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Introduction to Scypha

Scypha, also known as sycon, is a genus of marine sponges belonging to the class Calcarea hence referred to as calcareous sponges that are distinguished by the syconoid form of structure, which has a fingerlike body shape. Each "finger," known as a radial canal, in syconoid sponges is perforated by many tiny pores through which water passes into a single central cavity. At the tip, the water exits through an oscule, or wider opening. Scypha or sycon as formerly known is a more complex type than Leucosolenia since Leucosolenia is a primitive asconoid type with no folding in its body wall, while Scypha's body wall is folded and therefore its spongocoel is comparatively smaller. The organisation of such sponges differs greatly due to different degrees of folding in the body wall. Let us delve deeper into this Calcarea class species and learn more about the habitat, features and its mechanism. 

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Habitat and Features of Scypha


  1. Scypha, also known as crown sponge, is a small marine sponge that attaches itself to submerged solid objects such as rocks, mollusc shells, and corals with a sticky secretion. 

  2. It can be found in shallow water up to 50 fathoms (1 fathom = 6 feet), where waves provide plenty of food and well-oxygenated water.

  3. It's a branching colonial sponge, but there are also solitary individuals. 

  4. Scypha is widespread and abundant near the coasts of the North Atlantic. Scypha ciliatum, S. elegans, S. coronata, S. lingua, S. gelatinosum, and S. Raphanus are the various Sycon types.


  1. Scypha species grow only about just 2 to 3 cm (approximately 1 inch) long in their lifetime. 

  2. Scypha is a vase-shaped plant with a length of 2.5 to 7.5 cm. 

  3. It is made up of several cylinders that are connected at the base and attached to some submerged solid object in the sea by a sticky secretion. 

  4. The sycon is a light brown or grey colour sponge with each cylinder's distal or free end has a single wide opening called the osculum or exhalent or excurrent pore.

  5. The osculum is surrounded by an upstanding collar of long monaxon spicules known as the oscular fringe, which resembles a crown, hence the name crown sponge. 

  6. The fringes stop other species from entering the sponge. A short, narrow collar region exists beneath the osculum. 

  7. A thin dermal epithelium or ectoderm covers the sponge's body on the outside. The surface of a cylinder has polygonal elevations, depressed lines between the elevations, and groups of Ostia (inhalant or incurrent pores) in the depressions. These are not intracellular apertures as in Leucosolenia, but rather intercellular apertures. 

  8. A spongocoel or para gastric cavity, which is not a digestive cavity, is located within each cylinder. Since the amount of mesogloea in the cylinder has increased, the wall has folded to form two types of canals: incurrent canals and radial canals, which run alternately and radially around the spongocoel. However, Ostia and canals are absent from the collar and basal regions.

Canal System of Sycon

The Scypha possesses an advanced canal system that carries out the necessary metabolic activities for it to thrive called the syconoid type while many possess a primal level asconoid canal system. 

Canal System

Microscopic View 

Characteristic Features

Longitudinal Section


The osculum leads into a small tubular cavity called the para gastric cavity or spongocoel when the cylindrical body of Scypha is cut open longitudinally. Pinacocytes are small, gastral ectodermal cells that line the spongocoel.

Walls Of The Sycon Canal 

Radial or Flagellated Canals

Flagellated collar cells or choanocytes line the insides. In cross-section, each radial canal appears to be octagonal. The radial canals are closed at their outer ends against the cylinder's surface, but at their inner ends, each communicates with a small large ex-current canal through an aperture known as an apopyle, where apo means away from and Pyle means gate or internal Ostia that connects the spongocoel.

Ectodermal Cells

Ex-current Canal

  • Between the radial canal and the spongocoel is the ex-current canal, which is a short and wide passage. 

  • It enters the spongocoel from the radial canal. 

  • The ex-current canals, like the spongocoel, are lined with smooth ectodermal cells. 

  • The gastric ostium is the deep relation between the ex-current canal and the spongocoel. 

  • A thin diaphragm between the radial canal and the ex-current canal is perforated by a wide hole known as the apopyle. 

  • The apopyle will contract or dilate because it is surrounded by contractile myocytes.

