Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Movement without Muscles

12.05.2011
Zoologists of the University Jena (Germany) are on the Trail of the Evolution of Body Contractions

All animals move – cheetahs faster, snails more slowly. Muscle contractions are the basis of all movements, at least according to general opinion. But there are animal groups, that don't have any muscles at all, as they branched off from the evolutionary path before muscle cells evolved. However these animal groups, for instance the sea sponges, are not immovable. Sponges are able to contract without muscles. These contractions were already known to sponge divers in ancient Greece, as Aristotele described in 350 BC.


The sponge "Tethya wilhelma" has meanwhile become a model organism for evolutionary questions as well as an important subject of investigation within the current study of PD Dr. Michael Nickel from Jena University. Photo: Michael Nickel/FSU

A group of scientists headed by associate professor Dr. Michael Nickel of Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany) is looking into movement without muscles. The scientists from the Institute of Systematic Zoology and Evolutionary Biology are mostly interested in the evolutionary aspect, especially in the question: Which evolutionary forerunners did the muscle cells derive from?

In a new study which will be published in the Journal of Experimental Biology (Band 214, doi: 10.1242/jeb.049148) on 15 May 2011, the evolutionary biologists are giving new answers to the question: Which cells in the sponges are contracting? In this paper the researchers are relying on the 3dimensional (3D) images, which they created with synchrotron radiation-based X-ray microtomography. Thus, the Jena scientists in co-operation with the Helmholtz-Zentrum Gesthacht at the Deutsches Elektronen Synchrotron Hamburg could compare and visualise the 3D structure of contracted and expanded sponges.

“A key feature of our approach is the use of 3D data for measuring the volume and surface of our sponges,“ says Nickel. “Although the 3D volumetric analysis is widely known and used in the technical sciences, it has rarely been used in zoology – in spite of its enormous information potential.“ Thus, Nickel's team was able to show that the inner and outer surfaces – and therefore the epithelial cells, so-called pinacozytes, cause the strong body contractions of the sponges. So finally, the Jena scientists could also settle a hundred year old debate about the cause of cellular contractions. Until now far spindle-shaped cells in the tissue of sponges as well as epithelial cells have been thought to be possible 'candidates' – but now the Jena scientists could identify the true initiator of the contractions.

The new findings of the researchers from Jena University make new approaches about the evolutionary development of musculature possible. “The early evolution of muscles has not been fully understood so far. According to current scientific knowledge muscle cells seem to have surfaced from nowhere“, Nickel says. “But surely there must have been evolutionary predecessor systems, that have been unknown until now.“ The sponge epithelial cells are now moving to the forefront in the evolutionary biologists' further research into the context of this. “There is a lot of evidence that the sponge epithelial cells and the muscle cells of all the other animals are going back to a common contractile cellular predecessor.“ In future this will be analysed by international co-operations, by also using genome and gene expression related data.

Original Publication:
Michael Nickel et al.: ”The contractile sponge epithelium sensu lato – body contraction of the demosponge Tethya wilhelma is mediated by the pinacoderm”, Journal of Experimental Biology, Vol. 214, doi: 10.1242/jeb.049148.
Contact:
PD Dr. Michael Nickel
Institute of Systematic Zoology and Evolutionary Biology with Phyletic Museum
Friedrich Schiller University Jena
Erbertstr. 1
D-07743 Jena
Phone.: ++49 (0)3641 949174
Email: m.nickel[at]uni-jena.de

Axel Burchardt | Uni Jena
Further information:
http://www.porifera.net
http://www.uni-jena.de/en/start_en.html

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Symbiotic bacteria: from hitchhiker to beetle bodyguard
28.04.2017 | Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

nachricht Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis
28.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Grenzflächen- und Bioverfahrenstechnik IGB

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Fighting drug resistant tuberculosis – InfectoGnostics meets MYCO-NET² partners in Peru

28.04.2017 | Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Wireless power can drive tiny electronic devices in the GI tract

28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering

Ice cave in Transylvania yields window into region's past

28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences

Nose2Brain – Better Therapy for Multiple Sclerosis

28.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>