphere. In general, this process by which carbon is transported deep into the ocean is described as the biological carbon pump , because carbon is “pumped” to the ocean depths where it is inaccessible to the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. The biological carbon pump is a crucial component of the carbon cycle that maintains lower atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Like diatoms, golden algae are largely unicellular, although some species can form large colonies. Their characteristic gold color results from their extensive use of carotenoids, a group of photosynthetic pigments that are generally yellow or orange Chapter 23 | Protists 615 in color. Golden algae are found in both freshwater and marine environments, where they form a major part of the plankton community. The brown algae are primarily marine, multicellular organisms that are known colloquially as seaweeds. Giant kelps are a type of brown algae. Some brown algae have evolved specialized tissues that resemble terrestrial plants, with root-like holdfasts, stem-like stipes, and leaf-like blades that are capable of photosynthesis. The stipes of giant kelps are enormous, extending in some cases for 60 meters. A variety of algal life cycles exists, but the most complex is alternation of generations, in which both haploid and diploid stages involve multicellularity. Compare this life cycle to that of humans, for instance. Haploid gametes produced by meiosis (sperm and egg) combine in fertilization to generate a diploid zygote that undergoes many rounds of mitosis to produce a multicellular embryo and then a fetus. However, the individual sperm and egg themselves never become multicellular beings. Terrestrial plants also have evolved alternation of generations. In the brown algae genus Laminaria , haploid spores develop into multicellular gametophytes, which produce haploid gametes that combine to produce diploid organisms that then become multicellular organisms with a different structure from the haploid form ( Figure 23.19 ). Certain other organisms perform alternation of generations in which both the haploid and diploid forms look the same. Figure 23.19 Several species of brown algae, such as the Laminaria shown here, have evolved life cycles in which both the haploid (gametophyte) and diploid (sporophyte) forms are multicellular. The gametophyte is different in structure than the sporophyte. (credit “laminaria photograph”: modification of work by Claire Fackler, CINMS, NOAA Photo Library) Which of the following statements about the Laminaria life cycle is false? a. 1 nzoospores form in the sporangia. b. The sporophyte is the 2 nplant. c. The gametophyte is diploid. d. Both the gametophyte and sporophyte stages are multicellular. The water molds, oomycetes (“egg fungus”), were so-named based on their fungus-like morphology, but molecular data have shown that the water molds are not closely related to fungi. The oomycetes are characterized by a cellulose-based cell wall and an extensive network of filaments that allow for nutrient uptake. As diploid spores, many oomycetes have two oppositely directed flagella (one hairy and one smooth) for locomotion. The oomycetes are nonphotosynthetic and include many saprobes and parasites. The saprobes appear as white fluffy growths on dead organisms ( Figure 23.20 ). Most oomycetes are aquatic, but some parasitize terrestrial plants. One plant pathogen is Phytophthora infestans , the causative agent of late blight of potatoes, such as occurred in the nineteenth century Irish potato famine. 616 Chapter 23 | Protists This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 23.20 A saprobic oomycete engulfs a dead insect. (credit: modification of work by Thomas Bresson) Rhizaria The Rhizaria supergroup includes many of the amoebas, most of which have threadlike or needle-like pseudopodia (Figure 23.21 ). Pseudopodia function to trap and engulf food particles and to direct movement in rhizarian protists. These pseudopods project outward from anywhere on the cell surface and can anchor to a substrate. The protist then transports its cytoplasm into the pseudopod, thereby moving the entire cell. This type of motion, called cytoplasmic streaming , is used by several diverse groups of protists as a means of locomotion or as a method to distribute nutrients and oxygen. Figure 23.21 Ammonia tepida , a Rhizaria species viewed here using phase contrast light microscopy, exhibits many threadlike pseudopodia. (credit: modification of work by Scott Fay, UC Berkeley; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Take a look at this video ( to see cytoplasmic streaming in a green alga. Forams Foraminiferans, or forams, are unicellular heterotrophic protists, ranging from approximately 20 micrometers to several centimeters in length, and occasionally resembling tiny snails ( Figure 23.22 ). As a group, the forams exhibit porous shells, called tests that are built from various organic materials and typically hardened with calcium carbonate. The tests may Chapter 23 | Protists 617 house photosynthetic algae, which the forams can harvest for nutrition. Foram pseudopodia extend through the pores and allow the forams to move, feed, and gather additional building materials. Typically, forams are associated with sand or other particles in marine or freshwater habitats. Foraminiferans are also useful as indicators of pollution and changes in global weather patterns. Figure 23.22 These shells from foraminifera sank to the sea floor. (credit: Deep East 2001, NOAA/OER) Radiolarians A second subtype of Rhizaria, the radiolarians, exhibit intricate exteriors of glassy silica with radial or bilateral symmetry (Figure 23.23 ). Needle-like pseudopods supported by microtubules radiate outward from the cell bodies of these protists and function to catch food particles. The shells of dead radiolarians sink to the ocean floor, where they may accumulate in 100 meter-thick depths. Preserved, sedimented radiolarians are very common in the fossil record. Figure 23.23 This fossilized radiolarian shell was imaged using a scanning electron microscope. (credit: modification of work by Hannes Grobe, Alfred Wegener Institute; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Archaeplastida Red algae and green algae are included in the supergroup Archaeplastida. It was from a common ancestor of these protists that the land plants evolved, since their closest relatives are found in this group. Molecular evidence supports that all Archaeplastida are descendents of an endosymbiotic relationship between a heterotrophic protist and a cyanobacterium. The red and green algae include unicellular, multicellular, and colonial forms. Red Algae Red algae, or rhodophytes, are primarily multicellular, lack flagella, and range in size from microscopic, unicellular protists to large, multicellular forms grouped into the informal seaweed category. The red algae life cycle is an alternation of generations. Some species of red algae contain phycoerythrins, photosynthetic accessory pigments that are red in color and 618 Chapter 23 | Protists This OpenStax book is available for free at outcompete the green tint of chlorophyll, making these species appear as varying shades of red. Other protists classified as red algae lack phycoerythrins and are parasites. Red algae are common in tropical waters where they have been detected at depths of 260 meters. Other red algae exist in terrestrial or freshwater environments. Green Algae: Chlorophytes and Charophytes The most abundant group of algae is the green algae. The green algae exhibit similar features to the land plants, particularly in terms of chloroplast structure. That this group of protists shared a relatively recent common ancestor with land plants is well supported. The green algae are subdivided into the chlorophytes and the charophytes. The charophytes are the closest living relatives to land plants and resemble them in morphology and reproductive strategies. Charophytes are common in wet habitats, and their presence often signals a healthy ecosystem. The chlorophytes exhibit great diversity of form and function. Chlorophytes primarily inhabit freshwater and damp soil, and are a common component of plankton. Chlamydomonas is a simple, unicellular chlorophyte with a pear-shaped morphology and two opposing, anterior flagella that guide this protist toward light sensed by its eyespot. More complex chlorophyte species exhibit haploid gametes and spores that resemble Chlamydomonas . The chlorophyte Volvox is one of only a few examples of a colonial organism, which behaves in some ways like a collection of individual cells, but in other ways like the specialized cells of a multicellular organism ( Figure 23.24 ).Volvox colonies contain 500 to 60,000 cells, each with two flagella, contained within a hollow, spherical matrix composed of a gelatinous glycoprotein secretion. Individual Volvox cells move in a coordinated fashion and are interconnected by cytoplasmic bridges. Only a few of the cells reproduce to create daughter colonies, an example of basic cell specialization in this organism. Figure 23.24 Volvox aureus is a green alga in the supergroup Archaeplastida. This species exists as a colony, consisting of cells immersed in a gel-like matrix and intertwined with each other via hair-like cytoplasmic extensions. (credit: Dr. Ralf Wagner) True multicellular organisms, such as the sea lettuce, Ulva , are represented among the chlorophytes. In addition, some chlorophytes exist as large, multinucleate, single cells. Species in the genus Caulerpa exhibit flattened fern-like foliage and can reach lengths of 3 meters ( Figure 23.25 ).Caulerpa species undergo nuclear division, but their cells do not complete cytokinesis, remaining instead as massive and elaborate single cells. Figure 23.25 Caulerpa taxifolia is a chlorophyte consisting of a single cell containing potentially thousands of nuclei. (credit: NOAA) Chapter 23 | Protists 619 Amoebozoa The amoebozoans characteristically exhibit pseudopodia that extend like tubes or flat lobes, rather than the hair-like pseudopodia of rhizarian amoeba ( Figure 23.26 ). The Amoebozoa include several groups of unicellular amoeba-like organisms that are free-living or parasites. Figure 23.26 Amoebae with tubular and lobe-shaped pseudopodia are seen under a microscope. These isolates would be morphologically classified as amoebozoans. Slime Molds A subset of the amoebozoans, the slime molds, has several morphological similarities to fungi that are thought to be the result of convergent evolution. For instance, during times of stress, some slime molds develop into spore-generating fruiting bodies, much like fungi. The slime molds are categorized on the basis of their life cycles into plasmodial or cellular types. Plasmodial slime molds are composed of large, multinucleate cells and move along surfaces like an amorphous blob of slime during their feeding stage ( Figure 23.27 ). Food particles are lifted and engulfed into the slime mold as it glides along. Upon maturation, the plasmodium takes on a net-like appearance with the ability to form fruiting bodies, or sporangia, during times of stress. Haploid spores are produced by meiosis within the sporangia, and spores can be disseminated through the air or water to potentially land in more favorable environments. If this occurs, the spores germinate to form ameboid or flagellate haploid cells that can combine with each other and produce a diploid zygotic slime mold to complete the life cycle. 620 Chapter 23 | Protists This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 23.27 The life cycle of the plasmodial slime mold is shown. The brightly colored plasmodium in the inset photo is a single-celled, multinucleate mass. (credit: modification of work by Dr. Jonatha Gott and the Center for RNA Molecular Biology, Case Western Reserve University) The cellular slime molds function as independent amoeboid cells when nutrients are abundant ( Figure 23.28 ). When food is depleted, cellular slime molds pile onto each other into a mass of cells that behaves as a single unit, called a slug. Some cells in the slug contribute to a 2–3-millimeter stalk, drying up and dying in the process. Cells atop the stalk form an asexual fruiting body that contains haploid spores. As with plasmodial slime molds, the spores are disseminated and can germinate if they land in a moist environment. One representative genus of the cellular slime molds is Dictyostelium , which commonly exists in the damp soil of forests. Chapter 23 | Protists 621 Figure 23.28 Cellular slime molds may exist as solitary or aggregated amoebas. (credit: modification of work by “thatredhead4”/Flickr) View this site ( to see the formation of a fruiting body by a cellular slime mold. Opisthokonta The opisthokonts include the animal-like choanoflagellates, which are believed to resemble the common ancestor of sponges and, in fact, all animals. Choanoflagellates include unicellular and colonial forms, and number about 244 described species. These organisms exhibit a single, apical flagellum that is surrounded by a contractile collar composed of microvilli. The collar uses a similar mechanism to sponges to filter out bacteria for ingestion by the protist. The morphology of choanoflagellates was recognized early on as resembling the collar cells of sponges, and suggesting a possible relationship to animals. The Mesomycetozoa form a small group of parasites, primarily of fish, and at least one form that can parasitize humans. Their life cycles are poorly understood. These organisms are of special interest, because they appear to be so closely related to animals. In the past, they were grouped with fungi and other protists based on their morphology. 622 Chapter 23 | Protists This OpenStax book is available for free at 23.4 | Ecology of Protists By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Describe the role that protists play in the ecosystem • Describe important pathogenic species of protists Protists function in various ecological niches. Whereas some protist species are essential components of the food chain and generators of biomass, others function in the decomposition of organic materials. Still other protists are dangerous human pathogens or causative agents of devastating plant diseases. Primary Producers/Food Sources Protists are essential sources of nutrition for many other organisms. In some cases, as in plankton, protists are consumed directly. Alternatively, photosynthetic protists serve as producers of nutrition for other organisms. For instance, photosynthetic dinoflagellates called zooxanthellae use sunlight to fix inorganic carbon. In this symbiotic relationship, these protists provide nutrients for coral polyps ( Figure 23.29 ) that house them, giving corals a boost of energy to secrete a calcium carbonate skeleton. In turn, the corals provide the protist with a protected environment and the compounds needed for photosynthesis. This type of symbiotic relationship is important in nutrient-poor environments. Without dinoflagellate symbionts, corals lose algal pigments in a process called coral bleaching, and they eventually die. This explains why reef- building corals do not reside in waters deeper than 20 meters: insufficient light reaches those depths for dinoflagellates to photosynthesize. Figure 23.29 Coral polyps obtain nutrition through a symbiotic relationship with dinoflagellates. The protists themselves and their products of photosynthesis are essential—directly or indirectly—to the survival of organisms ranging from bacteria to mammals ( Figure 23.30 ). As primary producers, protists feed a large proportion of the world’s aquatic species. (On land, terrestrial plants serve as primary producers.) In fact, approximately one-quarter of the world’s photosynthesis is conducted by protists, particularly dinoflagellates, diatoms, and multicellular algae. Chapter 23 | Protists 623 Figure 23.30 Virtually all aquatic organisms depend directly or indirectly on protists for food. (credit “mollusks”: modification of work by Craig Stihler, USFWS; credit “crab”: modification of work by David Berkowitz; credit “dolphin”: modification of work by Mike Baird; credit “fish”: modification of work by Tim Sheerman-Chase; credit “penguin”: modification of work by Aaron Logan) Protists do not create food sources only for sea-dwelling organisms. For instance, certain anaerobic parabasalid species exist in the digestive tracts of termites and wood-eating cockroaches, where they contribute an essential step in the digestion of cellulose ingested by these insects as they bore through wood. Human Pathogens A pathogen is anything that causes disease. Parasites live in or on an organism and harm the organism. A significant number of protists are pathogenic parasites that must infect other organisms to survive and propagate. Protist parasites include the causative agents of malaria, African sleeping sickness, and waterborne gastroenteritis in humans. Other protist pathogens prey on plants, effecting massive destruction of food crops. Plasmodium Species Members of the genus Plasmodium must colonize both a mosquito and a vertebrate to complete their life cycle. In vertebrates, the parasite develops in liver cells and goes on to infect red blood cells, bursting from and destroying the blood cells with each asexual replication cycle ( Figure 23.31 ). Of the four Plasmodium species known to infect humans, P.falciparum accounts for 50 percent of all malaria cases and is the primary cause of disease-related fatalities in tropical regions of the world. In 2010, it was estimated that malaria caused between one-half and one million deaths, mostly in African children. During the course of malaria, P.falciparum can infect and destroy more than one-half of a human’s 624 Chapter 23 | Protists This OpenStax book is available for free at circulating blood cells, leading to severe anemia. In response to waste products released as the parasites burst from infected blood cells, the host immune system mounts a massive inflammatory response with episodes of delirium-inducing fever as parasites lyse red blood cells, spilling parasite waste into the bloodstream. P.falciparum is transmitted to humans by the African malaria mosquito, Anopheles gambiae . Techniques to kill, sterilize, or avoid exposure to this highly aggressive mosquito species are crucial to malaria control. Figure 23.31 Red blood cells are shown to be infected with P.falciparum , the causative agent of malaria. In this light microscopic image taken using a 100× oil immersion lens, the ring-shaped P.falciparum stains purple. (credit: modification of work by Michael Zahniser; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) This movie ( depicts the pathogenesis of Plasmodium falciparum , the causative agent of malaria. Trypanosomes Trypanosoma brucei , the parasite that is responsible for African sleeping sickness, confounds the human immune system by changing its thick layer of surface glycoproteins with each infectious cycle ( Figure 23.32 ). The glycoproteins are identified by the immune system as foreign antigens, and a specific antibody defense is mounted against the parasite. However, T. brucei has thousands of possible antigens, and with each subsequent generation, the protist switches to a glycoprotein coating with a different molecular structure. In this way, T.brucei is capable of replicating continuously without the immune system ever succeeding in clearing the parasite. Without treatment, T.brucei attacks red blood cells, causing the patient to lapse into a coma and eventually die. During epidemic periods, mortality from the disease can be high. Greater surveillance and control measures lead to a reduction in reported cases; some of the lowest numbers reported in 50 years (fewer than 10,000 cases in all of sub-Saharan Africa) have happened since 2009. Chapter 23 | Protists 625 This movie ( discusses the pathogenesis of Trypanosoma brucei , the causative agent of African sleeping sickness. In Latin America, another species, T.cruzi , is responsible for Chagas disease. T.cruzi infections are mainly caused by a blood-sucking bug. The parasite inhabits heart and digestive system tissues in the chronic phase of infection, leading to malnutrition and heart failure due to abnormal heart rhythms. An estimated 10 million people are infected with Chagas disease, and it caused 10,000 deaths in 2008. Figure 23.32 Trypanosomes are shown among red blood cells. (credit: modification of work by Dr. Myron G. Shultz; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Plant Parasites Protist parasites of terrestrial plants include agents that destroy food crops. The oomycete Plasmopara viticola parasitizes grape plants, causing a disease called downy mildew ( Figure 23.33 ). Grape plants infected with P.viticola appear stunted and have discolored, withered leaves. The spread of downy mildew nearly collapsed the French wine industry in the nineteenth century. Figure 23.33 Both downy and powdery mildews on this grape leaf are caused by an infection of P.viticola . (credit: modification of work by USDA) Phytophthora infestans is an oomycete responsible for potato late blight, which causes potato stalks and stems to decay into black slime ( Figure 23.34 ). Widespread potato blight caused by P.infestans precipitated the well-known Irish potato 626 Chapter 23 | Protists This OpenStax book is available for free at famine in the nineteenth century that claimed the lives of approximately 1 million people and led to the emigration of at least 1 million more from Ireland. Late blight continues to plague potato crops in certain parts of the United States and Russia, wiping out as much as 70 percent of crops when no pesticides are applied. Figure 23.34 These unappetizing remnants result from an infection with P.infestans , the causative agent of potato late blight. (credit: USDA) Agents of Decomposition The fungus-like protist saprobes are specialized to absorb nutrients from nonliving organic matter, such as dead organisms or their wastes. For instance, many types of oomycetes grow on dead animals or algae. Saprobic protists have the essential function of returning inorganic nutrients to the soil and water. This process allows for new plant growth, which in turn generates sustenance for other organisms along the food chain. Indeed, without saprobe species, such as protists, fungi, and bacteria, life would cease to exist as all organic carbon became “tied up” in dead organisms. Chapter 23 | Protists 627 biological carbon pump bioluminescence contractile vacuole cytoplasmic streaming endosymbiosis endosymbiotic theory hydrogenosome kinetoplast mitosome mixotroph pellicle phagolysosome plankton plastid raphe test KEY TERMS process by which inorganic carbon is fixed by photosynthetic species that then die and fall to the sea floor where they cannot be reached by saprobes and their carbon dioxide consumption cannot be returned to the atmosphere generation and emission of light by an organism, as in dinoflagellates vesicle that fills with water (as it enters the cell by osmosis) and then contracts to squeeze water from the cell; an osmoregulatory vesicle movement of cytoplasm into an extended pseudopod such that the entire cell is transported to the site of the pseudopod engulfment of one cell within another such that the engulfed cell survives, and both cells benefit; the process responsible for the evolution of mitochondria and chloroplasts in eukaryotes theory that states that eukaryotes may have been a product of one cell engulfing another, one living within another, and evolving over time until the separate cells were no longer recognizable as such organelle carried by parabasalids (Excavata) that functions anaerobically and outputs hydrogen gas as a byproduct; likely evolved from mitochondria mass of DNA carried within the single, oversized mitochondrion, characteristic of kinetoplastids (phylum: Euglenozoa) nonfunctional organelle carried in the cells of diplomonads (Excavata) that likely evolved from a mitochondrion organism that can obtain nutrition by autotrophic or heterotrophic means, usually facultatively outer cell covering composed of interlocking protein strips that function like a flexible coat of armor, preventing cells from being torn or pierced without compromising their range of motion cellular body formed by the union of a phagosome containing the ingested particle with a lysosome that contains hydrolytic enzymes diverse group of mostly microscopic organisms that drift in marine and freshwater systems and serve as a food source for larger aquatic organisms one of a group of related organelles in plant cells that are involved in the storage of starches, fats, proteins, and pigments slit in the silica shell of diatoms through which the protist secretes a stream of mucopolysaccharides for locomotion and attachment to substrates porous shell of a foram that is built from various organic materials and typically hardened with calcium carbonate CHAPTER SUMMARY 23.1 Eukaryotic Origins The oldest fossil evidence of eukaryotes is about 2 billion years old. Fossils older than this all appear to be prokaryotes. It is probable that today’s eukaryotes are descended from an ancestor that had a prokaryotic organization. The last common ancestor of today’s Eukarya had several characteristics, including cells with nuclei that divided mitotically and contained linear chromosomes where the DNA was associated with histones, a cytoskeleton and endomembrane system, and the ability to make cilia/flagella during at least part of its life cycle. It was aerobic because it had mitochondria that were the result of an aerobic alpha-proteobacterium that lived inside a host cell. Whether this host had a nucleus at the time of the initial symbiosis remains unknown. The last common ancestor may have had a cell wall for at least part of its life cycle, but more data are needed to confirm this hypothesis. Today’s eukaryotes are very diverse in their shapes, organization, life cycles, and number of cells per individual. 628 Chapter 23 | Protists This OpenStax book is available for free at 23.2 Characteristics of Protists Protists are extremely diverse in terms of their biological and ecological characteristics, partly because they are an artificial assemblage of phylogenetically unrelated groups. Protists display highly varied cell structures, several types of reproductive strategies, virtually every possible type of nutrition, and varied habitats. Most single-celled protists are motile, but these organisms use diverse structures for transportation. 23.3 Groups of Protists The process of classifying protists into meaningful groups is ongoing, but genetic data in the past 20 years have clarified many relationships that were previously unclear or mistaken. The majority view at present is to order all eukaryotes into six supergroups: Excavata, Chromalveolata, Rhizaria, Archaeplastida, Amoebozoa, and Opisthokonta. The goal of this classification scheme is to create clusters of species that all are derived from a common ancestor. At present, the monophyly of some of the supergroups are better supported by genetic data than others. Although tremendous variation exists within the supergroups, commonalities at the morphological, physiological, and ecological levels can be identified. 23.4 Ecology of Protists Protists function at several levels of the ecological food web: as primary producers, as direct food sources, and as decomposers. In addition, many protists are parasites of plants and animals that can cause deadly human diseases or destroy valuable crops. ART CONNECTION QUESTIONS 1. Figure 23.5 What evidence is there that mitochondria were incorporated into the ancestral eukaryotic cell before chloroplasts? 2. Figure 23.15 Which of the following statements about Paramecium sexual reproduction is false? a. The macronuclei are derived from micronuclei. b. Both mitosis and meiosis occur during sexual reproduction. c. The conjugate pair swaps macronuclei. d. Each parent produces four daughter cells. 3. Figure 23.18 Which of the following statements about the Laminaria life cycle is false? a. 1nzoospores form in the sporangia. b. The sporophyte is the 2n plant. c. The gametophyte is diploid. d. Both the gametophyte and sporophyte stages are multicellular. REVIEW QUESTIONS 4. What event is thought to have contributed to the evolution of eukaryotes? a. global warming b. glaciation c. volcanic activity d. oxygenation of the atmosphere 5. Which characteristic is shared by prokaryotes and eukaryotes? a. cytoskeleton b. nuclear envelope c. DNA-based genome d. mitochondria 6. Mitochondria most likely evolved by _____________. a. a photosynthetic cyanobacterium b. cytoskeletal elements c. endosymbiosis d. membrane proliferation 7. Which of these protists is believed to have evolved following a secondary endosymbiosis? a. green algae b. cyanobacteria c. red algae d. chlorarachniophytes 8. Protists that have a pellicle are surrounded by ______________. a. silica dioxide b. calcium carbonate c. carbohydrates d. proteins 9. Protists with the capabilities to perform photosynthesis and to absorb nutrients from dead organisms are called ______________. a. photoautotrophs b. mixotrophs c. saprobes d. heterotrophs 10. Which of these locomotor organs would likely be the shortest? a. a flagellum b. a cilium c. an extended pseudopod Chapter 23 | Protists 629 d. a pellicle 11. Alternation of generations describes which of the following? a. The haploid form can be multicellular; the diploid form is unicellular. b. The haploid form is unicellular; the diploid form can be multicellular. c. Both the haploid and diploid forms can be multicellular. d. Neither the haploid nor the diploid forms can be multicellular. 12. Which protist group exhibits mitochondrial remnants with reduced functionality? a. slime molds b. diatoms c. parabasalids d. dinoflagellates 13. Conjugation between two Paramecia produces ________ total daughter cells. a. 2 b. 4 c. 8 d. 16 14. What is the function of the raphe in diatoms? a. locomotion b. defense c. capturing food d. photosynthesis 15. What genus of protists appears to contradict the statement that unicellularity restricts cell size? a. Dictyostelium b. Ulva c. Plasmodium d. Caulerpa 16. An example of carbon fixation is _____________. a. photosynthesis b. decomposition c. phagocytosis d. parasitism 17. Which parasitic protist evades the host immune system by altering its surface proteins with each generation? a. Paramecium caudatum b. Trypanosoma brucei c. Plasmodium falciparum d. Phytophthora infestans CRITICAL THINKING QUESTIONS 18. Describe the hypothesized steps in the origin of eukaryotic cells. 19. Explain in your own words why sexual reproduction can be useful if a protist’s environment changes. 20. Giardia lamblia is a cyst-forming protist parasite that causes diarrhea if ingested. Given this information, against what type(s) of environments might G. lamblia cysts be particularly resistant? 21. The chlorophyte (green algae) genera Ulva and Caulerpa both have macroscopic leaf-like and stem-like structures, but only Ulva species are considered truly multicellular. Explain why. 22. Why might a light-sensing eyespot be ineffective for an obligate saprobe? Suggest an alternative organ for a saprobic protist. 23. How does killing Anopheles mosquitoes affect the Plasmodium protists? 24. Without treatment, why does African sleeping sickness invariably lead to death? 630 Chapter 23 | Protists This OpenStax book is available for free at 24 | FUNGI Figure 24.1 Many species of fungus produce the familiar mushroom (a) which is a reproductive structure. This (b) coral fungus displays brightly colored fruiting bodies. This electron micrograph shows (c) the spore-bearing structures of Aspergillus , a type of toxic fungi found mostly in soil and plants. (credit “mushroom”: modification of work by Chris Wee; credit “coral fungus”: modification of work by Cory Zanker; credit “ Aspergillus ”: modification of work by Janice Haney Carr, Robert Simmons, CDC; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Chapter Outline 24.1: Characteristics of Fungi 24.2: Classifications of Fungi 24.3: Ecology of Fungi 24.4: Fungal Parasites and Pathogens 24.5: Importance of Fungi in Human Life Introduction The word fungus comes from the Latin word for mushrooms. Indeed, the familiar mushroom is a reproductive structure used by many types of fungi. However, there are also many fungi species that don’t produce mushrooms at all. Being eukaryotes, a typical fungal cell contains a true nucleus and many membrane-bound organelles. The kingdom Fungi includes an enormous variety of living organisms collectively referred to as Eucomycota, or true Fungi. While scientists have identified about 100,000 species of fungi, this is only a fraction of the 1.5 million species of fungus likely present on Earth. Edible mushrooms, yeasts, black mold, and the producer of the antibiotic penicillin, Penicillium notatum , are all members of the kingdom Fungi, which belongs to the domain Eukarya. Fungi, once considered plant-like organisms, are more closely related to animals than plants. Fungi are not capable of photosynthesis: they are heterotrophic because they use complex organic compounds as sources of energy and carbon. Some fungal organisms multiply only asexually, whereas others undergo both asexual reproduction and sexual reproduction with alternation of generations. Most fungi produce a large number of spores , which are haploid cells that can undergo mitosis to form multicellular, haploid individuals. Like bacteria, fungi play an essential role in ecosystems because they are decomposers and participate in the cycling of nutrients by breaking down organic materials to simple molecules. Fungi often interact with other organisms, forming beneficial or mutualistic associations. For example most terrestrial plants form symbiotic relationships with fungi. The roots of the plant connect with the underground parts of the fungus forming mycorrhizae . Through mycorrhizae, the fungus and plant exchange nutrients and water, greatly aiding the survival of both species Alternatively, lichens are an association between a fungus and its photosynthetic partner (usually an alga). Fungi also cause serious infections in plants and animals. For example, Dutch elm disease, which is caused by the fungus Ophiostoma ulmi , is a particularly devastating type of fungal infestation that destroys many native species of elm ( Ulmus sp.) by infecting the tree’s vascular system. The elm bark beetle acts as a vector, transmitting the disease from tree to tree. Chapter 24 | Fungi 631 Accidentally introduced in the 1900s, the fungus decimated elm trees across the continent. Many European and Asiatic elms are less susceptible to Dutch elm disease than American elms. In humans, fungal infections are generally considered challenging to treat. Unlike bacteria, fungi do not respond to traditional antibiotic therapy, since they are eukaryotes. Fungal infections may prove deadly for individuals with compromised immune systems. Fungi have many commercial applications. The food industry uses yeasts in baking, brewing, and cheese and wine making. Many industrial compounds are byproducts of fungal fermentation. Fungi are the source of many commercial enzymes and antibiotics. 24.1 | Characteristics of Fungi By the end of this section, you will be able to: • List the characteristics of fungi • Describe the composition of the mycelium • Describe the mode of nutrition of fungi • Explain sexual and asexual reproduction in fungi Although humans have used yeasts and mushrooms since prehistoric times, until recently, the biology of fungi was poorly understood. Up until the mid-20th century, many scientists classified fungi as plants. Fungi, like plants, arose mostly sessile and seemingly rooted in place. They possess a stem-like structure similar to plants, as well as having a root-like fungal mycelium in the soil. In addition, their mode of nutrition was poorly understood. Progress in the field of fungal biology was the result of mycology : the scientific study of fungi. Based on fossil evidence, fungi appeared in the pre-Cambrian era, about 450 million years ago. Molecular biology analysis of the fungal genome demonstrates that fungi are more closely related to animals than plants. They are a polyphyletic group of organisms that share characteristics, rather than sharing a single common ancestor. Mycologist Mycologists are biologists who study fungi. Mycology is a branch of microbiology, and many mycologists start their careers with a degree in microbiology. To become a mycologist, a bachelor’s degree in a biological science (preferably majoring in microbiology) and a master’s degree in mycology are minimally necessary. Mycologists can specialize in taxonomy and fungal genomics, molecular and cellular biology, plant pathology, biotechnology, or biochemistry. Some medical microbiologists concentrate on the study of infectious diseases caused by fungi (mycoses). Mycologists collaborate with zoologists and plant pathologists to identify and control difficult fungal infections, such as the devastating chestnut blight, the mysterious decline in frog populations in many areas of the world, or the deadly epidemic called white nose syndrome, which is decimating bats in the Eastern United States. Government agencies hire mycologists as research scientists and technicians to monitor the health of crops, national parks, and national forests. Mycologists are also employed in the private sector by companies that develop chemical and biological control products or new agricultural products, and by companies that provide disease control services. Because of the key role played by fungi in the fermentation of alcohol and the preparation of many important foods, scientists with a good understanding of fungal physiology routinely work in the food technology industry. Oenology, the science of wine making, relies not only on the knowledge of grape varietals and soil composition, but also on a solid understanding of the characteristics of the wild yeasts that thrive in different wine-making regions. It is possible to purchase yeast strains isolated from specific grape-growing regions. The great French chemist and microbiologist, Louis Pasteur, made many of his essential discoveries working on the humble brewer’s yeast, thus discovering the process of fermentation. 632 Chapter 24 | Fungi This OpenStax book is available for free at Cell Structure and Function Fungi are eukaryotes, and as such, have a complex cellular organization. As eukaryotes, fungal cells contain a membrane- bound nucleus. The DNA in the nucleus is wrapped around histone proteins, as is observed in other eukaryotic cells. A few types of fungi have structures comparable to bacterial plasmids (loops of DNA); however, the horizontal transfer of genetic information from one mature bacterium to another rarely occurs in fungi. Fungal cells also contain mitochondria and a complex system of internal membranes, including the endoplasmic reticulum and Golgi apparatus. Unlike plant cells, fungal cells do not have chloroplasts or chlorophyll. Many fungi display bright colors arising from other cellular pigments, ranging from red to green to black. The poisonous Amanita muscaria (fly agaric) is recognizable by its bright red cap with white patches ( Figure 24.2 ). Pigments in fungi are associated with the cell wall and play a protective role against ultraviolet radiation. Some fungal pigments are toxic. Figure 24.2 The poisonous Amanita muscaria is native to temperate and boreal regions of North America. (credit: Christine Majul) Like plant cells, fungal cells have a thick cell wall. The rigid layers of fungal cell walls contain complex polysaccharides called chitin and glucans. Chitin, also found in the exoskeleton of insects, gives structural strength to the cell walls of fungi. The wall protects the cell from desiccation and predators. Fungi have plasma membranes similar to other eukaryotes, except that the structure is stabilized by ergosterol: a steroid molecule that replaces the cholesterol found in animal cell membranes. Most members of the kingdom Fungi are nonmotile. Flagella are produced only by the gametes in the primitive Phylum Chytridiomycota. Growth The vegetative body of a fungus is a unicellular or multicellular thallus . Dimorphic fungi can change from the unicellular to multicellular state depending on environmental conditions. Unicellular fungi are generally referred to as yeasts . Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker’s yeast) and Candida species (the agents of thrush, a common fungal infection) are examples of unicellular fungi ( Figure 24.3 ). Chapter 24 | Fungi 633 Figure 24.3 Candida albicans is a yeast cell and the agent of candidiasis and thrush. This organism has a similar morphology to coccus bacteria; however, yeast is a eukaryotic organism (note the nucleus). (credit: modification of work by Dr. Godon Roberstad, CDC; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Most fungi are multicellular organisms. They display two distinct morphological stages: the vegetative and reproductive. The vegetative stage consists of a tangle of slender thread-like structures called hyphae (singular, hypha ), whereas the reproductive stage can be more conspicuous. The mass of hyphae is a mycelium (Figure 24.4 ). It can grow on a surface, in soil or decaying material, in a liquid, or even on living tissue. Although individual hyphae must be observed under a microscope, the mycelium of a fungus can be very large, with some species truly being “the fungus humongous.” The giant Armillaria solidipes (honey mushroom) is considered the largest organism on Earth, spreading across more than 2,000 acres of underground soil in eastern Oregon; it is estimated to be at least 2,400 years old. Figure 24.4 The mycelium of the fungus Neotestudina rosati can be pathogenic to humans. The fungus enters through a cut or scrape and develops a mycetoma, a chronic subcutaneous infection. (credit: CDC) Most fungal hyphae are divided into separate cells by endwalls called septa (singular, septum )(Figure 24.5 a, c ). In most phyla of fungi, tiny holes in the septa allow for the rapid flow of nutrients and small molecules from cell to cell along the hypha. They are described as perforated septa. The hyphae in bread molds (which belong to the Phylum Zygomycota) are not separated by septa. Instead, they are formed by large cells containing many nuclei, an arrangement described as coenocytic hyphae (Figure 24.5 b). 634 Chapter 24 | Fungi This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 24.5 Fungal hyphae may be (a) septated or (b) coenocytic (coeno- = “common”; -cytic = “cell”) with many nuclei present in a single hypha. A bright field light micrograph of (c) Phialophora richardsiae shows septa that divide the hyphae. (credit c: modification of work by Dr. Lucille Georg, CDC; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Fungi thrive in environments that are moist and slightly acidic, and can grow with or without light. They vary in their oxygen requirement. Most fungi are obligate aerobes , requiring oxygen to survive. Other species, such as the Chytridiomycota that reside in the rumen of cattle, are are obligate anaerobes , in that they only use anaerobic respiration because oxygen will disrupt their metabolism or kill them. Yeasts are intermediate, being faculative anaerobes . This means that they grow best in the presence of oxygen using aerobic respiration, but can survive using anaerobic respiration when oxygen is not available. The alcohol produced from yeast fermentation is used in wine and beer production. Nutrition Like animals, fungi are heterotrophs; they use complex organic compounds as a source of carbon, rather than fix carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as do some bacteria and most plants. In addition, fungi do not fix nitrogen from the atmosphere. Like animals, they must obtain it from their diet. However, unlike most animals, which ingest food and then digest it internally in specialized organs, fungi perform these steps in the reverse order; digestion precedes ingestion. First, exoenzymes are transported out of the hyphae, where they process nutrients in the environment. Then, the smaller molecules produced by this external digestion are absorbed through the large surface area of the mycelium. As with animal cells, the polysaccharide of storage is glycogen, rather than starch, as found in plants. Fungi are mostly saprobes (saprophyte is an equivalent term): organisms that derive nutrients from decaying organic matter. They obtain their nutrients from dead or decomposing organic matter: mainly plant material. Fungal exoenzymes are able to break down insoluble polysaccharides, such as the cellulose and lignin of dead wood, into readily absorbable glucose molecules. The carbon, nitrogen, and other elements are thus released into the environment. Because of their varied metabolic pathways, fungi fulfill an important ecological role and are being investigated as potential tools in bioremediation. For example, some species of fungi can be used to break down diesel oil and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Other species take up heavy metals, such as cadmium and lead. Some fungi are parasitic, infecting either plants or animals. Smut and Dutch elm disease affect plants, whereas athlete’s foot and candidiasis (thrush) are medically important fungal infections in humans. In environments poor in nitrogen, some fungi resort to predation of nematodes (small non-segmented roundworms). Species of Arthrobotrys fungi have a number of mechanisms to trap nematodes. One mechanism involves constricting rings within the network of hyphae. The rings swell when they touch the nematode, gripping it in a tight hold. The fungus penetrates the tissue of the worm by extending specialized hyphae called haustoria . Many parasitic fungi possess haustoria, as these structures penetrate the tissues of the host, release digestive enzymes within the host’s body, and absorb the digested nutrients. Chapter 24 | Fungi 635 Reproduction Fungi reproduce sexually and/or asexually. Perfect fungi reproduce both sexually and asexually, while the so-called imperfect fungi reproduce only asexually (by mitosis). In both sexual and asexual reproduction, fungi produce spores that disperse from the parent organism by either floating on the wind or hitching a ride on an animal. Fungal spores are smaller and lighter than plant seeds. The giant puffball mushroom bursts open and releases trillions of spores. The huge number of spores released increases the likelihood of landing in an environment that will support growth ( Figure 24.6 ). Figure 24.6 The (a) giant puff ball mushroom releases (b) a cloud of spores when it reaches maturity. (credit a: modification of work by Roger Griffith; credit b: modification of work by Pearson Scott Foresman, donated to the Wikimedia Foundation) Asexual Reproduction Fungi reproduce asexually by fragmentation, budding, or producing spores. Fragments of hyphae can grow new colonies. Somatic cells in yeast form buds. During budding (a type of cytokinesis), a bulge forms on the side of the cell, the nucleus divides mitotically, and the bud ultimately detaches itself from the mother cell ( Figure 24.7 ). Figure 24.7 The dark cells in this bright field light micrograph are the pathogenic yeast Histoplasma capsulatum, seen against a backdrop of light blue tissue. Histoplasma primarily infects lungs but can spread to other tissues, causing histoplasmosis, a potentially fatal disease. (credit: modification of work by Dr. Libero Ajello, CDC; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) The most common mode of asexual reproduction is through the formation of asexual spores, which are produced by one parent only (through mitosis) and are genetically identical to that parent ( Figure 24.8 ). Spores allow fungi to expand their distribution and colonize new environments. They may be released from the parent thallus either outside or within a special reproductive sac called a sporangium . 636 Chapter 24 | Fungi This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 24.8 Fungi may have both asexual and sexual stages of reproduction. There are many types of asexual spores. Conidiospores are unicellular or multicellular spores that are released directly from the tip or side of the hypha. Other asexual spores originate in the fragmentation of a hypha to form single cells that are released as spores; some of these have a thick wall surrounding the fragment. Yet others bud off the vegetative parent cell. Sporangiospores are produced in a sporangium ( Figure 24.9 ). Figure 24.9 This bright field light micrograph shows the release of spores from a sporangium at the end of a hypha called a sporangiophore. The organism is a Mucor sp. fungus, a mold often found indoors. (credit: modification of work by Dr. Lucille Georg, CDC; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Sexual Reproduction Sexual reproduction introduces genetic variation into a population of fungi. In fungi, sexual reproduction often occurs in response to adverse environmental conditions. During sexual reproduction, two mating types are produced. When both mating types are present in the same mycelium, it is called homothallic , or self-fertile. Heterothallic mycelia require two different, but compatible, mycelia to reproduce sexually. Chapter 24 | Fungi 637 Although there are many variations in fungal sexual reproduction, all include the following three stages ( Figure 24.8 ). First, during plasmogamy (literally, “marriage or union of cytoplasm”), two haploid cells fuse, leading to a dikaryotic stage where two haploid nuclei coexist in a single cell. During karyogamy (“nuclear marriage”), the haploid nuclei fuse to form a diploid zygote nucleus. Finally, meiosis takes place in the gametangia (singular, gametangium) organs, in which gametes of different mating types are generated. At this stage, spores are disseminated into the environment. Review the characteristics of fungi by visiting this interactive site ( from Wisconsin-online. 24.2 | Classifications of Fungi By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Classify fungi into the five major phyla • Describe each phylum in terms of major representative species and patterns of reproduction The kingdom Fungi contains five major phyla that were established according to their mode of sexual reproduction or using molecular data. Polyphyletic, unrelated fungi that reproduce without a sexual cycle, are placed for convenience in a sixth group called a “form phylum”. Not all mycologists agree with this scheme. Rapid advances in molecular biology and the sequencing of 18S rRNA (a part of RNA) continue to show new and different relationships between the various categories of fungi. The five true phyla of fungi are the Chytridiomycota (Chytrids), the Zygomycota (conjugated fungi), the Ascomycota (sac fungi), the Basidiomycota (club fungi) and the recently described Phylum Glomeromycota. An older classification scheme grouped fungi that strictly use asexual reproduction into Deuteromycota, a group that is no longer in use. Note: “-mycota” is used to designate a phylum while “-mycetes” formally denotes a class or is used informally to refer to all members of the phylum. Chytridiomycota: The Chytrids The only class in the Phylum Chytridiomycota is the Chytridiomycetes . The chytrids are the simplest and most primitive Eumycota, or true fungi. The evolutionary record shows that the first recognizable chytrids appeared during the late pre- Cambrian period, more than 500 million years ago. Like all fungi, chytrids have chitin in their cell walls, but one group of chytrids has both cellulose and chitin in the cell wall. Most chytrids are unicellular; a few form multicellular organisms and hyphae, which have no septa between cells (coenocytic). They produce gametes and diploid zoospores that swim with the help of a single flagellum. The ecological habitat and cell structure of chytrids have much in common with protists. Chytrids usually live in aquatic environments, although some species live on land. Some species thrive as parasites on plants, insects, or amphibians ( Figure 24.10 ), while others are saprobes. The chytrid species Allomyces is well characterized as an experimental organism. Its reproductive cycle includes both asexual and sexual phases. Allomyces produces diploid or haploid flagellated zoospores in a sporangium. 638 Chapter 24 | Fungi This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 24.10 The chytrid Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis is seen in these light micrographs as transparent spheres growing on (a) a freshwater arthropod and (b) algae. This chytrid causes skin diseases in many species of amphibians, resulting in species decline and extinction. (credit: modification of work by Johnson ML, Speare R., CDC) Zygomycota: The Conjugated Fungi The zygomycetes are a relatively small group of fungi belonging to the Phylum Zygomycota . They include the familiar bread mold, Rhizopus stolonifer , which rapidly propagates on the surfaces of breads, fruits, and vegetables. Most species are saprobes, living off decaying organic material; a few are parasites, particularly of insects. Zygomycetes play a considerable commercial role. The metabolic products of other species of Rhizopus are intermediates in the synthesis of semi-synthetic steroid hormones. Zygomycetes have a thallus of coenocytic hyphae in which the nuclei are haploid when the organism is in the vegetative stage. The fungi usually reproduce asexually by producing sporangiospores ( Figure 24.11 ). The black tips of bread mold are the swollen sporangia packed with black spores ( Figure 24.12 ). When spores land on a suitable substrate, they germinate and produce a new mycelium. Sexual reproduction starts when conditions become unfavorable. Two opposing mating strains (type + and type –) must be in close proximity for gametangia from the hyphae to be produced and fuse, leading to karyogamy. The developing diploid zygospores have thick coats that protect them from desiccation and other hazards. They may remain dormant until environmental conditions are favorable. When the zygospore germinates, it undergoes meiosis and produces haploid spores, which will, in turn, grow into a new organism. This form of sexual reproduction in fungi is called conjugation (although it differs markedly from conjugation in bacteria and protists), giving rise to the name “conjugated fungi”. Chapter 24 | Fungi 639 Figure 24.11 Zygomycetes have asexual and asexual life cycles. In the sexual life cycle, plus and minus mating types conjugate to form a zygosporangium. Figure 24.12 Sporangia grow at the end of stalks, which appear as (a) white fuzz seen on this bread mold, Rhizopus stolonifer . The (b) tips of bread mold are the spore-containing sporangia. (credit b: modification of work by “polandeze”/Flickr) Ascomycota: The Sac Fungi The majority of known fungi belong to the Phylum Ascomycota , which is characterized by the formation of an ascus (plural, asci), a sac-like structure that contains haploid ascospores. Many ascomycetes are of commercial importance. Some play a beneficial role, such as the yeasts used in baking, brewing, and wine fermentation, plus truffles and morels, which are held as gourmet delicacies. Aspergillus oryzae is used in the fermentation of rice to produce sake. Other ascomycetes parasitize plants and animals, including humans. For example, fungal pneumonia poses a significant threat to AIDS patients who have a compromised immune system. Ascomycetes not only infest and destroy crops directly; they also produce poisonous secondary metabolites that make crops unfit for consumption. Filamentous ascomycetes produce 640 Chapter 24 | Fungi This OpenStax book is available for free at hyphae divided by perforated septa, allowing streaming of cytoplasm from one cell to the other. Conidia and asci, which are used respectively for asexual and sexual reproductions, are usually separated from the vegetative hyphae by blocked (non-perforated) septa. Asexual reproduction is frequent and involves the production of conidiophores that release haploid conidiospores ( Figure 24.13 ). Sexual reproduction starts with the development of special hyphae from either one of two types of mating strains ( Figure 24.13 ). The “male” strain produces an antheridium and the “female” strain develops an ascogonium. At fertilization, the antheridium and the ascogonium combine in plasmogamy without nuclear fusion. Special ascogenous hyphae arise, in which pairs of nuclei migrate: one from the “male” strain and one from the “female” strain. In each ascus, two or more haploid ascospores fuse their nuclei in karyogamy. During sexual reproduction, thousands of asci fill a fruiting body called the ascocarp . The diploid nucleus gives rise to haploid nuclei by meiosis. The ascospores are then released, germinate, and form hyphae that are disseminated in the environment and start new mycelia ( Figure 24.14 ). Chapter 24 | Fungi 641 Figure 24.13 The lifecycle of an ascomycete is characterized by the production of asci during the sexual phase. The haploid phase is the predominant phase of the life cycle. Which of the following statements is true? a. A dikaryotic ascus that forms in the ascocarp undergoes karyogamy, meiosis, and mitosis to form eight ascospores. b. A diploid ascus that forms in the ascocarp undergoes karyogamy, meiosis, and mitosis to form eight ascospores. c. A haploid zygote that forms in the ascocarp undergoes karyogamy, meiosis, and mitosis to form eight ascospores. d. A dikaryotic ascus that forms in the ascocarp undergoes plasmogamy, meiosis, and mitosis to form eight ascospores. 642 Chapter 24 | Fungi This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 24.14 The bright field light micrograph shows ascospores being released from asci in the fungus Talaromyces flavus var. flavus . (credit: modification of work by Dr. Lucille Georg, CDC; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Basidiomycota: The Club Fungi The fungi in the Phylum Basidiomycota are easily recognizable under a light microscope by their club-shaped fruiting bodies called basidia (singular, basidium ), which are the swollen terminal cell of a hypha. The basidia, which are the reproductive organs of these fungi, are often contained within the familiar mushroom, commonly seen in fields after rain, on the supermarket shelves, and growing on your lawn ( Figure 24.15 ). These mushroom-producing basidiomyces are sometimes referred to as “gill fungi” because of the presence of gill-like structures on the underside of the cap. The “gills” are actually compacted hyphae on which the basidia are borne. This group also includes shelf fungus, which cling to the bark of trees like small shelves. In addition, the basidiomycota includes smuts and rusts, which are important plant pathogens; toadstools, and shelf fungi stacked on tree trunks. Most edible fungi belong to the Phylum Basidiomycota; however, some basidiomycetes produce deadly toxins. For example, Cryptococcus neoformans causes severe respiratory illness. Chapter 24 | Fungi 643 Figure 24.15 The fruiting bodies of a basidiomycete form a ring in a meadow, commonly called “fairy ring.” The best-known fairy ring fungus has the scientific name Marasmius oreades . The body of this fungus, its mycelium, is underground and grows outward in a circle. As it grows, the mycelium depletes the soil of nitrogen, causing the mycelia to grow away from the center and leading to the “fairy ring” of fruiting bodies where there is adequate soil nitrogen. (Credit: “Cropcircles”/Wikipedia Commons)] The lifecycle of basidiomycetes includes alternation of generations ( Figure 24.16 ). Spores are generally produced through sexual reproduction, rather than asexual reproduction. The club-shaped basidium carries spores called basidiospores. In the basidium, nuclei of two different mating strains fuse (karyogamy), giving rise to a diploid zygote that then undergoes meiosis. The haploid nuclei migrate into basidiospores, which germinate and generate monokaryotic hyphae. The mycelium that results is called a primary mycelium. Mycelia of different mating strains can combine and produce a secondary mycelium that contains haploid nuclei of two different mating strains. This is the dikaryotic stage of the basidiomyces lifecyle and and it is the dominant stage. Eventually, the secondary mycelium generates a basidiocarp , which is a fruiting body that protrudes from the ground—this is what we think of as a mushroom. The basidiocarp bears the developing basidia on the gills under its cap. 644 Chapter 24 | Fungi This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 24.16 The lifecycle of a basidiomycete alternates generation with a prolonged stage in which two nuclei (dikaryon) are present in the hyphae. Which of the following statements is true? a. A basidium is the fruiting body of a mushroom-producing fungus, and it forms four basidiocarps. b. The result of the plasmogamy step is four basidiospores. c. Karyogamy results directly in the formation of mycelia. d. A basidiocarp is the fruiting body of a mushroom-producing fungus. Asexual Ascomycota and Basidiomycota Imperfect fungi—those that do not display a sexual phase—use to be classified in the form phylum Deuteromycota ,,a classification group no longer used in the present, ever-developing classification of organisms. While Deuteromycota use to be a classification group, recent moleclular analysis has shown that the members classified in this group belong to the Ascomycota or the Basidiomycota classifications. Since they do not possess the sexual structures that are used to classify other fungi, they are less well described in comparison to other members. Most members live on land, with a few aquatic exceptions. They form visible mycelia with a fuzzy appearance and are commonly known as mold . Reproduction of the fungi in this group is strictly asexual and occurs mostly by production of asexual conidiospores ( Figure 24.17 ). Some hyphae may recombine and form heterokaryotic hyphae. Genetic recombination is known to take place between the different nuclei. Chapter 24 | Fungi 645 Figure 24.17 Aspergillus niger is an asexually reproducing fungus (phylum Ascomycota) commonly found as a food contaminant. The spherical structure in this light micrograph is a conidiophore. (credit: modification of work by Dr. Lucille Georg, CDC; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) The fungi in this group have a large impact on everyday human life. The food industry relies on them for ripening some cheeses. The blue veins in Roquefort cheese and the white crust on Camembert are the result of fungal growth. The antibiotic penicillin was originally discovered on an overgrown Petri plate, on which a colony of Penicillium fungi killed the bacterial growth surrounding it. Other fungi in this group cause serious diseases, either directly as parasites (which infect both plants and humans), or as producers of potent toxic compounds, as seen in the aflatoxins released by fungi of the genus Aspergillus . Glomeromycota The Glomeromycota is a newly established phylum which comprises about 230 species that all live in close association with the roots of trees. Fossil records indicate that trees and their root symbionts share a long evolutionary history. It appears that all members of this family form arbuscular mycorrhizae : the hyphae interact with the root cells forming a mutually beneficial association where the plants supply the carbon source and energy in the form of carbohydrates to the fungus, and the fungus supplies essential minerals from the soil to the plant. The glomeromycetes do not reproduce sexually and do not survive without the presence of plant roots. Although they have coenocytic hyphae like the zygomycetes, they do not form zygospores. DNA analysis shows that all glomeromycetes probably descended from a common ancestor, making them a monophyletic lineage. 