Structural analysis of polyp stage of Cladonema sp.
(A) light micrograph of freshly collected polyps connected by a tube-like hydrocauli. The polyps appear white in colour especially for the tentacles. SEM image (B) shows that the polyp is composed of an entocodon (asterisk), a stalk (S), capitate (star) and filiform tentacles (arrows). A higher magnification of the polyp displays a filiform tentacle and small bacteria that can be clearly distinguished at the surface of the polyp (C). D and E show ectosymbiotic rod-shaped bacteria covering the polyp. Some of these are dividing (arrows) suggesting a high metabolism. The EDX spectrum obtained from the polyp (F) shows a peak of elemental sulphur suggesting that such bacteria are thioautotrophic (Cl: chloride, Na: sodium, Mg: magnesium, C: carbon, O: oxygen, S: elemental sulphur).