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  1. Abstract

    Snorkelers in mangrove forest waters inhabited by the upside-down jellyfishCassiopea xamachanareport discomfort due to a sensation known as stinging water, the cause of which is unknown. Using a combination of histology, microscopy, microfluidics, videography, molecular biology, and mass spectrometry-based proteomics, we describeC. xamachanastinging-cell structures that we term cassiosomes. These structures are released withinC. xamachanamucus and are capable of killing prey. Cassiosomes consist of an outer epithelial layer mainly composed of nematocytes surrounding a core filled by endosymbiotic dinoflagellates hosted within amoebocytes and presumptive mesoglea. Furthermore, we report cassiosome structures in four additional jellyfish species in the same taxonomic group asC. xamachana(Class Scyphozoa; Order Rhizostomeae), categorized as either motile (ciliated) or nonmotile types. This inaugural study provides a qualitative assessment of the stinging contents ofC. xamachanamucus and implicates mucus containing cassiosomes and free intact nematocytes as the cause of stinging water.