24.3 | Ecology of Fungi By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Describe the role of fungi in the ecosystem • Describe mutualistic relationships of fungi with plant roots and photosynthetic organisms • Describe the beneficial relationship between some fungi and insects Fungi play a crucial role in the balance of ecosystems. They colonize most habitats on Earth, preferring dark, moist conditions. They can thrive in seemingly hostile environments, such as the tundra, thanks to a most successful symbiosis with photosynthetic organisms like algae to produce lichens. Fungi are not obvious in the way large animals or tall trees appear. Yet, like bacteria, they are the major decomposers of nature. With their versatile metabolism, fungi break down organic matter, which would not otherwise be recycled. Habitats Although fungi are primarily associated with humid and cool environments that provide a supply of organic matter, they colonize a surprising diversity of habitats, from seawater to human skin and mucous membranes. Chytrids are found primarily in aquatic environments. Other fungi, such as Coccidioides immitis , which causes pneumonia when its spores are inhaled, thrive in the dry and sandy soil of the southwestern United States. Fungi that parasitize coral reefs live in the ocean. However, most members of the Kingdom Fungi grow on the forest floor, where the dark and damp environment is rich 646 Chapter 24 | Fungi This OpenStax book is available for free at in decaying debris from plants and animals. In these environments, fungi play a major role as decomposers and recyclers, making it possible for members of the other kingdoms to be supplied with nutrients and live. Decomposers and Recyclers The food web would be incomplete without organisms that decompose organic matter ( Figure 24.18 ). Some elements—such as nitrogen and phosphorus—are required in large quantities by biological systems, and yet are not abundant in the environment. The action of fungi releases these elements from decaying matter, making them available to other living organisms. Trace elements present in low amounts in many habitats are essential for growth, and would remain tied up in rotting organic matter if fungi and bacteria did not return them to the environment via their metabolic activity. Figure 24.18 Fungi are an important part of ecosystem nutrient cycles. These bracket fungi growing on the side of a tree are the fruiting structures of a basidiomycete. They receive their nutrients through their hyphae, which invade and decay the tree trunk. (credit: Cory Zanker) The ability of fungi to degrade many large and insoluble molecules is due to their mode of nutrition. As seen earlier, digestion precedes ingestion. Fungi produce a variety of exoenzymes to digest nutrients. The enzymes are either released into the substrate or remain bound to the outside of the fungal cell wall. Large molecules are broken down into small molecules, which are transported into the cell by a system of protein carriers embedded in the cell membrane. Because the movement of small molecules and enzymes is dependent on the presence of water, active growth depends on a relatively high percentage of moisture in the environment. As saprobes, fungi help maintain a sustainable ecosystem for the animals and plants that share the same habitat. In addition to replenishing the environment with nutrients, fungi interact directly with other organisms in beneficial, and sometimes damaging, ways ( Figure 24.19 ). Figure 24.19 Shelf fungi, so called because they grow on trees in a stack, attack and digest the trunk or branches of a tree. While some shelf fungi are found only on dead trees, others can parasitize living trees and cause eventual death, so they are considered serious tree pathogens. (credit: Cory Zanker) Chapter 24 | Fungi 647 Mutualistic Relationships Symbiosis is the ecological interaction between two organisms that live together. The definition does not describe the quality of the interaction. When both members of the association benefit, the symbiotic relationship is called mutualistic. Fungi form mutualistic associations with many types of organisms, including cyanobacteria, algae, plants, and animals. Fungus/Plant Mutualism One of the most remarkable associations between fungi and plants is the establishment of mycorrhizae. Mycorrhiza , which comes from the Greek words myco meaning fungus and rhizo meaning root, refers to the association between vascular plant roots and their symbiotic fungi. Somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of all plant species have mycorrhizal partners. In a mycorrhizal association, the fungal mycelia use their extensive network of hyphae and large surface area in contact with the soil to channel water and minerals from the soil into the plant. In exchange, the plant supplies the products of photosynthesis to fuel the metabolism of the fungus. There are a number of types of mycorrhizae. Ectomycorrhizae (“outside” mycorrhiza) depend on fungi enveloping the roots in a sheath (called a mantle) and a Hartig net of hyphae that extends into the roots between cells ( Figure 24.20 ). The fungal partner can belong to the Ascomycota, Basidiomycota or Zygomycota. In a second type, the Glomeromycete fungi form vesicular–arbuscular interactions with arbuscular mycorrhiza (sometimes called endomycorrhizae). In these mycorrhiza, the fungi form arbuscules that penetrate root cells and are the site of the metabolic exchanges between the fungus and the host plant ( Figure 24.20 and Figure 24.21 ). The arbuscules (from the Latin for little trees) have a shrub-like appearance. Orchids rely on a third type of mycorrhiza. Orchids are epiphytes that form small seeds without much storage to sustain germination and growth. Their seeds will not germinate without a mycorrhizal partner (usually a Basidiomycete). After nutrients in the seed are depleted, fungal symbionts support the growth of the orchid by providing necessary carbohydrates and minerals. Some orchids continue to be mycorrhizal throughout their lifecycle. Figure 24.20 (a) Ectomycorrhiza and (b) arbuscular mycorrhiza have different mechanisms for interacting with the roots of plants. (credit b: MS Turmel, University of Manitoba, Plant Science Department) If symbiotic fungi are absent from the soil, what impact do you think this would have on plant growth? 648 Chapter 24 | Fungi This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 24.21 The (a) infection of Pinus radiata (Monterey pine) roots by the hyphae of Amanita muscaria (fly amanita) causes the pine tree to produce many small, branched rootlets. The Amanita hyphae cover these small roots with a white mantle. (b) Spores (round bodies) and hyphae (thread-like structures) are evident in this light micrograph of an arbuscular mycorrhiza between a fungus and the root of a corn plant. (credit a: modification of work by Randy Molina, USDA; credit b: modification of work by Sara Wright, USDA-ARS; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Other examples of fungus–plant mutualism include the endophytes: fungi that live inside tissue without damaging the host plant. Endophytes release toxins that repel herbivores, or confer resistance to environmental stress factors, such as infection by microorganisms, drought, or heavy metals in soil. Coevolution of Land Plants and Mycorrhizae Mycorrhizae are the mutually beneficial symbiotic association between roots of vascular plants and fungi. A well-accepted theory proposes that fungi were instrumental in the evolution of the root system in plants and contributed to the success of Angiosperms. The bryophytes (mosses and liverworts), which are considered the most primitive plants and the first to survive on dry land, do not have a true root system; some have vesicular–arbuscular mycorrhizae and some do not. They depend on a simple rhizoid (an underground organ) and cannot survive in dry areas. True roots appeared in vascular plants. Vascular plants that developed a system of thin extensions from the rhizoids (found in mosses) are thought to have had a selective advantage because they had a greater surface area of contact with the fungal partners than the mosses and liverworts, thus availing themselves of more nutrients in the ground. Fossil records indicate that fungi preceded plants on dry land. The first association between fungi and photosynthetic organisms on land involved moss-like plants and endophytes. These early associations developed before roots appeared in plants. Slowly, the benefits of the endophyte and rhizoid interactions for both partners led to present-day mycorrhizae; up to about 90 percent of today’s vascular plants have associations with fungi in their rhizosphere. The fungi involved in mycorrhizae display many characteristics of primitive fungi; they produce simple spores, show little diversification, do not have a sexual reproductive cycle, and cannot live outside of a mycorrhizal association. The plants benefited from the association because mycorrhizae allowed them to move into new habitats because of increased uptake of nutrients, and this gave them a selective advantage over plants that did not establish symbiotic relationships. Lichens Lichens display a range of colors and textures ( Figure 24.22 ) and can survive in the most unusual and hostile habitats. They cover rocks, gravestones, tree bark, and the ground in the tundra where plant roots cannot penetrate. Lichens can survive extended periods of drought, when they become completely desiccated, and then rapidly become active once water is available again. Chapter 24 | Fungi 649 Explore the world of lichens using this site ( from Oregon State University. Figure 24.22 Lichens have many forms. They may be (a) crust-like, (b) hair-like, or (c) leaf-like. (credit a: modification of work by Jo Naylor; credit b: modification of work by “djpmapleferryman”/Flickr; credit c: modification of work by Cory Zanker) Lichens are not a single organism, but rather an example of a mutualism, in which a fungus (usually a member of the Ascomycota or Basidiomycota phyla) lives in close contact with a photosynthetic organism (a eukaryotic alga or a prokaryotic cyanobacterium) ( Figure 24.23 ). Generally, neither the fungus nor the photosynthetic organism can survive alone outside of the symbiotic relationship. The body of a lichen, referred to as a thallus, is formed of hyphae wrapped around the photosynthetic partner. The photosynthetic organism provides carbon and energy in the form of carbohydrates. Some cyanobacteria fix nitrogen from the atmosphere, contributing nitrogenous compounds to the association. In return, the fungus supplies minerals and protection from dryness and excessive light by encasing the algae in its mycelium. The fungus also attaches the symbiotic organism to the substrate. 650 Chapter 24 | Fungi This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 24.23 This cross-section of a lichen thallus shows the (a) upper cortex of fungal hyphae, which provides protection; the (b) algal zone where photosynthesis occurs, the (c) medulla of fungal hyphae, and the (d) lower cortex, which also provides protection and may have (e) rhizines to anchor the thallus to the substrate. The thallus of lichens grows very slowly, expanding its diameter a few millimeters per year. Both the fungus and the alga participate in the formation of dispersal units for reproduction. Lichens produce soredia , clusters of algal cells surrounded by mycelia. Soredia are dispersed by wind and water and form new lichens. Lichens are extremely sensitive to air pollution, especially to abnormal levels of nitrogen and sulfur. The U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service can monitor air quality by measuring the relative abundance and health of the lichen population in an area. Lichens fulfill many ecological roles. Caribou and reindeer eat lichens, and they provide cover for small invertebrates that hide in the mycelium. In the production of textiles, weavers used lichens to dye wool for many centuries until the advent of synthetic dyes. Lichens are used to monitor the quality of air. Read more on this site ( from the United States Forest Service. Fungus/Animal Mutualism Fungi have evolved mutualisms with numerous insects in Phylum Arthropoda: jointed, legged invertebrates. Arthropods depend on the fungus for protection from predators and pathogens, while the fungus obtains nutrients and a way to disseminate spores into new environments. The association between species of Basidiomycota and scale insects is one example. The fungal mycelium covers and protects the insect colonies. The scale insects foster a flow of nutrients from the parasitized plant to the fungus. In a second example, leaf-cutting ants of Central and South America literally farm fungi. They cut disks of leaves from plants and pile them up in gardens ( Figure 24.24 ). Fungi are cultivated in these disk gardens, digesting the cellulose in the leaves that the ants cannot break down. Once smaller sugar molecules are produced Chapter 24 | Fungi 651 and consumed by the fungi, the fungi in turn become a meal for the ants. The insects also patrol their garden, preying on competing fungi. Both ants and fungi benefit from the association. The fungus receives a steady supply of leaves and freedom from competition, while the ants feed on the fungi they cultivate. Figure 24.24 A leaf cutting ant transports a leaf that will feed a farmed fungus. (credit: Scott Bauer, USDA-ARS) Fungivores Animal dispersal is important for some fungi because an animal may carry spores considerable distances from the source. Fungal spores are rarely completely degraded in the gastrointestinal tract of an animal, and many are able to germinate when they are passed in the feces. Some dung fungi actually require passage through the digestive system of herbivores to complete their lifecycle. The black truffle—a prized gourmet delicacy—is the fruiting body of an underground mushroom. Almost all truffles are ectomycorrhizal, and are usually found in close association with trees. Animals eat truffles and disperse the spores. In Italy and France, truffle hunters use female pigs to sniff out truffles. Female pigs are attracted to truffles because the fungus releases a volatile compound closely related to a pheromone produced by male pigs. 24.4 | Fungal Parasites and Pathogens By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Describe fungal parasites and pathogens of plants • Describe the different types of fungal infections in humans • Explain why antifungal therapy is hampered by the similarity between fungal and animal cells Parasitism describes a symbiotic relationship in which one member of the association benefits at the expense of the other. Both parasites and pathogens harm the host; however, the pathogen causes a disease, whereas the parasite usually does not. Commensalism occurs when one member benefits without affecting the other. Plant Parasites and Pathogens The production of sufficient good-quality crops is essential to human existence. Plant diseases have ruined crops, bringing widespread famine. Many plant pathogens are fungi that cause tissue decay and eventual death of the host ( Figure 24.25 ). In addition to destroying plant tissue directly, some plant pathogens spoil crops by producing potent toxins. Fungi are also responsible for food spoilage and the rotting of stored crops. For example, the fungus Claviceps purpurea causes ergot, a disease of cereal crops (especially of rye). Although the fungus reduces the yield of cereals, the effects of the ergot’s alkaloid toxins on humans and animals are of much greater significance. In animals, the disease is referred to as ergotism. The most common signs and symptoms are convulsions, hallucination, gangrene, and loss of milk in cattle. The active ingredient of ergot is lysergic acid, which is a precursor of the drug LSD. Smuts, rusts, and powdery or downy mildew are other examples of common fungal pathogens that affect crops. 652 Chapter 24 | Fungi This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 24.25 Some fungal pathogens include (a) green mold on grapefruit, (b) powdery mildew on a zinnia, (c) stem rust on a sheaf of barley, and (d) grey rot on grapes. In wet conditions Botrytis cinerea, the fungus that causes grey rot, can destroy a grape crop. However, controlled infection of grapes by Botrytis results in noble rot, a condition that produces strong and much-prized dessert wines. (credit a: modification of work by Scott Bauer, USDA-ARS; credit b: modification of work by Stephen Ausmus, USDA-ARS; credit c: modification of work by David Marshall, USDA-ARS; credit d: modification of work by Joseph Smilanick, USDA-ARS) Aflatoxins are toxic, carcinogenic compounds released by fungi of the genus Aspergillus . Periodically, harvests of nuts and grains are tainted by aflatoxins, leading to massive recall of produce. This sometimes ruins producers and causes food shortages in developing countries. Animal and Human Parasites and Pathogens Fungi can affect animals, including humans, in several ways. A mycosis is a fungal disease that results from infection and direct damage. Fungi attack animals directly by colonizing and destroying tissues. Mycotoxicosis is the poisoning of humans (and other animals) by foods contaminated by fungal toxins (mycotoxins). Mycetismus describes the ingestion of preformed toxins in poisonous mushrooms. In addition, individuals who display hypersensitivity to molds and spores develop strong and dangerous allergic reactions. Fungal infections are generally very difficult to treat because, unlike bacteria, fungi are eukaryotes. Antibiotics only target prokaryotic cells, whereas compounds that kill fungi also harm the eukaryotic animal host. Many fungal infections are superficial; that is, they occur on the animal’s skin. Termed cutaneous (“skin”) mycoses, they can have devastating effects. For example, the decline of the world’s frog population in recent years may be caused by the chytrid fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, which infects the skin of frogs and presumably interferes with gaseous exchange. Similarly, more than a million bats in the United States have been killed by white-nose syndrome, which appears as a white ring around the mouth of the bat. It is caused by the cold-loving fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans , which disseminates its deadly spores in caves where bats hibernate. Mycologists are researching the transmission, mechanism, and control of P. destructans to stop its spread. Fungi that cause the superficial mycoses of the epidermis, hair, and nails rarely spread to the underlying tissue ( Figure 24.26 ). These fungi are often misnamed “dermatophytes”, from the Greek words dermis meaning skin and phyte meaning plant, although they are not plants. Dermatophytes are also called “ringworms” because of the red ring they cause on skin. They secrete extracellular enzymes that break down keratin (a protein found in hair, skin, and nails), causing conditions Chapter 24 | Fungi 653 such as athlete’s foot and jock itch. These conditions are usually treated with over-the-counter topical creams and powders, and are easily cleared. More persistent superficial mycoses may require prescription oral medications. Figure 24.26 (a) Ringworm presents as a red ring on skin; (b) Trichophyton violaceum , shown in this bright field light micrograph, causes superficial mycoses on the scalp; (c) Histoplasma capsulatum is an ascomycete that infects airways and causes symptoms similar to influenza. (credit a: modification of work by Dr. Lucille K. Georg, CDC; credit b: modification of work by Dr. Lucille K. Georg, CDC; credit c: modification of work by M. Renz, CDC; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Systemic mycoses spread to internal organs, most commonly entering the body through the respiratory system. For example, coccidioidomycosis (valley fever) is commonly found in the southwestern United States, where the fungus resides in the dust. Once inhaled, the spores develop in the lungs and cause symptoms similar to those of tuberculosis. Histoplasmosis is caused by the dimorphic fungus Histoplasma capsulatum. It also causes pulmonary infections, and in rarer cases, swelling of the membranes of the brain and spinal cord. Treatment of these and many other fungal diseases requires the use of antifungal medications that have serious side effects. Opportunistic mycoses are fungal infections that are either common in all environments, or part of the normal biota. They mainly affect individuals who have a compromised immune system. Patients in the late stages of AIDS suffer from opportunistic mycoses that can be life threatening. The yeast Candida sp., a common member of the natural biota, can grow unchecked and infect the vagina or mouth (oral thrush) if the pH of the surrounding environment, the person’s immune defenses, or the normal population of bacteria are altered. Mycetismus can occur when poisonous mushrooms are eaten. It causes a number of human fatalities during mushroom- picking season. Many edible fruiting bodies of fungi resemble highly poisonous relatives, and amateur mushroom hunters are cautioned to carefully inspect their harvest and avoid eating mushrooms of doubtful origin. The adage “there are bold mushroom pickers and old mushroom pickers, but are there no old, bold mushroom pickers” is unfortunately true. 654 Chapter 24 | Fungi This OpenStax book is available for free at Dutch Elm Disease Question : Do trees resistant to Dutch elm disease secrete antifungal compounds? Hypothesis : Construct a hypothesis that addresses this question. Background : Dutch elm disease is a fungal infestation that affects many species of elm ( Ulmus ) in North America. The fungus infects the vascular system of the tree, which blocks water flow within the plant and mimics drought stress. Accidently introduced to the United States in the early 1930s, it decimated shade trees across the continent. It is caused by the fungus Ophiostoma ulmi . The elm bark beetle acts as a vector and transmits the disease from tree to tree. Many European and Asiatic elms are less susceptible to the disease than are American elms. Test the hypothesis : A researcher testing this hypothesis might do the following. Inoculate several Petri plates containing a medium that supports the growth of fungi with fragments of Ophiostoma mycelium. Cut (with a metal punch) several disks from the vascular tissue of susceptible varieties of American elms and resistant European and Asiatic elms. Include control Petri plates inoculated with mycelia without plant tissue to verify that the medium and incubation conditions do not interfere with fungal growth. As a positive control, add paper disks impregnated with a known fungicide to Petri plates inoculated with the mycelium. Incubate the plates for a set number of days to allow fungal growth and spreading of the mycelium over the surface of the plate. Record the diameter of the zone of clearing, if any, around the tissue samples and the fungicide control disk. Record your observations in the following table. Results of Antifungal Testing of Vascular Tissue from Different Species of Elm Disk Zone of Inhibition (mm) Distilled Water Fungicide Tissue from Susceptible Elm #1 Tissue from Susceptible Elm #2 Tissue from Resistant Elm #1 Tissue from Resistant Elm #2 Table 24.1 Analyze the data and report the results. Compare the effect of distilled water to the fungicide. These are negative and positive controls that validate the experimental set up. The fungicide should be surrounded by a clear zone where the fungus growth was inhibited. Is there a difference among different species of elm? Draw a conclusion : Was there antifungal activity as expected from the fungicide? Did the results support the hypothesis? If not, how can this be explained? There are several possible explanations for resistance to a pathogen. Active deterrence of infection is only one of them. Chapter 24 | Fungi 655 24.5 | Importance of Fungi in Human Life By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Describe the importance of fungi to the balance of the environment • Summarize the role of fungi in food and beverage preparation • Describe the importance of fungi in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries • Discuss the role of fungi as model organisms Although we often think of fungi as organisms that cause disease and rot food, fungi are important to human life on many levels. As we have seen, they influence the well-being of human populations on a large scale because they are part of the nutrient cycle in ecosystems. They have other ecosystem roles as well. As animal pathogens, fungi help to control the population of damaging pests. These fungi are very specific to the insects they attack, and do not infect animals or plants. Fungi are currently under investigation as potential microbial insecticides, with several already on the market. For example, the fungus Beauveria bassiana is a pesticide being tested as a possible biological control agent for the recent spread of emerald ash borer. It has been released in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Maryland ( Figure 24.27 ). Figure 24.27 The emerald ash borer is an insect that attacks ash trees. It is in turn parasitized by a pathogenic fungus that holds promise as a biological insecticide. The parasitic fungus appears as white fuzz on the body of the insect. (credit: Houping Liu, USDA Agricultural Research Service) The mycorrhizal relationship between fungi and plant roots is essential for the productivity of farm land. Without the fungal partner in root systems, 80–90 percent of trees and grasses would not survive. Mycorrhizal fungal inoculants are available as soil amendments from gardening supply stores and are promoted by supporters of organic agriculture. We also eat some types of fungi. Mushrooms figure prominently in the human diet. Morels, shiitake mushrooms, chanterelles, and truffles are considered delicacies ( Figure 24.28 ). The humble meadow mushroom, Agaricus campestris , appears in many dishes. Molds of the genus Penicillium ripen many cheeses. They originate in the natural environment such as the caves of Roquefort, France, where wheels of sheep milk cheese are stacked in order to capture the molds responsible for the blue veins and pungent taste of the cheese. 656 Chapter 24 | Fungi This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 24.28 The morel mushroom is an ascomycete much appreciated for its delicate taste. (credit: Jason Hollinger) Fermentation—of grains to produce beer, and of fruits to produce wine—is an ancient art that humans in most cultures have practiced for millennia. Wild yeasts are acquired from the environment and used to ferment sugars into CO 2and ethyl alcohol under anaerobic conditions. It is now possible to purchase isolated strains of wild yeasts from different wine-making regions. Louis Pasteur was instrumental in developing a reliable strain of brewer’s yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae , for the French brewing industry in the late 1850s. This was one of the first examples of biotechnology patenting. Many secondary metabolites of fungi are of great commercial importance. Antibiotics are naturally produced by fungi to kill or inhibit the growth of bacteria, limiting their competition in the natural environment. Important antibiotics, such as penicillin and the cephalosporins, are isolated from fungi. Valuable drugs isolated from fungi include the immunosuppressant drug cyclosporine (which reduces the risk of rejection after organ transplant), the precursors of steroid hormones, and ergot alkaloids used to stop bleeding. Psilocybin is a compound found in fungi such as Psilocybe semilanceata and Gymnopilus junonius, which have been used for their hallucinogenic properties by various cultures for thousands of years. As simple eukaryotic organisms, fungi are important model research organisms. Many advances in modern genetics were achieved by the use of the red bread mold Neurospora crassa . Additionally, many important genes originally discovered in S. cerevisiae served as a starting point in discovering analogous human genes. As a eukaryotic organism, the yeast cell produces and modifies proteins in a manner similar to human cells, as opposed to the bacterium Escherichia coli, which lacks the internal membrane structures and enzymes to tag proteins for export. This makes yeast a much better organism for use in recombinant DNA technology experiments. Like bacteria, yeasts grow easily in culture, have a short generation time, and are amenable to genetic modification. Chapter 24 | Fungi 657 arbuscular mycorrhiza Arbuscular mycorrhizae ascocarp Ascomycota basidiocarp Basidiomycota basidium Chytridiomycota coenocytic hypha commensalism Deuteromycota ectomycorrhiza Ectomycorrhizae faculative anaerobes Glomeromycota haustoria heterothallic homothallic hypha karyogamy lichen mold mycelium mycetismus mycology mycorrhiza mycorrhizae KEY TERMS mycorrhizal association in which the fungal hyphae enter the root cells and form extensive networks mycorrhizae commonly involving Glomeromycetes in which the fungal hyphae penetrate the cell walls of the plant root cells (but not the cell membranes) fruiting body of ascomycetes (also, sac fungi) phylum of fungi that store spores in a sac called ascus fruiting body that protrudes from the ground and bears the basidia (also, club fungi) phylum of fungi that produce club-shaped structures (basidia) that contain spores club-shaped fruiting body of basidiomycetes (also, chytrids) primitive phylum of fungi that live in water and produce gametes with flagella single hypha that lacks septa and contains many nuclei symbiotic relationship in which one member benefits while the other member is not affected former form phylum of fungi that do not have a known sexual reproductive cycle (presently members of two phyla: Ascomycota and Basidiomycota) mycorrhizal fungi that surround the roots with a mantle and have a Hartig net that extends into the roots between cells mycorrhizae in which the fungal hyphae do not penetrate the root cells of the plant organisms that can perform both aerobic and anaerobic respiration and can survive in oxygen-rich and oxygen-poor environment phylum of fungi that form symbiotic relationships with the roots of trees modified hyphae on many parasitic fungi that penetrate the tissues of their hosts, release digestive enzymes, and/or absorb nutrients from the host describes when only one mating type is present in an individual mycelium describes when both mating types are present in mycelium fungal filament composed of one or more cells fusion of nuclei close association of a fungus with a photosynthetic alga or bacterium that benefits both partners tangle of visible mycelia with a fuzzy appearance mass of fungal hyphae ingestion of toxins in poisonous mushrooms scientific study of fungi mutualistic association between fungi and vascular plant roots a mutualistic relationship between a plant and a fungus. Mycorrhizae are connections between fungal hyphae, which provide soil minerals to the plant, and plant roots, which provide carbohydrates to the fungus 658 Chapter 24 | Fungi This OpenStax book is available for free at mycosis mycotoxicosis obligate aerobes obligate anaerobes parasitism plasmogamy saprobe septa soredia sporangium spore thallus yeast Zygomycota zygospore fungal infection poisoning by a fungal toxin released in food organisms, such as humans, that must perform aerobic respiration to survive organisms that only perform anaerobic respiration and often cannot survive in the presence of oxygen symbiotic relationship in which one member of the association benefits at the expense of the other fusion of cytoplasm organism that derives nutrients from decaying organic matter; also saprophyte cell wall division between hyphae clusters of algal cells and mycelia that allow lichens to propagate reproductive sac that contains spores a haploid cell that can undergo mitosis to form a multicellular, haploid individua vegetative body of a fungus general term used to describe unicellular fungi (also, conjugated fungi) phylum of fungi that form a zygote contained in a zygospore structure with thick cell wall that contains the zygote in zygomycetes CHAPTER SUMMARY 24.1 Characteristics of Fungi Fungi are eukaryotic organisms that appeared on land more than 450 million years ago. They are heterotrophs and contain neither photosynthetic pigments such as chlorophyll, nor organelles such as chloroplasts. Because fungi feed on decaying and dead matter, they are saprobes. Fungi are important decomposers that release essential elements into the environment. External enzymes digest nutrients that are absorbed by the body of the fungus, which is called a thallus. A thick cell wall made of chitin surrounds the cell. Fungi can be unicellular as yeasts, or develop a network of filaments called a mycelium, which is often described as mold. Most species multiply by asexual and sexual reproductive cycles and display an alternation of generations. Another group of fungi do not have a sexual cycle. Sexual reproduction involves plasmogamy (the fusion of the cytoplasm), followed by karyogamy (the fusion of nuclei). Meiosis regenerates haploid individuals, resulting in haploid spores. 24.2 Classifications of Fungi Chytridiomycota (chytrids) are considered the most primitive group of fungi. They are mostly aquatic, and their gametes are the only fungal cells known to have flagella. They reproduce both sexually and asexually; the asexual spores are called zoospores. Zygomycota (conjugated fungi) produce non-septated hyphae with many nuclei. Their hyphae fuse during sexual reproduction to produce a zygospore in a zygosporangium. Ascomycota (sac fungi) form spores in sacs called asci during sexual reproduction. Asexual reproduction is their most common form of reproduction. Basidiomycota (club fungi) produce showy fruiting bodies that contain basidia in the form of clubs. Spores are stored in the basidia. Most familiar mushrooms belong to this division. Fungi that have no known sexual cycle were classified in the form phylum Deuteromycota, which the present classification puts in the phyla Ascomycota and Basidiomycota. Glomeromycota form tight associations (called mycorrhizae) with the roots of plants. 24.3 Ecology of Fungi Fungi have colonized nearly all environments on Earth, but are frequently found in cool, dark, moist places with a supply of decaying material. Fungi are saprobes that decompose organic matter. Many successful mutualistic relationships involve a fungus and another organism. Many fungi establish complex mycorrhizal associations with the roots of plants. Some ants Chapter 24 | Fungi 659 farm fungi as a supply of food. Lichens are a symbiotic relationship between a fungus and a photosynthetic organism, usually an alga or cyanobacterium. The photosynthetic organism provides energy derived from light and carbohydrates, while the fungus supplies minerals and protection. Some animals that consume fungi help disseminate spores over long distances. 24.4 Fungal Parasites and Pathogens Fungi establish parasitic relationships with plants and animals. Fungal diseases can decimate crops and spoil food during storage. Compounds produced by fungi can be toxic to humans and other animals. Mycoses are infections caused by fungi. Superficial mycoses affect the skin, whereas systemic mycoses spread through the body. Fungal infections are difficult to cure. 24.5 Importance of Fungi in Human Life Fungi are important to everyday human life. Fungi are important decomposers in most ecosystems. Mycorrhizal fungi are essential for the growth of most plants. Fungi, as food, play a role in human nutrition in the form of mushrooms, and also as agents of fermentation in the production of bread, cheeses, alcoholic beverages, and numerous other food preparations. Secondary metabolites of fungi are used as medicines, such as antibiotics and anticoagulants. Fungi are model organisms for the study of eukaryotic genetics and metabolism. ART CONNECTION QUESTIONS 1. Figure 24.13 Which of the following statements is true? a. A dikaryotic ascus that forms in the ascocarp undergoes karyogamy, meiosis, and mitosis to form eight ascospores. b. A diploid ascus that forms in the ascocarp undergoes karyogamy, meiosis, and mitosis to form eight ascospores. c. A haploid zygote that forms in the ascocarp undergoes karyogamy, meiosis, and mitosis to form eight ascospores. d. A dikaryotic ascus that forms in the ascocarp undergoes plasmogamy, meiosis, and mitosis to form eight ascospores. 2. Figure 24.16 Which of the following statements is true? a. A basidium is the fruiting body of a mushroom- producing fungus, and it forms four basidiocarps. b. The result of the plasmogamy step is four basidiospores. c. Karyogamy results directly in the formation of mycelia. d. A basidiocarp is the fruiting body of a mushroom-producing fungus. 3. Figure 24.20 If symbiotic fungi are absent from the soil, what impact do you think this would have on plant growth? REVIEW QUESTIONS 4. Which polysaccharide is usually found in the cell wall of fungi? a. starch b. glycogen c. chitin d. cellulose 5. Which of these organelles is not found in a fungal cell? a. chloroplast b. nucleus c. mitochondrion d. Golgi apparatus 6. The wall dividing individual cells in a fungal filament is called a a. thallus b. hypha c. mycelium d. septum 7. During sexual reproduction, a homothallic mycelium contains a. all septated hyphae b. all haploid nuclei c. both mating types d. none of the above 8. The most primitive phylum of fungi is the ________. a. Chytridiomycota b. Zygomycota c. Glomeromycota d. Ascomycota 9. Members of which phylum produce a club-shaped structure that contains spores? a. Chytridiomycota b. Basidiomycota c. Glomeromycota d. Ascomycota 660 Chapter 24 | Fungi This OpenStax book is available for free at 10. Members of which phylum establish a successful symbiotic relationship with the roots of trees? a. Ascomycota b. Deuteromycota c. Basidiomycota d. Glomeromycota 11. The fungi that do not reproduce sexually use to be classified as ________. a. Ascomycota b. Deuteromycota c. Basidiomycota d. Glomeromycota 12. What term describes the close association of a fungus with the root of a tree? a. a rhizoid b. a lichen c. a mycorrhiza d. an endophyte 13. Why are fungi important decomposers? a. They produce many spores. b. They can grow in many different environments. c. They produce mycelia. d. They recycle carbon and inorganic minerals by the process of decomposition. 14. A fungus that climbs up a tree reaching higher elevation to release its spores in the wind and does not receive any nutrients from the tree or contribute to the tree’s welfare is described as a ________. a. commensal b. mutualist c. parasite d. pathogen 15. A fungal infection that affects nails and skin is classified as ________. a. systemic mycosis b. mycetismus c. superficial mycosis d. mycotoxicosis 16. Yeast is a facultative anaerobe. This means that alcohol fermentation takes place only if: a. the temperature is close to 37°C b. the atmosphere does not contain oxygen c. sugar is provided to the cells d. light is provided to the cells 17. The advantage of yeast cells over bacterial cells to express human proteins is that: a. yeast cells grow faster b. yeast cells are easier to manipulate genetically c. yeast cells are eukaryotic and modify proteins similarly to human cells d. yeast cells are easily lysed to purify the proteins CRITICAL THINKING QUESTIONS 18. What are the evolutionary advantages for an organism to reproduce both asexually and sexually? 19. Compare plants, animals, and fungi, considering these components: cell wall, chloroplasts, plasma membrane, food source, and polysaccharide storage. Be sure to indicate fungi’s similarities and differences to plants and animals. 20. What is the advantage for a basidiomycete to produce a showy and fleshy fruiting body? 21. For each of the four groups of perfect fungi (Chytridiomycota, Zygomycota, Ascomycota, and Basidiomycota), compare the body structure and features, and provide an example. 22. Why does protection from light actually benefit the photosynthetic partner in lichens? 23. Why can superficial mycoses in humans lead to bacterial infections? 24. Historically, artisanal breads were produced by capturing wild yeasts from the air. Prior to the development of modern yeast strains, the production of artisanal breads was long and laborious because many batches of dough ended up being discarded. Can you explain this fact? Chapter 24 | Fungi 661 662 Chapter 24 | Fungi This OpenStax book is available for free at 25 | SEEDLESS PLANTS Figure 25.1 Seedless plants, like these horsetails ( Equisetum sp.), thrive in damp, shaded environments under a tree canopy where dryness is rare. (credit: modification of work by Jerry Kirkhart) Chapter Outline 25.1: Early Plant Life 25.2: Green Algae: Precursors of Land Plants 25.3: Bryophytes 25.4: Seedless Vascular Plants Introduction An incredible variety of seedless plants populates the terrestrial landscape. Mosses may grow on a tree trunk, and horsetails may display their jointed stems and spindly leaves across the forest floor. Today, seedless plants represent only a small fraction of the plants in our environment; yet, three hundred million years ago, seedless plants dominated the landscape and grew in the enormous swampy forests of the Carboniferous period. Their decomposition created large deposits of coal that we mine today. Current evolutionary thought holds that all plants—green algae as well as land dwellers—are monophyletic; that is, they are descendants of a single common ancestor. The evolutionary transition from water to land imposed severe constraints on plants. They had to develop strategies to avoid drying out, to disperse reproductive cells in air, for structural support, and for capturing and filtering sunlight. While seed plants developed adaptations that allowed them to populate even the most arid habitats on Earth, full independence from water did not happen in all plants. Most seedless plants still require a moist environment. Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants 663 25.1 | Early Plant Life By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Discuss the challenges to plant life on land • Describe the adaptations that allowed plants to colonize the land • Describe the timeline of plant evolution and the impact of land plants on other living things The kingdom Plantae constitutes large and varied groups of organisms. There are more than 300,000 species of catalogued plants. Of these, more than 260,000 are seed plants. Mosses, ferns, conifers, and flowering plants are all members of the plant kingdom. Most biologists also consider green algae to be plants, although others exclude all algae from the plant kingdom. The reason for this disagreement stems from the fact that only green algae, the Charophytes , share common characteristics with land plants (such as using chlorophyll aand bplus carotene in the same proportion as plants). These characteristics are absent in other types of algae. Algae and Evolutionary Paths to Photosynthesis Some scientists consider all algae to be plants, while others assert that only the Charophytes belong in the kingdom Plantae. These divergent opinions are related to the different evolutionary paths to photosynthesis selected for in different types of algae. While all algae are photosynthetic—that is, they contain some form of a chloroplast—they didn’t all become photosynthetic via the same path. The ancestors to the green algae became photosynthetic by endosymbiosing a green, photosynthetic bacterium about 1.65 billion years ago. That algal line evolved into the Charophytes, and eventually into the modern mosses, ferns, gymnosperms, and angiosperms. Their evolutionary trajectory was relatively straight and monophyletic. In contrast, the other algae—red, brown, golden, stramenopiles, and so on—all became photosynthetic by secondary, or even tertiary, endosymbiotic events; that is, they endosymbiosed cells that had already endosymbiosed a cyanobacterium. These latecomers to photosynthesis are parallels to the Charophytes in terms of autotrophy, but they did not expand to the same extent as the Charophytes, nor did they colonize the land. The different views on whether all algae are Plantae arise from how these evolutionary paths are viewed. Scientists who solely track evolutionary straight lines (that is, monophyly), consider only the Charophytes as plants. To biologists who cast a broad net over living things that share a common characteristic (in this case, photosynthetic eukaryotes), all algae are plants. Go to this interactive website ( to get a more in-depth view of the Charophytes. Plant Adaptations to Life on Land As organisms adapted to life on land, they had to contend with several challenges in the terrestrial environment. Water has been described as “the stuff of life.” The cell’s interior is a watery soup: in this medium, most small molecules dissolve and 664 Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at diffuse, and the majority of the chemical reactions of metabolism take place. Desiccation, or drying out, is a constant danger for an organism exposed to air. Even when parts of a plant are close to a source of water, the aerial structures are likely to dry out. Water also provides buoyancy to organisms. On land, plants need to develop structural support in a medium that does not give the same lift as water. The organism is also subject to bombardment by mutagenic radiation, because air does not filter out ultraviolet rays of sunlight. Additionally, the male gametes must reach the female gametes using new strategies, because swimming is no longer possible. Therefore, both gametes and zygotes must be protected from desiccation. The successful land plants developed strategies to deal with all of these challenges. Not all adaptations appeared at once. Some species never moved very far from the aquatic environment, whereas others went on to conquer the driest environments on Earth. To balance these survival challenges, life on land offers several advantages. First, sunlight is abundant. Water acts as a filter, altering the spectral quality of light absorbed by the photosynthetic pigment chlorophyll. Second, carbon dioxide is more readily available in air than in water, since it diffuses faster in air. Third, land plants evolved before land animals; therefore, until dry land was colonized by animals, no predators threatened plant life. This situation changed as animals emerged from the water and fed on the abundant sources of nutrients in the established flora. In turn, plants developed strategies to deter predation: from spines and thorns to toxic chemicals. Early land plants, like the early land animals, did not live very far from an abundant source of water and developed survival strategies to combat dryness. One of these strategies is called tolerance. Many mosses, for example, can dry out to a brown and brittle mat, but as soon as rain or a flood makes water available, mosses will absorb it and are restored to their healthy green appearance. Another strategy is to colonize environments with high humidity, where droughts are uncommon. Ferns, which are considered an early lineage of plants, thrive in damp and cool places such as the understory of temperate forests. Later, plants moved away from moist or aquatic environments using resistance to desiccation, rather than tolerance. These plants, like cacti, minimize the loss of water to such an extent they can survive in extremely dry environments. The most successful adaptation solution was the development of new structures that gave plants the advantage when colonizing new and dry environments. Four major adaptations are found in all terrestrial plants: the alternation of generations, a sporangium in which the spores are formed, a gametangium that produces haploid cells, and apical meristem tissue in roots and shoots. The evolution of a waxy cuticle and a cell wall with lignin also contributed to the success of land plants. These adaptations are noticeably lacking in the closely related green algae—another reason for the debate over their placement in the plant kingdom. Alternation of Generations Alternation of generations describes a life cycle in which an organism has both haploid and diploid multicellular stages (Figure 25.2 ). Figure 25.2 Alternation of generations between the 1 ngametophyte and 2 nsporophyte is shown. (credit: Peter Coxhead) Haplontic refers to a lifecycle in which there is a dominant haploid stage, and diplontic refers to a lifecycle in which the diploid is the dominant life stage. Humans are diplontic. Most plants exhibit alternation of generations, which is described as haplodiplodontic: the haploid multicellular form, known as a gametophyte, is followed in the development sequence by a multicellular diploid organism: the sporophyte. The gametophyte gives rise to the gametes (reproductive cells) by mitosis. This can be the most obvious phase of the life cycle of the plant, as in the mosses, or it can occur in a microscopic structure, such as a pollen grain, in the higher plants (a common collective term for the vascular plants). The sporophyte stage is barely noticeable in lower plants (the collective term for the plant groups of mosses, liverworts, and lichens). Towering trees are the diplontic phase in the lifecycles of plants such as sequoias and pines. Protection of the embryo is a major requirement for land plants. The vulnerable embryo must be sheltered from desiccation and other environmental hazards. In both seedless and seed plants, the female gametophyte provides protection and nutrients Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants 665 to the embryo as it develops into the new generation of sporophyte. This distinguishing feature of land plants gave the group its alternate name of embryophytes . Sporangia in Seedless Plants The sporophyte of seedless plants is diploid and results from syngamy (fusion) of two gametes. The sporophyte bears the sporangia (singular, sporangium): organs that first appeared in the land plants. The term “sporangia” literally means “spore in a vessel,” as it is a reproductive sac that contains spores Figure 25.3 . Inside the multicellular sporangia, the diploid sporocytes , or mother cells, produce haploid spores by meiosis, where the 2 nchromosome number is reduced to 1 n(note that many plant sporophytes are polyploid: for example, durum wheat is tetraploid, bread wheat is hexaploid, and some ferns are 1000-ploid). The spores are later released by the sporangia and disperse in the environment. Two different types of spores are produced in land plants, resulting in the separation of sexes at different points in the lifecycle. Seedless non- vascular plants produce only one kind of spore and are called homosporous . The gametophyte phase is dominant in these plants. After germinating from a spore, the resulting gametophyte produces both male and female gametangia, usually on the same individual. In contrast, heterosporous plants produce two morphologically different types of spores. The male spores are called microspores , because of their smaller size, and develop into the male gametophyte; the comparatively larger megaspores develop into the female gametophyte. Heterospory is observed in a few seedless vascular plants and in all seed plants. Figure 25.3 Spore-producing sacs called sporangia grow at the ends of long, thin stalks in this photo of the moss Esporangios bryum . (credit: Javier Martin) When the haploid spore germinates in a hospitable environment, it generates a multicellular gametophyte by mitosis. The gametophyte supports the zygote formed from the fusion of gametes and the resulting young sporophyte (vegetative form). The cycle then begins anew. The spores of seedless plants are surrounded by thick cell walls containing a tough polymer known as sporopollenin . This complex substance is characterized by long chains of organic molecules related to fatty acids and carotenoids: hence the yellow color of most pollen. Sporopollenin is unusually resistant to chemical and biological degradation. In seed plants, which use pollen to transfer the male sperm to the female egg, the toughness of sporopollenin explains the existence of well-preserved pollen fossils. Sporopollenin was once thought to be an innovation of land plants; however, the green algae Coleochaetes forms spores that contain sporopollenin. Gametangia in Seedless Plants Gametangia (singular, gametangium) are structures observed on multicellular haploid gametophytes. In the gametangia, precursor cells give rise to gametes by mitosis. The male gametangium ( antheridium ) releases sperm. Many seedless plants produce sperm equipped with flagella that enable them to swim in a moist environment to the archegonia : the female gametangium. The embryo develops inside the archegonium as the sporophyte. Gametangia are prominent in seedless plants, but are very rarely found in seed plants. Apical Meristems Shoots and roots of plants increase in length through rapid cell division in a tissue called the apical meristem, which is a small zone of cells found at the shoot tip or root tip ( Figure 25.4 ). The apical meristem is made of undifferentiated cells that continue to proliferate throughout the life of the plant. Meristematic cells give rise to all the specialized tissues of the organism. Elongation of the shoots and roots allows a plant to access additional space and resources: light in the case of 666 Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at the shoot, and water and minerals in the case of roots. A separate meristem, called the lateral meristem, produces cells that increase the diameter of tree trunks. Figure 25.4 Addition of new cells in a root occurs at the apical meristem. Subsequent enlargement of these cells causes the organ to grow and elongate. The root cap protects the fragile apical meristem as the root tip is pushed through the soil by cell elongation. Additional Land Plant Adaptations As plants adapted to dry land and became independent from the constant presence of water in damp habitats, new organs and structures made their appearance. Early land plants did not grow more than a few inches off the ground, competing for light on these low mats. By developing a shoot and growing taller, individual plants captured more light. Because air offers substantially less support than water, land plants incorporated more rigid molecules in their stems (and later, tree trunks). In small plants such as single-celled algae, simple diffusion suffices to distribute water and nutrients throughout the organism. However, for plants to evolve larger forms, the evolution of vascular tissue for the distribution of water and solutes was a prerequisite. The vascular system contains xylem and phloem tissues. Xylem conducts water and minerals absorbed from the soil up to the shoot, while phloem transports food derived from photosynthesis throughout the entire plant. A root system evolved to take up water and minerals from the soil, and to anchor the increasingly taller shoot in the soil. In land plants, a waxy, waterproof cover called a cuticle protects the leaves and stems from desiccation. However, the cuticle also prevents intake of carbon dioxide needed for the synthesis of carbohydrates through photosynthesis. To overcome this, stomata or pores that open and close to regulate traffic of gases and water vapor appeared in plants as they moved away from moist environments into drier habitats. Water filters ultraviolet-B (UVB) light, which is harmful to all organisms, especially those that must absorb light to survive. This filtering does not occur for land plants. This presented an additional challenge to land colonization, which was met by the evolution of biosynthetic pathways for the synthesis of protective flavonoids and other compounds: pigments that absorb UV wavelengths of light and protect the aerial parts of plants from photodynamic damage. Plants cannot avoid being eaten by animals. Instead, they synthesize a large range of poisonous secondary metabolites: complex organic molecules such as alkaloids, whose noxious smells and unpleasant taste deter animals. These toxic compounds can also cause severe diseases and even death, thus discouraging predation. Humans have used many of these compounds for centuries as drugs, medications, or spices. In contrast, as plants co-evolved with animals, the development of sweet and nutritious metabolites lured animals into providing valuable assistance in dispersing pollen grains, fruit, or seeds. Plants have been enlisting animals to be their helpers in this way for hundreds of millions of years. Evolution of Land Plants No discussion of the evolution of plants on land can be undertaken without a brief review of the timeline of the geological eras. The early era, known as the Paleozoic, is divided into six periods. It starts with the Cambrian period, followed by the Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, and Permian. The major event to mark the Ordovician, more than 500 million years ago, was the colonization of land by the ancestors of modern land plants. Fossilized cells, cuticles, and spores of early land plants have been dated as far back as the Ordovician period in the early Paleozoic era. The oldest-known vascular plants have been identified in deposits from the Devonian. One of the richest sources of information is the Rhynie chert, a sedimentary rock deposit found in Rhynie, Scotland ( Figure 25.5 ), where embedded fossils of some of the earliest vascular plants have been identified. Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants 667 Figure 25.5 This Rhynie chert contains fossilized material from vascular plants. The area inside the circle contains bulbous underground stems called corms, and root-like structures called rhizoids. (credit b: modification of work by Peter Coxhead based on original image by “Smith609”/Wikimedia Commons; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Paleobotanists distinguish between extinct species, as fossils, and extant species, which are still living. The extinct vascular plants, classified as zosterophylls and trimerophytes, most probably lacked true leaves and roots and formed low vegetation mats similar in size to modern-day mosses, although some trimetophytes could reach one meter in height. The later genus Cooksonia , which flourished during the Silurian, has been extensively studied from well-preserved examples. Imprints of Cooksonia show slender branching stems ending in what appear to be sporangia. From the recovered specimens, it is not possible to establish for certain whether Cooksonia possessed vascular tissues. Fossils indicate that by the end of the Devonian period, ferns, horsetails, and seed plants populated the landscape, giving rising to trees and forests. This luxuriant vegetation helped enrich the atmosphere in oxygen, making it easier for air-breathing animals to colonize dry land. Plants also established early symbiotic relationships with fungi, creating mycorrhizae: a relationship in which the fungal network of filaments increases the efficiency of the plant root system, and the plants provide the fungi with byproducts of photosynthesis. 668 Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at Paleobotanist How organisms acquired traits that allow them to colonize new environments—and how the contemporary ecosystem is shaped—are fundamental questions of evolution. Paleobotany (the study of extinct plants) addresses these questions through the analysis of fossilized specimens retrieved from field studies, reconstituting the morphology of organisms that disappeared long ago. Paleobotanists trace the evolution of plants by following the modifications in plant morphology: shedding light on the connection between existing plants by identifying common ancestors that display the same traits. This field seeks to find transitional species that bridge gaps in the path to the development of modern organisms. Fossils are formed when organisms are trapped in sediments or environments where their shapes are preserved. Paleobotanists collect fossil specimens in the field and place them in the context of the geological sediments and other fossilized organisms surrounding them. The activity requires great care to preserve the integrity of the delicate fossils and the layers of rock in which they are found. One of the most exciting recent developments in paleobotany is the use of analytical chemistry and molecular biology to study fossils. Preservation of molecular structures requires an environment free of oxygen, since oxidation and degradation of material through the activity of microorganisms depend on its presence. One example of the use of analytical chemistry and molecular biology is the identification of oleanane, a compound that deters pests. Up to this point, oleanane appeared to be unique to flowering plants; however, it has now been recovered from sediments dating from the Permian, much earlier than the current dates given for the appearance of the first flowering plants. Paleobotanists can also study fossil DNA, which can yield a large amount of information, by analyzing and comparing the DNA sequences of extinct plants with those of living and related organisms. Through this analysis, evolutionary relationships can be built for plant lineages. Some paleobotanists are skeptical of the conclusions drawn from the analysis of molecular fossils. For example, the chemical materials of interest degrade rapidly when exposed to air during their initial isolation, as well as in further manipulations. There is always a high risk of contaminating the specimens with extraneous material, mostly from microorganisms. Nevertheless, as technology is refined, the analysis of DNA from fossilized plants will provide invaluable information on the evolution of plants and their adaptation to an ever-changing environment. The Major Divisions of Land Plants The green algae and land plants are grouped together into a subphylum called the Streptophytina, and thus are called Streptophytes. In a further division, land plants are classified into two major groups according to the absence or presence of vascular tissue, as detailed in Figure 25.6 . Plants that lack vascular tissue, which is formed of specialized cells for the transport of water and nutrients, are referred to as non-vascular plants . Liverworts, mosses, and hornworts are seedless, non-vascular plants that likely appeared early in land plant evolution. Vascular plants developed a network of cells that conduct water and solutes. The first vascular plants appeared in the late Ordovician and were probably similar to lycophytes, which include club mosses (not to be confused with the mosses) and the pterophytes (ferns, horsetails, and whisk ferns). Lycophytes and pterophytes are referred to as seedless vascular plants, because they do not produce seeds. The seed plants, or spermatophytes, form the largest group of all existing plants, and hence dominate the landscape. Seed plants include gymnosperms, most notably conifers (Gymnosperms), which produce “naked seeds,” and the most successful of all plants, the flowering plants (Angiosperms). Angiosperms protect their seeds inside chambers at the center of a flower; the walls of the chamber later develop into a fruit. Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants 669 Figure 25.6 This table shows the major divisions of green plants. Which of the following statements about plant divisions is false? a. Lycophytes and pterophytes are seedless vascular plants. b. All vascular plants produce seeds. c. All nonvascular embryophytes are bryophytes. d. Seed plants include angiosperms and gymnosperms. 25.2 | Green Algae: Precursors of Land Plants By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Describe the traits shared by green algae and land plants • Explain the reasons why Charales are considered the closest relative to land plants • Understand that current phylogenetic relationships are reshaped by comparative analysis of DNA sequences Streptophytes Until recently, all photosynthetic eukaryotes were considered members of the kingdom Plantae. The brown, red, and gold algae, however, have been reassigned to the Protista kingdom. This is because apart from their ability to capture light energy and fix CO 2, they lack many structural and biochemical traits that distinguish plants from protists. The position of green algae is more ambiguous. Green algae contain the same carotenoids and chlorophyll aand bas land plants, whereas other algae have different accessory pigments and types of chlorophyll molecules in addition to chlorophyll a. Both green algae and land plants also store carbohydrates as starch. Cells in green algae divide along cell plates called phragmoplasts, and their cell walls are layered in the same manner as the cell walls of embryophytes. Consequently, land plants and closely related green algae are now part of a new monophyletic group called Streptophyta . The remaining green algae, which belong to a group called Chlorophyta, include more than 7000 different species that live in fresh or brackish water, in seawater, or in snow patches. A few green algae even survive on soil, provided it is covered by a thin film of moisture in which they can live. Periodic dry spells provide a selective advantage to algae that can survive water stress. Some green algae may already be familiar, in particular Spirogyra and desmids. Their cells contain chloroplasts that display a dizzying variety of shapes, and their cell walls contain cellulose, as do land plants. Some green algae are single cells, such as Chlorella and Chlamydomonas , which adds to the ambiguity of green algae classification, because plants are multicellular. Other algae, like Ulva (commonly called sea lettuce), form colonies ( Figure 25.7 ). 