Endodermal Cells

Incurrent Canal

  • Like the spongocoel, they are lined by pinacocytes which are the flat ectodermal cells.  

  • A tubular space known as the incurrent canal exists between the two successive radial canals. Radial canals and incurrent canals are thus alternately arranged.

  • The incurrent canals are short, square-sectioned passages. 

  • Possess apertures called dermal Ostia or dermal pores that open to the outside between the blind outer ends of the radial canals. Canals that flow in the opposite direction are known as incurrent canals.

  • An incurrent canal is filled by a pore membrane that is pierced by three or four intercellular Ostia (in Leucosolenia the Ostia are intracellular). The incurrent canals come to a halt at their inner ends, preventing them from touching the spongocoel. The mesogloea is thickened between the incurrent canal and the spongocoel to form the gastral cortex. 

  • The water reaches the incurrent canals via the Ostia, passes into the radial canals via prosopyles, and from the radial canals into the spongocoel via apopyles, before exiting the spongocoel via the terminal osculum.

Skeleton System of Scypha 

Scypha's skeleton is made up of calcareous spicules. Spicules, also known as sclerites, are definite bodies with a crystalline appearance that are made up of simple spines or spines radiating from a point. They have an organic axis around which an inorganic substance, such as calcium carbonate or hydrated silica, is deposited. Spicules come in a wide range of shapes. 

Some Varieties are as Follows- 

  1. The osculum is surrounded by a circle of large one-rayed needle-like monaxon spicules.

  2. Simple spear-like monaxon spicules protrude from the dermal cortex opposite the radial canals' outer ends.

  3. The radial canals have three rayed or triaxon spicules with one end pointing towards the distal ends of the canals.

  4. In the dense gastral cortex covering the spongocoel, there are four rayed or tetraxon spicules, as well as triaxon spicules. The monaxon spicules in Scypha's body are needle-like or spear-like and project from the body surface, while the triradiate spicules are embedded within, creating a network.

  5. The monaxon spicules project in masses from the polygonal elevations on the outer surface, partially concealing and protecting the Ostia; each group of these spicules is referred to as oxeote spicules.

Mechanism of the Metabolic Activities in Calcarea Class of Scypha

Bodily Activity 


Water Current in the Sycon

The water current reaches Scypha's body through its Ostia and flows into the incurrent canals, then through the prosopyles to the choanocyte-lined radial canals. The water reaches the ex-current canals from the radial canals via the apopyles, where it enters the spongocoel, and then exits through the broad osculum.


Scypha feeds on organic matter particles and small living organisms including bacteria, diatoms, and protozoa, which are attracted by the water current. A food vacuole is produced in the cell, where digestion takes place. Digestion takes place entirely inside the cells. In amoebocytes, also known as socytes, digested food is stored as reserves, mostly glycogen, fat and glycoproteins, and lipoproteins.


Between the sponge cells and the current of water, gaseous exchange occurs through simple diffusion. Pinacocytes take in oxygen dissolved in water through diffusion through the general body surface, while choanocytes take it in internally. The rate of Scypha consumption ranged from 0.16 ml of oxygen per gramme of fresh weight per hour in the smallest specimens to 0.04 in the largest. The upper half, just above the osculum, absorbs 10 to 50% more oxygen per gramme of body weight per hour than the lower half.


With the current of water, ingested wastes and excretory matter (mostly ammonia) leave the body. Sponge-discharged amoebocytes with excretory granules and inclusions, according to some observers.

Behavioural and Neural System

Collencytes have a nervous system; some of them act like neurons and form a diffused nerve network that connects the pinacoderm, choanoderm, and myocytes. As a result, these cells, which function as neurons, are thought to absorb and transmit different forms of stimuli. The osculum has the most evolved conductivity, with transmission occurring more readily away from than toward the opening. The sponge's oscular rim tends to be the most sensitive component. Strong stimuli, such as cuts or sharp kicks, are not transmitted at all or are only transmitted for 3 or 4 mm at most.


A. Asexual Sycon Reproduction

Budding - At the base of an adult Scypha, a small bud emerges and grows to full size. It may remain attached to the parent and thus contribute to the formation of a colony, or it may break free and become a new entity, leading an independent life. 

