Cnidarian internal stinging mechanism

Ami Schlesinger, Eliahu Zlotkin, Esti Kramarsky-Winter, Y. Loya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Stinging mechanisms generally deliver venomous compounds to external targets. However, nematocysts, the microscopic stinging organelles that are common to all members of the phylum Cnidaria, occur and act in both external and internal tissue structures. This is the first report of such an internal piercing mechanism. This mechanism identifies prey items within the body cavity of the sea anemone and actively injects them with cytolytic venom compounds. Internal tissues isolated from sea anemones caused the degradation of live Artemia salina nauplii in vitro. When examined, the nauplii were found to be pierced by discharged nematocysts. This phenomenon is suggested to aid digestive phagocytic processes in a predator otherwise lacking the means to masticate its prey.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1063-1067
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1659
StatePublished - 22 Mar 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Digestion
  • Internal stinging mechanism
  • Nematocyst
  • Sea anemone
  • Venom

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Environmental Science
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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