670 Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 25.7 Chlorophyta include (a) Spirogyra , (b) desmids, (c) Chlamydomonas , and (d) Ulva. Desmids and Chlamydomonas are single-celled organisms, Spirogyra forms chains of cells, and Ulva forms colonies resembling leaves (credit b: modification of work by Derek Keats; credit c: modification of work by Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility, Dartmouth College; credit d: modification of work by Holger Krisp; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Reproduction of Green Algae Green algae reproduce both asexually, by fragmentation or dispersal of spores, or sexually, by producing gametes that fuse during fertilization. In a single-celled organism such as Chlamydomonas , there is no mitosis after fertilization. In the multicellular Ulva , a sporophyte grows by mitosis after fertilization. Both Chlamydomonas and Ulva produce flagellated gametes. Charales Green algae in the order Charales, and the coleochaetes (microscopic green algae that enclose their spores in sporopollenin), are considered the closest living relatives of embryophytes. The Charales can be traced back 420 million years. They live in a range of fresh water habitats and vary in size from a few millimeters to a meter in length. The representative species is Chara (Figure 25.8 ), often called muskgrass or skunkweed because of its unpleasant smell. Large cells form the thallus: the main stem of the alga. Branches arising from the nodes are made of smaller cells. Male and female reproductive structures are found on the nodes, and the sperm have flagella. Unlike land plants, Charales do not undergo alternation of generations in their lifecycle. Charales exhibit a number of traits that are significant in their adaptation to land life. They produce the compounds lignin and sporopollenin, and form plasmodesmata that connect the cytoplasm of adjacent cells. The egg, and later, the zygote, form in a protected chamber on the parent plant. Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants 671 Figure 25.8 The representative alga, Chara, is a noxious weed in Florida, where it clogs waterways. (credit: South Florida Information Access, U.S. Geological Survey) New information from recent, extensive DNA sequence analysis of green algae indicates that the Zygnematales are more closely related to the embryophytes than the Charales. The Zygnematales include the familiar genus Spirogyra. As techniques in DNA analysis improve and new information on comparative genomics arises, the phylogenetic connections between species will change. Clearly, plant biologists have not yet solved the mystery of the origin of land plants. 25.3 | Bryophytes By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Identify the main characteristics of bryophytes • Describe the distinguishing traits of liverworts, hornworts, and mosses • Chart the development of land adaptations in the bryophytes • Describe the events in the bryophyte lifecycle Bryophytes are the group of plants that are the closest extant relative of early terrestrial plants. The first bryophytes (liverworts) most likely appeared in the Ordovician period, about 450 million years ago. Because of the lack of lignin and other resistant structures, the likelihood of bryophytes forming fossils is rather small. Some spores protected by sporopollenin have survived and are attributed to early bryophytes. By the Silurian period, however, vascular plants had spread through the continents. This compelling fact is used as evidence that non-vascular plants must have preceded the Silurian period. More than 25,000 species of bryophytes thrive in mostly damp habitats, although some live in deserts. They constitute the major flora of inhospitable environments like the tundra, where their small size and tolerance to desiccation offer distinct advantages. They generally lack lignin and do not have actual tracheids (xylem cells specialized for water conduction). Rather, water and nutrients circulate inside specialized conducting cells. Although the term non-tracheophyte is more accurate, bryophytes are commonly called nonvascular plants. In a bryophyte, all the conspicuous vegetative organs—including the photosynthetic leaf-like structures, the thallus, stem, and the rhizoid that anchors the plant to its substrate—belong to the haploid organism or gametophyte. The sporophyte is barely noticeable. The gametes formed by bryophytes swim with a flagellum, as do gametes in a few of the tracheophytes. The sporangium—the multicellular sexual reproductive structure—is present in bryophytes and absent in the majority of algae. The bryophyte embryo also remains attached to the parent plant, which protects and nourishes it. This is a characteristic of land plants. The bryophytes are divided into three phyla: the liverworts or Hepaticophyta, the hornworts or Anthocerotophyta, and the mosses or true Bryophyta. 672 Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at Liverworts Liverworts (Hepaticophyta) are viewed as the plants most closely related to the ancestor that moved to land. Liverworts have colonized every terrestrial habitat on Earth and diversified to more than 7000 existing species ( Figure 25.9 ). Some gametophytes form lobate green structures, as seen in Figure 25.10 . The shape is similar to the lobes of the liver, and hence provides the origin of the name given to the phylum. Figure 25.9 This 1904 drawing shows the variety of forms of Hepaticophyta. Figure 25.10 A liverwort, Lunularia cruciata , displays its lobate, flat thallus. The organism in the photograph is in the gametophyte stage. Openings that allow the movement of gases may be observed in liverworts. However, these are not stomata, because they do not actively open and close. The plant takes up water over its entire surface and has no cuticle to prevent desiccation. Figure 25.11 represents the lifecycle of a liverwort. The cycle starts with the release of haploid spores from the sporangium that developed on the sporophyte. Spores disseminated by wind or water germinate into flattened thalli attached to the substrate by thin, single-celled filaments. Male and female gametangia develop on separate, individual plants. Once released, male Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants 673 gametes swim with the aid of their flagella to the female gametangium (the archegonium), and fertilization ensues. The zygote grows into a small sporophyte still attached to the parent gametophyte. It will give rise, by meiosis, to the next generation of spores. Liverwort plants can also reproduce asexually, by the breaking of branches or the spreading of leaf fragments called gemmae. In this latter type of reproduction, the gemmae —small, intact, complete pieces of plant that are produced in a cup on the surface of the thallus (shown in Figure 25.11 )—are splashed out of the cup by raindrops. The gemmae then land nearby and develop into gametophytes. Figure 25.11 The life cycle of a typical liverwort is shown. (credit: modification of work by Mariana Ruiz Villareal) Hornworts The hornworts (Anthocerotophyta ) belong to the broad bryophyte group. They have colonized a variety of habitats on land, although they are never far from a source of moisture. The short, blue-green gametophyte is the dominant phase of the lifecycle of a hornwort. The narrow, pipe-like sporophyte is the defining characteristic of the group. The sporophytes emerge from the parent gametophyte and continue to grow throughout the life of the plant ( Figure 25.12 ). 674 Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 25.12 Hornworts grow a tall and slender sporophyte. (credit: modification of work by Jason Hollinger) Stomata appear in the hornworts and are abundant on the sporophyte. Photosynthetic cells in the thallus contain a single chloroplast. Meristem cells at the base of the plant keep dividing and adding to its height. Many hornworts establish symbiotic relationships with cyanobacteria that fix nitrogen from the environment. The lifecycle of hornworts ( Figure 25.13 ) follows the general pattern of alternation of generations. The gametophytes grow as flat thalli on the soil with embedded gametangia. Flagellated sperm swim to the archegonia and fertilize eggs. The zygote develops into a long and slender sporophyte that eventually splits open, releasing spores. Thin cells called pseudoelaters surround the spores and help propel them further in the environment. Unlike the elaters observed in horsetails, the hornwort pseudoelaters are single-celled structures. The haploid spores germinate and give rise to the next generation of gametophyte. Figure 25.13 The alternation of generation in hornworts is shown. (credit: modification of work by “Smith609”/Wikimedia Commons based on original work by Mariana Ruiz Villareal) Mosses More than 10,000 species of mosses have been catalogued. Their habitats vary from the tundra, where they are the main vegetation, to the understory of tropical forests. In the tundra, the mosses’ shallow rhizoids allow them to fasten to a substrate without penetrating the frozen soil. Mosses slow down erosion, store moisture and soil nutrients, and provide shelter for small animals as well as food for larger herbivores, such as the musk ox. Mosses are very sensitive to air pollution Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants 675 and are used to monitor air quality. They are also sensitive to copper salts, so these salts are a common ingredient of compounds marketed to eliminate mosses from lawns. Mosses form diminutive gametophytes, which are the dominant phase of the lifecycle. Green, flat structures—resembling true leaves, but lacking vascular tissue—are attached in a spiral to a central stalk. The plants absorb water and nutrients directly through these leaf-like structures. Some mosses have small branches. Some primitive traits of green algae, such as flagellated sperm, are still present in mosses that are dependent on water for reproduction. Other features of mosses are clearly adaptations to dry land. For example, stomata are present on the stems of the sporophyte, and a primitive vascular system runs up the sporophyte’s stalk. Additionally, mosses are anchored to the substrate—whether it is soil, rock, or roof tiles—by multicellular rhizoids . These structures are precursors of roots. They originate from the base of the gametophyte, but are not the major route for the absorption of water and minerals. The lack of a true root system explains why it is so easy to rip moss mats from a tree trunk. The moss lifecycle follows the pattern of alternation of generations as shown in Figure 25.14 . The most familiar structure is the haploid gametophyte, which germinates from a haploid spore and forms first a protonema —usually, a tangle of single-celled filaments that hug the ground. Cells akin to an apical meristem actively divide and give rise to a gametophore, consisting of a photosynthetic stem and foliage-like structures. Rhizoids form at the base of the gametophore. Gametangia of both sexes develop on separate gametophores. The male organ (the antheridium) produces many sperm, whereas the archegonium (the female organ) forms a single egg. At fertilization, the sperm swims down the neck to the venter and unites with the egg inside the archegonium. The zygote, protected by the archegonium, divides and grows into a sporophyte, still attached by its foot to the gametophyte. Figure 25.14 This illustration shows the life cycle of mosses. (credit: modification of work by Mariana Ruiz Villareal) Which of the following statements about the moss life cycle is false? a. The mature gametophyte is haploid. b. The sporophyte produces haploid spores. c. The calyptra buds to form a mature gametophyte. d. The zygote is housed in the venter. 676 Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at The slender seta (plural, setae), as seen in Figure 25.15 , contains tubular cells that transfer nutrients from the base of the sporophyte (the foot) to the sporangium or capsule . Figure 25.15 This photograph shows the long slender stems, called setae, connected to capsules of the moss Thamnobryum alopecurum . (credit: modification of work by Hermann Schachner) A structure called a peristome increases the spread of spores after the tip of the capsule falls off at dispersal. The concentric tissue around the mouth of the capsule is made of triangular, close-fitting units, a little like “teeth”; these open and close depending on moisture levels, and periodically release spores. 25.4 | Seedless Vascular Plants By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Identify the new traits that first appear in tracheophytes • Discuss the importance of adaptations to life on land • Describe the classes of seedless tracheophytes • Describe the lifecycle of a fern • Explain the role of seedless vascular plants in the ecosystem The vascular plants, or tracheophytes , are the dominant and most conspicuous group of land plants. More than 260,000 species of tracheophytes represent more than 90 percent of Earth’s vegetation. Several evolutionary innovations explain their success and their ability to spread to all habitats. Bryophytes may have been successful at the transition from an aquatic habitat to land, but they are still dependent on water for reproduction, and absorb moisture and nutrients through the gametophyte surface. The lack of roots for absorbing water and minerals from the soil, as well as a lack of reinforced conducting cells, limits bryophytes to small sizes. Although they may survive in reasonably dry conditions, they cannot reproduce and expand their habitat range in the absence of water. Vascular plants, on the other hand, can achieve enormous heights, thus competing successfully for light. Photosynthetic organs become leaves, and pipe-like cells or vascular tissues transport water, minerals, and fixed carbon throughout the organism. In seedless vascular plants, the diploid sporophyte is the dominant phase of the lifecycle. The gametophyte is now an inconspicuous, but still independent, organism. Throughout plant evolution, there is an evident reversal of roles in the dominant phase of the lifecycle. Seedless vascular plants still depend on water during fertilization, as the sperm must swim on a layer of moisture to reach the egg. This step in reproduction explains why ferns and their relatives are more abundant in damp environments. Vascular Tissue: Xylem and Phloem The first fossils that show the presence of vascular tissue date to the Silurian period, about 430 million years ago. The simplest arrangement of conductive cells shows a pattern of xylem at the center surrounded by phloem. Xylem is the tissue responsible for the storage and long-distance transport of water and nutrients, as well as the transfer of water-soluble growth Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants 677 factors from the organs of synthesis to the target organs. The tissue consists of conducting cells, known as tracheids, and supportive filler tissue, called parenchyma. Xylem conductive cells incorporate the compound lignin into their walls, and are thus described as lignified. Lignin itself is a complex polymer that is impermeable to water and confers mechanical strength to vascular tissue. With their rigid cell walls, the xylem cells provide support to the plant and allow it to achieve impressive heights. Tall plants have a selective advantage by being able to reach unfiltered sunlight and disperse their spores or seeds further away, thus expanding their range. By growing higher than other plants, tall trees cast their shadow on shorter plants and limit competition for water and precious nutrients in the soil. Phloem is the second type of vascular tissue; it transports sugars, proteins, and other solutes throughout the plant. Phloem cells are divided into sieve elements (conducting cells) and cells that support the sieve elements. Together, xylem and phloem tissues form the vascular system of plants. Roots: Support for the Plant Roots are not well preserved in the fossil record. Nevertheless, it seems that roots appeared later in evolution than vascular tissue. The development of an extensive network of roots represented a significant new feature of vascular plants. Thin rhizoids attached bryophytes to the substrate, but these rather flimsy filaments did not provide a strong anchor for the plant; neither did they absorb substantial amounts of water and nutrients. In contrast, roots, with their prominent vascular tissue system, transfer water and minerals from the soil to the rest of the plant. The extensive network of roots that penetrates deep into the soil to reach sources of water also stabilizes trees by acting as a ballast or anchor. The majority of roots establish a symbiotic relationship with fungi, forming mycorrhizae, which benefit the plant by greatly increasing the surface area for absorption of water and soil minerals and nutrients. Leaves, Sporophylls, and Strobili A third innovation marks the seedless vascular plants. Accompanying the prominence of the sporophyte and the development of vascular tissue, the appearance of true leaves improved their photosynthetic efficiency. Leaves capture more sunlight with their increased surface area by employing more chloroplasts to trap light energy and convert it to chemical energy, which is then used to fix atmospheric carbon dioxide into carbohydrates. The carbohydrates are exported to the rest of the plant by the conductive cells of phloem tissue. The existence of two types of morphology suggests that leaves evolved independently in several groups of plants. The first type of leaf is the microphyll , or “little leaf,” which can be dated to 350 million years ago in the late Silurian. A microphyll is small and has a simple vascular system. A single unbranched vein —a bundle of vascular tissue made of xylem and phloem—runs through the center of the leaf. Microphylls may have originated from the flattening of lateral branches, or from sporangia that lost their reproductive capabilities. Microphylls are present in the club mosses and probably preceded the development of megaphylls , or “big leaves”, which are larger leaves with a pattern of branching veins. Megaphylls most likely appeared independently several times during the course of evolution. Their complex networks of veins suggest that several branches may have combined into a flattened organ, with the gaps between the branches being filled with photosynthetic tissue. In addition to photosynthesis, leaves play another role in the life of the plants. Pine cones, mature fronds of ferns, and flowers are all sporophylls —leaves that were modified structurally to bear sporangia. Strobili are cone-like structures that contain sporangia. They are prominent in conifers and are commonly known as pine cones. Ferns and Other Seedless Vascular Plants By the late Devonian period, plants had evolved vascular tissue, well-defined leaves, and root systems. With these advantages, plants increased in height and size. During the Carboniferous period, swamp forests of club mosses and horsetails—some specimens reaching heights of more than 30 m (100 ft)—covered most of the land. These forests gave rise to the extensive coal deposits that gave the Carboniferous its name. In seedless vascular plants, the sporophyte became the dominant phase of the lifecycle. Water is still required for fertilization of seedless vascular plants, and most favor a moist environment. Modern-day seedless tracheophytes include club mosses, horsetails, ferns, and whisk ferns. Phylum Lycopodiophyta: Club Mosses The club mosses , or phylum Lycopodiophyta , are the earliest group of seedless vascular plants. They dominated the landscape of the Carboniferous, growing into tall trees and forming large swamp forests. Today’s club mosses are diminutive, evergreen plants consisting of a stem (which may be branched) and microphylls ( Figure 25.16 ). The phylum Lycopodiophyta consists of close to 1,200 species, including the quillworts ( Isoetales ), the club mosses ( Lycopodiales ), and spike mosses ( Selaginellales ), none of which are true mosses or bryophytes. 678 Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at Lycophytes follow the pattern of alternation of generations seen in the bryophytes, except that the sporophyte is the major stage of the lifecycle. The gametophytes do not depend on the sporophyte for nutrients. Some gametophytes develop underground and form mycorrhizal associations with fungi. In club mosses, the sporophyte gives rise to sporophylls arranged in strobili, cone-like structures that give the class its name. Lycophytes can be homosporous or heterosporous. Figure 25.16 In the club mosses such as Lycopodium clavatum , sporangia are arranged in clusters called strobili. (credit: Cory Zanker) Phylum Monilophyta: Class Equisetopsida (Horsetails) Horsetails, whisk ferns and ferns belong to the phylum Monilophyta, with horsetails placed in the Class Equisetopsida. The single genus Equisetum is the survivor of a large group of plants, known as Arthrophyta, which produced large trees and entire swamp forests in the Carboniferous. The plants are usually found in damp environments and marshes ( Figure 25.17 ). Figure 25.17 Horsetails thrive in a marsh. (credit: Myriam Feldman) The stem of a horsetail is characterized by the presence of joints or nodes, hence the name Arthrophyta (arthro- = “joint”; -phyta = “plant”). Leaves and branches come out as whorls from the evenly spaced joints. The needle-shaped leaves do not contribute greatly to photosynthesis, the majority of which takes place in the green stem ( Figure 25.18 ). Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants 679 Figure 25.18 Thin leaves originating at the joints are noticeable on the horsetail plant. Horsetails were once used as scrubbing brushes and were nicknamed scouring brushes. (credit: Myriam Feldman) Silica collects in the epidermal cells, contributing to the stiffness of horsetail plants. Underground stems known as rhizomes anchor the plants to the ground. Modern-day horsetails are homosporous and produce bisexual gametophytes. Phylum Monilophyta: Class Psilotopsida (Whisk Ferns) While most ferns form large leaves and branching roots, the whisk ferns , Class Psilotopsida, lack both roots and leaves, probably lost by reduction. Photosynthesis takes place in their green stems, and small yellow knobs form at the tip of the branch stem and contain the sporangia. Whisk ferns were considered an early pterophytes. However, recent comparative DNA analysis suggests that this group may have lost both vascular tissue and roots through evolution, and is more closely related to ferns. Figure 25.19 The whisk fern Psilotum nudum has conspicuous green stems with knob-shaped sporangia. (credit: Forest & Kim Starr) Phylum Monilophyta: Class Psilotopsida (Ferns) With their large fronds, ferns are the most readily recognizable seedless vascular plants. They are considered the most advanced seedless vascular plants and display characteristics commonly observed in seed plants. More than 20,000 species of ferns live in environments ranging from tropics to temperate forests. Although some species survive in dry environments, most ferns are restricted to moist, shaded places. Ferns made their appearance in the fossil record during the Devonian period and expanded during the Carboniferous. 680 Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at The dominant stage of the lifecycle of a fern is the sporophyte, which consists of large compound leaves called fronds. Fronds fulfill a double role; they are photosynthetic organs that also carry reproductive organs. The stem may be buried underground as a rhizome, from which adventitious roots grow to absorb water and nutrients from the soil; or, they may grow above ground as a trunk in tree ferns ( Figure 25.20 ).Adventitious organs are those that grow in unusual places, such as roots growing from the side of a stem. Figure 25.20 Some specimens of this short tree-fern species can grow very tall. (credit: Adrian Pingstone) The tip of a developing fern frond is rolled into a crozier, or fiddlehead ( Figure 25.21 aand Figure 25.21 b). Fiddleheads unroll as the frond develops. (a) (b) Figure 25.21 Croziers, or fiddleheads, are the tips of fern fronds. (credit a: modification of work by Cory Zanker; credit b: modification of work by Myriam Feldman) The lifecycle of a fern is depicted in Figure 25.22 . Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants 681 Figure 25.22 This life cycle of a fern shows alternation of generations with a dominant sporophyte stage. (credit “fern”: modification of work by Cory Zanker; credit “gametophyte”: modification of work by “Vlmastra”/Wikimedia Commons) Which of the following statements about the fern life cycle is false? a. Sporangia produce haploid spores. b. The sporophyte grows from a gametophyte. c. The sporophyte is diploid and the gametophyte is haploid. d. Sporangia form on the underside of the gametophyte. To see an animation of the lifecycle of a fern and to test your knowledge, go to the website ( l/fern_life_cycle) . Most ferns produce the same type of spores and are therefore homosporous. The diploid sporophyte is the most conspicuous stage of the lifecycle. On the underside of its mature fronds, sori (singular, sorus) form as small clusters where sporangia develop ( Figure 25.23 ). 682 Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 25.23 Sori appear as small bumps on the underside of a fern frond. (credit: Myriam Feldman) Inside the sori, spores are produced by meiosis and released into the air. Those that land on a suitable substrate germinate and form a heart-shaped gametophyte, which is attached to the ground by thin filamentous rhizoids ( Figure 25.24 ). Figure 25.24 Shown here are a young sporophyte (upper part of image) and a heart-shaped gametophyte (bottom part of image). (credit: modification of work by “Vlmastra”/Wikimedia Commons) The inconspicuous gametophyte harbors both sex gametangia. Flagellated sperm released from the antheridium swim on a wet surface to the archegonium, where the egg is fertilized. The newly formed zygote grows into a sporophyte that emerges from the gametophyte and grows by mitosis into the next generation sporophyte. Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants 683 Landscape Designer Looking at the well-laid parterres of flowers and fountains in the grounds of royal castles and historic houses of Europe, it’s clear that the gardens’ creators knew about more than art and design. They were also familiar with the biology of the plants they chose. Landscape design also has strong roots in the United States’ tradition. A prime example of early American classical design is Monticello: Thomas Jefferson’s private estate. Among his many interests, Jefferson maintained a strong passion for botany. Landscape layout can encompass a small private space, like a backyard garden; public gathering places, like Central Park in New York City; or an entire city plan, like Pierre L’Enfant’s design for Washington, DC. A landscape designer will plan traditional public spaces—such as botanical gardens, parks, college campuses, gardens, and larger developments—as well as natural areas and private gardens. The restoration of natural places encroached on by human intervention, such as wetlands, also requires the expertise of a landscape designer. With such an array of necessary skills, a landscape designer’s education includes a solid background in botany, soil science, plant pathology, entomology, and horticulture. Coursework in architecture and design software is also required for the completion of the degree. The successful design of a landscape rests on an extensive knowledge of plant growth requirements, such as light and shade, moisture levels, compatibility of different species, and susceptibility to pathogens and pests. Mosses and ferns will thrive in a shaded area, where fountains provide moisture; cacti, on the other hand, would not fare well in that environment. The future growth of individual plants must be taken into account, to avoid crowding and competition for light and nutrients. The appearance of the space over time is also of concern. Shapes, colors, and biology must be balanced for a well-maintained and sustainable green space. Art, architecture, and biology blend in a beautifully designed and implemented landscape. Figure 25.25 This landscaped border at a college campus was designed by students in the horticulture and landscaping department of the college. (credit: Myriam Feldman) The Importance of Seedless Vascular Plants Mosses and liverworts are often the first macroscopic organisms to colonize an area, both in a primary succession—where bare land is settled for the first time by living organisms—or in a secondary succession, where soil remains intact after a catastrophic event wipes out many existing species. Their spores are carried by the wind, birds, or insects. Once mosses and liverworts are established, they provide food and shelter for other species. In a hostile environment, like the tundra where the soil is frozen, bryophytes grow well because they do not have roots and can dry and rehydrate rapidly once water is again available. Mosses are at the base of the food chain in the tundra biome. Many species—from small insects to musk oxen and reindeer—depend on mosses for food. In turn, predators feed on the herbivores, which are the primary consumers. Some reports indicate that bryophytes make the soil more amenable to colonization by other plants. Because they establish symbiotic relationships with nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria, mosses replenish the soil with nitrogen. 684 Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at At the end of the nineteenth century, scientists observed that lichens and mosses were becoming increasingly rare in urban and suburban areas. Since bryophytes have neither a root system for absorption of water and nutrients, nor a cuticle layer that protects them from desiccation, pollutants in rainwater readily penetrate their tissues; they absorb moisture and nutrients through their entire exposed surfaces. Therefore, pollutants dissolved in rainwater penetrate plant tissues readily and have a larger impact on mosses than on other plants. The disappearance of mosses can be considered a bioindicator for the level of pollution in the environment. Ferns contribute to the environment by promoting the weathering of rock, accelerating the formation of topsoil, and slowing down erosion by spreading rhizomes in the soil. The water ferns of the genus Azolla harbor nitrogen-fixing cyanobacteria and restore this important nutrient to aquatic habitats. Seedless plants have historically played a role in human life through uses as tools, fuel, and medicine. Dried peat moss , Sphagnum , is commonly used as fuel in some parts of Europe and is considered a renewable resource. Sphagnum bogs (Figure 25.26 ) are cultivated with cranberry and blueberry bushes. The ability of Sphagnum to hold moisture makes the moss a common soil conditioner. Florists use blocks of Sphagnum to maintain moisture for floral arrangements. Figure 25.26 Sphagnum acutifolium is dried peat moss and can be used as fuel. (credit: Ken Goulding) The attractive fronds of ferns make them a favorite ornamental plant. Because they thrive in low light, they are well suited as house plants. More importantly, fiddleheads are a traditional spring food of Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest, and are popular as a side dish in French cuisine. The licorice fern, Polypodium glycyrrhiza, is part of the diet of the Pacific Northwest coastal tribes, owing in part to the sweetness of its rhizomes. It has a faint licorice taste and serves as a sweetener. The rhizome also figures in the pharmacopeia of Native Americans for its medicinal properties and is used as a remedy for sore throat. Go to this website ( to learn how to identify fern species based upon their fiddleheads. By far the greatest impact of seedless vascular plants on human life, however, comes from their extinct progenitors. The tall club mosses, horsetails, and tree-like ferns that flourished in the swampy forests of the Carboniferous period gave rise to large deposits of coal throughout the world. Coal provided an abundant source of energy during the Industrial Revolution, which had tremendous consequences on human societies, including rapid technological progress and growth of large cities, as well as the degradation of the environment. Coal is still a prime source of energy and also a major contributor to global warming. Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants 685 adventitious antheridium archegonium capsule charophyte club mosses diplontic embryophyte extant extinct fern gametangium gemma haplodiplodontic haplontic heterosporous homosporous hornworts horsetail lignin liverworts lycophyte megaphyll megaspore microphyll microspore mosses non-vascular plant peat moss peristome phloem KEY TERMS describes an organ that grows in an unusual place, such as a roots growing from the side of a stem male gametangium female gametangium case of the sporangium in mosses other term for green algae; considered the closest relative of land plants earliest group of seedless vascular plants diploid stage is the dominant stage other name for land plant; embryo is protected and nourished by the sporophyte still-living species no longer existing species seedless vascular plant that produces large fronds; the most advanced group of seedless vascular plants structure on the gametophyte in which gametes are produced (plural, gemmae) leaf fragment that spreads for asexual reproduction haploid and diploid stages alternate haploid stage is the dominant stage produces two types of spores produces one type of spore group of non-vascular plants in which stomata appear seedless vascular plant characterized by joints complex polymer impermeable to water most primitive group of the non-vascular plants club moss larger leaves with a pattern of branching veins female spore small size and simple vascular system with a single unbranched vein male spore group of bryophytes in which a primitive conductive system appears plant that lacks vascular tissue, which is formed of specialized cells for the transport of water and nutrients Sphagnum tissue that surrounds the opening of the capsule and allows periodic release of spores tissue responsible for transport of sugars, proteins, and other solutes 686 Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at protonema rhizoids seedless vascular plant seta sporocyte sporophyll sporopollenin streptophytes strobili tracheophyte vascular plant vein whisk fern xylem tangle of single celled filaments that forms from the haploid spore thin filaments that anchor the plant to the substrate plant that does not produce seeds stalk that supports the capsule in mosses diploid cell that produces spores by meiosis leaf modified structurally to bear sporangia tough polymer surrounding the spore group that includes green algae and land plants cone-like structures that contain the sporangia vascular plant plant containing a network of cells that conducts water and solutes through the organism bundle of vascular tissue made of xylem and phloem seedless vascular plant that lost roots and leaves by reduction tissue responsible for long-distance transport of water and nutrients CHAPTER SUMMARY 25.1 Early Plant Life Land plants acquired traits that made it possible to colonize land and survive out of the water. All land plants share the following characteristics: alternation of generations, with the haploid plant called a gametophyte, and the diploid plant called a sporophyte; protection of the embryo, formation of haploid spores in a sporangium, formation of gametes in a gametangium, and an apical meristem. Vascular tissues, roots, leaves, cuticle cover, and a tough outer layer that protects the spores contributed to the adaptation of plants to dry land. Land plants appeared about 500 million years ago in the Ordovician period. 25.2 Green Algae: Precursors of Land Plants Green algae share more traits with land plants than other algae, according to structure and DNA analysis. Charales form sporopollenin and precursors of lignin, phragmoplasts, and have flagellated sperm. They do not exhibit alternation of generations. 25.3 Bryophytes Seedless nonvascular plants are small, having the gametophyte as the dominant stage of the lifecycle. Without a vascular system and roots, they absorb water and nutrients on all their exposed surfaces. Collectively known as bryophytes, the three main groups include the liverworts, the hornworts, and the mosses. Liverworts are the most primitive plants and are closely related to the first land plants. Hornworts developed stomata and possess a single chloroplast per cell. Mosses have simple conductive cells and are attached to the substrate by rhizoids. They colonize harsh habitats and can regain moisture after drying out. The moss sporangium is a complex structure that allows release of spores away from the parent plant. 25.4 Seedless Vascular Plants Vascular systems consist of xylem tissue, which transports water and minerals, and phloem tissue, which transports sugars and proteins. With the development of the vascular system, there appeared leaves to act as large photosynthetic organs, and roots to access water from the ground. Small uncomplicated leaves are microphylls. Large leaves with vein patterns are megaphylls. Modified leaves that bear sporangia are sporophylls. Some sporophylls are arranged in cone structures called strobili. Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants 687 The seedless vascular plants include club mosses, which are the most primitive; whisk ferns, which lost leaves and roots by reductive evolution; and horsetails and ferns. Ferns are the most advanced group of seedless vascular plants. They are distinguished by large leaves called fronds and small sporangia-containing structures called sori, which are found on the underside of the fronds. Mosses play an essential role in the balance of the ecosystems; they are pioneering species that colonize bare or devastated environments and make it possible for a succession to occur. They contribute to the enrichment of the soil and provide shelter and nutrients for animals in hostile environments. Mosses and ferns can be used as fuels and serve culinary, medical, and decorative purposes. ART CONNECTION QUESTIONS 1. Figure 25.5 Which of the following statements about plant divisions is false? a. Lycophytes and pterophytes are seedless vascular plants. b. All vascular plants produce seeds. c. All nonvascular embryophytes are bryophytes. d. Seed plants include angiosperms and gymnosperms. 2. Figure 25.14 Which of the following statements about the moss life cycle is false? a. The mature gametophyte is haploid. b. The sporophyte produces haploid spores. c. The rhizoid buds to form a mature gametophyte. d. The zygote is housed in the venter. 3. Figure 25.21 Which of the following statements about the fern life cycle is false? a. Sporangia produce haploid spores. b. The sporophyte grows from a gametophyte. c. The sporophyte is diploid and the gametophyte is haploid. d. Sporangia form on the underside of the gametophyte. REVIEW QUESTIONS 4. The land plants are probably descendants of which of these groups? a. green algae b. red algae c. brown algae d. angiosperms 5. Alternation of generations means that plants produce: a. only haploid multicellular organisms b. only diploid multicellular organisms c. only diploid multicellular organisms with single- celled haploid gametes d. both haploid and diploid multicellular organisms 6. Which of the following traits of land plants allows them to grow in height? a. alternation of generations b. waxy cuticle c. tracheids d. sporopollenin 7. What characteristic of Charales would enable them to survive a dry spell? a. sperm with flagella b. phragmoplasts c. sporopollenin d. chlorophyll a 8. Which one of these characteristics is present in land plants and not in Charales? a. alternation of generations b. flagellated sperm c. phragmoplasts d. plasmodesmata 9. Which of the following structures is not found in bryophytes? a. a cellulose cell wall b. chloroplast c. sporangium d. root 10. Stomata appear in which group of plants? a. Charales b. liverworts c. hornworts d. mosses 11. The chromosome complement in a moss protonema is: a. 1n b. 2n c. 3n d. varies with the size of the protonema 12. Why do mosses grow well in the Arctic tundra? a. They grow better at cold temperatures. b. They do not require moisture. c. They do not have true roots and can grow on hard surfaces. d. There are no herbivores in the tundra. 13. Microphylls are characteristic of which types of plants? a. mosses b. liverworts c. club mosses 688 Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at d. ferns 14. A plant in the understory of a forest displays a segmented stem and slender leaves arranged in a whorl. It is probably a ________. a. club moss b. whisk fern c. fern d. horsetail 15. The following structures are found on the underside of fern leaves and contain sporangia: a. sori b. rhizomes c. megaphylls d. microphylls 16. The dominant organism in fern is the ________. a. sperm b. spore c. gamete d. sporophyte 17. What seedless plant is a renewable source of energy? a. club moss b. horsetail c. sphagnum moss d. fern 18. How do mosses contribute to returning nitrogen to the soil? a. Mosses fix nitrogen from the air. b. Mosses harbor cyanobacteria that fix nitrogen. c. Mosses die and return nitrogen to the soil. d. Mosses decompose rocks and release nitrogen. CRITICAL THINKING QUESTIONS 19. Why did land plants lose some of the accessory pigments present in brown and red algae? 20. What is the difference between extant and extinct? 21. To an alga, what is the main advantage of producing drought-resistant structures? 22. In areas where it rains often, mosses grow on roofs. How do mosses survive on roofs without soil? 23. What are the three classes of bryophytes? 24. How did the development of a vascular system contribute to the increase in size of plants? 25. Which plant is considered the most advanced seedless vascular plant and why? Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants 689 690 Chapter 25 | Seedless Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at 26 | SEED PLANTS Figure 26.1 Seed plants dominate the landscape and play an integral role in human societies. (a) Palm trees grow along the shoreline; (b) wheat is a crop grown in most of the world; (c) the flower of the cotton plant produces fibers that are woven into fabric; (d) the potent alkaloids of the beautiful opium poppy have influenced human life both as a medicinal remedy and as a dangerously addictive drug. (credit a: modification of work by Ryan Kozie; credit b: modification of work by Stephen Ausmus; credit c: modification of work by David Nance; credit d: modification of work by Jolly Janner) Chapter Outline 26.1: Evolution of Seed Plants 26.2: Gymnosperms 26.3: Angiosperms 26.4: The Role of Seed Plants Introduction The lush palms on tropical shorelines do not depend on water for the dispersal of their pollen, fertilization, or the survival of the zygote—unlike mosses, liverworts, and ferns of the terrain. Seed plants, such as palms, have broken free from the need to rely on water for their reproductive needs. They play an integral role in all aspects of life on the planet, shaping the physical terrain, influencing the climate, and maintaining life as we know it. For millennia, human societies have depended on seed plants for nutrition and medicinal compounds: and more recently, for industrial by-products, such as timber and paper, dyes, and textiles. Palms provide materials including rattans, oils, and dates. Wheat is grown to feed both human and animal populations. The fruit of the cotton boll flower is harvested as a boll, with its fibers transformed into clothing or pulp for paper. The showy opium poppy is valued both as an ornamental flower and as a source of potent opiate compounds. 26.1 | Evolution of Seed Plants By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Explain when seed plants first appeared and when gymnosperms became the dominant plant group • Describe the two major innovations that allowed seed plants to reproduce in the absence of water • Discuss the purpose of pollen grains and seeds • Describe the significance of angiosperms bearing both flowers and fruit The first plants to colonize land were most likely closely related to modern day mosses (bryophytes) and are thought to have appeared about 500 million years ago. They were followed by liverworts (also bryophytes) and primitive vascular Chapter 26 | Seed Plants 691 plants—the pterophytes—from which modern ferns are derived. The lifecycle of bryophytes and pterophytes is characterized by the alternation of generations, like gymnosperms and angiosperms; what sets bryophytes and pterophytes apart from gymnosperms and angiosperms is their reproductive requirement for water. The completion of the bryophyte and pterophyte life cycle requires water because the male gametophyte releases sperm, which must swim—propelled by their flagella—to reach and fertilize the female gamete or egg. After fertilization, the zygote matures and grows into a sporophyte, which in turn will form sporangia or “spore vessels.” In the sporangia, mother cells undergo meiosis and produce the haploid spores. Release of spores in a suitable environment will lead to germination and a new generation of gametophytes. In seed plants, the evolutionary trend led to a dominant sporophyte generation, and at the same time, a systematic reduction in the size of the gametophyte: from a conspicuous structure to a microscopic cluster of cells enclosed in the tissues of the sporophyte. Whereas lower vascular plants, such as club mosses and ferns, are mostly homosporous (produce only one type of spore), all seed plants, or spermatophytes , are heterosporous. They form two types of spores: megaspores (female) and microspores (male). Megaspores develop into female gametophytes that produce eggs, and microspores mature into male gametophytes that generate sperm. Because the gametophytes mature within the spores, they are not free-living, as are the gametophytes of other seedless vascular plants. Heterosporous seedless plants are seen as the evolutionary forerunners of seed plants. Seeds and pollen—two critical adaptations to drought, and to reproduction that doesn’t require water—distinguish seed plants from other (seedless) vascular plants. Both adaptations were required for the colonization of land begun by the bryophytes and their ancestors. Fossils place the earliest distinct seed plants at about 350 million years ago. The first reliable record of gymnosperms dates their appearance to the Pennsylvanian period, about 319 million years ago ( Figure 26.2 ). Gymnosperms were preceded by progymnosperms , the first naked seed plants, which arose about 380 million years ago. Progymnosperms were a transitional group of plants that superficially resembled conifers (cone bearers) because they produced wood from the secondary growth of the vascular tissues; however, they still reproduced like ferns, releasing spores into the environment. Gymnosperms dominated the landscape in the early (Triassic) and middle (Jurassic) Mesozoic era. Angiosperms surpassed gymnosperms by the middle of the Cretaceous (about 100 million years ago) in the late Mesozoic era, and today are the most abundant plant group in most terrestrial biomes. Figure 26.2 Various plant species evolved in different eras. (credit: United States Geological Survey) Pollen and seed were innovative structures that allowed seed plants to break their dependence on water for reproduction and development of the embryo, and to conquer dry land. The pollen grains are the male gametophytes, which contain the sperm (gametes) of the plant. The small haploid (1 n) cells are encased in a protective coat that prevents desiccation (drying out) and mechanical damage. Pollen grains can travel far from their original sporophyte, spreading the plant’s genes. The seed offers the embryo protection, nourishment, and a mechanism to maintain dormancy for tens or even thousands of years, ensuring germination can occur when growth conditions are optimal. Seeds therefore allow plants to disperse the next generation through both space and time. With such evolutionary advantages, seed plants have become the most successful and familiar group of plants, in part because of their size and striking appearance. 692 Chapter 26 | Seed Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at Evolution of Gymnosperms The fossil plant Elkinsia polymorpha , a “seed fern” from the Devonian period—about 400 million years ago—is considered the earliest seed plant known to date. Seed ferns ( Figure 26.3 ) produced their seeds along their branches without specialized structures. What makes them the first true seed plants is that they developed structures called cupules to enclose and protect the ovule —the female gametophyte and associated tissues—which develops into a seed upon fertilization. Seed plants resembling modern tree ferns became more numerous and diverse in the coal swamps of the Carboniferous period. Figure 26.3 This fossilized leaf is from Glossopteris , a seed fern that thrived during the Permian age (290–240 million years ago). (credit: D.L. Schmidt, USGS) Fossil records indicate the first gymnosperms (progymnosperms) most likely originated in the Paleozoic era, during the middle Devonian period: about 390 million years ago. Following the wet Mississippian and Pennsylvanian periods, which were dominated by giant fern trees, the Permian period was dry. This gave a reproductive edge to seed plants, which are better adapted to survive dry spells. The Ginkgoales, a group of gymnosperms with only one surviving species—the Gingko biloba— were the first gymnosperms to appear during the lower Jurassic. Gymnosperms expanded in the Mesozoic era (about 240 million years ago), supplanting ferns in the landscape, and reaching their greatest diversity during this time. The Jurassic period was as much the age of the cycads (palm-tree-like gymnosperms) as the age of the dinosaurs. Gingkoales and the more familiar conifers also dotted the landscape. Although angiosperms (flowering plants) are the major form of plant life in most biomes, gymnosperms still dominate some ecosystems, such as the taiga (boreal forests) and the alpine forests at higher mountain elevations ( Figure 26.4 ) because of their adaptation to cold and dry growth conditions. Figure 26.4 This boreal forest (taiga) has low-lying plants and conifer trees. (credit: L.B. Brubaker, NOAA) Seeds and Pollen as an Evolutionary Adaptation to Dry Land Unlike bryophyte and fern spores (which are haploid cells dependent on moisture for rapid development of gametophytes), seeds contain a diploid embryo that will germinate into a sporophyte. Storage tissue to sustain growth and a protective coat give seeds their superior evolutionary advantage. Several layers of hardened tissue prevent desiccation, and free reproduction from the need for a constant supply of water. Furthermore, seeds remain in a state of dormancy—induced by desiccation and the hormone abscisic acid—until conditions for growth become favorable. Whether blown by the Chapter 26 | Seed Plants 693 wind, floating on water, or carried away by animals, seeds are scattered in an expanding geographic range, thus avoiding competition with the parent plant. Pollen grains ( Figure 26.5 ) are male gametophytes and are carried by wind, water, or a pollinator. The whole structure is protected from desiccation and can reach the female organs without dependence on water. Male gametes reach female gametophyte and the egg cell gamete though a pollen tube: an extension of a cell within the pollen grain. The sperm of modern gymnosperms lack flagella, but in cycads and the Gingko , the sperm still possess flagella that allow them to swim down the pollen tube to the female gamete; however, they are enclosed in a pollen grain. Figure 26.5 This fossilized pollen is from a Buckbean fen core found in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. The pollen is magnified 1,054 times. (credit: R.G. Baker, USGS; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Evolution of Angiosperms Undisputed fossil records place the massive appearance and diversification of angiosperms in the middle to late Mesozoic era. Angiosperms (“seed in a vessel”) produce a flower containing male and/or female reproductive structures. Fossil evidence ( Figure 26.6 ) indicates that flowering plants first appeared in the Lower Cretaceous, about 125 million years ago, and were rapidly diversifying by the Middle Cretaceous, about 100 million years ago. Earlier traces of angiosperms are scarce. Fossilized pollen recovered from Jurassic geological material has been attributed to angiosperms. A few early Cretaceous rocks show clear imprints of leaves resembling angiosperm leaves. By the mid-Cretaceous, a staggering number of diverse flowering plants crowd the fossil record. The same geological period is also marked by the appearance of many modern groups of insects, including pollinating insects that played a key role in ecology and the evolution of flowering plants. Although several hypotheses have been offered to explain this sudden profusion and variety of flowering plants, none have garnered the consensus of paleobotanists (scientists who study ancient plants). New data in comparative genomics and paleobotany have, however, shed some light on the evolution of angiosperms. Rather than being derived from gymnosperms, angiosperms form a sister clade (a species and its descendents) that developed in parallel with the gymnosperms. The two innovative structures of flowers and fruit represent an improved reproductive strategy that served to protect the embryo, while increasing genetic variability and range. Paleobotanists debate whether angiosperms evolved from small woody bushes, or were basal angiosperms related to tropical grasses. Both views draw support from cladistics studies, and the so-called woody magnoliid hypothesis—which proposes that the early ancestors of angiosperms were shrubs—also offers molecular biological evidence. 694 Chapter 26 | Seed Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at The most primitive living angiosperm is considered to be Amborella trichopoda , a small plant native to the rainforest of New Caledonia, an island in the South Pacific. Analysis of the genome of A. trichopoda has shown that it is related to all existing flowering plants and belongs to the oldest confirmed branch of the angiosperm family tree. A few other angiosperm groups called basal angiosperms, are viewed as primitive because they branched off early from the phylogenetic tree. Most modern angiosperms are classified as either monocots or eudicots, based on the structure of their leaves and embryos. Basal angiosperms, such as water lilies, are considered more primitive because they share morphological traits with both monocots and eudicots. Figure 26.6 This leaf imprint shows a Ficus speciosissima , an angiosperm that flourished during the Cretaceous period. (credit: W. T. Lee, USGS) Flowers and Fruits as an Evolutionary Adaptation Angiosperms produce their gametes in separate organs, which are usually housed in a flower . Both fertilization and embryo development take place inside an anatomical structure that provides a stable system of sexual reproduction largely sheltered from environmental fluctuations. Flowering plants are the most diverse phylum on Earth after insects; flowers come in a bewildering array of sizes, shapes, colors, smells, and arrangements. Most flowers have a mutualistic pollinator, with the distinctive features of flowers reflecting the nature of the pollination agent. The relationship between pollinator and flower characteristics is one of the great examples of coevolution. Following fertilization of the egg, the ovule grows into a seed. The surrounding tissues of the ovary thicken, developing into a fruit that will protect the seed and often ensure its dispersal over a wide geographic range. Not all fruits develop from an ovary; such structures are “false fruits.” Like flowers, fruit can vary tremendously in appearance, size, smell, and taste. Tomatoes, walnut shells and avocados are all examples of fruit. As with pollen and seeds, fruits also act as agents of dispersal. Some may be carried away by the wind. Many attract animals that will eat the fruit and pass the seeds through their digestive systems, then deposit the seeds in another location. Cockleburs are covered with stiff, hooked spines that can hook into fur (or clothing) and hitch a ride on an animal for long distances. The cockleburs that clung to the velvet trousers of an enterprising Swiss hiker, George de Mestral, inspired his invention of the loop and hook fastener he named Velcro. Chapter 26 | Seed Plants 695 Building Phylogenetic Trees with Analysis of DNA Sequence Alignments All living organisms display patterns of relationships derived from their evolutionary history. Phylogeny is the science that describes the relative connections between organisms, in terms of ancestral and descendant species. Phylogenetic trees, such as the plant evolutionary history shown in Figure 26.7 , are tree-like branching diagrams that depict these relationships. Species are found at the tips of the branches. Each branching point, called a node, is the point at which a single taxonomic group (taxon), such as a species, separates into two or more species. Figure 26.7 This phylogenetic tree shows the evolutionary relationships of plants. Phylogenetic trees have been built to describe the relationships between species since Darwin’s time. Traditional methods involve comparison of homologous anatomical structures and embryonic development, assuming that closely related organisms share anatomical features during embryo development. Some traits that disappear in the adult are present in the embryo; for example, a human fetus, at one point, has a tail. The study of fossil records shows the intermediate stages that link an ancestral form to its descendants. Most of these approaches are imprecise and lend themselves to multiple interpretations. As the tools of molecular biology and computational analysis have been developed and perfected in recent years, a new generation of tree-building methods has taken shape. The key assumption is that genes for essential proteins or RNA structures, such as the ribosomal RNA, are inherently conserved because mutations (changes in the DNA sequence) could compromise the survival of the organism. DNA from minute amounts of living organisms or fossils can be amplified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and sequenced, targeting the regions of the genome that are most likely to be conserved between species. The genes encoding the ribosomal RNA from the small 18S subunit and plastid genes are frequently chosen for DNA alignment analysis. Once the sequences of interest are obtained, they are compared with existing sequences in databases such as GenBank, which is maintained by The National Center for Biotechnology Information. A number 696 Chapter 26 | Seed Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at of computational tools are available to align and analyze sequences. Sophisticated computer analysis programs determine the percentage of sequence identity or homology. Sequence homology can be used to estimate the evolutionary distance between two DNA sequences and reflect the time elapsed since the genes separated from a common ancestor. Molecular analysis has revolutionized phylogenetic trees. In some cases, prior results from morphological studies have been confirmed: for example, confirming Amborella trichopoda as the most primitive angiosperm known. However, some groups and relationships have been rearranged as a result of DNA analysis. 26.2 | Gymnosperms By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Discuss the type of seeds produced by gymnosperms, as well as other characteristics of gymnosperms • State which period saw the first appearance of gymnosperms and explain when they were the dominant plant life • List the four groups of modern-day gymnosperms and provide examples of each Gymnosperms , meaning “naked seeds,” are a diverse group of seed plants and are paraphyletic. Paraphyletic groups are those in which not all members are descendants of a single common ancestor. Their characteristics include naked seeds, separate female and male gametes, pollination by wind, and tracheids (which transport water and solutes in the vascular system). Gymnosperm seeds are not enclosed in an ovary; rather, they are exposed on cones or modified leaves. Sporophylls are specialized leaves that produce sporangia. The term strobilus (plural = strobili) describes a tight arrangement of sporophylls around a central stalk, as seen in cones. Some seeds are enveloped by sporophyte tissues upon maturation. The layer of sporophyte tissue that surrounds the megasporangium, and later, the embryo, is called the integument . Gymnosperms were the dominant phylum in Mesozoic era. They are adapted to live where fresh water is scarce during part of the year, or in the nitrogen-poor soil of a bog. Therefore, they are still the prominent phylum in the coniferous biome or taiga, where the evergreen conifers have a selective advantage in cold and dry weather. Evergreen conifers continue low levels of photosynthesis during the cold months, and are ready to take advantage of the first sunny days of spring. One disadvantage is that conifers are more susceptible than deciduous trees to infestations because conifers do not lose their leaves all at once. They cannot, therefore, shed parasites and restart with a fresh supply of leaves in spring. The life cycle of a gymnosperm involves alternation of generations, with a dominant sporophyte in which the female gametophyte resides, and reduced gametophytes. All gymnosperms are heterosporous. The male and female reproductive organs can form in cones or strobili. Male and female sporangia are produced either on the same plant, described as monoecious (“one home” or bisexual), or on separate plants, referred to as dioecious (“two homes” or unisexual) plants. The life cycle of a conifer will serve as our example of reproduction in gymnosperms. Life Cycle of a Conifer Pine trees are conifers (cone bearing) and carry both male and female sporophylls on the same mature sporophyte. Therefore, they are monoecious plants. Like all gymnosperms, pines are heterosporous and generate two different types of spores: male microspores and female megaspores. In the male cones, or staminate cones, the microsporocytes give rise to pollen grains by meiosis. In the spring, large amounts of yellow pollen are released and carried by the wind. Some gametophytes will land on a female cone. Pollination is defined as the initiation of pollen tube growth. The pollen tube develops slowly, and the generative cell in the pollen grain divides into two haploid sperm cells by mitosis. At fertilization, one of the sperm cells will finally unite its haploid nucleus with the haploid nucleus of a haploid egg cell. Female cones, or ovulate cones , contain two ovules per scale. One megaspore mother cell, or megasporocyte , undergoes meiosis in each ovule. Three of the four cells break down; only a single surviving cell will develop into a female multicellular gametophyte, which encloses archegonia (an archegonium is a reproductive organ that contains a single large egg). Upon fertilization, the diploid egg will give rise to the embryo, which is enclosed in a seed coat of tissue from the parent plant. Fertilization and seed development is a long process in pine trees: it may take up to two years after pollination. The seed that is formed contains three generations of tissues: the seed coat that originates from the sporophyte tissue, the gametophyte that will provide nutrients, and the embryo itself. Chapter 26 | Seed Plants 697 Figure 26.8 illustrates the life cycle of a conifer. The sporophyte (2 n) phase is the longest phase in the life of a gymnosperm. The gametophytes (1 n)—microspores and megaspores—are reduced in size. It may take more than year between pollination and fertilization while the pollen tube grows towards the megasporocyte (2 n), which undergoes meiosis into megaspores. The megaspores will mature into eggs (1 n). Figure 26.8 This image shows the life cycle of a conifer. Pollen from male cones blows up into upper branches, where it fertilizes female cones. At what stage does the diploid zygote form? a. when the female cone begins to bud from the tree b. at fertilization c. when the seeds drop from the tree d. when the pollen tube begins to grow Watch this video ( to see the process of seed production in gymnosperms. 