Regeneration - Sponge regenerative capacity is extremely high. Scypha's body has the ability to expand in every part of it in a suitable environment. 

B. Sexual Sycon Reproduction

Scypha is a monoecious plant, also known as a hermaphrodite. The archaeocytes that are present in the mesogloea contain both sperm and ova. The sperm does not penetrate the ovum directly, but rather travels through a radial canal, where it is spread by water currents. A choanocyte adjacent to the ripe oocytes receives the sperm. The choanocyte loses its collar and flagellum, transforms into an amoeboid, and adheres to the oocyte’s surface, which forms a conical depression to receive it. Cross fertilisation happens due to the protogynous state, which is internal, and the eggs are fertilised in situ. 

Interesting and Fun Facts About Scypha and Sea Sponges 

  1. Sea sponges are not plants or corals, but rather animals.

  2. They've been around for over 600 million years in our oceans.

  3. In the world's oceans, there are more than 8,000 recognised species of sea sponges, with more being discovered every year.

  4. Porifera is a phylum of animals that includes them.

  5. They remain firmly attached to a rigid surface under the water and do not move.

  6. It has the capacity to hold 16,000 other species.

  7. One of the world's largest sponges was nearly 10 feet wide.

  8. When a sponge is strained through a cloth, it takes on a new shape on the other side.

  9. Sponges lack lungs and other such specific organs systems and instead rely on specialised cells to carry out all of their functions.

  10. When a piece of a sponge breaks off, it becomes a whole new sponge.

  11. Each sponge has pores that filter water for food and oxygen, as well as pores that force waste out.

  12. Since certain species emit toxins, sea sponges have few predators except sea turtles and fish. 

  13. Hermaphrodites, or sea sponges, have several genitals. At various times, sponges contain eggs and sperm cells. 

  14. Sea sponges spread across the marine sponge population in this manner. In reality, the lifespan of a sea sponge is about ten years. Both forms of sea sponges will own this lifetime if humans do not harvest them.

  15. Secondary metabolism is a one-way system that keeps an organism alive. Predatory attacks are also avoided and resisted using this approach. It can also protect against bacterial infections and UV light.

FAQs on Scypha

Q.1) What are the Spicules in Scypha?

Answer. Spicules are mineral components that make up the grantia's skeleton and are usually made of calcium carbonate or silica. Spicules are mineral components that make up the grantia's skeleton and are usually made of calcium carbonate or silica. Spicules and spongin fibres are sponge skeletal structures. Carbonates of lime or silica, in the shape of needle-like fragments, form spicules. 

Q.2) What are the Medicinal Benefits of Sponges?

Answer. Bioactive compounds obtained from sponges or other marine microorganisms have been found to have antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antimalarial, anthelminthic, immunosuppressive, muscle relaxant, and anti-inflammatory properties. The chemical diversity of sponge substances is astounding.

Q.3) What is the Importance of Studying Sponges? 

Answer. Sponges play an important role in coral reef nutrient cycles. Scientists claim they may play a role in improvements in water quality, whether positive or negative. Scientists look at how quickly sponges breathe and how much nitrogen they emit in the process. They're claiming to have figured out a way to get excess nitrogen out of coral reefs.

Q.4) What is the Contribution of Sponges to the Ecosystem?

Answer. When sponges filter the water around them, they attract bacteria. These bacteria are thought to be capable of a wide range of functions. Sponges play an important role in coral reef nutrient cycles. Scientists claim they may play a role in improvements in water quality, whether positive or negative. Scientists look at how quickly sponges breathe and how much nitrogen they emit in the process. When sponges filter the water around them, they attract bacteria. These bacteria are thought to be capable of a wide range of functions. Other species in the region can benefit from the conversion of nitrogen gas into useful nitrogen, according to scientists. 

Q.5) What are the Special Properties of Scypha?

Answer. Sea sponges or marine sponges like scypha are biodegradable, hypoallergenic, and chemical-, artificial-byproduct-, and toxin-free as a natural product. They're ultra-soft, absorbent, and won't absorb odours like other materials. In reality, they contain enzymes that inhibit the growth of mould and bacteria, allowing them to last longer.