Most of the interactions that the Aequorea victoria has with other species are predatory by nature. The Cnidarian polyp stage has different interactions than the medusa stage with other species (for more information on the polyp stage click here). Certain kinds of Cnidarians, like the Proboscidactyla flavicirratae which inhabits the outside rim of sabellid worms, form a parasitic relationship. The polyp eats unicellular algae and certain larval crustaceans that wonder near the worms. In certain cases, they are capable of eating much larger prey such as copepods, nematoades, and the worm’s eggs (A Snail's Odyssey, 2010). The polyp phase for Aequorea victoria is very limited on movement and therefore relies on prey to float close enough to the tentacles so it can capture them.  The polyps diet consist almost entirely of zooplankton and small fish that float by.  The medusas, which float in currents and are capable of moving around, have a greater variety of food than the immobile polyp. The medusas diet contains not only zooplankton, but also invertebrate eggs (click here for an example of an invertebrate) and tintinnids, Mero-plankton, Copepods, and larvaceans (Purcell, 1991). Aequorea victoria has no problem with devouring most of the organisms it preys on, but as the competition between predator and prey is continuously changing, certain organisms have learned how to escape from the grasp of Aequorea victoria. Aglantha digitale and Proboscidactyla flavicirrata have developed different methods that are effective against Aequorea victoria. Aglantha digitale uses a burst of speed from swimming while Proboscidactyla flavicirrata uses a defensive technique that causes them to “crumple” (Purcell, 1991).  

Permission Granted by: Thomas Carefoot

Figure 1. A food web that shows the interaction of common hydromedusae found in Departure Bay, British Columbia. The chart shows that Aequorea species prey on other types of jellyfish but are not commonly preyed on. According to the study by Dr. Thomas Carefoot, of the studied species, members of the genus Stomotoca were the only known predator of Aequorea victoria that are hydromedusa (A Snail's Odyssey, 2010).

Permission Granted by: Thomas CarefootThe most common predator of species of cnidarians are other species of cnidarians (fig. 1). The special interaction that involves predation between the species of cnidarians is known as intraguild predation. Intraguild predation is the “eating of species that use similar, often limiting, resources, and are thus potential competitors” (Purcell, 1991). Species such as Eutonia indicans, Phialidium gregarium, and Sarisia tubulosa are other species of cnidarian that are also consumed by Aeqourea victoria (Purcell, 1991). Most Jellyfish, including Aequorea victoria, are capable of repelling would be predators thanks to its stinging tentacles, but certain animals are capable of preying on the jellyfish.  Adaptations have allowed certain organisms, such as the Leatherback sea turtle and sunfish for example, are capable of eating the jellyfish and extracting nutrients. The leatherback sea turtle has developed rough skin that is not penetrated by the stingers of the jellyfish (Heaslip, 2012). Researchers are still trying to figure out how the eyes and the mouth are unaffected by the stingers, but all that is known is that the venom does not affect the sunfish or the leatherback turtle (Heaslip, 2012).

Aequorea victoria also has a unique, but indirect, affect on people. Thanks to the efforts of Osamu Shimomura, Martin Chalfie, and Roger Tsien, scientists are now able to use GFP for medical purposes (Mills, 2008). To learn more about GFP and the Bioluminescence of Aequorea victoria, click the Interesting Facts button below!


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