698 Chapter 26 | Seed Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at Diversity of Gymnosperms Modern gymnosperms are classified into four phyla. Coniferophyta, Cycadophyta, and Ginkgophyta are similar in their production of secondary cambium (cells that generate the vascular system of the trunk or stem and are partially specialized for water transportation) and their pattern of seed development. However, the three phyla are not closely related phylogenetically to each other. Gnetophyta are considered the closest group to angiosperms because they produce true xylem tissue. Conifers (Coniferophyta) Conifers are the dominant phylum of gymnosperms, with the most variety of species ( Figure 26.9 ). Most are typically tall trees that usually bear scale-like or needle-like leaves. Water evaporation from leaves is reduced by their thin shape and the thick cuticle. Snow slides easily off needle-shaped leaves, keeping the load light and decreasing breaking of branches. Adaptations to cold and dry weather explain the predominance of conifers at high altitudes and in cold climates. Conifers include familiar evergreen trees such as pines, spruces, firs, cedars, sequoias, and yews. A few species are deciduous and lose their leaves in fall. The European larch and the tamarack are examples of deciduous conifers ( Figure 26.9 c). Many coniferous trees are harvested for paper pulp and timber. The wood of conifers is more primitive than the wood of angiosperms; it contains tracheids, but no vessel elements, and is therefore referred to as “soft wood.” Figure 26.9 Conifers are the dominant form of vegetation in cold or arid environments and at high altitudes. Shown here are the (a) evergreen spruce Picea sp., (b) juniper Juniperus sp., (c) sequoia Sequoia Semervirens , which is a deciduous gymnosperm, and (d) the tamarack Larix larcinia . Notice the yellow leaves of the tamarack. (credit a: modification of work by Rosendahl; credit b: modification of work by Alan Levine; credit c: modification of work by Wendy McCormic; credit d: modification of work by Micky Zlimen) Cycads Cycads thrive in mild climates, and are often mistaken for palms because of the shape of their large, compound leaves. Cycads bear large cones ( Figure 26.10 ), and may be pollinated by beetles rather than wind: unusual for a gymnosperm. They dominated the landscape during the age of dinosaurs in the Mesozoic, but only a hundred or so species persisted to modern times. They face possible extinction, and several species are protected through international conventions. Because of their attractive shape, they are often used as ornamental plants in gardens in the tropics and subtropics. Chapter 26 | Seed Plants 699 Figure 26.10 This Encephalartos ferox cycad has large cones and broad, fern-like leaves. (credit: Wendy Cutler) Gingkophytes The single surviving species of the gingkophytes group is the Gingko biloba (Figure 26.11 ). Its fan-shaped leaves—unique among seed plants because they feature a dichotomous venation pattern—turn yellow in autumn and fall from the tree. For centuries, G. biloba was cultivated by Chinese Buddhist monks in monasteries, which ensured its preservation. It is planted in public spaces because it is unusually resistant to pollution. Male and female organs are produced on separate plants. Typically, gardeners plant only male trees because the seeds produced by the female plant have an off-putting smell of rancid butter. Figure 26.11 This plate from the 1870 book Flora Japonica, Sectio Prima (Tafelband) depicts the leaves and fruit of Gingko biloba , as drawn by Philipp Franz von Siebold and Joseph Gerhard Zuccarini. Gnetophytes Gnetophytes are the closest relative to modern angiosperms, and include three dissimilar genera of plants: Ephedra , Gnetum , and Welwitschia (Figure 26.12 ). Like angiosperms, they have broad leaves. In tropical and subtropical zones, gnetophytes are vines or small shrubs. Ephedra occurs in dry areas of the West Coast of the United States and Mexico. Ephedra ’s small, scale-like leaves are the source of the compound ephedrine, which is used in medicine as a potent 700 Chapter 26 | Seed Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at decongestant. Because ephedrine is similar to amphetamines, both in chemical structure and neurological effects, its use is restricted to prescription drugs. Like angiosperms, but unlike other gymnosperms, all gnetophytes possess vessel elements in their xylem. Figure 26.12 (a) Ephedra viridis , known by the common name Mormon tea , grows on the West Coast of the United States and Mexico. (b) Gnetum gnemon grows in Malaysia. (c) The large Welwitschia mirabilis can be found in the Namibian desert. (credit a: modification of work by USDA; credit b: modification of work by Malcolm Manners; credit c: modification of work by Derek Keats) Watch this BBC video ( describing the amazing strangeness of Welwitschia. 26.3 | Angiosperms By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Explain why angiosperms are the dominant form of plant life in most terrestrial ecosystems • Describe the main parts of a flower and their purpose • Detail the life cycle of an angiosperm • Discuss the two main groups of flowering plants From their humble and still obscure beginning during the early Jurassic period, the angiosperms—or flowering plants—have evolved to dominate most terrestrial ecosystems ( Figure 26.13 ). With more than 250,000 species, the angiosperm phylum (Anthophyta) is second only to insects in terms of diversification. Chapter 26 | Seed Plants 701 Figure 26.13 These flowers grow in a botanical garden border in Bellevue, WA. Flowering plants dominate terrestrial landscapes. The vivid colors of flowers are an adaptation to pollination by animals such as insects and birds. (credit: Myriam Feldman) The success of angiosperms is due to two novel reproductive structures: flowers and fruit. The function of the flower is to ensure pollination. Flowers also provide protection for the ovule and developing embryo inside a receptacle. The function of the fruit is seed dispersal. They also protect the developing seed. Different fruit structures or tissues on fruit—such as sweet flesh, wings, parachutes, or spines that grab—reflect the dispersal strategies that help spread seeds. Flowers Flowers are modified leaves, or sporophylls, organized around a central stalk. Although they vary greatly in appearance, all flowers contain the same structures: sepals, petals, carpels, and stamens. The peduncle attaches the flower to the plant. A whorl of sepals (collectively called the calyx ) is located at the base of the peduncle and encloses the unopened floral bud. Sepals are usually photosynthetic organs, although there are some exceptions. For example, the corolla in lilies and tulips consists of three sepals and three petals that look virtually identical. Petals , collectively the corolla , are located inside the whorl of sepals and often display vivid colors to attract pollinators. Flowers pollinated by wind are usually small, feathery, and visually inconspicuous. Sepals and petals together form the perianth . The sexual organs (carpels and stamens) are located at the center of the flower. As illustrated in Figure 26.14 , styles, stigmas, and ovules constitute the female organ: the gynoecium or carpel . Flower structure is very diverse, and carpels may be singular, multiple, or fused. Multiple fused carpels comprise a pistil . The megaspores and the female gametophytes are produced and protected by the thick tissues of the carpel. A long, thin structure called a style leads from the sticky stigma , where pollen is deposited, to the ovary , enclosed in the carpel. The ovary houses one or more ovules, each of which will develop into a seed upon fertilization. The male reproductive organs, the stamens (collectively called the androecium), surround the central carpel. Stamens are composed of a thin stalk called a filament and a sac-like structure called the anther. The filament supports the anther , where the microspores are produced by meiosis and develop into pollen grains. 702 Chapter 26 | Seed Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 26.14 This image depicts the structure of a perfect flower. Perfect flowers produce both male and female floral organs. The flower shown has only one carpel, but some flowers have a cluster of carpels. Together, all the carpels make up the gynoecium. (credit: modification of work by Mariana Ruiz Villareal) Fruit As the seed develops, the walls of the ovary thicken and form the fruit. The seed forms in an ovary, which also enlarges as the seeds grow. In botany, a fertilized and fully grown, ripened ovary is a fruit. Many foods commonly called vegetables are actually fruit. Eggplants, zucchini, string beans, and bell peppers are all technically fruit because they contain seeds and are derived from the thick ovary tissue. Acorns are nuts, and winged maple whirligigs (whose botanical name is samara) are also fruit. Botanists classify fruit into more than two dozen different categories, only a few of which are actually fleshy and sweet. Mature fruit can be fleshy or dry. Fleshy fruit include the familiar berries, peaches, apples, grapes, and tomatoes. Rice, wheat, and nuts are examples of dry fruit. Another distinction is that not all fruits are derived from the ovary. For instance, strawberries are derived from the receptacle and apples from the pericarp, or hypanthium. Some fruits are derived from separate ovaries in a single flower, such as the raspberry. Other fruits, such as the pineapple, form from clusters of flowers. Additionally, some fruits, like watermelon and orange, have rinds. Regardless of how they are formed, fruits are an agent of seed dispersal. The variety of shapes and characteristics reflect the mode of dispersal. Wind carries the light dry fruit of trees and dandelions. Water transports floating coconuts. Some fruits attract herbivores with color or perfume, or as food. Once eaten, tough, undigested seeds are dispersed through the herbivore’s feces. Other fruits have burs and hooks to cling to fur and hitch rides on animals. The Life Cycle of an Angiosperm The adult, or sporophyte, phase is the main phase of an angiosperm’s life cycle ( Figure 26.15 ). Like gymnosperms, angiosperms are heterosporous. Therefore, they generate microspores, which will generate pollen grains as the male gametophytes, and megaspores, which will form an ovule that contains female gametophytes. Inside the anthers’ microsporangia, male gametophytes divide by meiosis to generate haploid microspores, which, in turn, undergo mitosis and give rise to pollen grains. Each pollen grain contains two cells: one generative cell that will divide into two sperm and a second cell that will become the pollen tube cell. Chapter 26 | Seed Plants 703 Figure 26.15 The life cycle of an angiosperm is shown. Anthers and carpels are structures that shelter the actual gametophytes: the pollen grain and embryo sac. Double fertilization is a process unique to angiosperms. (credit: modification of work by Mariana Ruiz Villareal) If a flower lacked a megasporangium, what type of gamete would not form? If the flower lacked a microsporangium, what type of gamete would not form? The ovule, sheltered within the ovary of the carpel, contains the megasporangium protected by two layers of integuments and the ovary wall. Within each megasporangium, a megasporocyte undergoes meiosis, generating four megaspores—three small and one large. Only the large megaspore survives; it produces the female gametophyte, referred to as the embryo sac. The megaspore divides three times to form an eight-cell stage. Four of these cells migrate to each pole of the embryo sac; two come to the equator, and will eventually fuse to form a 2 npolar nucleus; the three cells away from the egg form antipodals, and the two cells closest to the egg become the synergids. The mature embryo sac contains one egg cell, two synergids or “helper” cells, three antipodal cells, and two polar nuclei in a central cell. When a pollen grain reaches the stigma, a pollen tube extends from the grain, grows down the style, and enters through the micropyle: an opening in the integuments of the ovule. The two sperm cells are deposited in the embryo sac. A double fertilization event then occurs. One sperm and the egg combine, forming a diploid zygote—the future embryo. The other sperm fuses with the 2 npolar nuclei, forming a triploid cell that will develop into the endosperm, which is tissue that serves as a food reserve. The zygote develops into an embryo with a radicle, or small root, and one (monocot) or two (dicot) leaf-like organs called cotyledons . This difference in the number of embryonic leaves is the basis for the two major 704 Chapter 26 | Seed Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at groups of angiosperms: the monocots and the eudicots. Seed food reserves are stored outside the embryo, in the form of complex carbohydrates, lipids or proteins. The cotyledons serve as conduits to transmit the broken-down food reserves from their storage site inside the seed to the developing embryo. The seed consists of a toughened layer of integuments forming the coat, the endosperm with food reserves, and at the center, the well-protected embryo. Most flowers are monoecious or bisexual, which means that they carry both stamens and carpels; only a few species self- pollinate. Monoecious flowers are also known as “perfect” flowers because they contain both types of sex organs ( Figure 26.14 ). Both anatomical and environmental barriers promote cross-pollination mediated by a physical agent (wind or water), or an animal, such as an insect or bird. Cross-pollination increases genetic diversity in a species. Diversity of Angiosperms Angiosperms are classified in a single phylum: the Anthophyta . Modern angiosperms appear to be a monophyletic group, which means that they originate from a single ancestor. Flowering plants are divided into two major groups, according to the structure of the cotyledons, pollen grains, and other structures. Monocots include grasses and lilies, and eudicots or dicots form a polyphyletic group. Basal angiosperms are a group of plants that are believed to have branched off before the separation into monocots and eudicots because they exhibit traits from both groups. They are categorized separately in many classification schemes. The Magnoliidae (magnolia trees, laurels, and water lilies) and the Piperaceae (peppers) belong to the basal angiosperm group. Basal Angiosperms The Magnoliidae are represented by the magnolias: tall trees bearing large, fragrant flowers that have many parts and are considered archaic ( Figure 26.16 d). Laurel trees produce fragrant leaves and small, inconspicuous flowers. The Laurales grow mostly in warmer climates and are small trees and shrubs. Familiar plants in this group include the bay laurel, cinnamon, spice bush ( Figure 26.16 a), and avocado tree. The Nymphaeales are comprised of the water lilies, lotus ( Figure 26.16 c), and similar plants; all species thrive in freshwater biomes, and have leaves that float on the water surface or grow underwater. Water lilies are particularly prized by gardeners, and have graced ponds and pools for thousands of years. The Piperales are a group of herbs, shrubs, and small trees that grow in the tropical climates. They have small flowers without petals that are tightly arranged in long spikes. Many species are the source of prized fragrance or spices, for example the berries of Piper nigrum (Figure 26.16 b) are the familiar black peppercorns that are used to flavor many dishes. Chapter 26 | Seed Plants 705 Figure 26.16 The (a) common spicebush belongs to the Laurales , the same family as cinnamon and bay laurel. The fruit of (b) the Piper nigrum plant is black pepper, the main product that was traded along spice routes. Notice the small, unobtrusive, clustered flowers. (c) Lotus flowers, Nelumbo nucifera , have been cultivated since ancient times for their ornamental value; the root of the lotus flower is eaten as a vegetable. The red seeds of (d) a magnolia tree, characteristic of the final stage, are just starting to appear. (credit a: modification of work by Cory Zanker; credit b: modification of work by Franz Eugen Köhler; credit c: modification of work by “berduchwal”/Flickr; credit d: modification of work by “Coastside2″/Wikimedia Commons). Monocots Plants in the monocot group are primarily identified as such by the presence of a single cotyledon in the seedling. Other anatomical features shared by monocots include veins that run parallel to the length of the leaves, and flower parts that are arranged in a three- or six-fold symmetry. True woody tissue is rarely found in monocots. In palm trees, vascular and parenchyma tissues produced by the primary and secondary thickening meristems form the trunk. The pollen from the first angiosperms was monosulcate, containing a single furrow or pore through the outer layer. This feature is still seen in the modern monocots. Vascular tissue of the stem is not arranged in any particular pattern. The root system is mostly adventitious and unusually positioned, with no major tap root. The monocots include familiar plants such as the true lilies (which are at the origin of their alternate name of Liliopsida), orchids, grasses, and palms. Many important crops are monocots, such as rice and other cereals, corn, sugar cane, and tropical fruits like bananas and pineapples ( Figure 26.17 ). 706 Chapter 26 | Seed Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 26.17 The world’s major crops are flowering plants. (a) Rice, (b) wheat, and (c) bananas are monocots, while (d) cabbage, (e) beans, and (f) peaches are dicots. (credit a: modification of work by David Nance, USDA ARS; credit b, c: modification of work by Rosendahl; credit d: modification of work by Bill Tarpenning, USDA; credit e: modification of work by Scott Bauer, USDA ARS; credit f: modification of work by Keith Weller, USDA) Eudicots Eudicots, or true dicots, are characterized by the presence of two cotyledons in the developing shoot. Veins form a network in leaves, and flower parts come in four, five, or many whorls. Vascular tissue forms a ring in the stem; in monocots, vascular tissue is scattered in the stem. Eudicots can be herbaceous (like grasses), or produce woody tissues. Most eudicots produce pollen that is trisulcate or triporate, with three furrows or pores. The root system is usually anchored by one main root developed from the embryonic radicle. Eudicots comprise two-thirds of all flowering plants. The major differences between monocots and eudicots are summarized in Table 26.1 . Many species exhibit characteristics that belong to either group; as such, the classification of a plant as a monocot or a eudicot is not always clearly evident. Comparison of Structural Characteristics of Monocots and Eudicots Characteristic Monocot Eudicot Cotyledon One Two Veins in Leaves Parallel Network (branched) Stem Vascular Tissue Scattered Arranged in ring pattern Roots Network of adventitious roots Tap root with many lateral roots Pollen Monosulcate Trisulcate Flower Parts Three or multiple of three Four, five, multiple of four or five and whorls Table 26.1 Chapter 26 | Seed Plants 707 26.4 | The Role of Seed Plants By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Explain how angiosperm diversity is due, in part, to multiple interactions with animals • Describe ways in which pollination occurs • Discuss the roles that plants play in ecosystems and how deforestation threatens plant biodiversity Without seed plants, life as we know it would not be possible. Plants play a key role in the maintenance of terrestrial ecosystems through stabilization of soils, cycling of carbon, and climate moderation. Large tropical forests release oxygen and act as carbon dioxide sinks. Seed plants provide shelter to many life forms, as well as food for herbivores, thereby indirectly feeding carnivores. Plant secondary metabolites are used for medicinal purposes and industrial production. Animals and Plants: Herbivory Coevolution of flowering plants and insects is a hypothesis that has received much attention and support, especially because both angiosperms and insects diversified at about the same time in the middle Mesozoic. Many authors have attributed the diversity of plants and insects to pollination and herbivory , or consumption of plants by insects and other animals. This is believed to have been as much a driving force as pollination. Coevolution of herbivores and plant defenses is observed in nature. Unlike animals, most plants cannot outrun predators or use mimicry to hide from hungry animals. A sort of arms race exists between plants and herbivores. To “combat” herbivores, some plant seeds—such as acorn and unripened persimmon—are high in alkaloids and therefore unsavory to some animals. Other plants are protected by bark, although some animals developed specialized mouth pieces to tear and chew vegetal material. Spines and thorns ( Figure 26.18 ) deter most animals, except for mammals with thick fur, and some birds have specialized beaks to get past such defenses. Figure 26.18 (a) Spines and (b) thorns are examples of plant defenses. (credit a: modification of work by Jon Sullivan; credit b: modification of work by I. Sáček, Sr.) Herbivory has been used by seed plants for their own benefit in a display of mutualistic relationships. The dispersal of fruit by animals is the most striking example. The plant offers to the herbivore a nutritious source of food in return for spreading the plant’s genetic material to a wider area. An extreme example of collaboration between an animal and a plant is the case of acacia trees and ants. The trees support the insects with shelter and food. In return, ants discourage herbivores, both invertebrates and vertebrates, by stinging and attacking leaf-eating insects. Animals and Plants: Pollination Grasses are a successful group of flowering plants that are wind pollinated. They produce large amounts of powdery pollen carried over large distances by the wind. The flowers are small and wisp-like. Large trees such as oaks, maples, and birches are also wind pollinated. 708 Chapter 26 | Seed Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at Explore this website ( for additional information on pollinators. More than 80 percent of angiosperms depend on animals for pollination : the transfer of pollen from the anther to the stigma. Consequently, plants have developed many adaptations to attract pollinators. The specificity of specialized plant structures that target animals can be very surprising. It is possible, for example, to determine the type of pollinator favored by a plant just from the flower’s characteristics. Many bird or insect-pollinated flowers secrete nectar , which is a sugary liquid. They also produce both fertile pollen, for reproduction, and sterile pollen rich in nutrients for birds and insects. Butterflies and bees can detect ultraviolet light. Flowers that attract these pollinators usually display a pattern of low ultraviolet reflectance that helps them quickly locate the flower’s center and collect nectar while being dusted with pollen ( Figure 26.19 ). Large, red flowers with little smell and a long funnel shape are preferred by hummingbirds, who have good color perception, a poor sense of smell, and need a strong perch. White flowers opened at night attract moths. Other animals—such as bats, lemurs, and lizards—can also act as pollinating agents. Any disruption to these interactions, such as the disappearance of bees as a consequence of colony collapse disorders, can lead to disaster for agricultural industries that depend heavily on pollinated crops. Figure 26.19 As a bee collects nectar from a flower, it is dusted by pollen, which it then disperses to other flowers. (credit: John Severns) Chapter 26 | Seed Plants 709 Testing Attraction of Flies by Rotting Flesh Smell Question: Will flowers that offer cues to bees attract carrion flies if sprayed with compounds that smell like rotten flesh? Background: Visitation of flowers by pollinating flies is a function mostly of smell. Flies are attracted by rotting flesh and carrions. The putrid odor seems to be the major attractant. The polyamines putrescine and cadaverine, which are the products of protein breakdown after animal death, are the source of the pungent smell of decaying meat. Some plants strategically attract flies by synthesizing polyamines similar to those generated by decaying flesh and thereby attract carrion flies. Flies seek out dead animals because they normally lay their eggs on them and their maggots feed on the decaying flesh. Interestingly, time of death can be determined by a forensic entomologist based on the stages and type of maggots recovered from cadavers. Hypothesis: Because flies are drawn to other organisms based on smell and not sight, a flower that is normally attractive to bees because of its colors will attract flies if it is sprayed with polyamines similar to those generated by decaying flesh. Test the hypothesis: 1. Select flowers usually pollinated by bees. White petunia may be good choice. 2. Divide the flowers into two groups, and while wearing eye protection and gloves, spray one group with a solution of either putrescine or cadaverine. (Putrescine dihydrochloride is typically available in 98 percent concentration; this can be diluted to approximately 50 percent for this experiment.) 3. Place the flowers in a location where flies are present, keeping the sprayed and unsprayed flowers separated. 4. Observe the movement of the flies for one hour. Record the number of visits to the flowers using a table similar to Table 26.2 . Given the rapid movement of flies, it may be beneficial to use a video camera to record the fly–flower interaction. Replay the video in slow motion to obtain an accurate record of the number of fly visits to the flowers. 5. Repeat the experiment four more times with the same species of flower, but using different specimens. 6. Repeat the entire experiment with a different type of flower that is normally pollinated by bees. Results of Number of Visits by Flies to Sprayed and Control/Unsprayed Flowers Trial # Sprayed Flowers Unsprayed Flowers 1 2 3 4 5 Table 26.2 Analyze your data: Review the data you have recorded. Average the number of visits that flies made to sprayed flowers over the course of the five trials (on the first flower type) and compare and contrast them to the average number of visits that flies made to the unsprayed/control flowers. Can you draw any conclusions regarding the attraction of the flies to the sprayed flowers? 710 Chapter 26 | Seed Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at For the second flower type used, average the number of visits that flies made to sprayed flowers over the course of the five trials and compare and contrast them to the average number of visits that flies made to the unsprayed/control flowers. Can you draw any conclusions regarding the attraction of the flies to the sprayed flowers? Compare and contrast the average number of visits that flies made to the two flower types. Can you draw any conclusions about whether the appearance of the flower had any impact on the attraction of flies? Did smell override any appearance differences, or were the flies attracted to one flower type more than another? Form a conclusion: Do the results support the hypothesis? If not, how can this be explained? The Importance of Seed Plants in Human Life Seed plants are the foundation of human diets across the world ( Figure 26.20 ). Many societies eat almost exclusively vegetarian fare and depend solely on seed plants for their nutritional needs. A few crops (rice, wheat, and potatoes) dominate the agricultural landscape. Many crops were developed during the agricultural revolution, when human societies made the transition from nomadic hunter–gatherers to horticulture and agriculture. Cereals, rich in carbohydrates, provide the staple of many human diets. Beans and nuts supply proteins. Fats are derived from crushed seeds, as is the case for peanut and rapeseed (canola) oils, or fruits such as olives. Animal husbandry also consumes large amounts of crops. Staple crops are not the only food derived from seed plants. Fruits and vegetables provide nutrients, vitamins, and fiber. Sugar, to sweeten dishes, is produced from the monocot sugarcane and the eudicot sugar beet. Drinks are made from infusions of tea leaves, chamomile flowers, crushed coffee beans, or powdered cocoa beans. Spices come from many different plant parts: saffron and cloves are stamens and buds, black pepper and vanilla are seeds, the bark of a bush in the Laurales family supplies cinnamon, and the herbs that flavor many dishes come from dried leaves and fruit, such as the pungent red chili pepper. The volatile oils of flowers and bark provide the scent of perfumes. Additionally, no discussion of seed plant contribution to human diet would be complete without the mention of alcohol. Fermentation of plant-derived sugars and starches is used to produce alcoholic beverages in all societies. In some cases, the beverages are derived from the fermentation of sugars from fruit, as with wines and, in other cases, from the fermentation of carbohydrates derived from seeds, as with beers. Seed plants have many other uses, including providing wood as a source of timber for construction, fuel, and material to build furniture. Most paper is derived from the pulp of coniferous trees. Fibers of seed plants such as cotton, flax, and hemp are woven into cloth. Textile dyes, such as indigo, were mostly of plant origin until the advent of synthetic chemical dyes. Lastly, it is more difficult to quantify the benefits of ornamental seed plants. These grace private and public spaces, adding beauty and serenity to human lives and inspiring painters and poets alike. Chapter 26 | Seed Plants 711 Figure 26.20 Humans rely on plants for a variety of reasons. (a) Cacao beans were introduced in Europe from the New World, where they were used by Mesoamerican civilizations. Combined with sugar, another plant product, chocolate is a popular food. (b) Flowers like the tulip are cultivated for their beauty. (c) Quinine, extracted from cinchona trees, is used to treat malaria, to reduce fever, and to alleviate pain. (d) This violin is made of wood. (credit a: modification of work by “Everjean”/Flickr; credit b: modification of work by Rosendahl; credit c: modification of work by Franz Eugen Köhler) The medicinal properties of plants have been known to human societies since ancient times. There are references to the use of plants’ curative properties in Egyptian, Babylonian, and Chinese writings from 5,000 years ago. Many modern synthetic therapeutic drugs are derived or synthesized de novo from plant secondary metabolites. It is important to note that the same plant extract can be a therapeutic remedy at low concentrations, become an addictive drug at higher doses, and can potentially kill at high concentrations. Table 26.3 presents a few drugs, their plants of origin, and their medicinal applications. Plant Origin of Medicinal Compounds and Medical Applications Plant Compound Application Deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna ) Atropine Dilate eye pupils for eye exams Table 26.3 712 Chapter 26 | Seed Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at Plant Origin of Medicinal Compounds and Medical Applications Plant Compound Application Foxglove ( Digitalis purpurea ) Digitalis Heart disease, stimulates heart beat Yam ( Dioscorea spp.) Steroids Steroid hormones: contraceptive pill and cortisone Ephedra ( Ephedra spp.) Ephedrine Decongestant and bronchiole dilator Pacific yew ( Taxus brevifolia ) Taxol Cancer chemotherapy; inhibits mitosis Opium poppy (Papaver somniferum ) Opioids Analgesic (reduces pain without loss of consciousness) and narcotic (reduces pain with drowsiness and loss of consciousness) in higher doses Quinine tree (Cinchona spp.) Quinine Antipyretic (lowers body temperature) and antimalarial Willow ( Salix spp.) Salicylic acid (aspirin) Analgesic and antipyretic Table 26.3 Ethnobotanist The relatively new field of ethnobotany studies the interaction between a particular culture and the plants native to the region. Seed plants have a large influence on day-to-day human life. Not only are plants the major source of food and medicine, they also influence many other aspects of society, from clothing to industry. The medicinal properties of plants were recognized early on in human cultures. From the mid-1900s, synthetic chemicals began to supplant plant-based remedies. Pharmacognosy is the branch of pharmacology that focuses on medicines derived from natural sources. With massive globalization and industrialization, there is a concern that much human knowledge of plants and their medicinal purposes will disappear with the cultures that fostered them. This is where ethnobotanists come in. To learn about and understand the use of plants in a particular culture, an ethnobotanist must bring in knowledge of plant life and an understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures and traditions. The Amazon forest is home to an incredible diversity of vegetation and is considered an untapped resource of medicinal plants; yet, both the ecosystem and its indigenous cultures are threatened with extinction. To become an ethnobotanist, a person must acquire a broad knowledge of plant biology, ecology and sociology. Not only are the plant specimens studied and collected, but also the stories, recipes, and traditions that are linked to them. For ethnobotanists, plants are not viewed solely as biological organisms to be studied in a laboratory, but as an integral part of human culture. The convergence of molecular biology, anthropology, and ecology make the field of ethnobotany a truly multidisciplinary science. Biodiversity of Plants Biodiversity ensures a resource for new food crops and medicines. Plant life balances ecosystems, protects watersheds, mitigates erosion, moderates climate and provides shelter for many animal species. Threats to plant diversity, however, come from many angles. The explosion of the human population, especially in tropical countries where birth rates are highest and economic development is in full swing, is leading to human encroachment into forested areas. To feed the larger population, humans need to obtain arable land, so there is massive clearing of trees. The need for more energy to power Chapter 26 | Seed Plants 713 larger cities and economic growth therein leads to the construction of dams, the consequent flooding of ecosystems, and increased emissions of pollutants. Other threats to tropical forests come from poachers, who log trees for their precious wood. Ebony and Brazilian rosewood, both on the endangered list, are examples of tree species driven almost to extinction by indiscriminate logging. The number of plant species becoming extinct is increasing at an alarming rate. Because ecosystems are in a delicate balance, and seed plants maintain close symbiotic relationships with animals—whether predators or pollinators—the disappearance of a single plant can lead to the extinction of connected animal species. A real and pressing issue is that many plant species have not yet been catalogued, and so their place in the ecosystem is unknown. These unknown species are threatened by logging, habitat destruction, and loss of pollinators. They may become extinct before we have the chance to begin to understand the possible impacts from their disappearance. Efforts to preserve biodiversity take several lines of action, from preserving heirloom seeds to barcoding species. Heirloom seeds come from plants that were traditionally grown in human populations, as opposed to the seeds used for large-scale agricultural production. Barcoding is a technique in which one or more short gene sequences, taken from a well-characterized portion of the genome, are used to identify a species through DNA analysis. 714 Chapter 26 | Seed Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at anther Anthophyta barcoding basal angiosperms calyx carpel conifer corolla cotyledon crop cycad dicot dioecious filament flower fruit gingkophyte gnetophyte gymnosperm gynoecium heirloom seed herbaceous herbivory integument megasporocyte microsporocyte monocot monoecious nectar ovary KEY TERMS sac-like structure at the tip of the stamen in which pollen grains are produced phylum to which angiosperms belong molecular biology technique in which one or more short gene sequences taken from a well-characterized portion of the genome is used to identify a species a group of plants that probably branched off before the separation of monocots and eudicots whorl of sepals single unit of the pistil dominant phylum of gymnosperms with the most variety of trees collection of petals primitive leaf that develop in the zygote; monocots have one cotyledon, and dicots have two cotyledons cultivated plant gymnosperm that grows in tropical climates and resembles a palm tree; member of the phylum Cycadophyta (also, eudicot) related group of angiosperms whose embryos possess two cotyledons describes a species in which the male and female reproductive organs are carried on separate specimens thin stalk that links the anther to the base of the flower branches specialized for reproduction found in some seed-bearing plants, containing either specialized male or female organs or both male and female organs thickened tissue derived from ovary wall that protects the embryo after fertilization and facilitates seed dispersal gymnosperm with one extant species, the Gingko biloba : a tree with fan-shaped leaves gymnosperm shrub with varied morphological features that produces vessel elements in its woody tissues; the phylum includes the genera Ephedra, Gnetum and Welwitschia seed plant with naked seeds (seeds exposed on modified leaves or in cones) (also, carpel) structure that constitute the female reproductive organ seed from a plant that was grown historically, but has not been used in modern agriculture on a large scale grass-like plant noticeable by the absence of woody tissue consumption of plants by insects and other animals layer of sporophyte tissue that surrounds the megasporangium, and later, the embryo megaspore mother cell; larger spore that germinates into a female gametophyte in a heterosporous plant smaller spore that produces a male gametophyte in a heterosporous plant related group of angiosperms that produce embryos with one cotyledon and pollen with a single ridge describes a species in which the male and female reproductive organs are on the same plant liquid rich in sugars produced by flowers to attract animal pollinators chamber that contains and protects the ovule or female megasporangium Chapter 26 | Seed Plants 715 ovulate cone ovule perianth petal pistil pollen grain pollen tube pollination progymnosperm seed sepal spermatophyte stamen stigma strobilus style cone containing two ovules per scale female gametophyte part of the plant consisting of the calyx (sepals) and corolla (petals) modified leaf interior to the sepals; colorful petals attract animal pollinators fused group of carpels structure containing the male gametophyte of the plant extension from the pollen grain that delivers sperm to the egg cell transfer of pollen from the anther to the stigma transitional group of plants that resembled conifers because they produced wood, yet still reproduced like ferns structure containing the embryo, storage tissue and protective coat modified leaf that encloses the bud; outermost structure of a flower seed plant; from the Greek sperm (seed) and phyte (plant) structure that contains the male reproductive organs uppermost structure of the carpel where pollen is deposited plant structure with a tight arrangement of sporophylls around a central stalk, as seen in cones or flowers; the male strobilus produces pollen, and the female strobilus produces eggs long, thin structure that links the stigma to the ovary CHAPTER SUMMARY 26.1 Evolution of Seed Plants Seed plants appeared about one million years ago, during the Carboniferous period. Two major innovations—seed and pollen—allowed seed plants to reproduce in the absence of water. The gametophytes of seed plants shrank, while the sporophytes became prominent structures and the diploid stage became the longest phase of the lifecycle. Gymnosperms became the dominant group during the Triassic. In these, pollen grains and seeds protect against desiccation. The seed, unlike a spore, is a diploid embryo surrounded by storage tissue and protective layers. It is equipped to delay germination until growth conditions are optimal. Angiosperms bear both flowers and fruit. The structures protect the gametes and the embryo during its development. Angiosperms appeared during the Mesozoic era and have become the dominant plant life in terrestrial habitats. 26.2 Gymnosperms Gymnosperms are heterosporous seed plants that produce naked seeds. They appeared in the Paleozoic period and were the dominant plant life during the Mesozoic. Modern-day gymnosperms belong to four phyla. The largest phylum, Coniferophyta, is represented by conifers, the predominant plants at high altitude and latitude. Cycads (phylum Cycadophyta) resemble palm trees and grow in tropical climates. Gingko biloba is the only representative of the phylum Gingkophyta. The last phylum, Gnetophyta, is a diverse group of shrubs that produce vessel elements in their wood. 26.3 Angiosperms Angiosperms are the dominant form of plant life in most terrestrial ecosystems, comprising about 90 percent of all plant species. Most crops and ornamental plants are angiosperms. Their success comes from two innovative structures that protect reproduction from variability in the environment: the flower and the fruit. Flowers were derived from modified leaves. The main parts of a flower are the sepals and petals, which protect the reproductive parts: the stamens and the carpels. The stamens produce the male gametes in pollen grains. The carpels contain the female gametes (the eggs inside 716 Chapter 26 | Seed Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at the ovules), which are within the ovary of a carpel. The walls of the ovary thicken after fertilization, ripening into fruit that ensures dispersal by wind, water, or animals. The angiosperm life cycle is dominated by the sporophyte stage. Double fertilization is an event unique to angiosperms. One sperm in the pollen fertilizes the egg, forming a diploid zygote, while the other combines with the two polar nuclei, forming a triploid cell that develops into a food storage tissue called the endosperm. Flowering plants are divided into two main groups, the monocots and eudicots, according to the number of cotyledons in the seedlings. Basal angiosperms belong to an older lineage than monocots and eudicots. 26.4 The Role of Seed Plants Angiosperm diversity is due in part to multiple interactions with animals. Herbivory has favored the development of defense mechanisms in plants, and avoidance of those defense mechanism in animals. Pollination (the transfer of pollen to a carpel) is mainly carried out by wind and animals, and angiosperms have evolved numerous adaptations to capture the wind or attract specific classes of animals. Plants play a key role in ecosystems. They are a source of food and medicinal compounds, and provide raw materials for many industries. Rapid deforestation and industrialization, however, threaten plant biodiversity. In turn, this threatens the ecosystem. ART CONNECTION QUESTIONS 1. Figure 26.8 At what stage does the diploid zygote form? a. When the female cone begins to bud from the tree b. At fertilization c. When the seeds drop from the tree d. When the pollen tube begins to grow 2. Figure 26.15 If a flower lacked a megasporangium, what type of gamete would not form? If the flower lacked a microsporangium, what type of gamete would not form? REVIEW QUESTIONS 3. Seed plants are ________. a. all homosporous. b. mostly homosporous with some heterosporous. c. mostly heterosporous with some homosporous. d. all heterosporous. 4. Besides the seed, what other major structure diminishes a plant’s reliance on water for reproduction? a. flower b. fruit c. pollen d. spore 5. In which of the following geological periods would gymnosperms dominate the landscape? a. Carboniferous b. Permian c. Triassic d. Eocene (present) 6. Which of the following structures widens the geographic range of a species and is an agent of dispersal? a. seed b. flower c. leaf d. root 7. Which of the following traits characterizes gymnosperms? a. The plants carry exposed seeds on modified leaves. b. Reproductive structures are located in a flower. c. After fertilization, the ovary thickens and forms a fruit. d. The gametophyte is longest phase of the life cycle. 8. Megasporocytes will eventually produce which of the following? a. pollen grain b. sporophytes c. male gametophytes d. female gametophytes 9. What is the ploidy of the following structures: gametophyte, seed, spore, sporophyte? a. 1n, 1n, 2n, 2n b. 1n, 2n, 1n, 2n c. 2n, 1n, 2n, 1n d. 2n, 2n, 1n, 1n 10. In the northern forests of Siberia, a tall tree is most likely a: a. conifer b. cycad c. Gingko biloba d. gnetophyte 11. Which of the following structures in a flower is not directly involved in reproduction? Chapter 26 | Seed Plants 717 a. the style b. the stamen c. the sepal d. the anther 12. Pollen grains develop in which structure? a. the anther b. the stigma c. the filament d. the carpel 13. In the course of double fertilization, one sperm cell fuses with the egg and the second one fuses with ________. a. the synergids b. the polar nuclei of the center cell c. the egg as well d. the antipodal cells 14. Corn develops from a seedling with a single cotyledon, displays parallel veins on its leaves, and produces monosulcate pollen. It is most likely: a. a gymnosperm b. a monocot c. a eudicot d. a basal angiosperm 15. Which of the following plant structures is not a defense against herbivory? a. thorns b. spines c. nectar d. alkaloids 16. White and sweet-smelling flowers with abundant nectar are probably pollinated by a. bees and butterflies b. flies c. birds d. wind 17. Abundant and powdery pollen produced by small, indistinct flowers is probably transported by: a. bees and butterflies b. flies c. birds d. wind 18. Plants are a source of ________. a. food b. fuel c. medicine d. all of the above CRITICAL THINKING QUESTIONS 19. The Triassic Period was marked by the increase in number and variety of angiosperms. Insects also diversified enormously during the same period. Can you propose the reason or reasons that could foster coevolution? 20. What role did the adaptations of seed and pollen play in the development and expansion of seed plants? 21. The Mediterranean landscape along the sea shore is dotted with pines and cypresses. The weather is not cold, and the trees grow at sea level. What evolutionary adaptation of conifers makes them suitable to the Mediterranean climate? 22. What are the four modern-day phyla of gymnosperms? 23. Some cycads are considered endangered species and their trade is severely restricted. Customs officials stop suspected smugglers who claim that the plants in their possession are palm trees, not cycads. How would a botanist distinguish between the two types of plants? 24. What are the two structures that allow angiosperms to be the dominant form of plant life in most terrestrial ecosystems? 25. Biosynthesis of nectar and nutrient-rich pollen is energetically very expensive for a plant. Yet, plants funnel large amounts of energy into animal pollination. What are the evolutionary advantages that offset the cost of attracting animal pollinators? 26. What is biodiversity and why is it important to an ecosystem? 718 Chapter 26 | Seed Plants This OpenStax book is available for free at 27 | INTRODUCTION TO ANIMAL DIVERSITY Figure 27.1 The leaf chameleon ( Brookesia micra ) was discovered in northern Madagascar in 2012. At just over one inch long, it is the smallest known chameleon. (credit: modification of work by Frank Glaw, et al., PLOS) Chapter Outline 27.1: Features of the Animal Kingdom 27.2: Features Used to Classify Animals 27.3: Animal Phylogeny 27.4: The Evolutionary History of the Animal Kingdom Introduction Animal evolution began in the ocean over 600 million years ago with tiny creatures that probably do not resemble any living organism today. Since then, animals have evolved into a highly diverse kingdom. Although over one million extant (currently living) species of animals have been identified, scientists are continually discovering more species as they explore ecosystems around the world. The number of extant species is estimated to be between 3 and 30 million. But what is an animal? While we can easily identify dogs, birds, fish, spiders, and worms as animals, other organisms, such as corals and sponges, are not as easy to classify. Animals vary in complexity—from sea sponges to crickets to chimpanzees—and scientists are faced with the difficult task of classifying them within a unified system. They must identify traits that are common to all animals as well as traits that can be used to distinguish among related groups of animals. The animal classification system characterizes animals based on their anatomy, morphology, evolutionary history, features of embryological development, and genetic makeup. This classification scheme is constantly developing as new information about species arises. Understanding and classifying the great variety of living species help us better understand how to conserve the diversity of life on earth. Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity 719 27.1 | Features of the Animal Kingdom By the end of this section, you will be able to: • List the features that distinguish the kingdom Animalia from other kingdoms • Explain the processes of animal reproduction and embryonic development • Describe the roles that Hox genes play in development Even though members of the animal kingdom are incredibly diverse, most animals share certain features that distinguish them from organisms in other kingdoms. All animals are eukaryotic, multicellular organisms, and almost all animals have a complex tissue structure with differentiated and specialized tissues. Most animals are motile, at least during certain life stages. All animals require a source of food and are therefore heterotrophic, ingesting other living or dead organisms; this feature distinguishes them from autotrophic organisms, such as most plants, which synthesize their own nutrients through photosynthesis. As heterotrophs, animals may be carnivores, herbivores, omnivores, or parasites ( Figure 27.2 ab ). Most animals reproduce sexually, and the offspring pass through a series of developmental stages that establish a determined and fixed body plan. The body plan refers to the morphology of an animal, determined by developmental cues. Figure 27.2 All animals are heterotrophs that derive energy from food. The (a) black bear is an omnivore, eating both plants and animals. The (b) heartworm Dirofilaria immitis is a parasite that derives energy from its hosts. It spends its larval stage in mosquitoes and its adult stage infesting the heart of dogs and other mammals, as shown here. (credit a: modification of work by USDA Forest Service; credit b: modification of work by Clyde Robinson) Complex Tissue Structure As multicellular organisms, animals differ from plants and fungi because their cells don’t have cell walls, their cells may be embedded in an extracellular matrix (such as bone, skin, or connective tissue), and their cells have unique structures for intercellular communication (such as gap junctions). In addition, animals possess unique tissues, absent in fungi and plants, which allow coordination (nerve tissue) of motility (muscle tissue). Animals are also characterized by specialized connective tissues that provide structural support for cells and organs. This connective tissue constitutes the extracellular surroundings of cells and is made up of organic and inorganic materials. In vertebrates, bone tissue is a type of connective tissue that supports the entire body structure. The complex bodies and activities of vertebrates demand such supportive tissues. Epithelial tissues cover, line, protect, and secrete. Epithelial tissues include the epidermis of the integument, the lining of the digestive tract and trachea, and make up the ducts of the liver and glands of advanced animals. The animal kingdom is divided into Parazoa (sponges) and Eumetazoa (all other animals). As very simple animals, the organisms in group Parazoa (“beside animal”) do not contain true specialized tissues; although they do possess specialized cells that perform different functions, those cells are not organized into tissues. These organisms are considered animals since they lack the ability to make their own food. Animals with true tissues are in the group Eumetazoa (“true animals”). When we think of animals, we usually think of Eumetazoans, since most animals fall into this category. The different types of tissues in true animals are responsible for carrying out specific functions for the organism. This differentiation and specialization of tissues is part of what allows for such incredible animal diversity. For example, the evolution of nerve tissues and muscle tissues has resulted in animals’ unique ability to rapidly sense and respond to changes 720 Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity This OpenStax book is available for free at in their environment. This allows animals to survive in environments where they must compete with other species to meet their nutritional demands. Wa t c h a presentation ( by biologist E.O. Wilson on the importance of diversity. Animal Reproduction and Development Most animals are diploid organisms, meaning that their body (somatic) cells are diploid and haploid reproductive (gamete) cells are produced through meiosis. Some exceptions exist: For example, in bees, wasps, and ants, the male is haploid because it develops from unfertilized eggs. Most animals undergo sexual reproduction: This fact distinguishes animals from fungi, protists, and bacteria, where asexual reproduction is common or exclusive. However, a few groups, such as cnidarians, flatworm, and roundworms, undergo asexual reproduction, although nearly all of those animals also have a sexual phase to their life cycle. Processes of Animal Reproduction and Embryonic Development During sexual reproduction, the haploid gametes of the male and female individuals of a species combine in a process called fertilization. Typically, the small, motile male sperm fertilizes the much larger, sessile female egg. This process produces a diploid fertilized egg called a zygote. Some animal species—including sea stars and sea anemones, as well as some insects, reptiles, and fish—are capable of asexual reproduction. The most common forms of asexual reproduction for stationary aquatic animals include budding and fragmentation, where part of a parent individual can separate and grow into a new individual. In contrast, a form of asexual reproduction found in certain insects and vertebrates is called parthenogenesis (or “virgin beginning”), where unfertilized eggs can develop into new male offspring. This type of parthenogenesis is called haplodiploidy. These types of asexual reproduction produce genetically identical offspring, which is disadvantageous from the perspective of evolutionary adaptability because of the potential buildup of deleterious mutations. However, for animals that are limited in their capacity to attract mates, asexual reproduction can ensure genetic propagation. After fertilization, a series of developmental stages occur during which primary germ layers are established and reorganize to form an embryo. During this process, animal tissues begin to specialize and organize into organs and organ systems, determining their future morphology and physiology. Some animals, such as grasshoppers, undergo incomplete metamorphosis, in which the young resemble the adult. Other animals, such as some insects, undergo complete metamorphosis where individuals enter one or more larval stages that may in differ in structure and function from the adult (Figure 27.3 ). For the latter, the young and the adult may have different diets, limiting competition for food between them. Regardless of whether a species undergoes complete or incomplete metamorphosis, the series of developmental stages of the embryo remains largely the same for most members of the animal kingdom. Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity 721 Figure 27.3 (a) The grasshopper undergoes incomplete metamorphosis. (b) The butterfly undergoes complete metamorphosis. (credit: S.E. Snodgrass, USDA) The process of animal development begins with the cleavage , or series of mitotic cell divisions, of the zygote ( Figure 27.4 ). Three cell divisions transform the single-celled zygote into an eight-celled structure. After further cell division and rearrangement of existing cells, a 6–32-celled hollow structure called a blastula is formed. Next, the blastula undergoes further cell division and cellular rearrangement during a process called gastrulation. This leads to the formation of the next developmental stage, the gastrula , in which the future digestive cavity is formed. Different cell layers (called germ layers ) are formed during gastrulation. These germ layers are programmed to develop into certain tissue types, organs, and organ systems during a process called organogenesis . Figure 27.4 During embryonic development, the zygote undergoes a series of mitotic cell divisions, or cleavages, to form an eight-cell stage, then a hollow blastula. During a process called gastrulation, the blastula folds inward to form a cavity in the gastrula. 722 Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity This OpenStax book is available for free at Watch the following video ( to see how human embryonic development (after the blastula and gastrula stages of development) reflects evolution. The Role of Homeobox (Hox) Genes in Animal Development Since the early 19 thcentury, scientists have observed that many animals, from the very simple to the complex, shared similar embryonic morphology and development. Surprisingly, a human embryo and a frog embryo, at a certain stage of embryonic development, look remarkably alike. For a long time, scientists did not understand why so many animal species looked similar during embryonic development but were very different as adults. They wondered what dictated the developmental direction that a fly, mouse, frog, or human embryo would take. Near the end of the 20 thcentury, a particular class of genes was discovered that had this very job. These genes that determine animal structure are called “homeotic genes,” and they contain DNA sequences called homeoboxes. The animal genes containing homeobox sequences are specifically referred to as Hox genes . This family of genes is responsible for determining the general body plan, such as the number of body segments of an animal, the number and placement of appendages, and animal head-tail directionality. The first Hox genes to be sequenced were those from the fruit fly ( Drosophila melanogaster ). A single Hox mutation in the fruit fly can result in an extra pair of wings or even appendages growing from the “wrong” body part. While there are a great many genes that play roles in the morphological development of an animal, what makes Hox genes so powerful is that they serve as master control genes that can turn on or off large numbers of other genes. Hox genes do this by coding transcription factors that control the expression of numerous other genes. Hox genes are homologous in the animal kingdom, that is, the genetic sequences of Hox genes and their positions on chromosomes are remarkably similar across most animals because of their presence in a common ancestor, from worms to flies, mice, and humans ( Figure 27.5 ). One of the contributions to increased animal body complexity is that Hox genes have undergone at least two duplication events during animal evolution, with the additional genes allowing for more complex body types to evolve. Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity 723 Figure 27.5 Hox genes are highly conserved genes encoding transcription factors that determine the course of embryonic development in animals. In vertebrates, the genes have been duplicated into four clusters: Hox-A , Hox-B ,Hox-C , and Hox-D . Genes within these clusters are expressed in certain body segments at certain stages of development. Shown here is the homology between Hox genes in mice and humans. Note how Hox gene expression, as indicated with orange, pink, blue and green shading, occurs in the same body segments in both the mouse and the human. If a Hox 13 gene in a mouse was replaced with a Hox 1 gene, how might this alter animal development? 27.2 | Features Used to Classify Animals By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Explain the differences in animal body plans that support basic animal classification • Compare and contrast the embryonic development of protostomes and deuterostomes Scientists have developed a classification scheme that categorizes all members of the animal kingdom, although there are exceptions to most “rules” governing animal classification ( Figure 27.6 ). Animals are primarily classified according to morphological and developmental characteristics, such as a body plan. One of the most prominent features of the body plan of true animals is that they are morphologically symmetrical. This means that their distribution of body parts is balanced along an axis. Additional characteristics include the number of tissue layers formed during development, the presence or absence of an internal body cavity, and other features of embryological development, such as the origin of the mouth and anus. 724 Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 27.6 The phylogenetic tree of animals is based on morphological, fossil, and genetic evidence. Which of the following statements is false? a. Eumetazoans have specialized tissues and parazoans don’t. b. Lophotrochozoa and Ecdysozoa are both Bilataria. c. Acoela and Cnidaria both possess radial symmetry. d. Arthropods are more closely related to nematodes than they are to annelids. Animal Characterization Based on Body Symmetry At a very basic level of classification, true animals can be largely divided into three groups based on the type of symmetry of their body plan: radially symmetrical, bilaterally symmetrical, and asymmetrical. Asymmetry is a unique feature of Parazoa (Figure 27.7 a). Only a few animal groups display radial symmetry. All types of symmetry are well suited to meet the unique demands of a particular animal’s lifestyle. Radial symmetry is the arrangement of body parts around a central axis, as is seen in a drinking glass or pie. It results in animals having top and bottom surfaces but no left and right sides, or front or back. The two halves of a radially symmetrical animal may be described as the side with a mouth or “oral side,” and the side without a mouth (the “aboral side”). This form of symmetry marks the body plans of animals in the phyla Ctenophora and Cnidaria, including jellyfish and adult sea anemones ( Figure 27.7 bc). Radial symmetry equips these sea creatures (which may be sedentary or only capable of slow movement or floating) to experience the environment equally from all directions. Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity 725 Figure 27.7 The (a) sponge is asymmetrical. The (b) jellyfish and (c) anemone are radially symmetrical, and the (d) butterfly is bilaterally symmetrical. (credit a: modification of work by Andrew Turner; credit b: modification of work by Robert Freiburger; credit c: modification of work by Samuel Chow; credit d: modification of work by Cory Zanker) Bilateral symmetry involves the division of the animal through a sagittal plane, resulting in two mirror image, right and left halves, such as those of a butterfly ( Figure 27.7 d), crab, or human body. Animals with bilateral symmetry have a “head” and “tail” (anterior vs. posterior), front and back (dorsal vs. ventral), and right and left sides ( Figure 27.8 ). All true animals except those with radial symmetry are bilaterally symmetrical. The evolution of bilateral symmetry that allowed for the formation of anterior and posterior (head and tail) ends promoted a phenomenon called cephalization, which refers to the collection of an organized nervous system at the animal’s anterior end. In contrast to radial symmetry, which is best suited for stationary or limited-motion lifestyles, bilateral symmetry allows for streamlined and directional motion. In evolutionary terms, this simple form of symmetry promoted active mobility and increased sophistication of resource- seeking and predator-prey relationships. 