The Cnidaria: Only a Problem or Also a Resource?


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Series: Marine and Freshwater Biology

BISAC: SCI039000

Target Audience: Toxicologists, ecotoxicologists, first-aid physicians, food scientists, aquaculturists, teachers

Cnidarians are elegant and dazzling aquatic organisms, but despite their beauty they are known to be a threat in many coastal areas around the world. Several species of cnidaria living in tropical or sub-tropical areas are remarkably dangerous, but many Mediterranean species can also cause serious health problems. Really, cnidarians (sea anemones, corals, medusae) are considered among the most dangerous and venomous organisms, thanks to the occurrence in their tissues of batteries of intracellular capsules (nematocysts or cnidocysts) produced by the Golgi apparatus of specialized cells (nematocytes or cnidocytes) from which the phylum Cnidaria takes the name (from the Greek κνίδη = nettle). The consequences of human encounters with cnidarians vary widely, from simple skin irritation to serious anaphylactic manifestations in sensitive subjects.

During the last few decades, cnidarians have been perceived as increasingly dangerous due to recurrent jellyfish outbreaks which constitute a threat both for human health and economy and for the environmental equilibrium. In addition, the occurrence of alien species, whose spread is facilitated by human activities, environmental changes, global warming, or man-made modifications of the natural features of territories, pose new and serious challenges to environmental management. For all these reasons, cnidarians can be viewed as a problem.

Nevertheless, cnidarians are also viewed with particular interest due to their potential in the field of natural products. Scientists have realized the potential of natural resources hidden in aquatic environments for the development of new drugs or bioactive substances with wide potential use. At present, an enormous scientific literature is available about the value of cnidarian products as potential therapeutic agents, in human nutrition, or for other applications. As such, these organisms can also be reasonably considered a resource.

Taking into consideration these two main aspects, this book aims to collect the experiences and recent research data on cnidarians and review present knowledge on the subjects.

Table of Contents


Section 1: Cnidarian Biology (Morphology, Life Cycle, Taxonomy and Identification by Using Modern Molecular Methods)

Chapter 1. Molecular Identification of Cnidarians in Maltese Waters, Central Mediterranean
(Adriana Vella, Ian Falzon and Noel Vella – Conservation Biology Research Group, Department of Biology, University of Malta, Msida, Malta)

Chapter 2. The Metamorphosis and Regeneration Processes of Jellyfish
(Xiaoya Li, Yushi Ma, Songyu Gao, Xintong Chen, Yina Zhu, Haiyan Zhang, Jishun Yang and Xuejun Sun – Faculty of Naval Medicine, Second Military Medical University (Naval Medical University), Shanghai, China, et al.)

Chapter 3. Alienage and Invasiveness: How We Will Know for Jellyfish?
(Nurçin Killi, Lucas Brotz, Gian Luigi Mariottini, Marina Pozzolini, Ali Serhan Tarkan, Ruiwei Ye and Liang Xiao – Department of Basic Sciences, Faculty of Fisheries, Muğla Sıtkı Koçman University, Muğla, Turkey, et al.)

Section 2: The Cnidarians as a Problem

Chapter 4. Protecting the Public from Hazardous Jellyfish: A Wicked Problem For Regulators and Operators?
(Lynda Crowley-Cyr, and Lisa-ann Gershwin – School of Law and Justice, University of Southern Queensland, Toowoomba Campus, Australia, et al.)

Chapter 5. Forecasting Hazardous Jellyfish: Shifting Perceptions from Black Swans to White
(Lisa-ann Gershwin, and Lynda Crowley-Cyr – Australian Marine Stinger Advisory Services, and Institute of Marine and Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia, et al.)

Chapter 6. The Toxinology of Jellyfishes; a Systematic Review
(Negar Taheri, G. Hossein Mohebbi, Amir Vaziri and Iraj Nabipour – Department of Pathology, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran, et al.)

Chapter 7. Clinical Manifestations and Managements in Jellyfish Envenomation; a Systematic Review
(Negar Taheri, G. Hossein Mohebbi, Amir Vaziri and Iraj Nabipour – Department of Pathology, Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, Shiraz, Iran, et al.)

Chapter 8. Potential Usefulness of Plant Extracts to Counteract Cnidarian Venoms
(Bruno Burlando, Laura Cornara, I. Darren Grice, Fernando Lazcano-Pérez, Gian Luigi Mariottini, Judith Sanchez-Rodriguez – Department of Pharmacy (DIFAR), University of Genova, Genova, Italy, et al.)

