A Scuba Gel

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Science  01 Jul 2005:
Vol. 309, Issue 5731, pp. 21-23
DOI: 10.1126/science.309.5731.21e

In the phylogenetically ancient eumetazoan jellyfish, between the endoderm and ectoderm lies the mesoglea, a noncellular gelatinous mix of macromolecules that provides hydrostatic support. Thuesen et al.have asked whether this material might contribute in some fashion to the ability of jellyfish to thrive in eutrophic environments. Using a fiber optic oxygen probe, they detected an oxygen gradient decreasing from the convex to the concave side of the mesoglea, consistent with oxygen consumption by the metabolically active subumbrellar musculature. Furthermore, the gel appeared to be able to store substantial quantities of oxygen, enough to allow the jellyfish to survive hypoxic conditions (30% air-saturated water) and to move about vertically and vigorously in a stratified tank—100% air-saturated at the surface and only 5% saturated at 60 cm depth. — GJC

J. Exp. Biol. 208, 2475 (2005).

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