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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the organizational features of the simplest multicellular organisms
  • Explain the various body forms and bodily functions of sponges

The invertebrates, or invertebrata    , are animals that do not contain bony structures, such as the cranium and vertebrae. The simplest of all the invertebrates are the Parazoans, which include only the phylum Porifera    : the sponges ( [link] ). Parazoans (“beside animals”) do not display tissue-level organization, although they do have specialized cells that perform specific functions. Sponge larvae are able to swim; however, adults are non-motile and spend their life attached to a substratum. Since water is vital to sponges for excretion, feeding, and gas exchange, their body structure facilitates the movement of water through the sponge. Structures such as canals, chambers, and cavities enable water to move through the sponge to nearly all body cells.

The photo shows sponges on the ocean floor. The sponges are yellow with a bumpy surface, forming rounded clumps.
Sponges are members of the Phylum Porifera, which contains the simplest invertebrates. (credit: Andrew Turner)

Morphology of sponges

The morphology of the simplest sponges takes the shape of a cylinder with a large central cavity, the spongocoel    , occupying the inside of the cylinder. Water can enter into the spongocoel from numerous pores in the body wall. Water entering the spongocoel is extruded via a large common opening called the osculum    . However, sponges exhibit a range of diversity in body forms, including variations in the size of the spongocoel, the number of osculi, and where the cells that filter food from the water are located.

While sponges (excluding the hexactinellids) do not exhibit tissue-layer organization, they do have different cell types that perform distinct functions. Pinacocytes , which are epithelial-like cells, form the outermost layer of sponges and enclose a jelly-like substance called mesohyl. Mesohyl is an extracellular matrix consisting of a collagen-like gel with suspended cells that perform various functions. The gel-like consistency of mesohyl acts like an endoskeleton and maintains the tubular morphology of sponges. In addition to the osculum, sponges have multiple pores called ostia on their bodies that allow water to enter the sponge. In some sponges, ostia are formed by porocytes, single tube-shaped cells that act as valves to regulate the flow of water into the spongocoel. In other sponges, ostia are formed by folds in the body wall of the sponge.

Choanocytes (“collar cells”) are present at various locations, depending on the type of sponge, but they always line the inner portions of some space through which water flows (the spongocoel in simple sponges, canals within the body wall in more complex sponges, and chambers scattered throughout the body in the most complex sponges). Whereas pinacocytes line the outside of the sponge, choanocytes tend to line certain inner portions of the sponge body that surround the mesohyl. The structure of a choanocyte is critical to its function, which is to generate a water current through the sponge and to trap and ingest food particles by phagocytosis. Note the similarity in appearance between the sponge choanocyte and choanoflagellates (Protista). This similarity suggests that sponges and choanoflagellates are closely related and likely share a recent common ancestry. The cell body is embedded in mesohyl and contains all organelles required for normal cell function, but protruding into the “open space” inside of the sponge is a mesh-like collar composed of microvilli with a single flagellum in the center of the column. The cumulative effect of the flagella from all choanocytes aids the movement of water through the sponge: drawing water into the sponge through the numerous ostia, into the spaces lined by choanocytes, and eventually out through the osculum (or osculi). In the meantime, food particles, including waterborne bacteria and algae, are trapped by the sieve-like collar of the choanocytes, slide down into the body of the cell, are ingested by phagocytosis, and become encased in a food vacuole. Lastly, choanocytes will differentiate into sperm for sexual reproduction, where they will become dislodged from the mesohyl and leave the sponge with expelled water through the osculum.

Questions & Answers

What contribute to evolution of eukaryotes
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any of a class of nitrogenous organic compounds which have large molecules composed of one or more long chains of amino acids and are an essential part of all living organisms, especially as structural components of body tissues such as muscle, hair, etc., and as enzymes and antibodies.
Anirban
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separation of the DNA to produce new daughter cell. mostly in the form of meiosis
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definition of photosynthesis
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it is simply the process by which plants get there food from the sun through the use of chlorophyll
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O positive cause it is a general donor
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Describe how hormones regulate blood pressure, blood volume, and kidney function
junius Reply
2 Positive water potential is placed on the left side of the tube by increasing Ψp such that the water level rises on the right side. Could you equalize the water level on each side of the tube by adding solute, and if so, how?
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Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
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