The ring nerve of the box jellyfish Tripedalia cystophora

Cell Tissue Res. 2007 Jul;329(1):147-57. doi: 10.1007/s00441-007-0393-7. Epub 2007 Mar 6.


Box jellyfish have the most elaborate sensory system and behavioural repertoire of all cnidarians. Sensory input largely comes from 24 eyes situated on four club-shaped sensory structures, the rhopalia, and behaviour includes obstacle avoidance, light shaft attractance and mating. To process the sensory input and convert it into the appropriate behaviour, the box jellyfish have a central nervous system (CNS) but this is still poorly understood. The CNS has two major components: the rhopalial nervous system and the ring nerve. The rhopalial nervous system is situated within the rhopalia in close connection with the eyes, whereas the ring nerve encircles the bell. We describe the morphology of the ring nerve of the box jellyfish Tripedalia cystophora as ascertained by normal histological techniques, immunohistochemistry and transmission electron microscopy. By light microscopy, we have estimated the number of cells in the ring nerve by counting their nuclei. In cross sections at the ultrastructural level, the ring nerve appears to have three types of neurites: (1) small "normal"-looking neurites, (2) medium-sized neurites almost completely filled by electron-lucent vacuoles and (3) giant neurites. In general, only one giant neurite is seen on each section; this type displays the most synapses. Epithelial cells divide the ring nerve into compartments, each having a tendency to contain neurites of similar morphology. The number and arrangement of the compartments vary along the length of the ring nerve.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Central Nervous System / physiology
  • Central Nervous System / ultrastructure*
  • Cubozoa / physiology
  • Cubozoa / ultrastructure*
  • Neurites / physiology
  • Neurites / ultrastructure*
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Invertebrate / physiology
  • Photoreceptor Cells, Invertebrate / ultrastructure*
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Synapses / ultrastructure*