726 Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 27.8 The bilaterally symmetrical human body can be divided into planes. Animals in the phylum Echinodermata (such as sea stars, sand dollars, and sea urchins) display radial symmetry as adults, but their larval stages exhibit bilateral symmetry. This is termed secondary radial symmetry. They are believed to have evolved from bilaterally symmetrical animals; thus, they are classified as bilaterally symmetrical. Watch this video ( to see a quick sketch of the different types of body symmetry. Animal Characterization Based on Features of Embryological Development Most animal species undergo a separation of tissues into germ layers during embryonic development. Recall that these germ layers are formed during gastrulation, and that they are predetermined to develop into the animal’s specialized tissues and organs. Animals develop either two or three embryonic germs layers ( Figure 27.9 ). The animals that display radial symmetry develop two germ layers, an inner layer (endoderm) and an outer layer (ectoderm). These animals are called diploblasts . Diploblasts have a non-living layer between the endoderm and ectoderm. More complex animals (those with bilateral symmetry) develop three tissue layers: an inner layer (endoderm), an outer layer (ectoderm), and a middle layer (mesoderm). Animals with three tissue layers are called triploblasts . Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity 727 Figure 27.9 During embryogenesis, diploblasts develop two embryonic germ layers: an ectoderm and an endoderm. Triploblasts develop a third layer—the mesoderm—between the endoderm and ectoderm. Which of the following statements about diploblasts and triploblasts is false? a. Animals that display radial symmetry are diploblasts. b. Animals that display bilateral symmetry are triploblasts. c. The endoderm gives rise to the lining of the digestive tract and the respiratory tract. d. The mesoderm gives rise to the central nervous system. Each of the three germ layers is programmed to give rise to particular body tissues and organs. The endoderm gives rise to the lining of the digestive tract (including the stomach, intestines, liver, and pancreas), as well as to the lining of the trachea, bronchi, and lungs of the respiratory tract, along with a few other structures. The ectoderm develops into the outer epithelial covering of the body surface, the central nervous system, and a few other structures. The mesoderm is the third germ layer; it forms between the endoderm and ectoderm in triploblasts. This germ layer gives rise to all muscle tissues (including the cardiac tissues and muscles of the intestines), connective tissues such as the skeleton and blood cells, and most other visceral organs such as the kidneys and the spleen. Presence or Absence of a Coelom Further subdivision of animals with three germ layers (triploblasts) results in the separation of animals that may develop an internal body cavity derived from mesoderm, called a coelom , and those that do not. This epithelial cell-lined coelomic cavity represents a space, usually filled with fluid, which lies between the visceral organs and the body wall. It houses many organs such as the digestive system, kidneys, reproductive organs, and heart, and contains the circulatory system. In some animals, such as mammals, the part of the coelom called the pleural cavity provides space for the lungs to expand during breathing. The evolution of the coelom is associated with many functional advantages. Primarily, the coelom provides cushioning and shock absorption for the major organ systems. Organs housed within the coelom can grow and move freely, which promotes optimal organ development and placement. The coelom also provides space for the diffusion of gases and nutrients, as well as body flexibility, promoting improved animal motility. Triploblasts that do not develop a coelom are called acoelomates , and their mesoderm region is completely filled with tissue, although they do still have a gut cavity. Examples of acoelomates include animals in the phylum Platyhelminthes, also known as flatworms. Animals with a true coelom are called eucoelomates (or coelomates) ( Figure 27.10 ). A true coelom arises entirely within the mesoderm germ layer and is lined by an epithelial membrane. This membrane also lines the organs within the coelom, connecting and holding them in position while allowing them some free motion. Annelids, mollusks, arthropods, echinoderms, and chordates are all eucoelomates. A third group of triploblasts has a slightly different coelom derived partly from mesoderm and partly from endoderm, which is found between the two layers. Although still functional, these are considered false coeloms, and those animals are called pseudocoelomates . The phylum Nematoda (roundworms) is an example of a pseudocoelomate. True coelomates can be further characterized based on certain features of their early embryological development. 728 Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 27.10 Triploblasts may be (a) acoelomates, (b) eucoelomates, or (c) pseudocoelomates. Acoelomates have no body cavity. Eucoelomates have a body cavity within the mesoderm, called a coelom, which is lined with mesoderm. Pseudocoelomates also have a body cavity, but it is sandwiched between the endoderm and mesoderm. (credit a: modification of work by Jan Derk; credit b: modification of work by NOAA; credit c: modification of work by USDA, ARS) Embryonic Development of the Mouth Bilaterally symmetrical, tribloblastic eucoelomates can be further divided into two groups based on differences in their early embryonic development. Protostomes include arthropods, mollusks, and annelids. Deuterostomes include more complex animals such as chordates but also some simple animals such as echinoderms. These two groups are separated based on which opening of the digestive cavity develops first: mouth or anus. The word protostome comes from the Greek word meaning “mouth first,” and deuterostome originates from the word meaning “mouth second” (in this case, the anus develops first). The mouth or anus develops from a structure called the blastopore ( Figure 27.11 ). The blastopore is the indentation formed during the initial stages of gastrulation. In later stages, a second opening forms, and these two openings will eventually give rise to the mouth and anus ( Figure 27.11 ). It has long been believed that the blastopore develops into the mouth of protostomes, with the second opening developing into the anus; the opposite is true for deuterostomes. Recent evidence has challenged this view of the development of the blastopore of protostomes, however, and the theory remains under debate. Another distinction between protostomes and deuterostomes is the method of coelom formation, beginning from the gastrula stage. The coelom of most protostomes is formed through a process called schizocoely , meaning that during development, a solid mass of the mesoderm splits apart and forms the hollow opening of the coelom. Deuterostomes differ in that their coelom forms through a process called enterocoely . Here, the mesoderm develops as pouches that are pinched off from the endoderm tissue. These pouches eventually fuse to form the mesoderm, which then gives rise to the coelom. The earliest distinction between protostomes and deuterostomes is the type of cleavage undergone by the zygote. Protostomes undergo spiral cleavage , meaning that the cells of one pole of the embryo are rotated, and thus misaligned, with respect to the cells of the opposite pole. This is due to the oblique angle of the cleavage. Deuterostomes undergo radial cleavage , where the cleavage axes are either parallel or perpendicular to the polar axis, resulting in the alignment of the cells between the two poles. Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity 729 Figure 27.11 Eucoelomates can be divided into two groups based on their early embryonic development. In protostomes, part of the mesoderm separates to form the coelom in a process called schizocoely. In deuterostomes, the mesoderm pinches off to form the coelom in a process called enterocoely. It was long believed that the blastopore developed into the mouth in protostomes and into the anus in deuterostomes, but recent evidence challenges this belief. There is a second distinction between the types of cleavage in protostomes and deuterostomes. In addition to spiral cleavage, protostomes also undergo determinate cleavage . This means that even at this early stage, the developmental fate of each embryonic cell is already determined. A cell does not have the ability to develop into any cell type. In contrast, deuterostomes undergo indeterminate cleavage , in which cells are not yet pre-determined at this early stage to develop into specific cell types. These cells are referred to as undifferentiated cells. This characteristic of deuterostomes is reflected in the existence of familiar embryonic stem cells, which have the ability to develop into any cell type until their fate is programmed at a later developmental stage. 730 Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity This OpenStax book is available for free at The Evolution of the Coelom One of the first steps in the classification of animals is to examine the animal’s body. Studying the body parts tells us not only the roles of the organs in question but also how the species may have evolved. One such structure that is used in classification of animals is the coelom. A coelom is a body cavity that forms during early embryonic development. The coelom allows for compartmentalization of the body parts, so that different organ systems can evolve and nutrient transport is possible. Additionally, because the coelom is a fluid-filled cavity, it protects the organs from shock and compression. Simple animals, such as worms and jellyfish, do not have a coelom. All vertebrates have a coelom that helped them evolve complex organ systems. Animals that do not have a coelom are called acoelomates. Flatworms and tapeworms are examples of acoelomates. They rely on passive diffusion for nutrient transport across their body. Additionally, the internal organs of acoelomates are not protected from crushing. Animals that have a true coelom are called eucoelomates; all vertebrates are eucoelomates. The coelom evolves from the mesoderm during embryogenesis. The abdominal cavity contains the stomach, liver, gall bladder, and other digestive organs. Another category of invertebrates animals based on body cavity is pseudocoelomates. These animals have a pseudo-cavity that is not completely lined by mesoderm. Examples include nematode parasites and small worms. These animals are thought to have evolved from coelomates and may have lost their ability to form a coelom through genetic mutations. Thus, this step in early embryogenesis—the formation of the coelom—has had a large evolutionary impact on the various species of the animal kingdom. 27.3 | Animal Phylogeny By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Interpret the metazoan phylogenetic tree • Describe the types of data that scientists use to construct and revise animal phylogeny • List some of the relationships within the modern phylogenetic tree that have been discovered as a result of modern molecular data Biologists strive to understand the evolutionary history and relationships of members of the animal kingdom, and all of life, for that matter. The study of phylogeny aims to determine the evolutionary relationships between phyla. Currently, most biologists divide the animal kingdom into 35 to 40 phyla. Scientists develop phylogenetic trees, which serve as hypotheses about which species have evolved from which ancestors Recall that until recently, only morphological characteristics and the fossil record were used to determine phylogenetic relationships among animals. Scientific understanding of the distinctions and hierarchies between anatomical characteristics provided much of this knowledge. Used alone, however, this information can be misleading. Morphological characteristics may evolve multiple times, and independently, through evolutionary history. Analogous characteristics may appear similar between animals, but their underlying evolution may be very different. With the advancement of molecular technologies, modern phylogenetics is now informed by genetic and molecular analyses, in addition to traditional morphological and fossil data. With a growing understanding of genetics, the animal evolutionary tree has changed substantially and continues to change as new DNA and RNA analyses are performed on additional animal species. Constructing an Animal Phylogenetic Tree The current understanding of evolutionary relationships between animal, or Metazoa , phyla begins with the distinction between “true” animals with true differentiated tissues, called Eumetazoa , and animal phyla that do not have true differentiated tissues (such as the sponges), called Parazoa . Both Parazoa and Eumetazoa evolved from a common ancestral Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity 731 organism that resembles the modern-day protists called choanoflagellates. These protist cells strongly resemble the sponge choanocyte cells today ( Figure 27.12 ). Figure 27.12 Cells of the protist choanoflagellate resemble sponge choanocyte cells. Beating of choanocyte flagella draws water through the sponge so that nutrients can be extracted and waste removed. Eumetazoa are subdivided into radially symmetrical animals and bilaterally symmetrical animals, and are thus classified into clade Bilateria or Radiata, respectively. As mentioned earlier, the cnidarians and ctenophores are animal phyla with true radial symmetry. All other Eumetazoa are members of the Bilateria clade. The bilaterally symmetrical animals are further divided into deuterostomes (including chordates and echinoderms) and two distinct clades of protostomes (including ecdysozoans and lophotrochozoans) ( Figure 27.13 ab). Ecdysozoa includes nematodes and arthropods; they are so named for a commonly found characteristic among the group: exoskeletal molting (termed ecdysis). Lophotrochozoa is named for two structural features, each common to certain phyla within the clade. Some lophotrochozoan phyla are characterized by a larval stage called trochophore larvae, and other phyla are characterized by the presence of a feeding structure called a lophophore. Figure 27.13 Animals that molt their exoskeletons, such as these (a) Madagascar hissing cockroaches, are in the clade Ecdysozoa. (b) Phoronids are in the clade Lophotrochozoa. The tentacles are part of a feeding structure called a lophophore. (credit a: modification of work by Whitney Cranshaw, Colorado State University,; credit b: modification of work by NOAA) Explore an interactive tree ( of life here. Zoom and click to learn more about the organisms and their evolutionary relationships. Modern Advances in Phylogenetic Understanding Come from Molecular Analyses The phylogenetic groupings are continually being debated and refined by evolutionary biologists. Each year, new evidence emerges that further alters the relationships described by a phylogenetic tree diagram. 732 Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity This OpenStax book is available for free at Watch the following video ( to learn how biologists use genetic data to determine relationships among organisms. Nucleic acid and protein analyses have greatly informed the modern phylogenetic animal tree. These data come from a variety of molecular sources, such as mitochondrial DNA, nuclear DNA, ribosomal RNA (rRNA), and certain cellular proteins. Many evolutionary relationships in the modern tree have only recently been determined due to molecular evidence. For example, a previously classified group of animals called lophophorates, which included brachiopods and bryozoans, were long-thought to be primitive deuterostomes. Extensive molecular analysis using rRNA data found these animals to be protostomes, more closely related to annelids and mollusks. This discovery allowed for the distinction of the protostome clade, the lophotrochozoans. Molecular data have also shed light on some differences within the lophotrochozoan group, and some scientists believe that the phyla Platyhelminthes and Rotifera within this group should actually belong to their own group of protostomes termed Platyzoa. Molecular research similar to the discoveries that brought about the distinction of the lophotrochozoan clade has also revealed a dramatic rearrangement of the relationships between mollusks, annelids, arthropods, and nematodes, and a new ecdysozoan clade was formed. Due to morphological similarities in their segmented body types, annelids and arthropods were once thought to be closely related. However, molecular evidence has revealed that arthropods are actually more closely related to nematodes, now comprising the ecdysozoan clade, and annelids are more closely related to mollusks, brachiopods, and other phyla in the lophotrochozoan clade. These two clades now make up the protostomes. Another change to former phylogenetic groupings because of molecular analyses includes the emergence of an entirely new phylum of worm called Acoelomorpha. These acoel flatworms were long thought to belong to the phylum Platyhelminthes because of their similar “flatworm” morphology. However, molecular analyses revealed this to be a false relationship and originally suggested that acoels represented living species of some of the earliest divergent bilaterians. More recent research into the acoelomorphs has called this hypothesis into question and suggested a closer relationship with deuterostomes. The placement of this new phylum remains disputed, but scientists agree that with sufficient molecular data, their true phylogeny will be determined. 27.4 | The Evolutionary History of the Animal Kingdom By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Describe the features that characterized the earliest animals and when they appeared on earth • Explain the significance of the Cambrian period for animal evolution and the changes in animal diversity that took place during that time • Describe some of the unresolved questions surrounding the Cambrian explosion • Discuss the implications of mass animal extinctions that have occurred in evolutionary history Many questions regarding the origins and evolutionary history of the animal kingdom continue to be researched and debated, as new fossil and molecular evidence change prevailing theories. Some of these questions include the following: How long have animals existed on Earth? What were the earliest members of the animal kingdom, and what organism was their common ancestor? While animal diversity increased during the Cambrian period of the Paleozoic era, 530 million years ago, modern fossil evidence suggests that primitive animal species existed much earlier. Pre-Cambrian Animal Life The time before the Cambrian period is known as the Ediacaran period (from about 635 million years ago to 543 million years ago), the final period of the late Proterozoic Neoproterozoic Era ( Figure 27.14 ). It is believed that early animal life, Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity 733 termed Ediacaran biota, evolved from protists at this time. Some protest species called choanoflagellates closely resemble the choanocyte cells in the simplest animals, sponges. In addition to their morphological similarity, molecular analyses have revealed similar sequence homologies in their DNA. Figure 27.14 (a) Earth’s history is divided into eons, eras, and periods. Note that the Ediacaran period starts in the Proterozoic eon and ends in the Cambrian period of the Phanerozoic eon. (b) Stages on the geological time scale are represented as a spiral. (credit: modification of work by USGS) The earliest life comprising Ediacaran biota was long believed to include only tiny, sessile, soft-bodied sea creatures. However, recently there has been increasing scientific evidence suggesting that more varied and complex animal species lived during this time, and possibly even before the Ediacaran period. Fossils believed to represent the oldest animals with hard body parts were recently discovered in South Australia. These sponge-like fossils, named Coronacollina acula , date back as far as 560 million years, and are believed to show the existence of hard body parts and spicules that extended 20–40 cm from the main body (estimated about 5 cm long). Other fossils from the Ediacaran period are shown in Figure 27.15 ab . Figure 27.15 Fossils of (a) Cyclomedusa and (b) Dickinsonia date to 650 million years ago, during the Ediacaran period. (credit: modification of work by “Smith609”/Wikimedia Commons) Another recent fossil discovery may represent the earliest animal species ever found. While the validity of this claim is still under investigation, these primitive fossils appear to be small, one-centimeter long, sponge-like creatures. These fossils from South Australia date back 650 million years, actually placing the putative animal before the great ice age extinction event that marked the transition between the Cryogenian period and the Ediacaran period. Until this discovery, most scientists believed that there was no animal life prior to the Ediacaran period. Many scientists now believe that animals may in fact have evolved during the Cryogenian period. The Cambrian Explosion of Animal Life The Cambrian period, occurring between approximately 542–488 million years ago, marks the most rapid evolution of new animal phyla and animal diversity in Earth’s history. It is believed that most of the animal phyla in existence today had their origins during this time, often referred to as the Cambrian explosion (Figure 27.16 ). Echinoderms, mollusks, worms, 734 Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity This OpenStax book is available for free at arthropods, and chordates arose during this period. One of the most dominant species during the Cambrian period was the trilobite, an arthropod that was among the first animals to exhibit a sense of vision ( Figure 27.17 abcd ). Figure 27.16 An artist’s rendition depicts some organisms from the Cambrian period. Figure 27.17 These fossils (a–d) belong to trilobites, extinct arthropods that appeared in the early Cambrian period, 525 million years ago, and disappeared from the fossil record during a mass extinction at the end of the Permian period, about 250 million years ago. The cause of the Cambrian explosion is still debated. There are many theories that attempt to answer this question. Environmental changes may have created a more suitable environment for animal life. Examples of these changes include rising atmospheric oxygen levels and large increases in oceanic calcium concentrations that preceded the Cambrian period Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity 735 (Figure 27.18 ). Some scientists believe that an expansive, continental shelf with numerous shallow lagoons or pools provided the necessary living space for larger numbers of different types of animals to co-exist. There is also support for theories that argue that ecological relationships between species, such as changes in the food web, competition for food and space, and predator-prey relationships, were primed to promote a sudden massive coevolution of species. Yet other theories claim genetic and developmental reasons for the Cambrian explosion. The morphological flexibility and complexity of animal development afforded by the evolution of Hox control genes may have provided the necessary opportunities for increases in possible animal morphologies at the time of the Cambrian period. Theories that attempt to explain why the Cambrian explosion happened must be able to provide valid reasons for the massive animal diversification, as well as explain why it happened when it did. There is evidence that both supports and refutes each of the theories described above, and the answer may very well be a combination of these and other theories. Figure 27.18 The oxygen concentration in Earth’s atmosphere rose sharply around 300 million years ago. However, unresolved questions about the animal diversification that took place during the Cambrian period remain. For example, we do not understand how the evolution of so many species occurred in such a short period of time. Was there really an “explosion” of life at this particular time? Some scientists question the validity of the this idea, because there is increasing evidence to suggest that more animal life existed prior to the Cambrian period and that other similar species’ so-called explosions (or radiations) occurred later in history as well. Furthermore, the vast diversification of animal species that appears to have begun during the Cambrian period continued well into the following Ordovician period. Despite some of these arguments, most scientists agree that the Cambrian period marked a time of impressively rapid animal evolution and diversification that is unmatched elsewhere during history. Vi e w a n animation ( of what ocean life may have been like during the Cambrian explosion. Post-Cambrian Evolution and Mass Extinctions The periods that followed the Cambrian during the Paleozoic Era are marked by further animal evolution and the emergence of many new orders, families, and species. As animal phyla continued to diversify, new species adapted to new ecological niches. During the Ordovician period, which followed the Cambrian period, plant life first appeared on land. This change allowed formerly aquatic animal species to invade land, feeding directly on plants or decaying vegetation. 736 Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity This OpenStax book is available for free at Continual changes in temperature and moisture throughout the remainder of the Paleozoic Era due to continental plate movements encouraged the development of new adaptations to terrestrial existence in animals, such as limbed appendages in amphibians and epidermal scales in reptiles. Changes in the environment often create new niches (living spaces) that contribute to rapid speciation and increased diversity. On the other hand, cataclysmic events, such as volcanic eruptions and meteor strikes that obliterate life, can result in devastating losses of diversity. Such periods of mass extinction (Figure 27.19 ) have occurred repeatedly in the evolutionary record of life, erasing some genetic lines while creating room for others to evolve into the empty niches left behind. The end of the Permian period (and the Paleozoic Era) was marked by the largest mass extinction event in Earth’s history, a loss of roughly 95 percent of the extant species at that time. Some of the dominant phyla in the world’s oceans, such as the trilobites, disappeared completely. On land, the disappearance of some dominant species of Permian reptiles made it possible for a new line of reptiles to emerge, the dinosaurs. The warm and stable climatic conditions of the ensuing Mesozoic Era promoted an explosive diversification of dinosaurs into every conceivable niche in land, air, and water. Plants, too, radiated into new landscapes and empty niches, creating complex communities of producers and consumers, some of which became very large on the abundant food available. Another mass extinction event occurred at the end of the Cretaceous period, bringing the Mesozoic Era to an end. Skies darkened and temperatures fell as a large meteor impact and tons of volcanic ash blocked incoming sunlight. Plants died, herbivores and carnivores starved, and the mostly cold-blooded dinosaurs ceded their dominance of the landscape to more warm-blooded mammals. In the following Cenozoic Era, mammals radiated into terrestrial and aquatic niches once occupied by dinosaurs, and birds, the warm-blooded offshoots of one line of the ruling reptiles, became aerial specialists. The appearance and dominance of flowering plants in the Cenozoic Era created new niches for insects, as well as for birds and mammals. Changes in animal species diversity during the late Cretaceous and early Cenozoic were also promoted by a dramatic shift in Earth’s geography, as continental plates slid over the crust into their current positions, leaving some animal groups isolated on islands and continents, or separated by mountain ranges or inland seas from other competitors. Early in the Cenozoic, new ecosystems appeared, with the evolution of grasses and coral reefs. Late in the Cenozoic, further extinctions followed by speciation occurred during ice ages that covered high latitudes with ice and then retreated, leaving new open spaces for colonization. Watch the following video ( to learn more about the mass extinctions. Figure 27.19 Mass extinctions have occurred repeatedly over geological time. Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity 737 Paleontologist Natural history museums contain the fossil casts of extinct animals and information about how these animals evolved, lived, and died. Paleontogists are scientists who study prehistoric life. They use fossils to observe and explain how life evolved on Earth and how species interacted with each other and with the environment. A paleontologist needs to be knowledgeable in biology, ecology, chemistry, geology, and many other scientific disciplines. A paleontologist’s work may involve field studies: searching for and studying fossils. In addition to digging for and finding fossils, paleontologists also prepare fossils for further study and analysis. Although dinosaurs are probably the first animals that come to mind when thinking about paleontology, paleontologists study everything from plant life, fungi, and fish to sea animals and birds. An undergraduate degree in earth science or biology is a good place to start toward the career path of becoming a paleontologist. Most often, a graduate degree is necessary. Additionally, work experience in a museum or in a paleontology lab is useful. 738 Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity This OpenStax book is available for free at acoelomate bilateral symmetry blastopore blastula body plan Cambrian explosion cleavage coelom Cryogenian period determinate cleavage deuterostome diploblast Ecdysozoa Ediacaran period enterocoely eucoelomate Eumetazoa gastrula germ layer Hox gene indeterminate cleavage Lophotrochozoa mass extinction Metazoa organogenesis Parazoa protostome KEY TERMS animal without a body cavity type of symmetry in which there is only one plane of symmetry, so the left and right halves of an animal are mirror images indentation formed during gastrulation, evident in the gastrula stage 16–32 cell stage of development of an animal embryo morphology or constant shape of an organism time during the Cambrian period (542–488 million years ago) when most of the animal phyla in existence today evolved cell division of a fertilized egg (zygote) to form a multicellular embryo lined body cavity geologic period (850–630 million years ago) characterized by a very cold global climate developmental tissue fate of each embryonic cell is already determined blastopore develops into the anus, with the second opening developing into the mouth animal that develops from two germ layers clade of protostomes that exhibit exoskeletal molting (ecdysis) geological period (630–542 million years ago) when the oldest definite multicellular organisms with tissues evolved mesoderm of deuterostomes develops as pouches that are pinched off from endodermal tissue, cavity contained within the pouches becomes coelom animal with a body cavity completely lined with mesodermal tissue group of animals with true differentiated tissues stage of animal development characterized by the formation of the digestive cavity collection of cells formed during embryogenesis that will give rise to future body tissues, more pronounced in vertebrate embryogenesis (also, homeobox gene) master control gene that can turn on or off large numbers of other genes during embryogenesis early stage of development when germ cells or “stem cells” are not yet pre-determined to develop into specific cell types clade of protostomes that exhibit a trochophore larvae stage or a lophophore feeding structure event that wipes out the majority of species within a relatively short geological time period group containing all animals formation of organs in animal embryogenesis group of animals without true differentiated tissues blastopore develops into the mouth of protostomes, with the second opening developing into the anus Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity 739 pseudocoelomate radial cleavage radial symmetry schizocoely spiral cleavage triploblast animal with a body cavity located between the mesoderm and endoderm cleavage axes are parallel or perpendicular to the polar axis, resulting in the alignment of cells between the two poles type of symmetry with multiple planes of symmetry, with body parts (rays) arranged around a central disk during development of protostomes, a solid mass of mesoderm splits apart and forms the hollow opening of the coelom cells of one pole of the embryo are rotated or misaligned with respect to the cells of the opposite pole animal that develops from three germ layers CHAPTER SUMMARY 27.1 Features of the Animal Kingdom Animals constitute an incredibly diverse kingdom of organisms. Although animals range in complexity from simple sea sponges to human beings, most members of the animal kingdom share certain features. Animals are eukaryotic, multicellular, heterotrophic organisms that ingest their food and usually develop into motile creatures with a fixed body plan. A major characteristic unique to the animal kingdom is the presence of differentiated tissues, such as nerve, muscle, and connective tissues, which are specialized to perform specific functions. Most animals undergo sexual reproduction, leading to a series of developmental embryonic stages that are relatively similar across the animal kingdom. A class of transcriptional control genes called Hox genes directs the organization of the major animal body plans, and these genes are strongly homologous across the animal kingdom. 27.2 Features Used to Classify Animals Organisms in the animal kingdom are classified based on their body morphology and development. True animals are divided into those with radial versus bilateral symmetry. Generally, the simpler and often non-motile animals display radial symmetry. Animals with radial symmetry are also generally characterized by the development of two embryological germ layers, the endoderm and ectoderm, whereas animals with bilateral symmetry are generally characterized by the development of a third embryological germ layer, the mesoderm. Animals with three germ layers, called triploblasts, are further characterized by the presence or absence of an internal body cavity called a coelom. The presence of a coelom affords many advantages, and animals with a coelom may be termed true coelomates or pseudocoelomates, depending on which tissue gives rise to the coelom. Coelomates are further divided into one of two groups called protostomes and deuterostomes, based on a number of developmental characteristics, including differences in zygote cleavage and method of coelom formation. 27.3 Animal Phylogeny Scientists are interested in the evolutionary history of animals and the evolutionary relationships among them. There are three main sources of data that scientists use to create phylogenetic evolutionary tree diagrams that illustrate such relationships: morphological information (which includes developmental morphologies), fossil record data, and, most recently, molecular data. The details of the modern phylogenetic tree change frequently as new data are gathered, and molecular data has recently contributed to many substantial modifications of the understanding of relationships between animal phyla. 27.4 The Evolutionary History of the Animal Kingdom The most rapid diversification and evolution of animal species in all of history occurred during the Cambrian period of the Paleozoic Era, a phenomenon known as the Cambrian explosion. Until recently, scientists believed that there were only very few tiny and simplistic animal species in existence before this period. However, recent fossil discoveries have revealed that additional, larger, and more complex animals existed during the Ediacaran period, and even possibly earlier, during the Cryogenian period. Still, the Cambrian period undoubtedly witnessed the emergence of the majority of animal phyla that we know today, although many questions remain unresolved about this historical phenomenon. The remainder of the Paleozoic Era is marked by the growing appearance of new classes, families, and species, and the early colonization of land by certain marine animals. The evolutionary history of animals is also marked by numerous 740 Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity This OpenStax book is available for free at major extinction events, each of which wiped out a majority of extant species. Some species of most animal phyla survived these extinctions, allowing the phyla to persist and continue to evolve into species that we see today. ART CONNECTION QUESTIONS 1. Figure 27.5 If a Hox 13 gene in a mouse was replaced with a Hox 1 gene, how might this alter animal development? 2. Figure 27.6 Which of the following statements is false? a. Eumetazoans have specialized tissues and parazoans don’t. b. Lophotrochozoa and Ecdysozoa are both Bilataria. c. Acoela and Cnidaria both possess radial symmetry. d. Arthropods are more closely related to nematodes than they are to annelids. 3. Figure 27.9 Which of the following statements about diploblasts and triploblasts is false? a. Animals that display radial symmetry are diploblasts. b. Animals that display bilateral symmetry are triploblasts. c. The endoderm gives rise to the lining of the digestive tract and the respiratory tract. d. The mesoderm gives rise to the central nervous system. REVIEW QUESTIONS 4. Which of the following is not a feature common to most animals? a. development into a fixed body plan b. asexual reproduction c. specialized tissues d. heterotrophic nutrient sourcing 5. During embryonic development, unique cell layers develop and distinguish during a stage called ________. a. the blastula stage b. the germ layer stage c. the gastrula stage d. the organogenesis stage 6. Which of the following phenotypes would most likely be the result of a Hox gene mutation? a. abnormal body length or height b. two different eye colors c. the contraction of a genetic illness d. two fewer appendages than normal 7. Which of the following organism is most likely to be a diploblast? a. sea star b. shrimp c. jellyfish d. insect 8. Which of the following is not possible? a. radially symmetrical diploblast b. diploblastic eucoelomate c. protostomic coelomate d. bilaterally symmetrical deuterostome 9. An animal whose development is marked by radial cleavage and enterocoely is ________. a. a deuterostome b. an annelid or mollusk c. either an acoelomate or eucoelomate d. none of the above 10. Consulting the modern phylogenetic tree of animals, which of the following would not constitute a clade? a. deuterostomes b. lophotrochozoans c. Parazoa d. Bilateria 11. Which of the following is thought to be the most closely related to the common animal ancestor? a. fungal cells b. protist cells c. plant cells d. bacterial cells 12. As with the emergence of the Acoelomorpha phylum, it is common for ____ data to misplace animals in close relation to other species, whereas ____ data often reveals a different and more accurate evolutionary relationship. a. molecular : morphological b. molecular : fossil record c. fossil record : morphological d. morphological : molecular 13. Which of the following periods is the earliest during which animals may have appeared? a. Ordovician period b. Cambrian period c. Ediacaran period d. Cryogenian period 14. What type of data is primarily used to determine the existence and appearance of early animal species? a. molecular data b. fossil data c. morphological data Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity 741 d. embryological development data 15. The time between 542–488 million years ago marks which period? a. Cambrian period b. Silurian period c. Ediacaran period d. Devonian period 16. Until recent discoveries suggested otherwise, animals existing before the Cambrian period were believed to be: a. small and ocean-dwelling b. small and non-motile c. small and soft-bodied d. small and radially symmetrical or asymmetrical 17. Plant life first appeared on land during which of the following periods? a. Cambrian period b. Ordovician period c. Silurian period d. Devonian period 18. Approximately how many mass extinction events occurred throughout the evolutionary history of animals? a. 3 b. 4 c. 5 d. more than 5 CRITICAL THINKING QUESTIONS 19. Why might the evolution of specialized tissues be important for animal function and complexity? 20. Describe and give examples of how humans display all of the features common to the animal kingdom. 21. How have Hox genes contributed to the diversity of animal body plans? 22. Using the following terms, explain what classifications and groups humans fall into, from the most general to the most specific: symmetry, germ layers, coelom, cleavage, embryological development. 23. Explain some of the advantages brought about through the evolution of bilateral symmetry and coelom formation. 24. Describe at least two major changes to the animal phylogenetic tree that have come about due to molecular or genetic findings. 25. How is it that morphological data alone might lead scientists to group animals into erroneous evolutionary relationships? 26. Briefly describe at least two theories that attempt to explain the cause of the Cambrian explosion. 27. How is it that most, if not all, of the extant animal phyla today evolved during the Cambrian period if so many massive extinction events have taken place since then? 742 Chapter 27 | Introduction to Animal Diversity This OpenStax book is available for free at 28 | INVERTEBRATES Figure 28.1 Nearly 97 percent of animal species are invertebrates, including this sea star ( Astropecten articulates ) common to the eastern and southern coasts of the United States (credit: modification of work by Mark Walz) Chapter Outline 28.1: Phylum Porifera 28.2: Phylum Cnidaria 28.3: Superphylum Lophotrochozoa 28.4: Superphylum Ecdysozoa 28.5: Superphylum Deuterostomia Introduction A brief look at any magazine pertaining to our natural world, such as National Geographic , would show a rich variety of vertebrates, especially mammals and birds. To most people, these are the animals that attract our attention. Concentrating on vertebrates, however, gives us a rather biased and limited view of biodiversity, because it ignores nearly 97 percent of the animal kingdom, namely the invertebrates. Invertebrate animals are those without a cranium and defined vertebral column or spine. In addition to lacking a spine, most invertebrates also lack an endoskeleton. A large number of invertebrates are aquatic animals, and scientific research suggests that many of the world’s species are aquatic invertebrates that have not yet been documented. 28.1 | Phylum Porifera By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Describe the organizational features of the simplest multicellular organisms • Explain the various body forms and bodily functions of sponges Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 743 The invertebrates, or invertebrata , are animals that do not contain bony structures, such as the cranium and vertebrae. The simplest of all the invertebrates are the Parazoans, which include only the phylum Porifera : the sponges ( Figure 28.2 ). Parazoans (“beside animals”) do not display tissue-level organization, although they do have specialized cells that perform specific functions. Sponge larvae are able to swim; however, adults are non-motile and spend their life attached to a substratum. Since water is vital to sponges for excretion, feeding, and gas exchange, their body structure facilitates the movement of water through the sponge. Structures such as canals, chambers, and cavities enable water to move through the sponge to nearly all body cells. Figure 28.2 Sponges are members of the Phylum Porifera, which contains the simplest invertebrates. (credit: Andrew Turner) Morphology of Sponges The morphology of the simplest sponges takes the shape of a cylinder with a large central cavity, the spongocoel , occupying the inside of the cylinder. Water can enter into the spongocoel from numerous pores in the body wall. Water entering the spongocoel is extruded via a large common opening called the osculum . However, sponges exhibit a range of diversity in body forms, including variations in the size of the spongocoel, the number of osculi, and where the cells that filter food from the water are located. While sponges (excluding the hexactinellids) do not exhibit tissue-layer organization, they do have different cell types that perform distinct functions. Pinacocytes , which are epithelial-like cells, form the outermost layer of sponges and enclose a jelly-like substance called mesohyl. Mesohyl is an extracellular matrix consisting of a collagen-like gel with suspended cells that perform various functions. The gel-like consistency of mesohyl acts like an endoskeleton and maintains the tubular morphology of sponges. In addition to the osculum, sponges have multiple pores called ostia on their bodies that allow water to enter the sponge. In some sponges, ostia are formed by porocytes, single tube-shaped cells that act as valves to regulate the flow of water into the spongocoel. In other sponges, ostia are formed by folds in the body wall of the sponge. Choanocytes (“collar cells”) are present at various locations, depending on the type of sponge, but they always line the inner portions of some space through which water flows (the spongocoel in simple sponges, canals within the body wall in more complex sponges, and chambers scattered throughout the body in the most complex sponges). Whereas pinacocytes line the outside of the sponge, choanocytes tend to line certain inner portions of the sponge body that surround the mesohyl. The structure of a choanocyte is critical to its function, which is to generate a water current through the sponge and to trap and ingest food particles by phagocytosis. Note the similarity in appearance between the sponge choanocyte and choanoflagellates (Protista). This similarity suggests that sponges and choanoflagellates are closely related and likely share a recent common ancestry. The cell body is embedded in mesohyl and contains all organelles required for normal cell function, but protruding into the “open space” inside of the sponge is a mesh-like collar composed of microvilli with a single flagellum in the center of the column. The cumulative effect of the flagella from all choanocytes aids the movement of water through the sponge: drawing water into the sponge through the numerous ostia, into the spaces lined by choanocytes, and eventually out through the osculum (or osculi). In the meantime, food particles, including waterborne bacteria and algae, are trapped by the sieve-like collar of the choanocytes, slide down into the body of the cell, are ingested by phagocytosis, and become encased in a food vacuole. Lastly, choanocytes will differentiate into sperm for sexual reproduction, where they will become dislodged from the mesohyl and leave the sponge with expelled water through the osculum. 744 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Watch this video ( to see the movement of water through the sponge body. The second crucial cells in sponges are called amoebocytes (or archaeocytes), named for the fact that they move throughout the mesohyl in an amoeba-like fashion. Amoebocytes have a variety of functions: delivering nutrients from choanocytes to other cells within the sponge, giving rise to eggs for sexual reproduction (which remain in the mesohyl), delivering phagocytized sperm from choanocytes to eggs, and differentiating into more-specific cell types. Some of these more- specific cell types include collencytes and lophocytes, which produce the collagen-like protein to maintain the mesohyl, sclerocytes, which produce spicules in some sponges, and spongocytes, which produce the protein spongin in the majority of sponges. These cells produce collagen to maintain the consistency of the mesohyl. The different cell types in sponges are shown in Figure 28.3 . Figure 28.3 The sponge’s (a) basic body plan and (b) some of the specialized cell types found in sponges are shown. Which of the following statements is false? a. Choanocytes have flagella that propel water through the body. b. Pinacocytes can transform into any cell type. c. Lophocytes secrete collagen. d. Porocytes control the flow of water through pores in the sponge body. In some sponges, sclerocytes secrete small spicules into the mesohyl, which are composed of either calcium carbonate or silica, depending on the type of sponge. These spicules serve to provide additional stiffness to the body of the sponge. Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 745 Additionally, spicules, when present externally, may ward off predators. Another type of protein, spongin, may also be present in the mesohyl of some sponges. Take an up-close tour ( through the sponge and its cells. The presence and composition of spicules/spongin are the differentiating characteristics of the three classes of sponges (Figure 28.4 ): Class Calcarea contains calcium carbonate spicules and no spongin, class Hexactinellida contains six-rayed siliceous spicules and no spongin, and class Demospongia contains spongin and may or may not have spicules; if present, those spicules are siliceous. Spicules are most conspicuously present in class Hexactinellida, the order consisting of glass sponges. Some of the spicules may attain giant proportions (in relation to the typical size range of glass sponges of 3 to 10 mm) as seen in Monorhaphis chuni , which grows up to 3 m long. Figure 28.4 (a) Clathrina clathrus belongs to class Calcarea, (b) Staurocalyptus spp. (common name: yellow Picasso sponge) belongs to class Hexactinellida, and (c) Acarnus erithacus belongs to class Demospongia. (credit a: modification of work by Parent Géry; credit b: modification of work by Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, NOAA; credit c: modification of work by Sanctuary Integrated Monitoring Network, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, NOAA) Use the Interactive Sponge Guide ( to identify species of sponges based on their external form, mineral skeleton, fiber, and skeletal architecture. Physiological Processes in Sponges Sponges, despite being simple organisms, regulate their different physiological processes through a variety of mechanisms. These processes regulate their metabolism, reproduction, and locomotion. Digestion Sponges lack complex digestive, respiratory, circulatory, reproductive, and nervous systems. Their food is trapped when water passes through the ostia and out through the osculum. Bacteria smaller than 0.5 microns in size are trapped by choanocytes, which are the principal cells engaged in nutrition, and are ingested by phagocytosis. Particles that are larger than the ostia may be phagocytized by pinacocytes. In some sponges, amoebocytes transport food from cells that have 746 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at ingested food particles to those that do not. For this type of digestion, in which food particles are digested within individual cells, the sponge draws water through diffusion. The limit of this type of digestion is that food particles must be smaller than individual cells. All other major body functions in the sponge (gas exchange, circulation, excretion) are performed by diffusion between the cells that line the openings within the sponge and the water that is passing through those openings. All cell types within the sponge obtain oxygen from water through diffusion. Likewise, carbon dioxide is released into seawater by diffusion. In addition, nitrogenous waste produced as a byproduct of protein metabolism is excreted via diffusion by individual cells into the water as it passes through the sponge. Reproduction Sponges reproduce by sexual as well as asexual methods. The typical means of asexual reproduction is either fragmentation (where a piece of the sponge breaks off, settles on a new substrate, and develops into a new individual) or budding (a genetically identical outgrowth grows from the parent and eventually detaches or remains attached to form a colony). An atypical type of asexual reproduction is found only in freshwater sponges and occurs through the formation of gemmules. Gemmules are environmentally resistant structures produced by adult sponges wherein the typical sponge morphology is inverted. In gemmules, an inner layer of amoebocytes is surrounded by a layer of collagen (spongin) that may be reinforced by spicules. The collagen that is normally found in the mesohyl becomes the outer protective layer. In freshwater sponges, gemmules may survive hostile environmental conditions like changes in temperature and serve to recolonize the habitat once environmental conditions stabilize. Gemmules are capable of attaching to a substratum and generating a new sponge. Since gemmules can withstand harsh environments, are resistant to desiccation, and remain dormant for long periods, they are an excellent means of colonization for a sessile organism. Sexual reproduction in sponges occurs when gametes are generated. Sponges are monoecious (hermaphroditic), which means that one individual can produce both gametes (eggs and sperm) simultaneously. In some sponges, production of gametes may occur throughout the year, whereas other sponges may show sexual cycles depending upon water temperature. Sponges may also become sequentially hermaphroditic, producing oocytes first and spermatozoa later. Oocytes arise by the differentiation of amoebocytes and are retained within the spongocoel, whereas spermatozoa result from the differentiation of choanocytes and are ejected via the osculum. Ejection of spermatozoa may be a timed and coordinated event, as seen in certain species. Spermatozoa carried along by water currents can fertilize the oocytes borne in the mesohyl of other sponges. Early larval development occurs within the sponge, and free-swimming larvae are then released via the osculum. Locomotion Sponges are generally sessile as adults and spend their lives attached to a fixed substratum. They do not show movement over large distances like other free-swimming marine invertebrates. However, sponge cells are capable of creeping along substrata via organizational plasticity. Under experimental conditions, researchers have shown that sponge cells spread on a physical support demonstrate a leading edge for directed movement. It has been speculated that this localized creeping movement may help sponges adjust to microenvironments near the point of attachment. It must be noted, however, that this pattern of movement has been documented in laboratories, but it remains to be observed in natural sponge habitats. Watch this BBC video ( showing the array of sponges seen along the Cayman Wall during a submersible dive. Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 747 28.2 | Phylum Cnidaria By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Compare structural and organization characteristics of Porifera and Cnidaria • Describe the progressive development of tissues and their relevance to animal complexity Phylum Cnidaria includes animals that show radial or biradial symmetry and are diploblastic, that is, they develop from two embryonic layers. Nearly all (about 99 percent) cnidarians are marine species. Cnidarians contain specialized cells known as cnidocytes (“stinging cells”) containing organelles called nematocysts (stingers). These cells are present around the mouth and tentacles, and serve to immobilize prey with toxins contained within the cells. Nematocysts contain coiled threads that may bear barbs. The outer wall of the cell has hairlike projections called cnidocils, which are sensitive to touch. When touched, the cells are known to fire coiled threads that can either penetrate the flesh of the prey or predators of cnidarians (see Figure 28.5 ) or ensnare it. These coiled threads release toxins into the target and can often immobilize prey or scare away predators. Figure 28.5 Animals from the phylum Cnidaria have stinging cells called cnidocytes. Cnidocytes contain large organelles called (a) nematocysts that store a coiled thread and barb. When hairlike projections on the cell surface are touched, (b) the thread, barb, and a toxin are fired from the organelle. View this video ( animation showing two anemones engaged in a battle. Animals in this phylum display two distinct morphological body plans: polyp or “stalk” and medusa or “bell” ( Figure 28.6 ). An example of the polyp form is Hydra spp.; perhaps the most well-known medusoid animals are the jellies (jellyfish). Polyp forms are sessile as adults, with a single opening to the digestive system (the mouth) facing up with tentacles surrounding it. Medusa forms are motile, with the mouth and tentacles hanging down from an umbrella-shaped bell. 748 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 28.6 Cnidarians have two distinct body plans, the medusa (a) and the polyp (b). All cnidarians have two membrane layers, with a jelly-like mesoglea between them. Some cnidarians are polymorphic, that is, they have two body plans during their life cycle. An example is the colonial hydroid called an Obelia. The sessile polyp form has, in fact, two types of polyps, shown in Figure 28.7 . The first is the gastrozooid, which is adapted for capturing prey and feeding; the other type of polyp is the gonozooid, adapted for the asexual budding of medusa. When the reproductive buds mature, they break off and become free-swimming medusa, which are either male or female (dioecious). The male medusa makes sperm, whereas the female medusa makes eggs. After fertilization, the zygote develops into a blastula, which develops into a planula larva. The larva is free swimming for a while, but eventually attaches and a new colonial reproductive polyp is formed. Figure 28.7 The sessile form of Obelia geniculate has two types of polyps: gastrozooids, which are adapted for capturing prey, and gonozooids, which bud to produce medusae asexually. Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 749 Click here to follow the life cycle ( of the Obelia. All cnidarians show the presence of two membrane layers in the body that are derived from the endoderm and ectoderm of the embryo. The outer layer (from ectoderm) is called the epidermis and lines the outside of the animal, whereas the inner layer (from endoderm) is called the gastrodermis and lines the digestive cavity. Between these two membrane layers is a non-living, jelly-like mesoglea connective layer. In terms of cellular complexity, cnidarians show the presence of differentiated cell types in each tissue layer, such as nerve cells, contractile epithelial cells, enzyme-secreting cells, and nutrient-absorbing cells, as well as the presence of intercellular connections. However, the development of organs or organ systems is not advanced in this phylum. The nervous system is primitive, with nerve cells scattered across the body. This nerve net may show the presence of groups of cells in the form of nerve plexi (singular plexus) or nerve cords. The nerve cells show mixed characteristics of motor as well as sensory neurons. The predominant signaling molecules in these primitive nervous systems are chemical peptides, which perform both excitatory and inhibitory functions. Despite the simplicity of the nervous system, it coordinates the movement of tentacles, the drawing of captured prey to the mouth, the digestion of food, and the expulsion of waste. The cnidarians perform extracellular digestion in which the food is taken into the gastrovascular cavity, enzymes are secreted into the cavity, and the cells lining the cavity absorb nutrients. The gastrovascular cavity has only one opening that serves as both a mouth and an anus, which is termed an incomplete digestive system. Cnidarian cells exchange oxygen and carbon dioxide by diffusion between cells in the epidermis with water in the environment, and between cells in the gastrodermis with water in the gastrovascular cavity. The lack of a circulatory system to move dissolved gases limits the thickness of the body wall and necessitates a non-living mesoglea between the layers. There is no excretory system or organs, and nitrogenous wastes simply diffuse from the cells into the water outside the animal or in the gastrovascular cavity. There is also no circulatory system, so nutrients must move from the cells that absorb them in the lining of the gastrovascular cavity through the mesoglea to other cells. The phylum Cnidaria contains about 10,000 described species divided into four classes: Anthozoa, Scyphozoa, Cubozoa, and Hydrozoa. The anthozoans, the sea anemones and corals, are all sessile species, whereas the scyphozoans (jellyfish) and cubozoans (box jellies) are swimming forms. The hydrozoans contain sessile forms and swimming colonial forms like the Portuguese Man O’ War. Class Anthozoa The class Anthozoa includes all cnidarians that exhibit a polyp body plan only; in other words, there is no medusa stage within their life cycle. Examples include sea anemones ( Figure 28.8 ), sea pens, and corals, with an estimated number of 6,100 described species. Sea anemones are usually brightly colored and can attain a size of 1.8 to 10 cm in diameter. These animals are usually cylindrical in shape and are attached to a substrate. A mouth opening is surrounded by tentacles bearing cnidocytes. 750 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 28.8 The sea anemone is shown (a) photographed and (b) in a diagram illustrating its morphology. (credit a: modification of work by “Dancing With Ghosts”/Flickr; credit b: modification of work by NOAA) The mouth of a sea anemone is surrounded by tentacles that bear cnidocytes. The slit-like mouth opening and pharynx are lined by a groove called a siphonophore . The pharynx is the muscular part of the digestive system that serves to ingest as well as egest food, and may extend for up to two-thirds the length of the body before opening into the gastrovascular cavity. This cavity is divided into several chambers by longitudinal septa called mesenteries. Each mesentery consists of one ectodermal and one endodermal cell layer with the mesoglea sandwiched in between. Mesenteries do not divide the gastrovascular cavity completely, and the smaller cavities coalesce at the pharyngeal opening. The adaptive benefit of the mesenteries appears to be an increase in surface area for absorption of nutrients and gas exchange. Sea anemones feed on small fish and shrimp, usually by immobilizing their prey using the cnidocytes. Some sea anemones establish a mutualistic relationship with hermit crabs by attaching to the crab’s shell. In this relationship, the anemone gets food particles from prey caught by the crab, and the crab is protected from the predators by the stinging cells of the anemone. Anemone fish, or clownfish, are able to live in the anemone since they are immune to the toxins contained within the nematocysts. Anthozoans remain polypoid throughout their lives and can reproduce asexually by budding or fragmentation, or sexually by producing gametes. Both gametes are produced by the polyp, which can fuse to give rise to a free-swimming planula larva. The larva settles on a suitable substratum and develops into a sessile polyp. Class Scyphozoa Class Scyphozoa includes all the jellies and is exclusively a marine class of animals with about 200 known species. The defining characteristic of this class is that the medusa is the prominent stage in the life cycle, although there is a polyp stage present. Members of this species range from 2 to 40 cm in length but the largest scyphozoan species, Cyanea capillata ,can reach a size of 2 m across. Scyphozoans display a characteristic bell-like morphology ( Figure 28.9 ). Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 751 Figure 28.9 A jelly is shown (a) photographed and (b) in a diagram illustrating its morphology. (credit a: modification of work by “Jimg944″/Flickr; credit b: modification of work by Mariana Ruiz Villareal) In the jellyfish, a mouth opening is present on the underside of the animal, surrounded by tentacles bearing nematocysts. Scyphozoans live most of their life cycle as free-swimming, solitary carnivores. The mouth leads to the gastrovascular cavity, which may be sectioned into four interconnected sacs, called diverticuli. In some species, the digestive system may be further branched into radial canals. Like the septa in anthozoans, the branched gastrovascular cells serve two functions: to increase the surface area for nutrient absorption and diffusion; thus, more cells are in direct contact with the nutrients in the gastrovascular cavity. In scyphozoans, nerve cells are scattered all over the body. Neurons may even be present in clusters called rhopalia. These animals possess a ring of muscles lining the dome of the body, which provides the contractile force required to swim through water. Scyphozoans are dioecious animals, that is, the sexes are separate. The gonads are formed from the gastrodermis and gametes are expelled through the mouth. Planula larvae are formed by external fertilization; they settle on a substratum in a polypoid form known as scyphistoma. These forms may produce additional polyps by budding or may transform into the medusoid form. The life cycle ( Figure 28.10 ) of these animals can be described as polymorphic , because they exhibit both a medusal and polypoid body plan at some point in their life cycle. 