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Hydroidomedusae (Cnidaria: Hydrozoa) symbiotic radiation

  • Stefania Puce (a1), Carlo Cerrano (a2), Cristina Gioia Di Camillo (a1) and Giorgio Bavestrello (a1)


Hydroids can establish symbiotic relationships with most marine phyla. Almost entire genera or even families are associated with specific groups (e.g. Hydractiniidae and Cytaeididae with gastropods and hermit crabs, Zancleidae with bryozoans, Dipurena with sponges, Ralpharia with octocorals, Eugymnanthea with bivalves, Proboscidactyla and Teissiera with serpulids, Bythotiara with tunicates). Generally, the symbiotic groups belong to the Anthomedusae that, due to the absence of theca, are more plastic in establishing trophic relationships with the hosts. Nevertheless a number of scattered species, mainly Leptomedusae, are strictly associated to algae or sea grasses: in these cases no evident morphological or behavioural adaptations were observed. In animal symbiosis several unrelated symbiotic species show polymorphic colonies or a strong reduction in number and/or size of the tentacles, which are sometimes completely lost. Moreover, these symbiotic species may lack perisarc even in the hydrorhiza.

In this paper we summarize the morphological and behavioural adaptations of symbiotic species suggesting that the described aptitude of hydroids to establish relationships with other organisms is not only the result but also the source of the evolutionary radiation of this group.


Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Stefania Puce, Di.S.Mar., Università Politecnica delle Marche, Via Brecce Bianche Ancona, Italy email:


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Hydroidomedusae (Cnidaria: Hydrozoa) symbiotic radiation

  • Stefania Puce (a1), Carlo Cerrano (a2), Cristina Gioia Di Camillo (a1) and Giorgio Bavestrello (a1)


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