Hydra's feeding response: Effect of GABAB ligands on GSH-induced electrical activity in the hypostome of H. vulgaris

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The feeding response in the Cnidarian, hydra, consists of mouth opening, tentacle writhing, and the cessation of pacemaker-controlled tentacle and body contractions. The behavior can be induced by reduced glutathione (GSH), contained in body fluids that leak from prey impaled by hydra's cnidocysts. Mouth, tentacle, and body-contraction behavior is carried out by hydra's ectodermal and endodermal epitheliomuscular cells. Here, we present the first evidence of GSH-induced electrical activity in the hypostome and its modification by GABA and GABAB ligands. The ‘heads’ of hydra were ablated and the tentacles removed. Suction electrodes, positioned on the mouth, recorded electrical activity produced by GSH, contained either within the electrode, or in the surrounding bath, the mouth being shielded. Recorded impulses were characterized, according to size and temporal pattern, as small, medium and (large) pacemaker impulses. GSH applied in the bath caused a frequency increase of small and medium impulses and a decrease in pacemaker bursts. The changes in frequencies of medium and pacemaker bursts, though not obviously affected by GABA, were counteracted by blocking GABAB inhibition with phaclofen. Only the highest concentration of GSH applied at the mouth potentially decreased pacemaker frequency and potentially increased medium impulses, without affecting small impulses. GABA caused a significant increase in small and medium impulses relative to GSH which was counteracted by baclofen and/or baclofen plus phaclofen. The results indicate that considerable GSH-receptor circuitry is located in hypostomal tissue proximal to hydra's mouth, and substantiate GABA and GABAB inhibition within the neuroeffector network of the feeding response.

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Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology -Part A : Molecular and Integrative Physiology