752 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 28.10 The lifecycle of a jellyfish includes two stages: the medusa stage and the polyp stage. The polyp reproduces asexually by budding, and the medusa reproduces sexually. (credit “medusa”: modification of work by Francesco Crippa) Identify the life cycle stages of jellies using this video animation quiz ( from the New England Aquarium. Class Cubozoa This class includes jellies that have a box-shaped medusa, or a bell that is square in cross-section; hence, are colloquially known as “box jellyfish.” These species may achieve sizes of 15–25 cm. Cubozoans display overall morphological and anatomical characteristics that are similar to those of the scyphozoans. A prominent difference between the two classes is the arrangement of tentacles. This is the most venomous group of all the cnidarians ( Figure 28.11 ). The cubozoans contain muscular pads called pedalia at the corners of the square bell canopy, with one or more tentacles attached to each pedalium. These animals are further classified into orders based on the presence of single or multiple tentacles per pedalium. In some cases, the digestive system may extend into the pedalia. Nematocysts may be arranged in a spiral configuration along the tentacles; this arrangement helps to effectively subdue and capture prey. Cubozoans exist in a polypoid form that develops from a planula larva. These polyps show limited mobility along the substratum and, like scyphozoans, may bud to form more polyps to colonize a habitat. Polyp forms then transform into the medusoid forms. Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 753 Figure 28.11 The (a) tiny cubazoan jelly Malo kingi is thimble shaped and, like all cubozoan jellies, (b) has four muscular pedalia to which the tentacles attach. M. kingi is one of two species of jellies known to cause Irukandji syndrome, a condition characterized by excruciating muscle pain, vomiting, increased heart rate, and psychological symptoms. Two people in Australia, where Irukandji jellies are most commonly found, are believed to have died from Irukandji stings. (c) A sign on a beach in northern Australia warns swimmers of the danger. (credit c: modification of work by Peter Shanks) Class Hydrozoa Hydrozoa includes nearly 3,200 species; most are marine, although some freshwater species are known ( Figure 28.12 ). Animals in this class are polymorphs, and most exhibit both polypoid and medusoid forms in their lifecycle, although this is variable. The polyp form in these animals often shows a cylindrical morphology with a central gastrovascular cavity lined by the gastrodermis. The gastrodermis and epidermis have a simple layer of mesoglea sandwiched between them. A mouth opening, surrounded by tentacles, is present at the oral end of the animal. Many hydrozoans form colonies that are composed of a branched colony of specialized polyps that share a gastrovascular cavity, such as in the colonial hydroid Obelia . Colonies may also be free-floating and contain medusoid and polypoid individuals in the colony as in Physalia (the Portuguese Man O’ War) or Ve l e l l a (By-the-wind sailor). Even other species are solitary polyps ( Hydra ) or solitary medusae (Gonionemus ). The true characteristic shared by all of these diverse species is that their gonads for sexual reproduction are derived from epidermal tissue, whereas in all other cnidarians they are derived from gastrodermal tissue. 754 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 28.12 (a) Obelia , (b) Physalia physalis , known as the Portuguese Man O‘ War, (c) Velella bae , and (d) Hydra have different body shapes but all belong to the family Hydrozoa. (credit b: modification of work by NOAA; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) 28.3 | Superphylum Lophotrochozoa By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Describe the unique anatomical and morphological features of flatworms, rotifers, Nemertea, mollusks, and annelids • Describe the development of an extracoelomic cavity • Discuss the advantages of true body segmentation • Explain the key features of Platyhelminthes and their importance as parasites • Describe the features of animals classified in phylum Annelida Animals belonging to superphylum Lophotrochozoa are protostomes, in which the blastopore, or the point of involution of the ectoderm or outer germ layer, becomes the mouth opening to the alimentary canal. This is called protostomy or “first mouth.” In protostomy, solid groups of cells split from the endoderm or inner germ layer to form a central mesodermal layer Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 755 of cells. This layer multiplies into a band and then splits internally to form the coelom; this protostomic coelom is hence termed schizocoelom . As lophotrochozoans, the organisms in this superphylum possess either a lophophore or trochophore larvae. The lophophores include groups that are united by the presence of the lophophore, a set of ciliated tentacles surrounding the mouth. Lophophorata include the flatworms and several other phyla. These clades are upheld when RNA sequences are compared. Trochophore larvae are characterized by two bands of cilia around the body. The lophotrochozoans are triploblastic and possess an embryonic mesoderm sandwiched between the ectoderm and endoderm found in the diploblastic cnidarians. These phyla are also bilaterally symmetrical, meaning that a longitudinal section will divide them into right and left sides that are symmetrical. It also means the beginning of cephalization, the evolution of a concentration of nervous tissues and sensory organs in the head of the organism, which is where it first encounters its environment. Phylum Platyhelminthes The flatworms are acoelomate organisms that include many free-living and parasitic forms. Most of the flatworms are classified in the superphylum Lophotrochozoa, which also includes the mollusks and annelids. The Platyhelminthes consist of two lineages: the Catenulida and the Rhabditophora. The Catenulida, or “chain worms” is a small clade of just over 100 species. These worms typically reproduce asexually by budding. However, the offspring do not fully attach from the parents and, resemble a chain in appearance. All of the remaining flatworms discussed here are part of the Rhabditophora. Many flatworms are parasitic, including important parasites of humans. Flatworms have three embryonic tissue layers that give rise to surfaces that cover tissues (from ectoderm), internal tissues (from mesoderm), and line the digestive system (from endoderm). The epidermal tissue is a single layer cells or a layer of fused cells (syncytium) that covers a layer of circular muscle above a layer of longitudinal muscle. The mesodermal tissues include mesenchymal cells that contain collagen and support secretory cells that secrete mucus and other materials at the surface. The flatworms are acoelomates, so their bodies are solid between the outer surface and the cavity of the digestive system. Physiological Processes of Flatworms The free-living species of flatworms are predators or scavengers. Parasitic forms feed on the tissues of their hosts. Most flatworms, such as the planarian shown in Figure 28.13 , have a gastrovascular cavity rather than a complete digestive system. In such animals, the “mouth” is also used to expel waste materials from the digestive system. Some species also have an anal opening. The gut may be a simple sac or highly branched. Digestion is extracellular, with digested materials taken in to the cells of the gut lining by phagocytosis. One group, the cestodes, lacks a digestive system. Flatworms have an excretory system with a network of tubules throughout the body with openings to the environment and nearby flame cells, whose cilia beat to direct waste fluids concentrated in the tubules out of the body. The system is responsible for the regulation of dissolved salts and the excretion of nitrogenous wastes. The nervous system consists of a pair of nerve cords running the length of the body with connections between them and a large ganglion or concentration of nerves at the anterior end of the worm, where there may also be a concentration of photosensory and chemosensory cells. There is neither a circulatory nor respiratory system, with gas and nutrient exchange dependent on diffusion and cell-cell junctions. This necessarily limits the thickness of the body in these organisms, constraining them to be “flat” worms. Most flatworm species are monoecious, and fertilization is typically internal. Asexual reproduction is common in some groups. 756 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 28.13 The planarian is a flatworm that has a gastrovascular cavity with one opening that serves as both mouth and anus. The excretory system is made up of tubules connected to excretory pores on both sides of the body. The nervous system is composed of two interconnected nerve cords running the length of the body, with cerebral ganglia and eyespots at the anterior end. Diversity of Flatworms Platyhelminthes are traditionally divided into four classes: Turbellaria, Monogenea, Trematoda, and Cestoda ( Figure 28.14 ). As discussed above, the relationships among members of these classes is being reassessed, with the turbellarians in particular now viewed as a paraphyletic group, a group that does not have a single common ancestor. Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 757 Figure 28.14 Phylum Platyhelminthes is divided into four classes. (a) Class Turbellaria includes the Bedford’s flatworm (Pseudobiceros bedfordi ), which is about 8–10 cm in length. (b) The parasitic class Monogenea includes Dactylogyrus spp. Dactylogyrus , commonly called a gill fluke, is about 0.2 mm in length and has two anchors, indicated by arrows, that it uses to latch onto the gills of host fish. (c) The Trematoda class includes Fascioloides magna (right) and Fasciaola hepatica (two specimens of left, also known as the common liver fluke). (d) Class Cestoda includes tapeworms such as this Taenia saginata .T. saginata , which infects both cattle and humans, can reach 4–10 meters in length; the specimen shown here is about 4 meters. (credit a: modification of work by Jan Derk; credit d: modification of work by CDC) The class Turbellaria includes mainly free-living, marine species, although some species live in freshwater or moist terrestrial environments. The ventral epidermis of turbellarians is ciliated and facilitates their locomotion. Some turbellarians are capable of remarkable feats of regeneration in which they may regrow the body, even from a small fragment. The monogeneans are ectoparasites, mostly of fish, with simple lifecycles that consist of a free-swimming larva that attaches to a fish to begin transformation to the parasitic adult form. The parasite has only one host and that host is usually only one species. The worms may produce enzymes that digest the host tissues or simply graze on surface mucus and skin particles. Most monogeneans are hermaphroditic, but the male gametes develop first and so cross-fertilization is quite common. The trematodes, or flukes, are internal parasites of mollusks and many other groups, including humans. Trematodes have complex lifecycles that involve a primary host in which sexual reproduction occurs, and one or more secondary hosts in which asexual reproduction occurs. The primary host is almost always a mollusk. Trematodes are responsible for serious human diseases including schistosomiasis, a blood fluke. The disease infects an estimated 200 million people in the tropics, leading to organ damage and chronic symptoms like fatigue. Infection occurs when the human enters the water and a larva, released from the primary snail host, locates and penetrates the skin. The parasite infects various organs in the body and feeds on red blood cells before reproducing. Many of the eggs are released in feces and find their way into a waterway, where they are able to reinfect the primary snail host. The cestodes, or tapeworms, are also internal parasites, mainly of vertebrates ( Figure 28.15 ). Tapeworms live in the intestinal tract of the primary host and remain fixed using a sucker on the anterior end, or scolex, of the tapeworm body. 758 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at The remaining body of the tapeworm is made up of a long series of units called proglottids, each of which may contain an excretory system with flame cells, but contain reproductive structures, both male and female. Tapeworms do not possess a digestive system; instead, they absorb nutrients from the food matter passing them in the host’s intestine. Proglottids are produced at the scolex and gradually migrate to the end of the tapeworm; at this point, they are “mature” and all structures except fertilized eggs have degenerated. Most reproduction occurs by cross-fertilization. The proglottid detaches from the body of the worm and is released into the feces of the organism. The eggs are eaten by an intermediate host. The juvenile worm infects the intermediate host and takes up residence, usually in muscle tissue. When the muscle tissue is eaten by the primary host, the cycle is completed. There are several tapeworm parasites of humans that are transmitted by eating uncooked or poorly cooked pork, beef, and fish. Figure 28.15 Tapeworm ( Taenia spp.) infections occur when humans consume raw or undercooked infected meat. (credit: modification of work by CDC) Phylum Rotifera The rotifers are a microscopic (about 100 µm to 30 mm) group of mostly aquatic organisms that get their name from the corona , a rotating, wheel-like structure that is covered with cilia at their anterior end ( Figure 28.16 ). Although their taxonomy is currently in flux, one treatment places the rotifers in three classes: Bdelloidea, Monogononta, and Seisonidea. The classification of the group is currently under revision, however, as more phylogenetic evidence becomes available. It is possible that the “spiny headed worms” currently in phylum Acanthocephala will be incorporated into this group in the future. The body form of rotifers consists of a head (which contains the corona), a trunk (which contains the organs), and the foot. Rotifers are typically free-swimming and truly planktonic organisms, but the toes or extensions of the foot can secrete a sticky material forming a holdfast to help them adhere to surfaces. The head contains sensory organs in the form of a bi- lobed brain and small eyespots near the corona. Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 759 Figure 28.16 Shown are examples from two of the three classes of rotifer. (a) Species from the class Bdelloidea are characterized by a large corona, shown separately from the whole animals in the center of this scanning electron micrograph. (b) Polyarthra , from the class Monogononta, has a smaller corona than Bdelloid rotifers, and a single gonad, which give the class its name. (credit a: modification of work by Diego Fontaneto; credit b: modification of work by U.S. EPA; scale-bar data from Cory Zanker) The rotifers are filter feeders that will eat dead material, algae, and other microscopic living organisms, and are therefore very important components of aquatic food webs. Rotifers obtain food that is directed toward the mouth by the current created from the movement of the corona. The food particles enter the mouth and travel to the mastax (pharynx with jaw- like structures). Food then passes by digestive and salivary glands, and into the stomach, then onto the intestines. Digestive and excretory wastes are collected in a cloacal bladder before being released out the anus. Watch this video ( to see rotifers feeding. Rotifers are pseudocoelomates commonly found in fresh water and some salt water environments throughout the world. Figure 28.17 shows the anatomy of a rotifer belonging to class Bdelloidea. About 2,200 species of rotifers have been identified. Rotifers are dioecious organisms (having either male or female genitalia) and exhibit sexual dimorphism (males and females have different forms). Many species are parthenogenic and exhibit haplodiploidy, a method of gender determination in which a fertilized egg develops into a female and an unfertilized egg develops into a male. In many dioecious species, males are short-lived and smaller with no digestive system and a single testis. Females can produce eggs that are capable of dormancy for protection during harsh environmental conditions. 760 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 28.17 This illustration shows the anatomy of a bdelloid rotifer. Phylum Nemertea The Nemertea are colloquially known as ribbon worms. Most species of phylum Nemertea are marine, predominantly benthic or bottom dwellers, with an estimated 900 species known. However, nemertini have been recorded in freshwater and terrestrial habitats as well. Most nemerteans are carnivores, feeding on worms, clams, and crustaceans. Some species are scavengers, and some nemertini species, like Malacobdella grossa , have also evolved commensalistic relationships with some mollusks. Some species have devastated commercial fishing of clams and crabs. Nemerteans have almost no predators and two species are sold as fish bait. Morphology Ribbon worms vary in size from 1 cm to several meters. They show bilateral symmetry and remarkable contractile properties. Because of their contractility, they can change their morphological presentation in response to environmental cues. Animals in phylum Nemertea show a flattened morphology, that is, they are flat from front to back, like a flattened tube. Nemertea are soft and unsegmented animals ( Figure 28.18 ). Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 761 Figure 28.18 The proboscis worm ( Parborlasia corrugatus ) is a scavenger that combs the sea floor for food. The species is a member of the phylum Nemertea. The specimen shown here was photographed in the Ross Sea, Antarctica. (credit: Henry Kaiser, National Science Foundation) A unique characteristic of this phylum is the presence of a proboscis enclosed in a rhynchocoel . The proboscis serves to capture food and may be ornamented with barbs in some species. The rhynchocoel is a fluid-filled cavity that extends from the head to nearly two-thirds of the length of the gut in these animals ( Figure 28.19 ). The proboscis may be extended or retracted by the retractor muscle attached to the wall of the rhynchocoel. Figure 28.19 The anatomy of a Nemertean is shown. Watch this video ( to see a nemertean attack a polychaete with its proboscis. Digestive System The nemertini show a very well-developed digestive system. A mouth opening that is ventral to the rhynchocoel leads into the foregut, followed by the intestine. The intestine is present in the form of diverticular pouches and ends in a rectum that opens via an anus. Gonads are interspersed with the intestinal diverticular pouches and open outwards via genital pores. A circulatory system consists of a closed loop of a pair of lateral blood vessels. The circulatory system is derived from the coelomic cavity of the embryo. Some animals may also have cross-connecting vessels in addition to lateral ones. Although these are called blood vessels, since they are of coelomic origin, the circulatory fluid is colorless. Some species bear hemoglobin as well as other yellow or green pigments. The blood vessels are connected to the rhynchocoel. The flow of fluid in these vessels is facilitated by the contraction of muscles in the body wall. A pair of protonephridia, or primitive kidneys, is present in these animals to facilitate osmoregulation. Gaseous exchange occurs through the skin in the nemertini. 762 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Nervous System Nemertini have a ganglion or “brain” situated at the anterior end between the mouth and the foregut, surrounding the digestive system as well as the rhynchocoel. A ring of four nerve masses called “ganglia” composes the brain in these animals. Paired longitudinal nerve cords emerge from the brain ganglia and extend to the posterior end. Ocelli or eyespots are present in pairs, in multiples of two in the anterior portion of the body. It is speculated that the eyespots originate from neural tissue and not from the epidermis. Reproduction Animals in phylum Nemertea show sexual dimorphism, although freshwater species may be hermaphroditic. Eggs and sperm are released into the water, and fertilization occurs externally. The zygote then develops into a planuliform larva. In some nemertine species, a pilidium larva may develop inside the young worm, from a series of imaginal discs. This larval form, characteristically shaped like a deerstalker cap, devours tissues from the young worm for survival before metamorphosing into the adult-like morphology. Phylum Mollusca Phylum Mollusca is the predominant phylum in marine environments. It is estimated that 23 percent of all known marine species are mollusks; there are over 75,000 described species, making them the second most diverse phylum of animals. The name “mollusca” signifies a soft body, since the earliest descriptions of mollusks came from observations of unshelled cuttlefish. Mollusks are predominantly a marine group of animals; however, they are known to inhabit freshwater as well as terrestrial habitats. Mollusks display a wide range of morphologies in each class and subclass, but share a few key characteristics, including a muscular foot, a visceral mass containing internal organs, and a mantle that may or may not secrete a shell of calcium carbonate ( Figure 28.20 ). Figure 28.20 There are many species and variations of mollusks; this illustration shows the anatomy of an aquatic gastropod. Which of the following statements about the anatomy of a mollusk is false? a. Mollusks have a radula for grinding food. b. A digestive gland is connected to the stomach. c. The tissue beneath the shell is called the mantle. d. The digestive system includes a gizzard, a stomach, a digestive gland, and the intestine. Mollusks have a muscular foot, which is used for locomotion and anchorage, and varies in shape and function, depending on the type of mollusk under study. In shelled mollusks, this foot is usually the same size as the opening of the shell. The foot is a retractable as well as an extendable organ. The foot is the ventral-most organ, whereas the mantle is the limiting dorsal organ. Mollusks are eucoelomate, but the coelomic cavity is restricted to a cavity around the heart in adult animals. The mantle cavity develops independently of the coelomic cavity. The visceral mass is present above the foot, in the visceral hump. This includes digestive, nervous, excretory, reproductive, and respiratory systems. Mollusk species that are exclusively aquatic have gills for respiration, whereas some terrestrial species have lungs for respiration. Additionally, a tongue-like organ called a radula , which bears chitinous tooth-like Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 763 ornamentation, is present in many species, and serves to shred or scrape food. The mantle (also known as the pallium) is the dorsal epidermis in mollusks; shelled mollusks are specialized to secrete a chitinous and hard calcareous shell. Most mollusks are dioecious animals and fertilization occurs externally, although this is not the case in terrestrial mollusks, such as snails and slugs, or in cephalopods. In some mollusks, the zygote hatches and undergoes two larval stages— trochophore and veliger —before becoming a young adult; bivalves may exhibit a third larval stage, glochidia. Classification of Phylum Mollusca Phylum Mollusca is a very diverse (85,000 species) group of mostly marine species. Mollusks have a dramatic variety of form, ranging from large predatory squids and octopus, some of which show a high degree of intelligence, to grazing forms with elaborately sculpted and colored shells. This phylum can be segregated into seven classes: Aplacophora, Monoplacophora, Polyplacophora, Bivalvia, Gastropoda, Cephalopoda, and Scaphopoda. Class Aplacophora (“bearing no plates”) includes worm-like animals primarily found in benthic marine habitats. These animals lack a calcareous shell but possess aragonite spicules on their epidermis. They have a rudimentary mantle cavity and lack eyes, tentacles, and nephridia (excretory organs). Members of class Monoplacophora (“bearing one plate”) posses a single, cap-like shell that encloses the body. The morphology of the shell and the underlying animal can vary from circular to ovate. A looped digestive system, multiple pairs of excretory organs, many gills, and a pair of gonads are present in these animals. The monoplacophorans were believed extinct and only known via fossil records until the discovery of Neopilina galathaea in 1952. Today, scientists have identified nearly two dozen extant species. Animals in the class Polyplacophora (“bearing many plates”) are commonly known as “chitons” and bear an armor-like eight-plated shell ( Figure 28.21 ). These animals have a broad, ventral foot that is adapted for suction to rocks and other substrates, and a mantle that extends beyond the shell in the form of a girdle. Calcareous spines may be present on the girdle to offer protection from predators. Respiration is facilitated by ctenidia (gills) that are present ventrally. These animals possess a radula that is modified for scraping. The nervous system is rudimentary with only buccal or “cheek” ganglia present at the anterior end. Eyespots are absent in these animals. A single pair of nephridia for excretion is present. Figure 28.21 This chiton from the class Polyplacaphora has the eight-plated shell that is indicative of its class. (credit: Jerry Kirkhart) Class Bivalvia (“two shells”) includes clams, oysters, mussels, scallops, and geoducks. Members of this class are found in marine as well as freshwater habitats. As the name suggests, bivalves are enclosed in a pair of shells (valves are commonly called “shells”) that are hinged at the dorsal end by shell ligaments as well as shell teeth ( Figure 28.22 ). The overall morphology is laterally flattened, and the head region is poorly developed. Eyespots and statocysts may be absent in some species. Since these animals are suspension feeders, a radula is absent in this class of mollusks. Respiration is facilitated by a pair of ctenidia, whereas excretion and osmoregulation are brought about by a pair of nephridia. Bivalves often possess a large mantle cavity. In some species, the posterior edges of the mantle may fuse to form two siphons that serve to take in and exude water. 764 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 28.22 These mussels, found in the intertidal zone in Cornwall, England, are bivalves. (credit: Mark A. Wilson) One of the functions of the mantle is to secrete the shell. Some bivalves like oysters and mussels possess the unique ability to secrete and deposit a calcareous nacre or “mother of pearl” around foreign particles that may enter the mantle cavity. This property has been commercially exploited to produce pearls. Watch the animations of bivalves feeding: View the process in clams ( and mussels ( at these sites. Animals in class Gastropoda (“stomach foot”) include well-known mollusks like snails, slugs, conchs, sea hares, and sea butterflies. Gastropoda includes shell-bearing species as well as species with a reduced shell. These animals are asymmetrical and usually present a coiled shell ( Figure 28.23 ). Shells may be planospiral (like a garden hose wound up), commonly seen in garden snails, or conispiral , (like a spiral staircase), commonly seen in marine conches. Figure 28.23 (a) Snails and (b) slugs are both gastropods, but slugs lack a shell. (credit a: modification of work by Murray Stevenson; credit b: modification of work by Rosendahl) The visceral mass in the shelled species displays torsion around the perpendicular axis on the center of the foot, which is the key characteristic of this group, along with a foot that is modified for crawling ( Figure 28.24 ). Most gastropods bear a Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 765 head with tentacles, eyes, and a style. A complex radula is used by the digestive system and aids in the ingestion of food. Eyes may be absent in some gastropods species. The mantle cavity encloses the ctenidia as well as a pair of nephridia. Figure 28.24 During embryonic development of gastropods, the visceral mass undergoes torsion, or counterclockwise rotation of anatomical features. As a result, the anus of the adult animal is located over the head. Torsion is an independent process from coiling of the shell. Can Snail Venom Be Used as a Pharmacological Painkiller? Marine snails of the genus Conus (Figure 28.25 ) attack prey with a venomous sting. The toxin released, known as conotoxin, is a peptide with internal disulfide linkages. Conotoxins can bring about paralysis in humans, indicating that this toxin attacks neurological targets. Some conotoxins have been shown to block neuronal ion channels. These findings have led researchers to study conotoxins for possible medical applications. Conotoxins are an exciting area of potential pharmacological development, since these peptides may be possibly modified and used in specific medical conditions to inhibit the activity of specific neurons. For example, these toxins may be used to induce paralysis in muscles in specific health applications, similar to the use of botulinum toxin. Since the entire spectrum of conotoxins, as well as their mechanisms of action, are not completely known, the study of their potential applications is still in its infancy. Most research to date has focused on their use to treat neurological diseases. They have also shown some efficacy in relieving chronic pain, and the pain associated with conditions like sciatica and shingles. The study and use of biotoxins—toxins derived from living organisms—are an excellent example of the application of biological science to modern medicine. Figure 28.25 Members of the genus Conus produce neurotoxins that may one day have medical uses. (credit: David Burdick, NOAA) 766 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Class Cephalopoda (“head foot” animals), include octopi, squids, cuttlefish, and nautilus. Cephalopods are a class of shell- bearing animals as well as mollusks with a reduced shell. They display vivid coloration, typically seen in squids and octopi, which is used for camouflage. All animals in this class are carnivorous predators and have beak-like jaws at the anterior end. All cephalopods show the presence of a very well-developed nervous system along with eyes, as well as a closed circulatory system. The foot is lobed and developed into tentacles, and a funnel, which is used as their mode of locomotion. Suckers are present on the tentacles in octopi and squid. Ctenidia are enclosed in a large mantle cavity and are serviced by large blood vessels, each with its own heart associated with it; the mantle has siphonophores that facilitate exchange of water. Locomotion in cephalopods is facilitated by ejecting a stream of water for propulsion. This is called “jet” propulsion. A pair of nephridia is present within the mantle cavity. Sexual dimorphism is seen in this class of animals. Members of a species mate, and the female then lays the eggs in a secluded and protected niche. Females of some species care for the eggs for an extended period of time and may end up dying during that time period. Cephalopods such as squids and octopi also produce sepia or a dark ink, which is squirted upon a predator to assist in a quick getaway. Reproduction in cephalopods is different from other mollusks in that the egg hatches to produce a juvenile adult without undergoing the trochophore and veliger larval stages. In the shell-bearing Nautilus spp., the spiral shell is multi-chambered. These chambers are filled with gas or water to regulate buoyancy. The shell structure in squids and cuttlefish is reduced and is present internally in the form of a squid pen and cuttlefish bone, respectively. Examples are shown in Figure 28.26 . Figure 28.26 The (a) nautilus, (b) giant cuttlefish, (c) reef squid, and (d) blue-ring octopus are all members of the class Cephalopoda. (credit a: modification of work by J. Baecker; credit b: modification of work by Adrian Mohedano; credit c: modification of work by Silke Baron; credit d: modification of work by Angell Williams) Members of class Scaphopoda (“boat feet”) are known colloquially as “tusk shells” or “tooth shells,” as evident when examining Dentalium , one of the few remaining scaphopod genera ( Figure 28.27 ). Scaphopods are usually buried in sand with the anterior opening exposed to water. These animals bear a single conical shell, which has both ends open. The head is rudimentary and protrudes out of the posterior end of the shell. These animals do not possess eyes, but they have a radula, as well as a foot modified into tentacles with a bulbous end, known as captaculae . Captaculae serve to catch and manipulate prey. Ctenidia are absent in these animals. Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 767 Figure 28.27 Antalis vulgaris shows the classic Dentaliidae shape that gives these animals their common name of “tusk shell.” (credit: Georges Jansoone) Phylum Annelida Phylum Annelida includes segmented worms. These animals are found in marine, terrestrial, and freshwater habitats, but a presence of water or humidity is a critical factor for their survival, especially in terrestrial habitats. The name of the phylum is derived from the Latin word annellus , which means a small ring. Animals in this phylum show parasitic and commensal symbioses with other species in their habitat. Approximately 16,500 species have been described in phylum Annelida. The phylum includes earthworms, polychaete worms, and leeches. Annelids show protostomic development in embryonic stages and are often called “segmented worms” due to their key characteristic of metamerism , or true segmentation. Morphology Annelids display bilateral symmetry and are worm-like in overall morphology. Annelids have a segmented body plan wherein the internal and external morphological features are repeated in each body segment. Metamerism allows animals to become bigger by adding “compartments” while making their movement more efficient. This metamerism is thought to arise from identical teloblast cells in the embryonic stage, which give rise to identical mesodermal structures. The overall body can be divided into head, body, and pygidium (or tail). The clitellum is a reproductive structure that generates mucus that aids in sperm transfer and gives rise to a cocoon within which fertilization occurs; it appears as a fused band in the anterior third of the animal ( Figure 28.28 ). Figure 28.28 The clitellum, seen here as a protruding segment with different coloration than the rest of the body, is a structure that aids in annelid reproduction. (credit: Rob Hille) Anatomy The epidermis is protected by an acellular, external cuticle, but this is much thinner than the cuticle found in the ecdysozoans and does not require periodic shedding for growth. Circular as well as longitudinal muscles are located interior to the epidermis. Chitinous hairlike extensions, anchored in the epidermis and projecting from the cuticle, called setae/chaetae are present in every segment. Annelids show the presence of a true coelom, derived from embryonic mesoderm and protostomy. 768 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Hence, they are the most advanced worms. A well-developed and complete digestive system is present in earthworms (oligochaetes) with a mouth, muscular pharynx, esophagus, crop, and gizzard being present. The gizzard leads to the intestine and ends in an anal opening. A cross-sectional view of a body segment of an earthworm (a terrestrial type of annelid) is shown in Figure 28.29 ; each segment is limited by a membranous septum that divides the coelomic cavity into a series of compartments. Annelids possess a closed circulatory system of dorsal and ventral blood vessels that run parallel to the alimentary canal as well as capillaries that service individual tissues. In addition, these vessels are connected by transverse loops in every segment. These animals lack a well-developed respiratory system, and gas exchange occurs across the moist body surface. Excretion is facilitated by a pair of metanephridia (a type of primitive “kidney” that consists of a convoluted tubule and an open, ciliated funnel) that is present in every segment towards the ventral side. Annelids show well-developed nervous systems with a nerve ring of fused ganglia present around the pharynx. The nerve cord is ventral in position and bears enlarged nodes or ganglia in each segment. Figure 28.29 This schematic drawing shows the basic anatomy of annelids in a cross-sectional view. Annelids may be either monoecious with permanent gonads (as in earthworms and leeches) or dioecious with temporary or seasonal gonads that develop (as in polychaetes). However, cross-fertilization is preferred in hermaphroditic animals. These animals may also show simultaneous hermaphroditism and participate in simultaneous sperm exchange when they are aligned for copulation. This combination video and animation ( provides a close-up look at annelid anatomy. Classification of Phylum Annelida Phylum Annelida contains the class Polychaeta (the polychaetes) and the class Oligochaeta (the earthworms, leeches and their relatives). Earthworms are the most abundant members of the class Oligochaeta, distinguished by the presence of the clitellum as well as few, reduced chaetae (“oligo- = “few”; -chaetae = “hairs”). The number and size of chaetae are greatly diminished in Oligochaeta compared to the polychaetes ( poly =many, chaetae = hairs). The many chetae of polychaetes are also arranged within fleshy, flat, paired appendages that protrude from each segment called parapodia , which may be specialized for different functions in the polychates. The subclass Hirudinea includes leeches such as Hirudo medicinalis and Hemiclepsis marginata . The class Oligochaeta includes the subclass Hirudinia and the subclass Brachiobdella. A significant difference between leeches and other annelids is the development of suckers at the anterior and posterior ends and a lack of chaetae. Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 769 Additionally, the segmentation of the body wall may not correspond to the internal segmentation of the coelomic cavity. This adaptation possibly helps the leeches to elongate when they ingest copious quantities of blood from host vertebrates. The subclass Brachiobdella includes species like Branchiobdella balcanica sketi and Branchiobdella astaci , worms that show similarity with leeches as well as oligochaetes. Figure 28.30 The (a) earthworm, (b) leech, and (c) featherduster are all annelids. (credit a: modification of work by S. Shepherd; credit b: modification of work by “Sarah G…”/Flickr; credit c: modification of work by Chris Gotschalk, NOAA) 28.4 | Superphylum Ecdysozoa By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Describe the structural organization of nematodes • Understand the importance of Caenorhabditis elegans in research • Compare the internal systems and appendage specializations of phylum Arthropoda • Discuss the environmental importance of arthropods • Discuss the reasons for arthropod success and abundance Superphylum Ecdysozoa The superphylum Ecdysozoa contains an incredibly large number of species. This is because it contains two of the most diverse animal groups: phylum Nematoda (the roundworms) and Phylum Arthropoda (the arthropods). The most prominant distinguising feature of Ecdysozoans is their tough external covering called the cuticle. The cuticle provides a tough, but flexible exoskeleton tht protects these animals from water loss, predators and other aspects of the external environment. All members of this superphylum periodically molt, or shed their cuticle as they grow. After molting, they secrete a new cuticle that will last until their next growth phase. The process of molting and replacing the cuticle is called ecdysis, which is how the superphylum derived its name. Phylum Nematoda The Nematoda, like most other animal phyla, are triploblastic and possess an embryonic mesoderm that is sandwiched between the ectoderm and endoderm. They are also bilaterally symmetrical, meaning that a longitudinal section will divide them into right and left sides that are symmetrical. Furthermore, the nematodes, or roundworms, possess a pseudocoelom and consist of both free-living and parasitic forms. It has been said that were all the non-nematode matter of the biosphere removed, there would remain a shadow of the former world in the form of nematodes. [1]The arthropods, one of the most successful taxonomic groups on the planet, are coelomate organisms characterized by a hard exoskeleton and jointed appendages. Both the nematodes and arthropods belong to the superphylum Ecdysozoa that is believed to be a clade consisting of all evolutionary descendants from one common ancestor. The name derives from the word ecdysis, which refers to the shedding, or molting, of the exoskeleton. The phyla in this group have a hard cuticle that covers their bodies, which must be periodically shed and replaced for them to increase in size. Phylum Nematoda includes more than 28,000 species with an estimated 16,000 being parasitic in nature. The name Nematoda is derived from the Greek word “Nemos,” which means “thread” and includes roundworms. Nematodes are 1. Stoll, N. R., “This wormy world. 1947,” Journal of Parasitology 85(3) (1999): 392-396. 770 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at present in all habitats with a large number of individuals of each species present in each. The free-living nematode, Caenorhabditis elegans has been extensively used as a model system in laboratories all over the world. Morphology In contrast with cnidarians, nematodes show a tubular morphology and circular cross-section. These animals are pseudocoelomates and show the presence of a complete digestive system with a distinct mouth and anus. This is in contrast with the cnidarians, where only one opening is present (an incomplete digestive system). The cuticle of Nematodes is rich in collagen and a carbohydrate-protein polymer called chitin, and forms an external “skeleton” outside the epidermis. The cuticle also lines many of the organs internally, including the pharynx and rectum. The epidermis can be either a single layer of cells or a syncytium, which is a multinucleated cell formed from the fusion of uninucleated cells. The overall morphology of these worms is cylindrical, as seen in Figure 28.31 . The head is radially symmetrical. A mouth opening is present at the anterior end with three or six lips as well as teeth in some species in the form of cuticle extensions. Some nematodes may present other external modifications like rings, head shields, or warts. Rings, however, do not reflect true internal body segmentation. The mouth leads to a muscular pharynx and intestine, which leads to a rectum and anal opening at the posterior end. The muscles of nematodes differ from those of most animals: They have a longitudinal layer only, which accounts for the whip-like motion of their movement. Figure 28.31 Scanning electron micrograph shows (a) the soybean cyst nematode ( Heterodera glycines ) and a nematode egg. (b) A schematic representation shows the anatomy of a typical nematode. (credit a: modification of work by USDA ARS; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) Excretory System In nematodes, specialized excretory systems are not well developed. Nitrogenous wastes may be lost by diffusion through the entire body or into the pseudocoelom (body cavity), where they are removed by specialized cells. Regulation of water and salt content of the body is achieved by renette glands, present under the pharynx in marine nematodes. Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 771 Nervous system Most nematodes possess four longitudinal nerve cords that run along the length of the body in dorsal, ventral, and lateral positions. The ventral nerve cord is better developed than the dorsal or lateral cords. All nerve cords fuse at the anterior end, around the pharynx, to form head ganglia or the “brain” of the worm (which take the form of a ring around the pharynx) as well as at the posterior end to form the tail ganglia. In C.elegans , the nervous system accounts for nearly one-third of the total number of cells in the animal. Reproduction Nematodes employ a variety of reproductive strategies that range from monoecious to dioecious to parthenogenic, depending upon the species under consideration. C.elegans is a monoecious species and shows development of ova contained in a uterus as well as sperm contained in the spermatheca. The uterus has an external opening known as the vulva. The female genital pore is near the middle of the body, whereas the male’s is at the tip. Specialized structures at the tail of the male keep him in place while he deposits sperm with copulatory spicules. Fertilization is internal, and embryonic development starts very soon after fertilization. The embryo is released from the vulva during the gastrulation stage. The embryonic development stage lasts for 14 hours; development then continues through four successive larval stages with ecdysis between each stage—L1, L2, L3, and L4—ultimately leading to the development of a young male or female adult worm. Adverse environmental conditions like overcrowding and lack of food can result in the formation of an intermediate larval stage known as the dauer larva. 772 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at C. elegans : The Model System for Linking Developmental Studies with Genetics If biologists wanted to research how nicotine dependence develops in the body, how lipids are regulated, or observe the attractant or repellant properties of certain odors, they would clearly need to design three very different experiments. However, they might only need one object of study: C.elegans . The nematode Caenorhabditis elegans was brought into the focus of mainstream biological research by Dr. Sydney Brenner. Since 1963, Dr. Brenner and scientists worldwide have used this animal as a model system to study various physiological and developmental mechanisms. C.elegans is a free-living organism found in soil. It is easy to culture this organism on agar plates (10,000 worms/plate), it feeds on Escherichia coli (another long-term resident of biological laboratories worldwide), and therefore, it can be readily grown and maintained in a laboratory. The biggest asset of this nematode is its transparency, which helps researchers to observe and monitor changes within the animal with ease. It is also a simple organism with fewer than 1,000 cells and a genome of 20,000 genes. It shows chromosomal organization of DNA into five pairs of autosomes plus a pair of sex chromosomes, making it an ideal candidate to study genetics. Since every cell can be visualized and identified, this organism is useful for studying cellular phenomena like cell-cell interactions, cell-fate determinations, cell division, apoptosis, and intracellular transport. Another tremendous asset is the short life cycle of this worm ( Figure 28.32 ). It takes only 3 days to achieve the “egg to adult to daughter egg;” therefore, tracking genetic changes is easier in this animal. The total life span of C.elegans is 2 to 3 weeks; hence, age-related phenomena are easy to observe. Another feature that makes C.elegans an excellent experimental model system is that the position and number of the 959 cells present in adult hermaphrodites of this organism is constant. This feature is extremely significant when studying cell differentiation, cell-cell communication, and apoptosis. Lastly, C.elegans is also amenable to genetic manipulations using molecular methods, rounding off its usefulness as a model system. Biologists worldwide have created information banks and groups dedicated to research using C.elegans . Their findings have led, for example, to better understandings of cell communication during development, neuronal signaling and insight into lipid regulation (which is important in addressing health issues like the development of obesity and diabetes). In recent years, studies have enlightened the medical community with a better understanding of polycystic kidney disease. This simple organism has led biologists to complex and significant findings, growing the field of science in ways that touch the everyday world. Figure 28.32 (a) This light micrograph shows Caenorhabditis elegans . Its transparent adult stage consists of exactly 959 cells. (b) The life cycle of C.elegans has four juvenile stages (L1 through L4) and an adult stage. Under ideal conditions, the nematode spends a set amount of time at each juvenile stage, but under stressful conditions, it may enter a dauer state that does not age. The worm is hermaphroditic in the adult state, and mating of two worms produces a fertilized egg. (credit a: modification of work by “snickclunk”/Flickr: credit b: modification of work by NIDDK, NIH; scale-bar data from Matt Russell) A number of common parasitic nematodes serve as prime examples of parasitism. These animals exhibit complex lifecycles that involve multiple hosts, and they can have significant medical and veterinary impacts. Humans may become infected by Dracunculus medinensis , known as guinea worms, when they drink unfiltered water containing copepods ( Figure 28.33 ). Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 773 Hookworms, such as Ancyclostoma and Necator , infest the intestines and feed on the blood of mammals, especially in dogs, cats, and humans. Trichina worms ( Trichinella ) are the causal organism of trichinosis in humans, often resulting from the consumption of undercooked pork; Trichinella can infect other mammalian hosts as well. Ascaris , a large intestinal roundworm, steals nutrition from its human host and may create physical blockage of the intestines. The filarial worms, such as Dirofilaria and Wuchereria , are commonly vectored by mosquitoes, which pass the infective agents among mammals through their blood-sucking activity. Dirofilaria immitis , a blood-infective parasite, is the notorious dog heartworm species. Wuchereria bancrofti infects the lymph nodes of humans, resulting in the non-lethal but deforming condition called elephantiasis, in which parts of the body become swelled to gigantic proportions due to obstruction of lymphatic drainage and inflammation of lymphatic tissues. Figure 28.33 The guinea worm Dracunculus medinensis infects about 3.5 million people annually, mostly in Africa. (a) Here, the worm is wrapped around a stick so it can be extracted. (b) Infection occurs when people consume water contaminated by infected copepods, but this can easily be prevented by simple filtration systems. (credit: modification of work by CDC) Phylum Arthropoda The name “arthropoda” means “jointed legs” (in the Greek, “arthros” means “joint” and “podos” means “leg”); it aptly describes the enormous number of invertebrates included in this phylum. Arthropoda dominate the animal kingdom 774 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at with an estimated 85 percent of known species included in this phylum and many arthropods yet undocumented. The principal characteristics of all the animals in this phylum are functional segmentation of the body and presence of jointed appendages. Arthropods also show the presence of an exoskeleton made principally of chitin, which is a waterproof, tough polysaccharide. Phylum Arthropoda is the largest phylum in the animal world, and insects form the single largest class within this phylum. Arthropods are eucoelomate, protostomic organisms. Phylum Arthropoda includes animals that have been successful in colonizing terrestrial, aquatic, and aerial habitats. This phylum is further classified into five subphyla: Trilobitomorpha (trilobites, all extinct), Hexapoda (insects and relatives), Myriapoda (millipedes, centipedes, and relatives), Crustaceans (crabs, lobsters, crayfish, isopods, barnacles, and some zooplankton), and Chelicerata (horseshoe crabs, arachnids, scorpions, and daddy longlegs). Trilobites are an extinct group of arthropods found chiefly in the pre-Cambrian Era that are probably most closely related to the Chelicerata. These are identified based on fossil records ( Figure 28.34 ). Figure 28.34 Trilobites, like the one in this fossil, are an extinct group of arthropods. (credit: Kevin Walsh) Morphology A unique feature of animals in the arthropod phylum is the presence of a segmented body and fusion of sets of segments that give rise to functional body regions called tagma. Tagma may be in the form of a head, thorax, and abdomen, or a cephalothorax and abdomen, or a head and trunk. A central cavity, called the hemocoel (or blood cavity), is present, and the open circulatory system is regulated by a tubular or single-chambered heart. Respiratory systems vary depending on the group of arthropod: insects and myriapods use a series of tubes (tracheae) that branch through the body, open to the outside through openings called spiracles, and perform gas exchange directly between the cells and air in the tracheae, whereas aquatic crustaceans utilize gills, terrestrial chelicerates employ book lungs, and aquatic chelicerates use book gills ( Figure 28.35 ). The book lungs of arachnids (scorpions, spiders, ticks and mites) contain a vertical stack of hemocoel wall tissue that somewhat resembles the pages of a book. Between each of the “pages” of tissue is an air space. This allows both sides of the tissue to be in contact with the air at all times, greatly increasing the efficiency of gas exchange. The gills of crustaceans are filamentous structures that exchange gases with the surrounding water. Groups of arthropods also differ in the organs used for excretion, with crustaceans possessing green glands and insects using Malpighian tubules, which work in conjunction with the hindgut to reabsorb water while ridding the body of nitrogenous waste. The cuticle is the covering of an arthropod. It is made up of two layers: the epicuticle, which is a thin, waxy water-resistant outer layer containing no chitin, and the layer beneath it, the chitinous procuticle. Chitin is a tough, flexible polysaccharide. In order to grow, the arthropod must shed the exoskeleton during a process called ecdysis (“to strip off”); this is a cumbersome method of growth, and during this time, the animal is vulnerable to predation. The characteristic morphology of representative animals from each subphylum is described below. Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 775 Figure 28.35 The book lungs of (a) arachnids are made up of alternating air pockets and hemocoel tissue shaped like a stack of books. The book gills of (b) crustaceans are similar to book lungs but are external so that gas exchange can occur with the surrounding water. (credit a: modification of work by Ryan Wilson based on original work by John Henry Comstock; credit b: modification of work by Angel Schatz) Subphylum Hexapoda The name Hexapoda denotes the presence of six legs (three pairs) in these animals as differentiated from the number of pairs present in other arthropods. Hexapods are characterized by the presence of a head, thorax, and abdomen, constituting three tagma. The thorax bears the wings as well as six legs in three pairs. Many of the common insects we encounter on a daily basis—including ants, cockroaches, butterflies, and flies—are examples of Hexapoda. Amongst the hexapods, the insects ( Figure 28.36 ) are the largest class in terms of species diversity as well as biomass in terrestrial habitats. Typically, the head bears one pair of sensory antennae, mandibles as mouthparts, a pair of compound eyes, and some ocelli (simple eyes) along with numerous sensory hairs. The thorax bears three pairs of legs (one pair per segment) and two pairs of wings, with one pair each on the second and third thoracic segments. The abdomen usually has eleven segments and bears reproductive apertures. Hexapoda includes insects that are winged (like fruit flies) and wingless (like fleas). 776 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 28.36 In this basic anatomy of a hexapod insect, note that insects have a developed digestive system (yellow), a respiratory system (blue), a circulatory system (red), and a nervous system (red). Which of the following statements about insects is false? a. Insects have both dorsal and ventral blood vessels. b. Insects have spiracles, openings that allow air to enter. c. The trachea is part of the digestive system. d. Insects have a developed digestive system with a mouth, crop, and intestine. Subphylum Myriapoda Subphylum Myriapoda includes arthropods with numerous legs. Although the name is hyperbolic in suggesting that myriad legs are present in these invertebrates, the number of legs may vary from 10 to 750. This subphylum includes 13,000 species; the most commonly found examples are millipedes and centipedes. All myriapods are terrestrial animals and prefer a humid environment. Myriapods are typically found in moist soils, decaying biological material, and leaf litter. Subphylum Myriapoda is divided into four classes: Chilopoda, Symphyla, Diplopoda, and Pauropoda. Centipedes like Scutigera coleoptrata (Figure 28.37 ) are classified as chilopods. These animals bear one pair of legs per segment, mandibles as mouthparts, and are somewhat dorsoventrally flattened. The legs in the first segment are modified to form forcipules (poison claws) that deliver poison to prey like spiders and cockroaches, as these animals are all predatory. Millipedes bear two pairs of legs per diplosegment, a feature that results from embryonic fusion of adjacent pairs of body segments, are usually rounder in cross-section, and are herbivores or detritivores. Millipedes have visibly more numbers of legs as compared to centipedes, although they do not bear a thousand legs ( Figure 28.38 ). Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 777 (a) (b) Figure 28.37 (a) The Scutigera coleoptrata centipede has up to 15 pairs of legs. (b) This North American millipede (Narceus americanus) bears many legs, although not a thousand, as its name might suggest. (credit a: modification of work by Bruce Marlin; credit b: modification of work by Cory Zanker) Subphylum Crustacea Crustaceans are the most dominant aquatic arthropods, since the total number of marine crustacean species stands at 67,000, but there are also freshwater and terrestrial crustacean species. Krill, shrimp, lobsters, crabs, and crayfish are examples of crustaceans ( Figure 28.38 ). Terrestrial species like the wood lice ( Armadillidium spp.) (also called pill bugs, rolly pollies, potato bugs, or isopods) are also crustaceans, although the number of non-aquatic species in this subphylum is relatively low. Figure 28.38 The (a) crab and (b) shrimp krill are both crustaceans. (credit a: modification of work by William Warby; credit b: modification of work by Jon Sullivan) Crustaceans possess two pairs of antennae, mandibles as mouthparts, and biramous (“two branched”) appendages, which means that their legs are formed in two parts, as distinct from the uniramous (“one branched”) myriapods and hexapods (Figure 28.39 ). 778 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 28.39 Arthropods may have (a) biramous (two-branched) appendages or (b) uniramous (one-branched) appendages. (credit b: modification of work by Nicholas W. Beeson) Unlike that of the Hexapoda, the head and thorax of most crustaceans is fused to form a cephalothorax (Figure 28.40 ), which is covered by a plate called the carapace, thus producing a body structure of two tagma. Crustaceans have a chitinous exoskeleton that is shed by molting whenever the animal increases in size. The exoskeletons of many species are also infused with calcium carbonate, which makes them even stronger than in other arthropods. Crustaceans have an open circulatory system where blood is pumped into the hemocoel by the dorsally located heart. Hemocyanin and hemoglobin are the respiratory pigments present in these animals. Figure 28.40 The crayfish is an example of a crustacean. It has a carapace around the cephalothorax and the heart in the dorsal thorax area. (credit: Jane Whitney) Most crustaceans are dioecious, which means that the sexes are separate. Some species like barnacles may be hermaphrodites . Serial hermaphroditism, where the gonad can switch from producing sperm to ova, may also be seen in some species. Fertilized eggs may be held within the female of the species or may be released in the water. Terrestrial crustaceans seek out damp spaces in their habitats to lay eggs. Larval stages— nauplius and zoea —are seen in the early development of crustaceans. A cypris larva is also seen in the early development of barnacles ( Figure 28.41 ). Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 779 Figure 28.41 All crustaceans go through different larval stages. Shown are (a) the nauplius larval stage of a tadpole shrimp, (b) the cypris larval stage of a barnacle, and (c) the zoea larval stage of a green crab. (credit a: modification of work by USGS; credit b: modification of work by Mª. C. Mingorance Rodríguez; credit c: modification of work by B. Kimmel based on original work by Ernst Haeckel) Crustaceans possess a tripartite brain and two compound eyes. Most crustaceans are carnivorous, but herbivorous and detritivorous species are also known. Crustaceans may also be cannibalistic when extremely high populations of these organisms are present. Subphylum Chelicerata This subphylum includes animals such as spiders, scorpions, horseshoe crabs, and sea spiders. This subphylum is predominantly terrestrial, although some marine species also exist. An estimated 77,000 species are included in subphylum Chelicerata. Chelicerates are found in almost all habitats. The body of chelicerates may be divided into two parts: prosoma and opisthosoma, which are basically the equivalents of cephalothorax (usually smaller) and abdomen (usually larger). A “head” tagmum is not usually discernible. The phylum derives its name from the first pair of appendages: the chelicerae (Figure 28.42 ), which are specialized, claw-like or fang- like mouthparts. These animals do not possess antennae. The second pair of appendages is known as pedipalps . In some species, like sea spiders, an additional pair of appendages, called ovigers , is present between the chelicerae and pedipalps. Figure 28.42 The chelicerae (first set of appendages) are well developed in the scorpion. (credit: Kevin Walsh) Chelicerae are mostly used for feeding, but in spiders, these are often modified into fangs that inject venom into their prey before feeding ( Figure 28.43 ). Members of this subphylum have an open circulatory system with a heart that pumps blood into the hemocoel. Aquatic species have gills, whereas terrestrial species have either trachea or book lungs for gaseous exchange. 