Section 3: Cnidarians: from the Problem to the Resource

Chapter 9. Mediterranean Blooms of Jellyfish and Comb Jellies: Problems vs Opportunities
(Cinzia Gravili – Di.S.Te.B.A., Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Technologies, University of Salento, Lecce, Italy)

Chapter 10. Jellies from the Southeast Asian Seas: Pains and Gains
(Akriti Rastogi and Dibakar Chakrabarty – Nuffield Division of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Radcliffe Department of Medicine, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom, et al.)

Chapter 11. Jellyfish Fisheries in India: Status and Trends
(Abdul Riyas and Appukkuttannair Biju Kumar – Department of Aquatic Biology and Fisheries, University of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India)

Section 4: The Cnidarians as a Resource

Chapter 12. Deep-Sea Jellyfish Collected from Deep-Sea Litter
(Haruka Shibata, Hiroshi Miyake, Ai Karasawa – School of Marine Biosciences, Kitasato University, Kanagawa, Japan, et al.)

Chapter 13. Bacteria Associated with Jellyfish in the Marine Environment and Their Potential Biotechnological Application
(Weibing Dong and Dejing Shang – School of Life Science, Liaoning Normal University, Dalian, China, et al.)

Chapter 14. Cnidarian Actinoporins as a Targeted Therapy to Combat Cancer
(Lok Wenn Loo, Wei Yuen Yap and Jung Shan Hwang – Department of Biological Sciences, School of Medical and Life Sciences, Sunway University, Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia, et al.)

Chapter 15. Beauty from the Deep – Cnidarians in Cosmetics
(Steven A. Trim, Franziska Wandrey and Carol M. Trim – Venomtech Ltd, Discovery Park, Sandwich, Kent, UK, et al.)

Chapter 16. Powerful Proteins from Polyp Possessing Predators
(Phillip J. Robinson, Steven A. Trim and Carol M. Trim – Venomtech Ltd., Discovery Park, Sandwich, Kent, UK, et al.)

Section 5: Jellyfish in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Food

Chapter 17. Jellyfish-an Effective Traditional Chinese Medicine
(Fengling Yang, Chenxi Wan, Songyu Gao, Ruiwei Ye, Zhaoyun Peng, Tingfang Wang, Wei Wang, Jing Zhang – College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Jilin Agricultural University, Changchun, China, et al.)

Chapter 18. Jellyfish and Human Food – Rhopilema esculentum
(Songyu Gao, Ying Yang, Xiang Gao, Yongfang Wang, Jie Wang, Zheng Xu, Qing Liu, Ruirong Hao – Faculty of Naval Medicine, Second Military Medical University (Naval Medical University), Shanghai, China, et al.)



“This book is an interesting source of data regarding cnidarians and has an eclectic series of contributions by more than 60 researchers from 12 different countries worldwide. The studies congregate basic and applied research using traditional and advanced approaches, as well as reviews and management proposals. The first section presents general studies and reviews on:biodiversity recognition (using molecular techniques); metamorphosis and regeneration; and impacts and management of alien and invasive species. The second section is dedicated to:discuss the issue of cnidarians as a problem to mankind, and examine the risks of harmful jellyfishes to coastal activities with proposals for stakeholders to deal with the matter; envision a forecasting approach to manage jellyfish threats on touristic operations; review the toxinology literature related to jellyfishes; review the envenomations caused by jellyfishes; present a prospective pharmacological study evaluating the use of plant extracts against cnidarian venoms. The third and fourth sectionsaddresses the cnidarians as resources by: discussing blooms in the Mediterranean and Southeast Asian seas; presenting the status of jellyfish fisheries in India; showing the display of deep-sea jellyfishes in aquarium exhibitions; pointing the biotechnological potential of bacteria associated with jellyfish; highlighting the use of cnidarian actinoporins as a potential therapy for tumours; presenting a cosmetic use of cnidarian toxins; exposing a review on drug discoveries from cnidarians. The fifth and last section of the book is dedicated to the use of jellyfish in traditional Chinese medicine; and the closing chapter addresses a rhizostome jellyfish species (Rhopilema esculentum) and its use as human food in China. Undoubtedly this book must be in the bookshelves of many people that are passionate by the marine environment and also by such beautiful and, certainly, resourceful creatures – the cnidarians!” – André C. Morandini is Associate Professor of Zoology at the Instituto de Biociências, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil

“From traditional research to new challenges and opportunities in jellyfish research,  this book aims to serve as a guide to both, novel researchers in the field of gelatinous plankton, and more experienced ones seeking for new approaches and guidelines. Through the eighteen chapters that conforms the book, readers will review the paradigm shift from basic research and the problems associated with jellyfish blooms, to the development of new approaches to human-usable resources from the present time and traditional cultures. Well-edited and encompassing a wide range of topics, this book sheds new light on the area of planktonic cnidarians.” – Dr. Antonio Canepa, Ecology and Citizen Science, Lecturer, University of Burgos, Spain

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