Marine Biology

, Volume 149, Issue 2, pp 339–346 | Cite as

Evidence of reverse development in Leptomedusae (Cnidaria, Hydrozoa): the case of Laodicea undulata (Forbes and Goodsir 1851)

  • D. De Vito
  • S. PirainoEmail author
  • J. Schmich
  • J. Bouillon
  • F. Boero
Research Article


Laboratory rearing and reconstruction of Laodicea undulata (Hydrozoa) life cycle led to the discovery for the first time in Leptomedusae of the potential for ontogeny reversal, i.e. the medusa stage can asexually transform back into the polyp stage. In turn, each rejuvenated polyp stage can newly activate the standard developmental programme towards colony morphogenesis and budding of secondary medusae. These can be considered as clonemates of the initial medusa batch, since they originate by asexual processes. In combination with the ordinary medusa budding process, the potential for reverse development might represent a tool to increase jellyfish population growth rate during the favourable season, but eventually it does not avoid jellyfish to die. Comparably to polyembryony, reverse development leads to offspring multiplication from a single fertilization event, with a wider dispersal of each single genotype; eventually, it favours the enhancement of the overall genetic diversity at small spatial scale. The life cycle of L. undulata from the Mediterranean Sea is re-described, linking previously uncoupled descriptions of either the polyp or the early medusa stages. Taxonomic considerations of the genus Laodicea and a comparison among the known Mediterranean species are also provided.


Hydroid Laboratory Rear Reverse Development Larval Metamorphosis Hydroid Coloni 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Financial supports were provided by MURST (60%, COFIN, and FIRB Projects), the Administration of the Province of Lecce, ICRAM (Project “Identificazione e distribuzione delle specie non indigene nel Mediterraneo”), the European Union (Marie Curie contract no. HPMD-CT-2001-00099, and the MARBEF network), the NSF of the USA (PEET project on the Hydrozoa). We are grateful to Cristina Di Camillo for drawings of L. undulata. Special thanks are due to Adam Benovic and Alenka Malej for their kind translation of part of the original paper by Babnik (1948).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. De Vito
    • 1
  • S. Piraino
    • 1
    Email author
  • J. Schmich
    • 1
  • J. Bouillon
    • 1
  • F. Boero
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Biologiche ed AmbientaliUniversità di LecceLecceItaly

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