780 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 28.43 The trapdoor spider, like all spiders, is a member of the subphylum Chelicerata. (credit: Marshal Hedin) Most chelicerates ingest food using a preoral cavity formed by the chelicerae and pedipalps. Some chelicerates may secrete digestive enzymes to pre-digest food before ingesting it. Parasitic chelicerates like ticks and mites have evolved blood- sucking apparatuses. The nervous system in chelicerates consists of a brain and two ventral nerve cords. These animals use external fertilization as well as internal fertilization strategies for reproduction, depending upon the species and its habitat. Parental care for the young ranges from absolutely none to relatively prolonged care. Visit this site ( to click through a lesson on arthropods, including interactive habitat maps, and more. 28.5 | Superphylum Deuterostomia By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Describe the distinguishing characteristics of echinoderms • Describe the distinguishing characteristics of chordates The phyla Echinodermata and Chordata (the phylum in which humans are placed) both belong to the superphylum Deuterostomia. Recall that protostome and deuterostomes differ in certain aspects of their embryonic development, and they are named based on which opening of the digestive cavity develops first. The word deuterostome comes from the Greek word meaning “mouth second,” indicating that the anus is the first to develop. There are a series of other developmental characteristics that differ between protostomes and deuterostomes, including the mode of formation of the coelom and the early cell division of the embryo. In deuterostomes, internal pockets of the endodermal lining called the archenteron fuse to form the coelom. The endodermal lining of the archenteron (or the primitive gut) forms membrane protrusions that bud off and become the mesodermal layer. These buds, known as coelomic pouches, fuse to form the coelomic cavity, as they eventually separate from the endodermal layer. The resultant coelom is termed an enterocoelom . The archenteron develops into the alimentary canal, and a mouth opening is formed by invagination of ectoderm at the pole opposite the blastopore of the gastrula. The blastopore forms the anus of the alimentary system in the juvenile and adult forms. The fates of embryonic cells in deuterostomes can be altered if they are experimentally moved to a different location in the embryo due to indeterminant cleavage in early embryogenesis. Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 781 Phylum Echinodermata Echinodermata are so named owing to their spiny skin (from the Greek “echinos” meaning “spiny” and “dermos” meaning “skin”), and this phylum is a collection of about 7,000 described living species. Echinodermata are exclusively marine organisms. Sea stars ( Figure 28.44 ), sea cucumbers, sea urchins, sand dollars, and brittle stars are all examples of echinoderms. To date, no freshwater or terrestrial echinoderms are known. Morphology and Anatomy Adult echinoderms exhibit pentaradial symmetry and have a calcareous endoskeleton made of ossicles, although the early larval stages of all echinoderms have bilateral symmetry. The endoskeleton is developed by epidermal cells and may possess pigment cells, giving vivid colors to these animals, as well as cells laden with toxins. Gonads are present in each arm. In echinoderms like sea stars, every arm bears two rows of tube feet on the oral side. These tube feet help in attachment to the substratum. These animals possess a true coelom that is modified into a unique circulatory system called a water vascular system . An interesting feature of these animals is their power to regenerate, even when over 75 percent of their body mass is lost. Figure 28.44 This diagram shows the anatomy of a sea star. Water Vascular System Echinoderms possess a unique ambulacral or water vascular system, consisting of a central ring canal and radial canals that extend along each arm. Water circulates through these structures and facilitates gaseous exchange as well as nutrition, predation, and locomotion. The water vascular system also projects from holes in the skeleton in the form of tube feet. These tube feet can expand or contract based on the volume of water present in the system of that arm. By using hydrostatic pressure, the animal can either protrude or retract the tube feet. Water enters the madreporite on the aboral side of the echinoderm. From there, it passes into the stone canal, which moves water into the ring canal. The ring canal connects the radial canals (there are five in a pentaradial animal), and the radial canals move water into the ampullae, which have tube feet through which the water moves. By moving water through the unique water vascular system, the echinoderm can move and force open mollusk shells during feeding. Nervous System The nervous system in these animals is a relatively simple structure with a nerve ring at the center and five radial nerves extending outward along the arms. Structures analogous to a brain or derived from fusion of ganglia are not present in these animals. Excretory System Podocytes, cells specialized for ultrafiltration of bodily fluids, are present near the center of echinoderms. These podocytes are connected by an internal system of canals to an opening called the madreporite . 782 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Reproduction Echinoderms are sexually dimorphic and release their eggs and sperm cells into water; fertilization is external. In some species, the larvae divide asexually and multiply before they reach sexual maturity. Echinoderms may also reproduce asexually, as well as regenerate body parts lost in trauma. Classes of Echinoderms This phylum is divided into five extant classes: Asteroidea (sea stars), Ophiuroidea (brittle stars), Echinoidea (sea urchins and sand dollars), Crinoidea (sea lilies or feather stars), and Holothuroidea (sea cucumbers) ( Figure 28.45 ). The most well-known echinoderms are members of class Asteroidea, or sea stars. They come in a large variety of shapes, colors, and sizes, with more than 1,800 species known so far. The key characteristic of sea stars that distinguishes them from other echinoderm classes includes thick arms (ambulacra) that extend from a central disk where organs penetrate into the arms. Sea stars use their tube feet not only for gripping surfaces but also for grasping prey. Sea stars have two stomachs, one of which can protrude through their mouths and secrete digestive juices into or onto prey, even before ingestion. This process can essentially liquefy the prey and make digestion easier. Explore the sea star’s body plan ( up close, watch one move across the sea floor, and see it devour a mussel. Brittle stars belong to the class Ophiuroidea. Unlike sea stars, which have plump arms, brittle stars have long, thin arms that are sharply demarcated from the central disk. Brittle stars move by lashing out their arms or wrapping them around objects and pulling themselves forward. Sea urchins and sand dollars are examples of Echinoidea. These echinoderms do not have arms, but are hemispherical or flattened with five rows of tube feet that help them in slow movement; tube feet are extruded through pores of a continuous internal shell called a test. Sea lilies and feather stars are examples of Crinoidea. Both of these species are suspension feeders. Sea cucumbers of class Holothuroidea are extended in the oral-aboral axis and have five rows of tube feet. These are the only echinoderms that demonstrate “functional” bilateral symmetry as adults, because the uniquely extended oral-aboral axis compels the animal to lie horizontally rather than stand vertically. Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 783 Figure 28.45 Different members of Echinodermata include the (a) sea star of class Asteroidea, (b) the brittle star of class Ophiuroidea, (c) the sea urchins of class Echinoidea, (d) the sea lilies belonging to class Crinoidea, and (e) sea cucumbers, representing class Holothuroidea. (credit a: modification of work by Adrian Pingstone; credit b: modification of work by Joshua Ganderson; credit c: modification of work by Samuel Chow; credit d: modification of work by Sarah Depper; credit e: modification of work by Ed Bierman) Phylum Chordata Animals in the phylum Chordata share four key features that appear at some stage of their development: a notochord, a dorsal hollow nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, and a post-anal tail. In some groups, some of these traits are present only during embryonic development. In addition to containing vertebrate classes, the phylum Chordata contains two clades of invertebrates: Urochordata (tunicates) and Cephalochordata (lancelets). Most tunicates live on the ocean floor and are suspension feeders. Lancelets are suspension feeders that feed on phytoplankton and other microorganisms. 784 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at amoebocyte Annelida archenteron Arthropoda biramous captacula cephalothorax chelicera choanocyte Chordata clitellum Cnidaria cnidocyte conispiral corona ctenidium cuticle (animal) cypris Echinodermata enterocoelom epidermis extracellular digestion gastrodermis gastrovascular cavity gemmule hemocoel hermaphrodite invertebrata KEY TERMS sponge cell with multiple functions, including nutrient delivery, egg formation, sperm delivery, and cell differentiation phylum of vermiform animals with metamerism primitive gut cavity within the gastrula that opens outwards via the blastopore phylum of animals with jointed appendages referring to two branches per appendage tentacle-like projection that is present in tusks shells to catch prey fused head and thorax in some species modified first pair of appendages in subphylum Chelicerata (also, collar cell) sponge cell that functions to generate a water current and to trap and ingest food particles via phagocytosis phylum of animals distinguished by their possession of a notochord, a dorsal, hollow nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, and a post-anal tail at some point in their development specialized band of fused segments, which aids in reproduction phylum of animals that are diploblastic and have radial symmetry specialized stinging cell found in Cnidaria shell shape coiled around a horizontal axis wheel-like structure on the anterior portion of the rotifer that contains cilia and moves food and water toward the mouth specialized gill structure in mollusks the tough, external layer possessed by members of the invertebrate class Ecdysozoa that is periodically molted and replaced larval stage in the early development of crustaceans phylum of deuterostomes with spiny skin; exclusively marine organisms coelom formed by fusion of coelomic pouches budded from the endodermal lining of the archenteron outer layer (from ectoderm) that lines the outside of the animal food is taken into the gastrovascular cavity, enzymes are secreted into the cavity, and the cells lining the cavity absorb nutrients inner layer (from endoderm) that lines the digestive cavity opening that serves as both a mouth and an anus, which is termed an incomplete digestive system structure produced by asexual reproduction in freshwater sponges where the morphology is inverted internal body cavity seen in arthropods referring to an animal where both male and female gonads are present in the same individual (also, invertebrates) category of animals that do not possess a cranium or vertebral column Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 785 madreporite mantle mastax medusa mesoglea mesohyl metamerism Mollusca nacre nauplius nematocyst Nematoda Nemertea osculum ostium oviger parapodium pedipalp pilidium pinacocyte planospiral planuliform polymorphic polyp Porifera radula rhynchocoel schizocoelom sclerocyte seta/chaeta siphonophore pore for regulating entry and exit of water into the water vascular system (also, pallium) specialized epidermis that encloses all visceral organs and secretes shells jawed pharynx unique to the rotifers free-floating cnidarian body plan with mouth on underside and tentacles hanging down from a bell non-living, gel-like matrix present between ectoderm and endoderm in cnidarians collagen-like gel containing suspended cells that perform various functions in the sponge series of body structures that are similar internally and externally, such as segments phylum of protostomes with soft bodies and no segmentation calcareous secretion produced by bivalves to line the inner side of shells as well as to coat intruding particulate matter larval stage in the early development of crustaceans harpoon-like organelle within cnidocyte with pointed projectile and poison to stun and entangle prey phylum of worm-like animals that are triploblastic, pseudocoelomates that can be free-living or parasitic phylum of dorsoventrally flattened protostomes known as ribbon worms large opening in the sponge’s body through which water leaves pore present on the sponge’s body through which water enters additional pair of appendages present on some arthropods between the chelicerae and pedipalps fleshy, flat, appendage that protrudes in pairs from each segment of polychaetes second pair of appendages in Chelicerata larval form found in some nemertine species epithelial-like cell that forms the outermost layer of sponges and encloses a jelly-like substance called mesohyl shell shape coiled around a vertical axis larval form found in phylum Nemertea possessing multiple body plans within the lifecycle of a group of organisms stalk-like sessile life form of a cnidarians with mouth and tentacles facing upward, usually sessile but may be able to glide along surface phylum of animals with no true tissues, but a porous body with rudimentary endoskeleton tongue-like organ with chitinous ornamentation cavity present above the mouth that houses the proboscis coelom formed by groups of cells that split from the endodermal layer cell that secretes silica spicules into the mesohyl chitinous projection from the cuticle tubular structure that serves as an inlet for water into the mantle cavity 786 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at spicule spongocoel trochophore uniramous veliger water vascular system zoea structure made of silica or calcium carbonate that provides structural support for sponges central cavity within the body of some sponges first of the two larval stages in mollusks referring to one branch per appendage second of the two larval stages in mollusks system in echinoderms where water is the circulatory fluid larval stage in the early development of crustaceans CHAPTER SUMMARY 28.1 Phylum Porifera Animals included in phylum Porifera are Parazoans because they do not show the formation of true tissues (except in class Hexactinellida). These organisms show very simple organization, with a rudimentary endoskeleton. Sponges have multiple cell types that are geared toward executing various metabolic functions. Although these animals are very simple, they perform several complex physiological functions. 28.2 Phylum Cnidaria Cnidarians represent a more complex level of organization than Porifera. They possess outer and inner tissue layers that sandwich a noncellular mesoglea. Cnidarians possess a well-formed digestive system and carry out extracellular digestion. The cnidocyte is a specialized cell for delivering toxins to prey as well as warning off predators. Cnidarians have separate sexes and have a lifecycle that involves morphologically distinct forms. These animals also show two distinct morphological forms—medusoid and polypoid—at various stages in their lifecycle. 28.3 Superphylum Lophotrochozoa Phylum Annelida includes vermiform, segmented animals. Segmentation is seen in internal anatomy as well, which is called metamerism. Annelids are protostomes. These animals have well-developed neuronal and digestive systems. Some species bear a specialized band of segments known as a clitellum. Annelids show the presence numerous chitinous projections termed chaetae, and polychaetes possess parapodia. Suckers are seen in order Hirudinea. Reproductive strategies include sexual dimorphism, hermaphroditism, and serial hermaphroditism. Internal segmentation is absent in class Hirudinea. Flatworms are acoelomate, triploblastic animals. They lack circulatory and respiratory systems, and have a rudimentary excretory system. This digestive system is incomplete in most species. There are four traditional classes of flatworms, the largely free-living turbellarians, the ectoparasitic monogeneans, and the endoparasitic trematodes and cestodes. Trematodes have complex lifecycles involving a molluscan secondary host and a primary host in which sexual reproduction takes place. Cestodes, or tapeworms, infect the digestive systems of primary vertebrate hosts. The rotifers are microscopic, multicellular, mostly aquatic organisms that are currently under taxonomic revision. The group is characterized by the rotating, ciliated, wheel-like structure, the corona, on their head. The mastax or jawed pharynx is another structure unique to this group of organisms. The nemertini are the simplest eucoelomates. These ribbon-shaped animals bear a specialized proboscis enclosed within a rhynchocoel. The development of a closed circulatory system derived from the coelom is a significant difference seen in this species compared to other pseudocoelomate phyla. Alimentary, nervous, and excretory systems are more developed in the nemertini than in less advanced phyla. Embryonic development of nemertine worms proceeds via a planuliform larval stage. Phylum Mollusca is a large, marine group of invertebrates. Mollusks show a variety of morphological variations within the phylum. This phylum is also distinct in that some members exhibit a calcareous shell as an external means of protection. Some mollusks have evolved a reduced shell. Mollusks are protostomes. The dorsal epidermis in mollusks is modified to form the mantle, which encloses the mantle cavity and visceral organs. This cavity is quite distinct from the coelomic cavity, which in the adult animal surrounds the heart. Respiration is facilitated by gills known as ctenidia. A chitinous- toothed tongue called the radula is present in most mollusks. Early development in some species occurs via two larval Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 787 stages: trochophore and veliger. Sexual dimorphism is the predominant sexual strategy in this phylum. Mollusks can be divided into seven classes, each with distinct morphological characteristics. 28.4 Superphylum Ecdysozoa Nematodes are pseudocoelomate animals akin to flatworms, yet display more advanced neuronal development, a complete digestive system, and a body cavity. This phylum includes free-living as well as parasitic organisms like Caenorhabditis elegans and Ascaris spp., respectively. They include dioeceous as well as hermaphroditic species. Nematodes also possess an excretory system that is not quite well developed. Embryonic development is external and proceeds via three larval stages. A peculiar feature of nematodes is the secretion of a collagenous/chitinous cuticle outside the body. Arthropods represent the most successful phylum of animal on Earth, in terms of the number of species as well as the number of individuals. These animals are characterized by a segmented body as well as the presence of jointed appendages. In the basic body plan, a pair of appendages is present per body segment. Within the phylum, traditional classification is based on mouthparts, number of appendages, and modifications of appendages present. Arthropods bear a chitinous exoskeleton. Gills, trachea, and book lungs facilitate respiration. Sexual dimorphism is seen in this phylum, and embryonic development includes multiple larval stages. 28.5 Superphylum Deuterostomia Echinoderms are deuterostomic marine organisms. This phylum of animals bears a calcareous endoskeleton composed of ossicles. These animals also have spiny skin. Echinoderms possess water-based circulatory systems. A pore termed the madreporite is the point of entry and exit for water into the water vascular system. Osmoregulation is carried out by specialized cells known as podocytes. The characteristic features of Chordata are a notochord, a dorsal hollow nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, and a post-anal tail. Chordata contains two clades of invertebrates: Urochordata (tunicates) and Cephalochordata (lancelets), together with the vertebrates in Vertebrata. Most tunicates live on the ocean floor and are suspension feeders. Lancelets are suspension feeders that feed on phytoplankton and other microorganisms. ART CONNECTION QUESTIONS 1. Figure 28.3 Which of the following statements is false? a. Choanocytes have flagella that propel water through the body. b. Pinacocytes can transform into any cell type. c. Lophocytes secrete collagen. d. Porocytes control the flow of water through pores in the sponge body. 2. Figure 28.20 Which of the following statements about the anatomy of a mollusk is false? a. Mollusks have a radula for grinding food. b. A digestive gland is connected to the stomach. c. The tissue beneath the shell is called the mantle. d. The digestive system includes a gizzard, a stomach, a digestive gland, and the intestine. 3. Figure 28.36 Which of the following statements about insects is false? a. Insects have both dorsal and ventral blood vessels. b. Insects have spiracles, openings that allow air to enter. c. The trachea is part of the digestive system. d. Insects have a developed digestive system with a mouth, crop, and intestine. REVIEW QUESTIONS 4. Mesohyl contains: a. a polysaccharide gel and dead cells b. a collagen-like gel and suspended cells for various functions c. spicules composed of silica or calcium carbonate d. multiple pores 5. The large central opening in the Parazoan body is called the: a. gemmule b. spicule c. ostia d. osculum 6. Cnidocytes are found in _____. a. phylum Porifera b. phylum Nemertea c. phylum Nematoda d. phylum Cnidaria 7. Cubozoans are ________. a. polyps b. medusoids c. polymorphs d. sponges 8. Annelids have a: a. pseudocoelom 788 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at b. a true coelom c. no coelom d. none of the above 9. Which group of flatworms are primarily ectoparasites of fish? a. monogeneans b. trematodes c. cestodes d. turbellarians 10. A mantle and mantle cavity are present in: a. phylum Echinodermata b. phylum Adversoidea c. phylum Mollusca d. phylum Nemertea 11. The rhynchocoel is a ________. a. circulatory system b. fluid-filled cavity c. primitive excretory system d. proboscis 12. The embryonic development in nematodes can have up to __________ larval stages. a. one b. two c. three d. five 13. The nematode cuticle contains _____. a. glucose b. skin cells c. chitin d. nerve cells 14. Crustaceans are _____. a. ecdysozoans b. nematodes c. arachnids d. parazoans 15. Flies are_______. a. chelicerates b. hexapods c. arachnids d. crustaceans 16. Echinoderms have _____. a. triangular symmetry b. radial symmetry c. hexagonal symmetry d. pentaradial symmetry 17. The circulatory fluid in echinoderms is _____. a. blood b. mesohyl c. water d. saline CRITICAL THINKING QUESTIONS 18. Describe the different cell types and their functions in sponges. 19. Describe the feeding mechanism of sponges and identify how it is different from other animals. 20. Explain the function of nematocysts in cnidarians. 21. Compare the structural differences between Porifera and Cnidaria. 22. Describe the morphology and anatomy of mollusks. 23. What are the anatomical differences between nemertines and mollusks? 24. Enumerate features of Caenorhabditis elegans that make it a valuable model system for biologists. 25. What are the different ways in which nematodes can reproduce? 26. Describe the various superclasses that phylum Arthropoda can be divided into. 27. Compare and contrast the segmentation seen in phylum Annelida with that seen in phylum Arthropoda. 28. Describe the different classes of echinoderms using examples. Chapter 28 | Invertebrates 789 790 Chapter 28 | Invertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at 29 | VERTEBRATES Figure 29.1 Examples of critically endangered vertebrate species include (a) the Siberian tiger ( Panthera tigris ), (b) the mountain gorilla ( Gorilla beringei ), and (c) the Philippine eagle ( Pithecophega jefferyi ). (credit a: modification of work by Dave Pape; credit b: modification of work by Dave Proffer; credit c: modification of work by “cuatrok77″/Flickr) Chapter Outline 29.1: Chordates 29.2: Fishes 29.3: Amphibians 29.4: Reptiles 29.5: Birds 29.6: Mammals 29.7: The Evolution of Primates Introduction Vertebrates are among the most recognizable organisms of the animal kingdom. More than 62,000 vertebrate species have been identified. The vertebrate species now living represent only a small portion of the vertebrates that have existed. The best-known extinct vertebrates are the dinosaurs, a unique group of reptiles, which reached sizes not seen before or after in terrestrial animals. They were the dominant terrestrial animals for 150 million years, until they died out in a mass extinction near the end of the Cretaceous period. Although it is not known with certainty what caused their extinction, a great deal is known about the anatomy of the dinosaurs, given the preservation of skeletal elements in the fossil record. Currently, a number of vertebrate species face extinction primarily due to habitat loss and pollution. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, more than 6,000 vertebrate species are classified as threatened. Amphibians and mammals are the classes with the greatest percentage of threatened species, with 29 percent of all amphibians and 21 percent of all mammals classified as threatened. Attempts are being made around the world to prevent the extinction of threatened species. For example, the Biodiversity Action Plan is an international program, ratified by 188 countries, which is designed to protect species and habitats. 29.1 | Chordates By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Describe the distinguishing characteristics of chordates • Identify the derived character of craniates that sets them apart from other chordates • Describe the developmental fate of the notochord in vertebrates Chapter 29 | Vertebrates 791 Vertebrates are members of the kingdom Animalia and the phylum Chordata ( Figure 29.2 ). Recall that animals that possess bilateral symmetry can be divided into two groups—protostomes and deuterostomes—based on their patterns of embryonic development. The deuterostomes, whose name translates as “second mouth,” consist of two phyla: Chordata and Echinodermata. Echinoderms are invertebrate marine animals that have pentaradial symmetry and a spiny body covering, a group that includes sea stars, sea urchins, and sea cucumbers. The most conspicuous and familiar members of Chordata are vertebrates, but this phylum also includes two groups of invertebrate chordates. Figure 29.2 All chordates are deuterostomes possessing a notochord. Characteristics of Chordata Animals in the phylum Chordata share four key features that appear at some stage during their development: a notochord, a dorsal hollow nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, and a post-anal tail ( Figure 29.3 ). In some groups, some of these are present only during embryonic development. The chordates are named for the notochord , which is a flexible, rod-shaped structure that is found in the embryonic stage of all chordates and in the adult stage of some chordate species. It is located between the digestive tube and the nerve cord, and provides skeletal support through the length of the body. In some chordates, the notochord acts as the primary axial support of the body throughout the animal’s lifetime. In vertebrates, the notochord is present during embryonic development, at which time it induces the development of the neural tube and serves as a support for the developing embryonic body. The notochord, however, is not found in the postnatal stage of vertebrates; at this point, it has been replaced by the vertebral column (that is, the spine). 792 Chapter 29 | Vertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 29.3 In chordates, four common features appear at some point during development: a notochord, a dorsal hollow nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, and a post-anal tail. Which of the following statements about common features of chordates is true? a. The dorsal hollow nerve cord is part of the chordate central nervous system. b. In vertebrate fishes, the pharyngeal slits become the gills. c. Humans are not chordates because humans do not have a tail. d. Vertebrates do not have a notochord at any point in their development; instead, they have a vertebral column. The dorsal hollow nerve cord derives from ectoderm that rolls into a hollow tube during development. In chordates, it is located dorsal to the notochord. In contrast, other animal phyla are characterized by solid nerve cords that are located either ventrally or laterally. The nerve cord found in most chordate embryos develops into the brain and spinal cord, which compose the central nervous system. Pharyngeal slits are openings in the pharynx (the region just posterior to the mouth) that extend to the outside environment. In organisms that live in aquatic environments, pharyngeal slits allow for the exit of water that enters the mouth during feeding. Some invertebrate chordates use the pharyngeal slits to filter food out of the water that enters the mouth. In vertebrate fishes, the pharyngeal slits are modified into gill supports, and in jawed fishes, into jaw supports. In tetrapods, the slits are modified into components of the ear and tonsils. Tetrapod literally means “four-footed,” which refers to the phylogenetic history of various groups that evolved accordingly, even though some now possess fewer than two pairs of walking appendages. Tetrapods include amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. The post-anal tail is a posterior elongation of the body, extending beyond the anus. The tail contains skeletal elements and muscles, which provide a source of locomotion in aquatic species, such as fishes. In some terrestrial vertebrates, the tail also helps with balance, courting, and signaling when danger is near. In humans, the post-anal tail is vestigial, that is, reduced in size and nonfunctional. Click for a video ( discussing the evolution of chordates and five characteristics that they share. Chordates and the Evolution of Vertebrates Chordata also contains two clades of invertebrates: Urochordata and Cephalochordata. Members of these groups also possess the four distinctive features of chordates at some point during their development. Chapter 29 | Vertebrates 793 Urochordata Members of Urochordata are also known as tunicates (Figure 29.4 ). The name tunicate derives from the cellulose-like carbohydrate material, called the tunic, which covers the outer body of tunicates. Although adult tunicates are classified as chordates, they do not have a notochord, a dorsal hollow nerve cord, or a post-anal tail, although they do have pharyngeal slits. The larval form, however, possesses all four structures. Most tunicates are hermaphrodites. Tunicate larvae hatch from eggs inside the adult tunicate’s body. After hatching, a tunicate larva swims for a few days until it finds a suitable surface on which it can attach, usually in a dark or shaded location. It then attaches via the head to the surface and undergoes metamorphosis into the adult form, at which point the notochord, nerve cord, and tail disappear. Figure 29.4 (a) This photograph shows a colony of the tunicate Botrylloides violaceus . (b) The larval stage of the tunicate possesses all of the features characteristic of chordates: a notochord, a dorsal hollow nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, and a post-anal tail. (c) In the adult stage, the notochord, nerve cord, and tail disappear. (credit: modification of work by Dann Blackwood, USGS) Most tunicates live a sessile existence on the ocean floor and are suspension feeders. The primary foods of tunicates are plankton and detritus. Seawater enters the tunicate’s body through its incurrent siphon. Suspended material is filtered out of this water by a mucous net (pharyngeal slits) and is passed into the intestine via the action of cilia. The anus empties into the excurrent siphon, which expels wastes and water. Tunicates are found in shallow ocean waters around the world. Cephalochordata Members of Cephalochordata possess a notochord, dorsal hollow nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, and a post-anal tail in the adult stage ( Figure 29.5 ). The notochord extends into the head, which gives the subphylum its name. Extinct members of this subphylum include Pikaia , which is the oldest known cephalochordate. Pikaia fossils were recovered from the Burgess shales of Canada and dated to the middle of the Cambrian age, making them more than 500 million years old. Extant members of Cephalochordata are the lancelets , named for their blade-like shape. Lancelets are only a few centimeters long and are usually found buried in sand at the bottom of warm temperate and tropical seas. Like tunicates, they are suspension feeders. 794 Chapter 29 | Vertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 29.5 The lancelet, like all cephalochordates, has a head. Adult lancelets retain the four key features of chordates: a notochord, a dorsal hollow nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, and a post-anal tail. Water from the mouth enters the pharyngeal slits, which filter out food particles. The filtered water then collects in the atrium and exits through the atriopore. Craniata and Vertebrata Acranium is a bony, cartilaginous, or fibrous structure surrounding the brain, jaw, and facial bones ( Figure 29.6 ). Most bilaterally symmetrical animals have a head; of these, those that have a cranium compose the clade Craniata . Craniata includes the hagfishes (Myxini), which have a cranium but lack a backbone, and all of the organisms called “vertebrates.” Figure 29.6 Craniata, including this fish ( Dunkleosteus sp.), are characterized by the presence of a cranium, mandible, and other facial bones. (credit: “Steveoc 86”/Wikimedia Commons) Vertebrates are members of the clade Vertebrata . Vertebrates display the four characteristic features of the chordates; however, members of this group also share derived characteristics that distinguish them from invertebrate chordates. Vertebrata is named for the vertebral column , composed of vertebrae, a series of separate bones joined together as a backbone ( Figure 29.7 ). In adult vertebrates, the vertebral column replaces the notochord, which is only seen in the embryonic stage. Chapter 29 | Vertebrates 795 Figure 29.7 Vertebrata are characterized by the presence of a backbone, such as the one that runs through the middle of this fish. All vertebrates are in the Craniata clade and have a cranium. (credit: Ernest V. More; taken at Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.) Based on molecular analysis, vertebrates appear to be more closely related to lancelets (cephalochordates) than to tunicates (urochordates) among the invertebrate chordates. This evidence suggests that the cephalochordates diverged from Urochordata and the vertebrates subsequently diverged from the cephalochordates. This hypothesis is further supported by the discovery of a fossil in China from the genus Haikouella . This organism seems to be an intermediate form between cephalochordates and vertebrates. The Haikouella fossils are about 530 million years old and appear similar to modern lancelets. These organisms had a brain and eyes, as do vertebrates, but lack the skull found in craniates. [1] This evidence suggests that vertebrates arose during the Cambrian explosion. Recall that the “Cambrian explosion” is the name given to a relatively brief span of time during the Cambrian period during which many animal groups appeared and rapidly diversified. Most modern animal phyla originated during the Cambrian explosion. Vertebrates are the largest group of chordates, with more than 62,000 living species. Vertebrates are grouped based on anatomical and physiological traits. More than one classification and naming scheme is used for these animals. Here we will consider the traditional groups Agnatha, Chondrichthyes, Osteichthyes, Amphibia, Reptilia, Aves, and Mammalia, which constitute classes in the subphylum Vertebrata. Many modern authors classify birds within Reptilia, which correctly reflects their evolutionary heritage. We consider them separately only for convenience. Further, we will consider hagfishes and lampreys together as jawless fishes, the agnathans, although emerging classification schemes separate them into chordate jawless fishes (the hagfishes) and vertebrate jawless fishes (the lampreys). Animals that possess jaws are known as gnathostomes, which means “jawed mouth.” Gnathostomes include fishes and tetrapods—amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Tetrapods can be further divided into two groups: amphibians and amniotes. Amniotes are animals whose eggs are adapted for terrestrial living, and this group includes mammals, reptiles, and birds. Amniotic embryos, developing in either an externally shed egg or an egg carried by the female, are provided with a water-retaining environment and are protected by amniotic membranes. 29.2 | Fishes By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Describe the difference between jawless and jawed fishes • Discuss the distinguishing features of sharks and rays compared to other modern fishes Modern fishes include an estimated 31,000 species. Fishes were the earliest vertebrates, with jawless species being the earliest and jawed species evolving later. They are active feeders, rather than sessile, suspension feeders. Jawless fishes—the hagfishes and lampreys—have a distinct cranium and complex sense organs including eyes, distinguishing them from the invertebrate chordates. Jawless Fishes Jawless fishes are craniates that represent an ancient vertebrate lineage that arose over one half-billion years ago. In the past, the hagfishes and lampreys were classified together as agnathans. Today, hagfishes and lampreys are recognized as 1. Chen, J. Y., Huang, D. Y., and Li, C. W., “An early Cambrian craniate-like chordate,” Nature 402 (1999): 518–522, doi:10.1038/990080. 796 Chapter 29 | Vertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at separate clades, primarily because lampreys are true vertebrates, whereas hagfishes are not. A defining feature is the lack of paired lateral appendages (fins). Some of the earliest jawless fishes were the ostracoderms (which translates to “shell- skin”). Ostracoderms were vertebrate fishes encased in bony armor, unlike present-day jawless fishes, which lack bone in their scales. Myxini: Hagfishes The clade Myxini includes at least 20 species of hagfishes. Hagfishes are eel-like scavengers that live on the ocean floor and feed on dead invertebrates, other fishes, and marine mammals ( Figure 29.8 ). Hagfishes are entirely marine and are found in oceans around the world, except for the polar regions. A unique feature of these animals is the slime glands beneath the skin that release mucus through surface pores. This mucus allows the hagfish to escape from the grip of predators. Hagfish can also twist their bodies in a knot to feed and sometimes eat carcasses from the inside out. Figure 29.8 Pacific hagfish are scavengers that live on the ocean floor. (credit: Linda Snook, NOAA/CBNMS) The skeleton of a hagfish is composed of cartilage, which includes a cartilaginous notochord that runs the length of the body. This notochord provides support to the hagfish’s body. Hagfishes do not replace the notochord with a vertebral column during development, as do true vertebrates. Petromyzontidae: Lampreys The clade Petromyzontidae includes approximately 35–40 or more species of lampreys. Lampreys are similar to hagfishes in size and shape; however, lampreys possess some vertebral elements. Lampreys lack paired appendages and bone, as do the hagfishes. As adults, lampreys are characterized by a toothed, funnel-like sucking mouth. Many species have a parasitic stage of their life cycle during which they are ectoparasites of fishes ( Figure 29.9 ). Figure 29.9 These parasitic sea lampreys attach to their lake trout host by suction and use their rough tongues to rasp away flesh in order to feed on the trout’s blood. (credit: USGS) Lampreys live primarily in coastal and fresh waters, and have a worldwide distribution, except for in the tropics and polar regions. Some species are marine, but all species spawn in fresh water. Eggs are fertilized externally, and the larvae Chapter 29 | Vertebrates 797 distinctly differ from the adult form, spending 3 to 15 years as suspension feeders. Once they attain sexual maturity, the adults reproduce and die within days. Lampreys possess a notochord as adults; however, this notochord is surrounded by a cartilaginous structure called an arcualia, which may resemble an evolutionarily early form of the vertebral column. Gnathostomes: Jawed Fishes Gnathostomes or “jaw-mouths” are vertebrates that possess jaws. One of the most significant developments in early vertebrate evolution was the development of the jaw, which is a hinged structure attached to the cranium that allows an animal to grasp and tear its food. The evolution of jaws allowed early gnathostomes to exploit food resources that were unavailable to jawless fishes. Early gnathostomes also possessed two sets of paired fins, allowing the fishes to maneuver accurately. Pectoral fins are typically located on the anterior body, and pelvic fins on the posterior. Evolution of the jaw and paired fins permitted gnathostomes to expand from the sedentary suspension feeding of jawless fishes to become mobile predators. The ability of gnathostomes to exploit new nutrient sources likely is one reason that they replaced most jawless fishes during the Devonian period. Two early groups of gnathostomes were the acanthodians and placoderms ( Figure 29.10 ), which arose in the late Silurian period and are now extinct. Most modern fishes are gnathostomes that belong to the clades Chondrichthyes and Osteichthyes. Figure 29.10 Dunkleosteous was an enormous placoderm from the Devonian period, 380–360 million years ago. It measured up to 10 meters in length and weighed up to 3.6 tons. (credit: Nobu Tamura) Chondrichthyes: Cartilaginous Fishes The clade Chondrichthyes is diverse, consisting of sharks ( Figure 29.11 ), rays, and skates, together with sawfishes and a few dozen species of fishes called chimaeras , or “ghost” sharks.” Chondrichthyes are jawed fishes that possess paired fins and a skeleton made of cartilage. This clade arose approximately 370 million years ago in the early or middle Devonian. They are thought to be descended from the placoderms, which had skeletons made of bone; thus, the cartilaginous skeleton of Chondrichthyes is a later development. Parts of shark skeleton are strengthened by granules of calcium carbonate, but this is not the same as bone. Most cartilaginous fishes live in marine habitats, with a few species living in fresh water for a part or all of their lives. Most sharks are carnivores that feed on live prey, either swallowing it whole or using their jaws and teeth to tear it into smaller pieces. Shark teeth likely evolved from the jagged scales that cover their skin, called placoid scales. Some species of sharks and rays are suspension feeders that feed on plankton. 798 Chapter 29 | Vertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 29.11 Hammerhead sharks tend to school during the day and hunt prey at night. (credit: Masashi Sugawara) Sharks have well-developed sense organs that aid them in locating prey, including a keen sense of smell and electroreception, with the latter perhaps the most sensitive of any animal. Organs called ampullae of Lorenzini allow sharks to detect the electromagnetic fields that are produced by all living things, including their prey. Electroreception has only been observed in aquatic or amphibious animals. Sharks, together with most fishes and aquatic and larval amphibians, also have a sense organ called the lateral line , which is used to detect movement and vibration in the surrounding water, and is often considered homologous to “hearing” in terrestrial vertebrates. The lateral line is visible as a darker stripe that runs along the length of a fish’s body. Sharks reproduce sexually, and eggs are fertilized internally. Most species are ovoviviparous: The fertilized egg is retained in the oviduct of the mother’s body and the embryo is nourished by the egg yolk. The eggs hatch in the uterus, and young are born alive and fully functional. Some species of sharks are oviparous: They lay eggs that hatch outside of the mother’s body. Embryos are protected by a shark egg case or “mermaid’s purse” ( Figure 29.12 ) that has the consistency of leather. The shark egg case has tentacles that snag in seaweed and give the newborn shark cover. A few species of sharks are viviparous: The young develop within the mother’s body and she gives live birth. Figure 29.12 Shark embryos are clearly visible through these transparent egg cases. The round structure is the yolk that nourishes the growing embryo. (credit: Jek Bacarisas) Rays and skates comprise more than 500 species and are closely related to sharks. They can be distinguished from sharks by their flattened bodies, pectoral fins that are enlarged and fused to the head, and gill slits on their ventral surface ( Figure 29.13 ). Like sharks, rays and skates have a cartilaginous skeleton. Most species are marine and live on the sea floor, with nearly a worldwide distribution. Chapter 29 | Vertebrates 799 Figure 29.13 This stingray blends into the sandy bottom of the ocean floor. (credit: “Sailn1″/Flickr) Osteichthyes: Bony Fishes Members of the clade Osteichthyes , also called bony fishes, are characterized by a bony skeleton. The vast majority of present-day fishes belong to this group, which consists of approximately 30,000 species, making it the largest class of vertebrates in existence today. Nearly all bony fishes have an ossified skeleton with specialized bone cells (osteocytes) that produce and maintain a calcium phosphate matrix. This characteristic has only reversed in a few groups of Osteichthyes, such as sturgeons and paddlefish, which have primarily cartilaginous skeletons. The skin of bony fishes is often covered by overlapping scales, and glands in the skin secrete mucus that reduces drag when swimming and aids the fish in osmoregulation. Like sharks, bony fishes have a lateral line system that detects vibrations in water. All bony fishes use gills to breathe. Water is drawn over gills that are located in chambers covered and ventilated by a protective, muscular flap called the operculum. Many bony fishes also have a swim bladder , a gas-filled organ that helps to control the buoyancy of the fish. Bony fishes are further divided into two extant clades: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes) and Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fishes). Actinopterygii, the ray-finned fishes, include many familiar fishes—tuna, bass, trout, and salmon ( Figure 29.14 a), among others. Ray-finned fishes are named for their fins that are webs of skin supported by bony spines called rays. In contrast, the fins of Sarcopterygii are fleshy and lobed, supported by bone ( Figure 29.14 b). Living members of this clade include the less-familiar lungfishes and coelacanths. Figure 29.14 The (a) sockeye salmon and (b) coelacanth are both bony fishes of the Osteichthyes clade. The coelacanth, sometimes called a lobe-finned fish, was thought to have gone extinct in the Late Cretaceous period, 100 million years ago, until one was discovered in 1938 near the Comoros Islands between Africa and Madagascar. (credit a: modification of work by Timothy Knepp, USFWS; credit b: modification of work by Robbie Cada) 29.3 | Amphibians By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Describe the important difference between the life cycle of amphibians and the life cycles of other vertebrates • Distinguish between the characteristics of Urodela, Anura, and Apoda • Describe the evolutionary history of amphibians 800 Chapter 29 | Vertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Amphibians are vertebrate tetrapods. Amphibia includes frogs, salamanders, and caecilians. The term amphibian loosely translates from the Greek as “dual life,” which is a reference to the metamorphosis that many frogs and salamanders undergo and their mixture of aquatic and terrestrial environments in their life cycle. Amphibians evolved during the Devonian period and were the earliest terrestrial tetrapods. Watch this series of five Animal Planet videos on tetrapod evolution: • 1: The evolution from fish to earliest tetrapod ( • 2: Fish to Earliest Tetrapod ( • 3: The discovery of coelacanth and Acanthostega fossils ( • 4: The number of fingers on “legs” ( • 5: Reconstructing the environment of early tetrapods ( Characteristics of Amphibians As tetrapods, most amphibians are characterized by four well-developed limbs. Some species of salamanders and all caecilians are functionally limbless; their limbs are vestigial. An important characteristic of extant amphibians is a moist, permeable skin that is achieved via mucus glands that keep the skin moist; thus, exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide with the environment can take place through it ( cutaneous respiration ). Additional characteristics of amphibians include pedicellate teeth—teeth in which the root and crown are calcified, separated by a zone of noncalcified tissue—and a papilla amphibiorum and papilla basilaris, structures of the inner ear that are sensitive to frequencies below and above 10,00 hertz, respectively. Amphibians also have an auricular operculum, which is an extra bone in the ear that transmits sounds to the inner ear. All extant adult amphibians are carnivorous, and some terrestrial amphibians have a sticky tongue that is used to capture prey. Evolution of Amphibians The fossil record provides evidence of the first tetrapods: now-extinct amphibian species dating to nearly 400 million years ago. Evolution of tetrapods from fishes represented a significant change in body plan from one suited to organisms that respired and swam in water, to organisms that breathed air and moved onto land; these changes occurred over a span of 50 million years during the Devonian period. One of the earliest known tetrapods is from the genus Acanthostega . Acanthostega was aquatic; fossils show that it had gills similar to fishes. However, it also had four limbs, with the skeletal structure of limbs found in present-day tetrapods, including amphibians. Therefore, it is thought that Acanthostega lived in shallow waters and was an intermediate form between lobe-finned fishes and early, fully terrestrial tetrapods. What preceded Acanthostega ? In 2006, researchers published news of their discovery of a fossil of a “tetrapod-like fish,” Tiktaalik roseae , which seems to be an intermediate form between fishes having fins and tetrapods having limbs ( Figure 29.15 ).Tiktaalik likely lived in a shallow water environment about 375 million years ago. [2] 2. Daeschler, E. B., Shubin, N. H., and Jenkins, F. J. “A Devonian tetrapod-like fish and the evolution of the tetrapod body plan,” Nature 440 (2006): 757–763, doi:10.1038/nature04639, Chapter 29 | Vertebrates 801 Figure 29.15 The recent fossil discovery of Tiktaalik roseae suggests evidence for an animal intermediate to finned fish and legged tetrapods. (credit: Zina Deretsky, National Science Foundation) The early tetrapods that moved onto land had access to new nutrient sources and relatively few predators. This led to the widespread distribution of tetrapods during the early Carboniferous period, a period sometimes called the “age of the amphibians.” Modern Amphibians Amphibia comprises an estimated 6,770 extant species that inhabit tropical and temperate regions around the world. Amphibians can be divided into three clades: Urodela (“tailed-ones”), the salamanders; Anura (“tail-less ones”), the frogs; and Apoda (“legless ones”), the caecilians. Urodela: Salamanders Salamanders are amphibians that belong to the order Urodela. Living salamanders ( Figure 29.16 ) include approximately 620 species, some of which are aquatic, other terrestrial, and some that live on land only as adults. Adult salamanders usually have a generalized tetrapod body plan with four limbs and a tail. They move by bending their bodies from side to side, called lateral undulation, in a fish-like manner while “walking” their arms and legs fore and aft. It is thought that their gait is similar to that used by early tetrapods. Respiration differs among different species. The majority of salamanders are lungless, and respiration occurs through the skin or through external gills. Some terrestrial salamanders have primitive lungs; a few species have both gills and lungs. Unlike frogs, virtually all salamanders rely on internal fertilization of the eggs. The only male amphibians that possess copulatory structures are the caecilians, so fertilization among salamanders typically involves an elaborate and often prolonged courtship. Such a courtship allows the successful transfer of sperm from male to female via a spermatophore. Development in many of the most highly evolved salamanders, which are fully terrestrial, occurs during a prolonged egg stage, with the eggs guarded by the mother. During this time, the gilled larval stage is found only within the egg capsule, with the gills being resorbed, and metamorphosis being completed, before hatching. Hatchlings thus resemble tiny adults. Figure 29.16 Most salamanders have legs and a tail, but respiration varies among species. (credit: Valentina Storti) 802 Chapter 29 | Vertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Vi e w River Monsters: Fish With Arms and Hands? ( to see a video about an unusually large salamander species. Anura: Frogs Frogs are amphibians that belong to the order Anura ( Figure 29.17 ). Anurans are among the most diverse groups of vertebrates, with approximately 5,965 species that occur on all of the continents except Antarctica. Anurans have a body plan that is more specialized for movement. Adult frogs use their hind limbs to jump on land. Frogs have a number of modifications that allow them to avoid predators, including skin that acts as camouflage. Many species of frogs and salamanders also release defensive chemicals from glands in the skin that are poisonous to predators. Figure 29.17 The Australian green tree frog is a nocturnal predator that lives in the canopies of trees near a water source. Frog eggs are fertilized externally, and like other amphibians, frogs generally lay their eggs in moist environments. A moist environment is required as eggs lack a shell and thus dehydrate quickly in dry environments. Frogs demonstrate a great diversity of parental behaviors, with some species laying many eggs and exhibiting little parental care, to species that carry eggs and tadpoles on their hind legs or backs. The life cycle of frogs, as other amphibians, consists of two distinct stages: the larval stage followed by metamorphosis to an adult stage. The larval stage of a frog, the tadpole , is often a filter-feeding herbivore. Tadpoles usually have gills, a lateral line system, long-finned tails, and lack limbs. At the end of the tadpole stage, frogs undergo metamorphosis into the adult form ( Figure 29.18 ). During this stage, the gills, tail, and lateral line system disappear, and four limbs develop. The jaws become larger and are suited for carnivorous feeding, and the digestive system transforms into the typical short gut of a predator. An eardrum and air-breathing lungs also develop. These changes during metamorphosis allow the larvae to move onto land in the adult stage. Chapter 29 | Vertebrates 803 Figure 29.18 A juvenile frog metamorphoses into a frog. Here, the frog has started to develop limbs, but its tadpole tail is still evident. Apoda: Caecilians An estimated 185 species comprise caecilians , a group of amphibians that belong to the order Apoda. Although they are vertebrates, a complete lack of limbs leads to their resemblance to earthworms in appearance. They are adapted for a soil- burrowing or aquatic lifestyle, and they are nearly blind. These animals are found in the tropics of South America, Africa, and Southern Asia. They have vestigial limbs, evidence that they evolved from a legged ancestor. 804 Chapter 29 | Vertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at The Paleozoic Era and the Evolution of Vertebrates The climate and geography of Earth was vastly different during the Paleozoic Era, when vertebrates arose, as compared to today. The Paleozoic spanned from approximately 542 to 251 million years ago. The landmasses on Earth were very different from those of today. Laurentia and Gondwana were continents located near the equator that subsumed much of the current day landmasses in a different configuration (Figure 29.19 ). At this time, sea levels were very high, probably at a level that hasn’t been reached since. As the Paleozoic progressed, glaciations created a cool global climate, but conditions warmed near the end of the first half of the Paleozoic. During the latter half of the Paleozoic, the landmasses began moving together, with the initial formation of a large northern block called Laurasia. This contained parts of what is now North America, along with Greenland, parts of Europe, and Siberia. Eventually, a single supercontinent, called Pangaea, was formed, starting in the latter third of the Paleozoic. Glaciations then began to affect Pangaea’s climate, affecting the distribution of vertebrate life. Figure 29.19 During the Paleozoic Era, around 550 million years ago, the continent Gondwana formed. Both Gondwana and the continent Laurentia were located near the equator. During the early Paleozoic, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was much greater than it is today. This may have begun to change later, as land plants became more common. As the roots of land plants began to infiltrate rock and soil began to form, carbon dioxide was drawn out of the atmosphere and became trapped in the rock. This reduced the levels of carbon dioxide and increased the levels of oxygen in the atmosphere, so that by the end of the Paleozoic, atmospheric conditions were similar to those of today. As plants became more common through the latter half of the Paleozoic, microclimates began to emerge and ecosystems began to change. As plants and ecosystems continued to grow and become more complex, vertebrates moved from the water to land. The presence of shoreline vegetation may have contributed to the movement of vertebrates onto land. One hypothesis suggests that the fins of aquatic vertebrates were used to maneuver through this vegetation, providing a precursor to the movement of fins on land and the development of limbs. The late Paleozoic was a time of diversification of vertebrates, as amniotes emerged and became two different lines that gave rise, on one hand, to mammals, and, on the other hand, to reptiles and birds. Many marine vertebrates became extinct near the end of the Devonian period, which ended about 360 million years ago, and both marine and terrestrial vertebrates were decimated by a mass extinction in the early Permian period about 250 million years ago. Chapter 29 | Vertebrates 805 Vi e w Earth’s Paleogeography: Continental Movements Through Time ( paleogeography) to see changes in Earth as life evolved. 29.4 | Reptiles By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Describe the main characteristics of amniotes • Explain the difference between anapsids, synapsids, and diapsids, and give an example of each • Identify the characteristics of reptiles • Discuss the evolution of reptiles The amniotes —reptiles, birds, and mammals—are distinguished from amphibians by their terrestrially adapted egg, which is protected by amniotic membranes. The evolution of amniotic membranes meant that the embryos of amniotes were provided with their own aquatic environment, which led to less dependence on water for development and thus allowed the amniotes to branch out into drier environments. This was a significant development that distinguished them from amphibians, which were restricted to moist environments due their shell-less eggs. Although the shells of various amniotic species vary significantly, they all allow retention of water. The shells of bird eggs are composed of calcium carbonate and are hard, but fragile. The shells of reptile eggs are leathery and require a moist environment. Most mammals do not lay eggs (except for monotremes). Instead, the embryo grows within the mother’s body; however, even with this internal gestation, amniotic membranes are still present. Characteristics of Amniotes The amniotic egg is the key characteristic of amniotes. In amniotes that lay eggs, the shell of the egg provides protection for the developing embryo while being permeable enough to allow for the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen. The albumin, or egg white, provides the embryo with water and protein, whereas the fattier egg yolk is the energy supply for the embryo, as is the case with the eggs of many other animals, such as amphibians. However, the eggs of amniotes contain three additional extra-embryonic membranes: the chorion, amnion, and allantois ( Figure 29.20 ). Extra-embryonic membranes are membranes present in amniotic eggs that are not a part of the body of the developing embryo. While the inner amniotic membrane surrounds the embryo itself, the chorion surrounds the embryo and yolk sac. The chorion facilitates exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the embryo and the egg’s external environment. The amnion protects the embryo from mechanical shock and supports hydration. The allantois stores nitrogenous wastes produced by the embryo and also facilitates respiration. In mammals, membranes that are homologous to the extra-embryonic membranes in eggs are present in the placenta. 806 Chapter 29 | Vertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 29.20 The key features of an amniotic egg are shown. Which of the following statements about the parts of an egg are false? a. The allantois stores nitrogenous waste and facilitates respiration. b. The chorion facilitates gas exchange. c. The yolk provides food for the growing embryo. d. The amniotic cavity is filled with albumen. Additional derived characteristics of amniotes include waterproof skin, due to the presence of lipids, and costal (rib) ventilation of the lungs. Evolution of Amniotes The first amniotes evolved from amphibian ancestors approximately 340 million years ago during the Carboniferous period. The early amniotes diverged into two main lines soon after the first amniotes arose. The initial split was into synapsids and sauropsids. Synapsids include all mammals, including extinct mammalian species. Synapsids also include therapsids, which were mammal-like reptiles from which mammals evolved. Sauropsids include reptiles and birds, and can be further divided into anapsids and diapsids. The key differences between the synapsids, anapsids, and diapsids are the structures of the skull and the number of temporal fenestrae behind each eye ( Figure 29.21 ).Temporal fenestrae are post-orbital openings in the skull that allow muscles to expand and lengthen. Anapsids have no temporal fenestrae, synapsids have one, and diapsids have two. Anapsids include extinct organisms and may, based on anatomy, include turtles. However, this is still controversial, and turtles are sometimes classified as diapsids based on molecular evidence. The diapsids include birds and all other living and extinct reptiles. Figure 29.21 Compare the skulls and temporal fenestrae of anapsids, synapsids, and diapsids. Anapsids have no openings, synapsids have one opening, and diapsids have two openings. The diapsids diverged into two groups, the Archosauromorpha (“ancient lizard form”) and the Lepidosauromorpha (“scaly lizard form”) during the Mesozoic period ( Figure 29.22 ). The lepidosaurs include modern lizards, snakes, and tuataras. The archosaurs include modern crocodiles and alligators, and the extinct pterosaurs (“winged lizard”) and dinosaurs (“terrible lizard”). Clade Dinosauria includes birds, which evolved from a branch of dinosaurs. Chapter 29 | Vertebrates 807 Figure 29.22 This chart shows the evolution of amniotes. The placement of Testudines (turtles) is currently still debated. Members of the order Testudines have an anapsid-like skull with one opening. However, molecular studies indicate that turtles descended from a diapsid ancestor. Why might this be the case? In the past, the most common division of amniotes has been into the classes Mammalia, Reptilia, and Aves. Birds are descended, however, from dinosaurs, so this classical scheme results in groups that are not true clades. We will consider birds as a group distinct from reptiles for the purpose of this discussion with the understanding that this does not completely reflect phylogenetic history and relationships. Characteristics of Reptiles Reptiles are tetrapods. Limbless reptiles—snakes and other squamates—have vestigial limbs and, like caecilians, are classified as tetrapods because they are descended from four-limbed ancestors. Reptiles lay eggs enclosed in shells on land. Even aquatic reptiles return to the land to lay eggs. They usually reproduce sexually with internal fertilization. Some species display ovoviviparity, with the eggs remaining in the mother’s body until they are ready to hatch. Other species are viviparous, with the offspring born alive. One of the key adaptations that permitted reptiles to live on land was the development of their scaly skin, containing the protein keratin and waxy lipids, which reduced water loss from the skin. This occlusive skin means that reptiles cannot use their skin for respiration, like amphibians, and thus all breathe with lungs. Reptiles are ectotherms, animals whose main source of body heat comes from the environment. This is in contrast to endotherms, which use heat produced by metabolism to regulate body temperature. In addition to being ectothermic, reptiles are categorized as poikilotherms, or animals whose body temperatures vary rather than remain stable. Reptiles have behavioral adaptations to help regulate body temperature, such as basking in sunny places to warm up and finding shady spots or going underground to cool down. The advantage of ectothermy is that metabolic energy from food is not required to heat the body; therefore, reptiles can survive on about 10 percent of the calories required by a similarly sized endotherm. In cold weather, some reptiles such as the garter snake brumate. Brumation is similar to hibernation in that the animal becomes less active and can go for long periods without eating, but differs from hibernation in that brumating reptiles are not asleep or living off fat reserves. Rather, their metabolism is slowed in response to cold temperatures, and the animal is very sluggish. 