The colonial hydroid Cordylophora is a carnivore whose feeding is induced by substances released from captured prey. An active molecule, probably the only one, has been isolated from a fraction of the laboratory food of Cordylophora, brine shrimp larvae, and identified on paper chromatograms as the imino acid proline. Reagent proline induces the feeding reaction at 10-5 M. The reaction is specific in that only two α-imino acids very closely related to proline were found to possess significant activity: azetidine-2-carboxylic acid and pipecolic acid. The response to proline is inhibited by magnesium ions and enhanced by phosphate. Since previous studies have shown that the feeding reactions of Hydra, Physalia, and Campanularia are controlled by reduced glutathione, the phylogenetic implications of the proline control of feeding in Cordylophora are discussed. The feeding reactions of both Cordylophora and Hydra are also induced by proteases, suggesting similar mechanisms of induction in the two hydroids.

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