808 Chapter 29 | Vertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Evolution of Reptiles Reptiles originated approximately 300 million years ago during the Carboniferous period. One of the oldest known amniotes is Casineria , which had both amphibian and reptilian characteristics. One of the earliest undisputed reptiles was Hylonomus . Soon after the first amniotes appeared, they diverged into three groups—synapsids, anapsids, and diapsids—during the Permian period. The Permian period also saw a second major divergence of diapsid reptiles into archosaurs (predecessors of crocodilians and dinosaurs) and lepidosaurs (predecessors of snakes and lizards). These groups remained inconspicuous until the Triassic period, when the archosaurs became the dominant terrestrial group due to the extinction of large-bodied anapsids and synapsids during the Permian-Triassic extinction. About 250 million years ago, archosaurs radiated into the dinosaurs and the pterosaurs. Although they are sometimes mistakenly called dinosaurs, the pterosaurs were distinct from true dinosaurs ( Figure 29.23 ). Pterosaurs had a number of adaptations that allowed for flight, including hollow bones (birds also exhibit hollow bones, a case of convergent evolution). Their wings were formed by membranes of skin that attached to the long, fourth finger of each arm and extended along the body to the legs. Figure 29.23 Pterosaurs, which existed from the late Triassic to the Cretaceous period (210 to 65.5 million years ago), possessed wings but are not believed to have been capable of powered flight. Instead, they may have been able to soar after launching from cliffs. (credit: Mark Witton, Darren Naish) The dinosaurs were a diverse group of terrestrial reptiles with more than 1,000 species identified to date. Paleontologists continue to discover new species of dinosaurs. Some dinosaurs were quadrupeds ( Figure 29.24 ); others were bipeds. Some were carnivorous, whereas others were herbivorous. Dinosaurs laid eggs, and a number of nests containing fossilized eggs have been found. It is not known whether dinosaurs were endotherms or ectotherms. However, given that modern birds are endothermic, the dinosaurs that served as ancestors to birds likely were endothermic as well. Some fossil evidence exists for dinosaurian parental care, and comparative biology supports this hypothesis since the archosaur birds and crocodilians display parental care. Figure 29.24 Edmontonia was an armored dinosaur that lived in the late Cretaceous period, 145.5 to 65.6 million years ago. (credit: Mariana Ruiz Villareal) Chapter 29 | Vertebrates 809 Dinosaurs dominated the Mesozoic Era, which was known as the “age of reptiles.” The dominance of dinosaurs lasted until the end of the Cretaceous, the last period of the Mesozoic Era. The Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction resulted in the loss of most of the large-bodied animals of the Mesozoic Era. Birds are the only living descendants of one of the major clades of dinosaurs. Visit this site to see a video ( discussing the hypothesis that an asteroid caused the Cretaceous-Triassic (KT) extinction. Modern Reptiles Class Reptilia includes many diverse species that are classified into four living clades. These are the 25 species of Crocodilia, 2 species of Sphenodontia, approximately 9,200 Squamata species, and the Testudines, with about 325 species. Crocodilia Crocodilia (“small lizard”) arose with a distinct lineage by the middle Triassic; extant species include alligators, crocodiles, and caimans. Crocodilians ( Figure 29.25 ) live throughout the tropics and subtropics of Africa, South America, Southern Florida, Asia, and Australia. They are found in freshwater, saltwater, and brackish habitats, such as rivers and lakes, and spend most of their time in water. Some species are able to move on land due to their semi-erect posture. Figure 29.25 Crocodilians, such as this Siamese crocodile ( Crocodylus siamensis ), provide parental care for their offspring. (credit: Keshav Mukund Kandhadai) Sphenodontia Sphenodontia (“wedge tooth”) arose in the Mesozoic era and includes only one living genus, Tuatara , comprising two species that are found in New Zealand ( Figure 29.26 ). Tuataras measure up to 80 centimeters and weigh about 1 kilogram. Although quite lizard-like in gross appearance, several unique features of the skull and jaws clearly define them and distinguish the group from the squamates. 810 Chapter 29 | Vertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Figure 29.26 This tuatara from New Zealand may resemble a lizard but belongs to a distinct lineage, the Sphenodontidae family. (credit: Sid Mosdell) Squamata Squamata (“scaly”) arose in the late Permian, and extant species include lizards and snakes. Both are found on all continents except Antarctica. Lizards and snakes are most closely related to tuataras, both groups having evolved from a lepidosaurian ancestor. Squamata is the largest extant clade of reptiles ( Figure 29.27 ). Most lizards differ from snakes by having four limbs, although these have been variously lost or significantly reduced in at least 60 lineages. Snakes lack eyelids and external ears, which are present in lizards. Lizard species range in size from chameleons and geckos, which are a few centimeters in length, to the Komodo dragon, which is about 3 meters in length. Most lizards are carnivorous, but some large species, such as iguanas, are herbivores. Figure 29.27 This Jackson’s chameleon ( Trioceros jacksonii ) blends in with its surroundings. Snakes are thought to have descended from either burrowing lizards or aquatic lizards over 100 million years ago ( Figure 29.28 ). Snakes comprise about 3,000 species and are found on every continent except Antarctica. They range in size from 10 centimeter-long thread snakes to 10 meter-long pythons and anacondas. All snakes are carnivorous and eat small animals, birds, eggs, fish, and insects. The snake body form is so specialized that, in its general morphology, a “snake is a snake.” Their specializations all point to snakes having evolved to feed on relatively large prey (even though some current species have reversed this trend). Although variations exist, most snakes have a skull that is very flexible, involving eight rotational joints. They also differ from other squamates by having mandibles (lower jaws) without either bony or ligamentous attachment anteriorly. Having this connection via skin and muscle allows for great expansion of the gape and independent motion of the two sides—both advantages in swallowing big items. Chapter 29 | Vertebrates 811 Figure 29.28 The garter snake belongs to the genus Thamnophis , the most widely distributed reptile genus in North America. (credit: Steve Jurvetson) Testudines Turtles are members of the clade Testudines (“having a shell”) ( Figure 29.29 ). Turtles are characterized by a bony or cartilaginous shell. The shell consists of the ventral surface called the plastron and the dorsal surface called the carapace, which develops from the ribs. The plastron is made of scutes or plates; the scutes can be used to differentiate species of turtles. The two clades of turtles are most easily recognized by how they retract their necks. The dominant group, which includes all North American species, retracts its neck in a vertical S-curve. Turtles in the less speciose clade retract the neck with a horizontal curve. Turtles arose approximately 200 million years ago, predating crocodiles, lizards, and snakes. Similar to other reptiles, turtles are ectotherms. They lay eggs on land, although many species live in or near water. None exhibit parental care. Turtles range in size from the speckled padloper tortoise at 8 centimeters (3.1 inches) to the leatherback sea turtle at 200 centimeters (over 6 feet). The term “turtle” is sometimes used to describe only those species of Testudines that live in the sea, with the terms “tortoise” and “terrapin” used to refer to species that live on land and in fresh water, respectively. Figure 29.29 The African spurred tortoise ( Geochelone sulcata ) lives at the southern edge of the Sahara Desert. It is the third largest tortoise in the world. (credit: Jim Bowen) 812 Chapter 29 | Vertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at 29.5 | Birds By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Describe the evolutionary history of birds • Describe the derived characteristics in birds that facilitate flight The most obvious characteristic that sets birds apart from other modern vertebrates is the presence of feathers, which are modified scales. While vertebrates like bats fly without feathers, birds rely on feathers and wings, along with other modifications of body structure and physiology, for flight. Characteristics of Birds Birds are endothermic, and because they fly, they require large amounts of energy, necessitating a high metabolic rate. Like mammals, which are also endothermic, birds have an insulating covering that keeps heat in the body: feathers. Specialized feathers called down feathers are especially insulating, trapping air in spaces between each feather to decrease the rate of heat loss. Certain parts of a bird’s body are covered in down feathers, and the base of other feathers have a downy portion, whereas newly hatched birds are covered in down. Feathers not only act as insulation but also allow for flight, enabling the lift and thrust necessary to become airborne. The feathers on a wing are flexible, so the collective feathers move and separate as air moves through them, reducing the drag on the wing. Flight feathers are asymmetrical, which affects airflow over them and provides some of the lifting and thrusting force required for flight ( Figure 29.30 ). Two types of flight feathers are found on the wings, primary feathers and secondary feathers. Primary feathers are located at the tip of the wing and provide thrust. Secondary feathers are located closer to the body, attach to the forearm portion of the wing and provide lift. Contour feathers are the feathers found on the body, and they help reduce drag produced by wind resistance during flight. They create a smooth, aerodynamic surface so that air moves smoothly over the bird’s body, allowing for efficient flight. Figure 29.30 Primary feathers are located at the wing tip and provide thrust; secondary feathers are located close to the body and provide lift. Flapping of the entire wing occurs primarily through the actions of the chest muscles, the pectoralis and the supracoracoideus. These muscles are highly developed in birds and account for a higher percentage of body mass than in most mammals. These attach to a blade-shaped keel, like that of a boat, located on the sternum. The sternum of birds is Chapter 29 | Vertebrates 813 larger than that of other vertebrates, which accommodates the large muscles required to generate enough upward force to generate lift with the flapping of the wings. Another skeletal modification found in most birds is the fusion of the two clavicles (collarbones), forming the furcula or wishbone. The furcula is flexible enough to bend and provide support to the shoulder girdle during flapping. An important requirement of flight is a low body weight. As body weight increases, the muscle output required for flying increases. The largest living bird is the ostrich, and while it is much smaller than the largest mammals, it is flightless. For birds that do fly, reduction in body weight makes flight easier. Several modifications are found in birds to reduce body weight, including pneumatization of bones. Pneumatic bones are bones that are hollow, rather than filled with tissue (Figure 29.31 ). They contain air spaces that are sometimes connected to air sacs, and they have struts of bone to provide structural reinforcement. Pneumatic bones are not found in all birds, and they are more extensive in large birds than in small birds. Not all bones of the skeleton are pneumatic, although the skulls of almost all birds are. Figure 29.31 Many birds have hollow, pneumatic bones, which make flight easier. Other modifications that reduce weight include the lack of a urinary bladder. Birds possess a cloaca, a structure that allows water to be reabsorbed from waste back into the bloodstream. Uric acid is not expelled as a liquid but is concentrated into urate salts, which are expelled along with fecal matter. In this way, water is not held in the urinary bladder, which would increase body weight. Most bird species only possess one ovary rather than two, further reducing body mass. The air sacs that extend into bones to form pneumatic bones also join with the lungs and function in respiration. Unlike mammalian lungs in which air flows in two directions, as it is breathed in and out, airflow through bird lungs travels in one direction ( Figure 29.32 ). Air sacs allow for this unidirectional airflow, which also creates a cross-current exchange system with the blood. In a cross-current or counter-current system, the air flows in one direction and the blood flows in the opposite direction, creating a very efficient means of gas exchange. Figure 29.32 Avian respiration is an efficient system of gas exchange with air flowing unidirectionally. During inhalation, air passes from the trachea into posterior air sacs, then through the lungs to anterior air sacs. The air sacs are connected to the hollow interior of bones. During exhalation, air from air sacs passes into the lungs and out the trachea. (credit: modification of work by L. Shyamal) Evolution of Birds The evolutionary history of birds is still somewhat unclear. Due to the fragility of bird bones, they do not fossilize as well as other vertebrates. Birds are diapsids, meaning they have two fenestrations or openings in their skulls. Birds belong to a group of diapsids called the archosaurs, which also includes crocodiles and dinosaurs. It is commonly accepted that birds evolved from dinosaurs. Dinosaurs (including birds) are further subdivided into two groups, the Saurischia (“lizard like”) and the Ornithischia (“bird like”). Despite the names of these groups, it was not the bird-like dinosaurs that gave rise to modern birds. Rather, Saurischia diverged into two groups: One included the long-necked herbivorous dinosaurs, such as Apatosaurus. The second group, bipedal predators called theropods , includes birds. This course of evolution is suggested by similarities between theropod 814 Chapter 29 | Vertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at fossils and birds, specifically in the structure of the hip and wrist bones, as well as the presence of the wishbone, formed by the fusing of the clavicles. One important fossil of an animal intermediate to dinosaurs and birds is Archaeopteryx , which is from the Jurassic period (Figure 29.33 ).Archaeopteryx is important in establishing the relationship between birds and dinosaurs, because it is an intermediate fossil, meaning it has characteristics of both dinosaurs and birds. Some scientists propose classifying it as a bird, but others prefer to classify it as a dinosaur. The fossilized skeleton of Archaeopteryx looks like that of a dinosaur, and it had teeth whereas birds do not, but it also had feathers modified for flight, a trait associated only with birds among modern animals. Fossils of older feathered dinosaurs exist, but the feathers do not have the characteristics of flight feathers. Figure 29.33 (a) Archaeopteryx lived in the late Jurassic Period around 150 million years ago. It had teeth like a dinosaur, but had (b) flight feathers like modern birds, which can be seen in this fossil. It is still unclear exactly how flight evolved in birds. Two main theories exist, the arboreal (“tree”) hypothesis and the terrestrial (“land”) hypothesis. The arboreal hypothesis posits that tree-dwelling precursors to modern birds jumped from branch to branch using their feathers for gliding before becoming fully capable of flapping flight. In contrast to this, the terrestrial hypothesis holds that running was the stimulus for flight, as wings could be used to improve running and then became used for flapping flight. Like the question of how flight evolved, the question of how endothermy evolved in birds still is unanswered. Feathers provide insulation, but this is only beneficial if body heat is being produced internally. Similarly, internal heat production is only viable if insulation is present to retain that heat. It has been suggested that one or the other—feathers or endothermy—evolved in response to some other selective pressure. During the Cretaceous period, a group known as the Enantiornithes was the dominant bird type ( Figure 29.34 ). Enantiornithes means “opposite birds,” which refers to the fact that certain bones of the feet are joined differently than the way the bones are joined in modern birds. These birds formed an evolutionary line separate from modern birds, and they did not survive past the Cretaceous. Along with the Enantiornithes, Ornithurae birds (the evolutionary line that includes modern birds) were also present in the Cretaceous. After the extinction of Enantiornithes, modern birds became the dominant bird, with a large radiation occurring during the Cenozoic Era. Referred to as Neornithes (“new birds”), modern birds are now classified into two groups, the Paleognathae (“old jaw”) or ratites, a group of flightless birds including ostriches, emus, rheas, and kiwis, and the Neognathae (“new jaw”), which includes all other birds. Chapter 29 | Vertebrates 815 Figure 29.34 Shanweiniao cooperorum was a species of Enantiornithes that did not survive past the Cretaceous period. (credit: Nobu Tamura) Veterinarian Veterinarians treat diseases, disorders, and injuries in animals, primarily vertebrates. They treat pets, livestock, and animals in zoos and laboratories. Veterinarians usually treat dogs and cats, but also treat birds, reptiles, rabbits, and other animals that are kept as pets. Veterinarians that work with farms and ranches treat pigs, goats, cows, sheep, and horses. Veterinarians are required to complete a degree in veterinary medicine, which includes taking courses in animal physiology, anatomy, microbiology, and pathology, among many other courses. The physiology and biochemistry of different vertebrate species differ greatly. Veterinarians are also trained to perform surgery on many different vertebrate species, which requires an understanding of the vastly different anatomies of various species. For example, the stomach of ruminants like cows has four compartments versus one compartment for non-ruminants. Birds also have unique anatomical adaptations that allow for flight. Some veterinarians conduct research in academic settings, broadening our knowledge of animals and medical science. One area of research involves understanding the transmission of animal diseases to humans, called zoonotic diseases. For example, one area of great concern is the transmission of the avian flu virus to humans. One type of avian flu virus, H5N1, is a highly pathogenic strain that has been spreading in birds in Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Although the virus does not cross over easily to humans, there have been cases of bird-to-human transmission. More research is needed to understand how this virus can cross the species barrier and how its spread can be prevented. 29.6 | Mammals By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Name and describe the distinguishing features of the three main groups of mammals • Describe the proposed line of descent that produced mammals • List some derived features that may have arisen in response to mammals’ need for constant, high-level metabolism Mammals are vertebrates that possess hair and mammary glands. Several other characteristics are distinctive to mammals, including certain features of the jaw, skeleton, integument, and internal anatomy. Modern mammals belong to three clades: monotremes, marsupials, and eutherians (or placental mammals). 816 Chapter 29 | Vertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Characteristics of Mammals The presence of hair is one of the most obvious signs of a mammal. Although it is not very extensive on certain species, such as whales, hair has many important functions for mammals. Mammals are endothermic, and hair provides insulation to retain heat generated by metabolic work. Hair traps a layer of air close to the body, retaining heat. Along with insulation, hair can serve as a sensory mechanism via specialized hairs called vibrissae, better known as whiskers. These attach to nerves that transmit information about sensation, which is particularly useful to nocturnal or burrowing mammals. Hair can also provide protective coloration or be part of social signaling, such as when an animal’s hair stands “on end.” Mammalian integument, or skin, includes secretory glands with various functions. Sebaceous glands produce a lipid mixture called sebum that is secreted onto the hair and skin for water resistance and lubrication. Sebaceous glands are located over most of the body. Eccrine glands produce sweat, or perspiration, which is mainly composed of water. In most mammals, eccrine glands are limited to certain areas of the body, and some mammals do not possess them at all. However, in primates, especially humans, sweat figures prominently in thermoregulation, regulating the body through evaporative cooling. Sweat glands are located over most of the body surface in primates. Apocrine glands , or scent glands, secrete substances that are used for chemical communication, such as in skunks. Mammary glands produce milk that is used to feed newborns. While male monotremes and eutherians possess mammary glands, male marsupials do not. Mammary glands likely are modified sebaceous or eccrine glands, but their evolutionary origin is not entirely clear. The skeletal system of mammals possesses many unique features. The lower jaw of mammals consists of only one bone, the dentary . The jaws of other vertebrates are composed of more than one bone. In mammals, the dentary bone joins the skull at the squamosal bone, while in other vertebrates, the quadrate bone of the jaw joins with the articular bone of the skull. These bones are present in mammals, but they have been modified to function in hearing and form bones in the middle ear ( Figure 29.35 ). Other vertebrates possess only one middle ear bone, the stapes. Mammals have three: the malleus, incus, and stapes. The malleus originated from the articular bone, whereas the incus originated from the quadrate bone. This arrangement of jaw and ear bones aids in distinguishing fossil mammals from fossils of other synapsids. Figure 29.35 Bones of the mammalian inner ear are modified from bones of the jaw and skull. (credit: NCI) The adductor muscle that closes the jaw is composed of two muscles in mammals: the temporalis and the masseter. These allow side-to-side movement of the jaw, making chewing possible, which is unique to mammals. Most mammals have heterodont teeth , meaning that they have different types and shapes of teeth rather than just one type and shape of tooth. Most mammals are diphyodonts , meaning that they have two sets of teeth in their lifetime: deciduous or “baby” teeth, and permanent teeth. Other vertebrates are polyphyodonts, that is, their teeth are replaced throughout their entire life. Mammals, like birds, possess a four-chambered heart. Mammals also have a specialized group of cardiac fibers located in the walls of their right atrium called the sinoatrial node, or pacemaker, which determines the rate at which the heart beats. Mammalian erythrocytes (red blood cells) do not have nuclei, whereas the erythrocytes of other vertebrates are nucleated. The kidneys of mammals have a portion of the nephron called the loop of Henle or nephritic loop, which allows mammals to produce urine with a high concentration of solutes, higher than that of the blood. Mammals lack a renal portal system, which is a system of veins that moves blood from the hind or lower limbs and region of the tail to the kidneys. Renal portal systems are present in all other vertebrates except jawless fishes. A urinary bladder is present in all mammals. Mammalian brains have certain characteristics that differ from other vertebrates. In some, but not all mammals, the cerebral cortex, the outermost part of the cerebrum, is highly folded, allowing for a greater surface area than is possible with a smooth cortex. The optic lobes, located in the midbrain, are divided into two parts in mammals, whereas other vertebrates Chapter 29 | Vertebrates 817 possess a single, undivided lobe. Eutherian mammals also possess a specialized structure that links the two cerebral hemispheres, called the corpus callosum. Evolution of Mammals Mammals are synapsids, meaning they have a single opening in the skull. They are the only living synapsids, as earlier forms became extinct by the Jurassic period. The early non-mammalian synapsids can be divided into two groups, the pelycosaurs and the therapsids. Within the therapsids, a group called the cynodonts are thought to be the ancestors of mammals ( Figure 29.36 ). Figure 29.36 Cynodonts, which first appeared in the Late Permian period 260 million years ago, are thought to be the ancestors of modern mammals. (credit: Nobu Tamura) A key characteristic of synapsids is endothermy, rather than the ectothermy seen in most other vertebrates. The increased metabolic rate required to internally modify body temperature went hand in hand with changes to certain skeletal structures. The later synapsids, which had more evolved characteristics unique to mammals, possess cheeks for holding food and heterodont teeth, which are specialized for chewing, mechanically breaking down food to speed digestion and releasing the energy needed to produce heat. Chewing also requires the ability to chew and breathe at the same time, which is facilitated by the presence of a secondary palate. A secondary palate separates the area of the mouth where chewing occurs from the area above where respiration occurs, allowing breathing to proceed uninterrupted during chewing. A secondary palate is not found in pelycosaurs but is present in cynodonts and mammals. The jawbone also shows changes from early synapsids to later ones. The zygomatic arch, or cheekbone, is present in mammals and advanced therapsids such as cynodonts, but is not present in pelycosaurs. The presence of the zygomatic arch suggests the presence of the masseter muscle, which closes the jaw and functions in chewing. In the appendicular skeleton, the shoulder girdle of therian mammals is modified from that of other vertebrates in that it does not possess a procoracoid bone or an interclavicle, and the scapula is the dominant bone. Mammals evolved from therapsids in the late Triassic period, as the earliest known mammal fossils are from the early Jurassic period, some 205 million years ago. Early mammals were small, about the size of a small rodent. Mammals first began to diversify in the Mesozoic Era, from the Jurassic to the Cretaceous periods, although most of these mammals were extinct by the end of the Mesozoic. During the Cretaceous period, another radiation of mammals began and continued through the Cenozoic Era, about 65 million years ago. Living Mammals The eutherians, or placental mammals, and the marsupials together comprise the clade of therian mammals. Monotremes, or metatherians, form their sister clade. There are three living species of monotremes : the platypus and two species of echidnas, or spiny anteaters. The leathery- beaked platypus belongs to the family Ornithorhynchidae (“bird beak”), whereas echidnas belong to the family Tachyglossidae (“sticky tongue”) ( Figure 29.37 ). The platypus and one species of echidna are found in Australia, and the other species of echidna is found in New Guinea. Monotremes are unique among mammals as they lay eggs, rather than giving birth to live young. The shells of their eggs are not like the hard shells of birds, but are a leathery shell, similar to the shells of reptile eggs. Monotremes have no teeth. 818 Chapter 29 | Vertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at (a) (b) Figure 29.37 (a) The platypus, a monotreme, possesses a leathery beak and lays eggs rather than giving birth to live young. (b) The echidna is another monotreme. (credit b: modification of work by Barry Thomas) Marsupials are found primarily in Australia, though the opossum is found in North America. Australian marsupials include the kangaroo, koala, bandicoot, Tasmanian devil ( Figure 29.38 ), and several other species. Most species of marsupials possess a pouch in which the very premature young reside after birth, receiving milk and continuing to develop. Marsupials differ from eutherians in that there is a less complex placental connection: The young are born at an extremely early age and latch onto the nipple within the pouch. Figure 29.38 The Tasmanian devil is one of several marsupials native to Australia. (credit: Wayne McLean) Eutherians are the most widespread of the mammals, occurring throughout the world. There are 18 to 20 orders of placental mammals. Some examples are Insectivora, the insect eaters; Edentata, the toothless anteaters; Rodentia, the rodents; Cetacea, the aquatic mammals including whales; Carnivora, carnivorous mammals including dogs, cats, and bears; and Primates, which includes humans. Eutherian mammals are sometimes called placental mammals because all species possess a complex placenta that connects a fetus to the mother, allowing for gas, fluid, and nutrient exchange. While other mammals possess a less complex placenta or briefly have a placenta, all eutherians possess a complex placenta during gestation. 29.7 | The Evolution of Primates By the end of this section, you will be able to: • Describe the derived features that distinguish primates from other animals • Explain why scientists are having difficulty determining the true lines of descent in hominids Order Primates of class Mammalia includes lemurs, tarsiers, monkeys, apes, and humans. Non-human primates live primarily in the tropical or subtropical regions of South America, Africa, and Asia. They range in size from the mouse lemur at 30 grams (1 ounce) to the mountain gorilla at 200 kilograms (441 pounds). The characteristics and evolution of primates is of particular interest to us as it allows us to understand the evolution of our own species. Chapter 29 | Vertebrates 819 Characteristics of Primates All primate species possess adaptations for climbing trees, as they all descended from tree-dwellers. This arboreal heritage of primates has resulted in hands and feet that are adapted for brachiation , or climbing and swinging through trees. These adaptations include, but are not limited to: 1) a rotating shoulder joint, 2) a big toe that is widely separated from the other toes and thumbs, which are widely separated from fingers (except humans), which allow for gripping branches, 3) stereoscopic vision , two overlapping fields of vision from the eyes, which allows for the perception of depth and gauging distance. Other characteristics of primates are brains that are larger than those of most other mammals, claws that have been modified into flattened nails, typically only one offspring per pregnancy, and a trend toward holding the body upright. Order Primates is divided into two groups: prosimians and anthropoids. Prosimians include the bush babies of Africa, the lemurs of Madagascar, and the lorises, pottos, and tarsiers of Southeast Asia. Anthropoids include monkeys, apes, and humans. In general, prosimians tend to be nocturnal (in contrast to diurnal anthropoids) and exhibit a smaller size and smaller brain than anthropoids. Evolution of Primates The first primate-like mammals are referred to as proto-primates. They were roughly similar to squirrels and tree shrews in size and appearance. The existing fossil evidence (mostly from North Africa) is very fragmented. These proto-primates remain largely mysterious creatures until more fossil evidence becomes available. The oldest known primate-like mammals with a relatively robust fossil record is Plesiadapis (although some researchers do not agree that Plesiadapis was a proto- primate). Fossils of this primate have been dated to approximately 55 million years ago. Plesiadapiforms were proto- primates that had some features of the teeth and skeleton in common with true primates. They were found in North America and Europe in the Cenozoic and went extinct by the end of the Eocene. The first true primates were found in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa in the Eocene Epoch. These early primates resembled present-day prosimians such as lemurs. Evolutionary changes continued in these early primates, with larger brains and eyes, and smaller muzzles being the trend. By the end of the Eocene Epoch, many of the early prosimian species went extinct due either to cooler temperatures or competition from the first monkeys. Anthropoid monkeys evolved from prosimians during the Oligocene Epoch. By 40 million years ago, evidence indicates that monkeys were present in the New World (South America) and the Old World (Africa and Asia). New World monkeys are also called Platyrrhini —a reference to their broad noses ( Figure 29.39 ). Old World monkeys are called Catarrhini —a reference to their narrow noses. There is still quite a bit of uncertainty about the origins of the New World monkeys. At the time the platyrrhines arose, the continents of South American and Africa had drifted apart. Therefore, it is thought that monkeys arose in the Old World and reached the New World either by drifting on log rafts or by crossing land bridges. Due to this reproductive isolation, New World monkeys and Old World monkeys underwent separate adaptive radiations over millions of years. The New World monkeys are all arboreal, whereas Old World monkeys include arboreal and ground- dwelling species. Figure 29.39 The howler monkey is native to Central and South America. It makes a call that sounds like a lion roaring. (credit: Xavi Talleda) Apes evolved from the catarrhines in Africa midway through the Cenozoic, approximately 25 million years ago. Apes are generally larger than monkeys and they do not possess a tail. All apes are capable of moving through trees, although many species spend most their time on the ground. Apes are more intelligent than monkeys, and they have relatively larger 820 Chapter 29 | Vertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at brains proportionate to body size. The apes are divided into two groups. The lesser apes comprise the family Hylobatidae , including gibbons and siamangs. The great apes include the genera Pan (chimpanzees and bonobos) ( Figure 29.40 a), Gorilla (gorillas), Pongo (orangutans), and Homo (humans) ( Figure 29.40 b). The very arboreal gibbons are smaller than the great apes; they have low sexual dimorphism (that is, the genders are not markedly different in size); and they have relatively longer arms used for swinging through trees. Figure 29.40 The (a) chimpanzee is one of the great apes. It possesses a relatively large brain and has no tail. (b) All great apes have a similar skeletal structure. (credit a: modification of work by Aaron Logan; credit b: modification of work by Tim Vickers) Human Evolution The family Hominidae of order Primates includes the hominoids : the great apes ( Figure 29.41 ). Evidence from the fossil record and from a comparison of human and chimpanzee DNA suggests that humans and chimpanzees diverged from a common hominoid ancestor approximately 6 million years ago. Several species evolved from the evolutionary branch that includes humans, although our species is the only surviving member. The term hominin is used to refer to those species that evolved after this split of the primate line, thereby designating species that are more closely related to humans than to chimpanzees. Hominins were predominantly bipedal and include those groups that likely gave rise to our species—including Australopithecus ,Homo habilis , and Homo erectus —and those non-ancestral groups that can be considered “cousins” of modern humans, such as Neanderthals. Determining the true lines of descent in hominins is difficult. In years past, when relatively few hominin fossils had been recovered, some scientists believed that considering them in order, from oldest to youngest, would demonstrate the course of evolution from early hominins to modern humans. In the past several years, however, many new fossils have been found, and it is clear that there was often more than one species alive at any one time and that many of the fossils found (and species named) represent hominin species that died out and are not ancestral to modern humans. Chapter 29 | Vertebrates 821 Figure 29.41 This chart shows the evolution of modern humans. Very Early Hominins Three species of very early hominids have made news in the past few years. The oldest of these, Sahelanthropus tchadensis , has been dated to nearly 7 million years ago. There is a single specimen of this genus, a skull that was a surface find in Chad. The fossil, informally called “Toumai,” is a mosaic of primitive and evolved characteristics, and it is unclear how this fossil fits with the picture given by molecular data, namely that the line leading to modern humans and modern chimpanzees apparently bifurcated about 6 million years ago. It is not thought at this time that this species was an ancestor of modern humans. A second, younger species, Orrorin tugenensis , is also a relatively recent discovery, found in 2000. There are several specimens of Orrorin . It is not known whether Orrorin was a human ancestor, but this possibility has not been ruled out. Some features of Orrorin are more similar to those of modern humans than are the australopiths, although Orrorin is much older. A third genus, Ardipithecus , was discovered in the 1990s, and the scientists who discovered the first fossil found that some other scientists did not believe the organism to be a biped (thus, it would not be considered a hominid). In the intervening years, several more specimens of Ardipithecus , classified as two different species, demonstrated that the organism was bipedal. Again, the status of this genus as a human ancestor is uncertain. Early Hominins: Genus Australopithecus Australopithecus (“southern ape”) is a genus of hominin that evolved in eastern Africa approximately 4 million years ago and went extinct about 2 million years ago. This genus is of particular interest to us as it is thought that our genus, genus Homo , evolved from Australopithecus about 2 million years ago (after likely passing through some transitional states). Australopithecus had a number of characteristics that were more similar to the great apes than to modern humans. For example, sexual dimorphism was more exaggerated than in modern humans. Males were up to 50 percent larger than females, a ratio that is similar to that seen in modern gorillas and orangutans. In contrast, modern human males are approximately 15 to 20 percent larger than females. The brain size of Australopithecus relative to its body mass was also smaller than modern humans and more similar to that seen in the great apes. A key feature that Australopithecus had in common with modern humans was bipedalism, although it is likely that Australopithecus also spent time in trees. Hominin 822 Chapter 29 | Vertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at footprints, similar to those of modern humans, were found in Laetoli, Tanzania and dated to 3.6 million years ago. They showed that hominins at the time of Australopithecus were walking upright. There were a number of Australopithecus species, which are often referred to as australopiths .Australopithecus anamensis lived about 4.2 million years ago. More is known about another early species, Australopithecus afarensis , which lived between 3.9 and 2.9 million years ago. This species demonstrates a trend in human evolution: the reduction of the dentition and jaw in size. A.afarensis (Figure 29.42 ) had smaller canines and molars compared to apes, but these were larger than those of modern humans. Its brain size was 380–450 cubic centimeters, approximately the size of a modern chimpanzee brain. It also had prognathic jaws , which is a relatively longer jaw than that of modern humans. In the mid-1970s, the fossil of an adult female A.afarensis was found in the Afar region of Ethiopia and dated to 3.24 million years ago ( Figure 29.43 ). The fossil, which is informally called “Lucy,” is significant because it was the most complete australopith fossil found, with 40 percent of the skeleton recovered. Figure 29.42 The skull of (a) Australopithecus afarensis , an early hominid that lived between two and three million years ago, resembled that of (b) modern humans but was smaller with a sloped forehead and prominent jaw. Chapter 29 | Vertebrates 823 Figure 29.43 This adult female Australopithecus afarensis skeleton, nicknamed Lucy, was discovered in the mid 1970s. (credit: “120”/Wikimedia Commons) Australopithecus africanus lived between 2 and 3 million years ago. It had a slender build and was bipedal, but had robust arm bones and, like other early hominids, may have spent significant time in trees. Its brain was larger than that of A. afarensis at 500 cubic centimeters, which is slightly less than one-third the size of modern human brains. Two other species, Australopithecus bahrelghazali and Australopithecus garhi , have been added to the roster of australopiths in recent years. A Dead End: Genus Paranthropus The australopiths had a relatively slender build and teeth that were suited for soft food. In the past several years, fossils of hominids of a different body type have been found and dated to approximately 2.5 million years ago. These hominids, of the genus Paranthropus , were relatively large and had large grinding teeth. Their molars showed heavy wear, suggesting that they had a coarse and fibrous vegetarian diet as opposed to the partially carnivorous diet of the australopiths. Paranthropus includes Paranthropus robustus of South Africa, and Paranthropus aethiopicus and Paranthropus boisei of East Africa. The hominids in this genus went extinct more than 1 million years ago and are not thought to be ancestral to modern humans, but rather members of an evolutionary branch on the hominin tree that left no descendants. Early Hominins: Genus Homo The human genus, Homo , first appeared between 2.5 and 3 million years ago. For many years, fossils of a species called H. habilis were the oldest examples in the genus Homo , but in 2010, a new species called Homo gautengensis was discovered and may be older. Compared to A.africanus ,H.habilis had a number of features more similar to modern humans. H.habilis had a jaw that was less prognathic than the australopiths and a larger brain, at 600–750 cubic centimeters. However, H. habilis retained some features of older hominin species, such as long arms. The name H.habilis means “handy man,” which is a reference to the stone tools that have been found with its remains. 824 Chapter 29 | Vertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Visit this site ( for a video about Smithsonian paleontologist Briana Pobiner explaining the link between hominin eating of meat and evolutionary trends. H.erectus appeared approximately 1.8 million years ago ( Figure 29.44 ). It is believed to have originated in East Africa and was the first hominin species to migrate out of Africa. Fossils of H.erectus have been found in India, China, Java, and Europe, and were known in the past as “Java Man” or “Peking Man.” H.erectus had a number of features that were more similar to modern humans than those of H.habilis .H.erectus was larger in size than earlier hominins, reaching heights up to 1.85 meters and weighing up to 65 kilograms, which are sizes similar to those of modern humans. Its degree of sexual dimorphism was less than earlier species, with males being 20 to 30 percent larger than females, which is close to the size difference seen in our species. H.erectus had a larger brain than earlier species at 775–1,100 cubic centimeters, which compares to the 1,130–1,260 cubic centimeters seen in modern human brains. H.erectus also had a nose with downward-facing nostrils similar to modern humans, rather than the forward facing nostrils found in other primates. Longer, downward-facing nostrils allow for the warming of cold air before it enters the lungs and may have been an adaptation to colder climates. Artifacts found with fossils of H.erectus suggest that it was the first hominin to use fire, hunt, and have a home base. H.erectus is generally thought to have lived until about 50,000 years ago. Figure 29.44 Homo erectus had a prominent brow and a nose that pointed downward rather than forward. Humans: Homo sapiens A number of species, sometimes called archaic Homo sapiens , apparently evolved from H.erectus starting about 500,000 years ago. These species include Homo heidelbergensis ,Homo rhodesiensis , and Homo neanderthalensis . These archaic H. sapiens had a brain size similar to that of modern humans, averaging 1,200–1,400 cubic centimeters. They differed from modern humans by having a thick skull, a prominent brow ridge, and a receding chin. Some of these species survived until 30,000–10,000 years ago, overlapping with modern humans ( Figure 29.45 ). Chapter 29 | Vertebrates 825 Figure 29.45 The Homo neanderthalensis used tools and may have worn clothing. There is considerable debate about the origins of anatomically modern humans or Homo sapiens sapiens . As discussed earlier, H.erectus migrated out of Africa and into Asia and Europe in the first major wave of migration about 1.5 million years ago. It is thought that modern humans arose in Africa from H.erectus and migrated out of Africa about 100,000 years ago in a second major migration wave. Then, modern humans replaced H.erectus species that had migrated into Asia and Europe in the first wave. This evolutionary timeline is supported by molecular evidence. One approach to studying the origins of modern humans is to examine mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from populations around the world. Because a fetus develops from an egg containing its mother’s mitochondria (which have their own, non-nuclear DNA), mtDNA is passed entirely through the maternal line. Mutations in mtDNA can now be used to estimate the timeline of genetic divergence. The resulting evidence suggests that all modern humans have mtDNA inherited from a common ancestor that lived in Africa about 160,000 years ago. Another approach to the molecular understanding of human evolution is to examine the Y chromosome, which is passed from father to son. This evidence suggests that all men today inherited a Y chromosome from a male that lived in Africa about 140,000 years ago. 826 Chapter 29 | Vertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at Acanthostega Actinopterygii allantois amnion amniote Amphibia ampulla of Lorenzini anapsid anthropoid Anura apocrine gland Apoda Archaeopteryx archosaur Australopithecus brachiation brumation caecilian Casineria Catarrhini Cephalochordata Chondrichthyes Chordata chorion contour feather Craniata cranium Crocodilia cutaneous respiration dentary KEY TERMS one of the earliest known tetrapods ray-finned fishes membrane of the egg that stores nitrogenous wastes produced by the embryo; also facilitates respiration membrane of the egg that protects the embryo from mechanical shock and prevents dehydration animal that produces a terrestrially adapted egg protected by amniotic membranes frogs, salamanders, and caecilians sensory organ that allows sharks to detect electromagnetic fields produced by living things animal having no temporal fenestrae in the cranium monkeys, apes, and humans frogs scent gland that secretes substances that are used for chemical communication caecilians transition species from dinosaur to bird from the Jurassic period modern crocodilian or bird, or an extinct pterosaur or dinosaur genus of hominins that evolved in eastern Africa approximately 4 million years ago movement through trees branches via suspension from the arms period of much reduced metabolism and torpor that occurs in any ectotherm in cold weather legless amphibian that belongs to the clade Apoda one of the oldest known amniotes; had both amphibian and reptilian characteristics clade of Old World monkeys chordate clade whose members possess a notochord, dorsal hollow nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, and a post-anal tail in the adult stage jawed fish with paired fins and a skeleton made of cartilage phylum of animals distinguished by their possession of a notochord, a dorsal hollow nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, and a post-anal tail at some point during their development membrane of the egg that surrounds the embryo and yolk sac feather that creates an aerodynamic surface for efficient flight clade composed of chordates that possess a cranium; includes Vertebrata together with hagfishes bony, cartilaginous, or fibrous structure surrounding the brain, jaw, and facial bones crocodiles and alligators gas exchange through the skin single bone that comprises the lower jaw of mammals Chapter 29 | Vertebrates 827 diapsid diphyodont dorsal hollow nerve cord down feather eccrine gland Enantiornithes eutherian mammal flight feather frog furcula gnathostome Gorilla hagfish heterodont tooth hominin hominoid Homo Homo sapiens sapiens Hylobatidae Hylonomus lamprey lancelet lateral line lepidosaur mammal mammary gland marsupial monotreme Myxini Neognathae Neornithes animal having two temporal fenestrae in the cranium refers to the possession of two sets of teeth in a lifetime hollow, tubular structure derived from ectoderm, which is located dorsal to the notochord in chordates feather specialized for insulation sweat gland dominant bird group during the Cretaceous period mammal that possesses a complex placenta, which connects a fetus to the mother; sometimes called placental mammals feather specialized for flight tail-less amphibian that belongs to the clade Anura wishbone formed by the fusing of the clavicles jawed fish genus of gorillas eel-like jawless fish that live on the ocean floor and are scavengers different types of teeth that are modified for different purposes species that are more closely related to humans than chimpanzees pertaining to great apes and humans genus of humans anatomically modern humans family of gibbons one of the earliest reptiles jawless fish characterized by a toothed, funnel-like, sucking mouth member of Cephalochordata; named for its blade-like shape sense organ that runs the length of a fish’s body; used to detect vibration in the water modern lizards, snakes, and tuataras one of the groups of endothermic vertebrates that possesses hair and mammary glands in female mammals, a gland that produces milk for newborns one of the groups of mammals that includes the kangaroo, koala, bandicoot, Tasmanian devil, and several other species; young develop within a pouch egg-laying mammal hagfishes birds other than the Paleognathae modern birds 828 Chapter 29 | Vertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at notochord Ornithorhynchidae Osteichthyes ostracoderm Paleognathae Pan Petromyzontidae pharyngeal slit Platyrrhini Plesiadapis pneumatic bone Pongo post-anal tail primary feather Primates prognathic jaw prosimian salamander Sarcopterygii sauropsid sebaceous gland secondary feather Sphenodontia Squamata stereoscopic vision swim bladder synapsid Tachyglossidae tadpole temporal fenestra Testudines flexible, rod-shaped support structure that is found in the embryonic stage of all chordates and in the adult stage of some chordates clade that includes the duck-billed platypus bony fish one of the earliest jawless fish covered in bone ratites; flightless birds, including ostriches and emus genus of chimpanzees and bonobos clade of lampreys opening in the pharynx clade of New World monkeys oldest known primate-like mammal air-filled bone genus of orangutans muscular, posterior elongation of the body extending beyond the anus in chordates feather located at the tip of the wing that provides thrust order of lemurs, tarsiers, monkeys, apes, and humans long jaw division of primates that includes bush babies of Africa, lemurs of Madagascar, and lorises, pottos, and tarsiers of Southeast Asia tailed amphibian that belongs to the clade Urodela lobe-finned fish reptile or bird in mammals, a skin gland that produce a lipid mixture called sebum feather located at the base of the wing that provides lift clade of tuataras clade of lizards and snakes two overlapping fields of vision from the eyes that produces depth perception in fishes, a gas filled organ that helps to control the buoyancy of the fish mammal having one temporal fenestra clade that includes the echidna or spiny anteater larval stage of a frog non-orbital opening in the skull that may allow muscles to expand and lengthen order of turtles Chapter 29 | Vertebrates 829 tetrapod theropod tunicate Urochordata Urodela vertebral column Vertebrata phylogenetic reference to an organism with a four-footed evolutionary history; includes amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals dinosaur group ancestral to birds sessile chordate that is a member of Urochordata clade composed of tunicates salamanders series of separate bones joined together as a backbone members of the phylum Chordata that possess a backbone CHAPTER SUMMARY 29.1 Chordates The characteristic features of Chordata are a notochord, a dorsal hollow nerve cord, pharyngeal slits, and a post-anal tail. Chordata contains two clades of invertebrates: Urochordata (tunicates) and Cephalochordata (lancelets), together with the vertebrates in Vertebrata. Most tunicates live on the ocean floor and are suspension feeders. Lancelets are suspension feeders that feed on phytoplankton and other microorganisms. Vertebrata is named for the vertebral column, which is a feature of almost all members of this clade. 29.2 Fishes The earliest vertebrates that diverged from the invertebrate chordates were the jawless fishes. Fishes with jaws (gnathostomes) evolved later. Jaws allowed early gnathostomes to exploit new food sources. Agnathans include the hagfishes and lampreys. Hagfishes are eel-like scavengers that feed on dead invertebrates and other fishes. Lampreys are characterized by a toothed, funnel-like sucking mouth, and most species are parasitic on other fishes. Gnathostomes include the cartilaginous fishes and the bony fishes, as well as all other tetrapods. Cartilaginous fishes include sharks, rays, skates, and ghost sharks. Most cartilaginous fishes live in marine habitats, with a few species living in fresh water for part or all of their lives. The vast majority of present-day fishes belong to the clade Osteichthyes, which consists of approximately 30,000 species. Bony fishes can be divided into two clades: Actinopterygii (ray-finned fishes, virtually all extant species) and Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fishes, comprising fewer than 10 extant species but which are the ancestors of tetrapods). 29.3 Amphibians As tetrapods, most amphibians are characterized by four well-developed limbs, although some species of salamanders and all caecilians are limbless. The most important characteristic of extant amphibians is a moist, permeable skin used for cutaneous respiration. The fossil record provides evidence of amphibian species, now extinct, that arose over 400 million years ago as the first tetrapods. Amphibia can be divided into three clades: salamanders (Urodela), frogs (Anura), and caecilians (Apoda). The life cycle of frogs, like the majority of amphibians, consists of two distinct stages: the larval stage and metamorphosis to an adult stage. Some species in all orders bypass a free-living larval stage. 29.4 Reptiles The amniotes are distinguished from amphibians by the presence of a terrestrially adapted egg protected by amniotic membranes. The amniotes include reptiles, birds, and mammals. The early amniotes diverged into two main lines soon after the first amniotes arose. The initial split was into synapsids (mammals) and sauropsids. Sauropsids can be further divided into anapsids (turtles) and diapsids (birds and reptiles). Reptiles are tetrapods either having four limbs or descending from such. Limbless reptiles (snakes) are classified as tetrapods, as they are descended from four-limbed organisms. One of the key adaptations that permitted reptiles to live on land was the development of scaly skin containing the protein keratin, which prevented water loss from the skin. Reptilia includes four living clades: Crocodilia (crocodiles and alligators), Sphenodontia (tuataras), Squamata (lizards and snakes), and Testudines (turtles). 830 Chapter 29 | Vertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at 29.5 Birds Birds are endothermic, meaning they produce their own body heat and regulate their internal temperature independently of the external temperature. Feathers not only act as insulation but also allow for flight, providing lift with secondary feathers and thrust with primary feathers. Pneumatic bones are bones that are hollow rather than filled with tissue, containing air spaces that are sometimes connected to air sacs. Airflow through bird lungs travels in one direction, creating a cross- current exchange with the blood. Birds are diapsids and belong to a group called the archosaurs. Birds are thought to have evolved from theropod dinosaurs. The oldest known fossil of a bird is that of Archaeopteryx , which is from the Jurassic period. Modern birds are now classified into two groups, Paleognathae and Neognathae. 29.6 Mammals Mammals in general are vertebrates that possess hair and mammary glands. The mammalian integument includes various secretory glands, including sebaceous glands, eccrine glands, apocrine glands, and mammary glands. Mammals are synapsids, meaning that they have a single opening in the skull. A key characteristic of synapsids is endothermy rather than the ectothermy seen in other vertebrates. Mammals probably evolved from therapsids in the late Triassic period, as the earliest known mammal fossils are from the early Jurassic period. There are three groups of mammals living today: monotremes, marsupials, and eutherians. Monotremes are unique among mammals as they lay eggs, rather than giving birth to young. Eutherian mammals are sometimes called placental mammals, because all species possess a complex placenta that connects a fetus to the mother, allowing for gas, fluid, and nutrient exchange. 29.7 The Evolution of Primates All primate species possess adaptations for climbing trees, as they all probably descended from tree-dwellers, although not all species are arboreal. Other characteristics of primates are brains that are larger than those of other mammals, claws that have been modified into flattened nails, typically only one young per pregnancy, stereoscopic vision, and a trend toward holding the body upright. Primates are divided into two groups: prosimians and anthropoids. Monkeys evolved from prosimians during the Oligocene Epoch. Apes evolved from catarrhines in Africa during the Miocene Epoch. Apes are divided into the lesser apes and the greater apes. Hominins include those groups that gave rise to our species, such as Australopithecus and H.erectus , and those groups that can be considered “cousins” of humans, such as Neanderthals. Fossil evidence shows that hominins at the time of Australopithecus were walking upright, the first evidence of bipedal hominins. A number of species, sometimes called archaic H.sapiens , evolved from H.erectus approximately 500,000 years ago. There is considerable debate about the origins of anatomically modern humans or H.sapiens sapiens . ART CONNECTION QUESTIONS 1. Figure 29.3 Which of the following statements about common features of chordates is true? a. The dorsal hollow nerve cord is part of the chordate central nervous system. b. In vertebrate fishes, the pharyngeal slits become the gills. c. Humans are not chordates because humans do not have a tail. d. Vertebrates do not have a notochord at any point in their development; instead, they have a vertebral column. 2. Figure 29.20 Which of the following statements about the parts of an egg are false? a. The allantois stores nitrogenous waste and facilitates respiration. b. The chorion facilitates gas exchange. c. The yolk provides food for the growing embryo. d. The amniotic cavity is filled with albumen. 3. Figure 29.22 Members of the order Testudines have an anapsid-like skull with one opening. However, molecular studies indicate that turtles descended from a diapsid ancestor. Why might this be the case? REVIEW QUESTIONS 4. Which of the following is not contained in phylum Chordata? a. Cephalochordata b. Echinodermata c. Urochordata d. Vertebrata 5. Which group of invertebrates is most closely related to vertebrates? a. cephalochordates b. echinoderms c. arthropods d. urochordates 6. Members of Chondrichthyes differ from members of Osteichthyes by having a ________. a. jaw b. bony skeleton Chapter 29 | Vertebrates 831 c. cartilaginous skeleton d. two sets of paired fins 7. Members of Chondrichthyes are thought to be descended from fishes that had ________. a. a cartilaginous skeleton b. a bony skeleton c. mucus glands d. slime glands 8. Which of the following is not true of Acanthostega ? a. It was aquatic. b. It had gills. c. It had four limbs. d. It laid shelled eggs. 9. Frogs belong to which order? a. Anura b. Urodela c. Caudata d. Apoda 10. During the Mesozoic period, diapsids diverged into_______. a. pterosaurs and dinosaurs b. mammals and reptiles c. lepidosaurs and archosaurs d. Testudines and Sphenodontia 11. Squamata includes_______. a. crocodiles and alligators b. turtles c. tuataras d. lizards and snakes 12. A bird or feathered dinosaur is ________. a. Neornithes b. Archaeopteryx c. Enantiornithes d. Paleognathae 13. Which of the following feather types helps to reduce drag produced by wind resistance during flight? a. flight feathers b. primary feathers c. secondary feathers d. contour feathers 14. Eccrine glands produce ________. a. sweat b. lipids c. scents d. milk 15. Monotremes include: a. kangaroos b. koalas c. bandicoots d. platypuses 16. Which of the following is not an anthropoid? a. lemurs b. monkeys c. apes d. humans 17. Which of the following is part of a clade believed to have died out, leaving no descendants? a. Paranthropus robustus b. Australopithecus africanus c. Homo erectus d. Homo sapiens sapiens CRITICAL THINKING QUESTIONS 18. What are the characteristic features of the chordates? 19. What can be inferred about the evolution of the cranium and vertebral column from examining hagfishes and lampreys? 20. Why did gnathostomes replace most agnathans? 21. Explain why frogs are restricted to a moist environment. 22. Describe the differences between the larval and adult stages of frogs. 23. Describe the functions of the three extra-embryonic membranes present in amniotic eggs. 24. What characteristics differentiate lizards and snakes? 25. Explain why birds are thought to have evolved from theropod dinosaurs. 26. Describe three skeletal adaptations that allow for flight in birds. 27. Describe three unique features of the mammalian skeletal system. 28. Describe three characteristics of the mammalian brain that differ from other vertebrates. 29. How did archaic Homo sapiens differ from anatomically modern humans? 30. Why is it so difficult to determine the sequence of hominin ancestors that have led to modern Homo sapiens ? 832 Chapter 29 | Vertebrates This OpenStax book is available for free at

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