• Polychaeta;
  • Annelida;
  • acetylated α-tubulin;
  • cLSM


The distribution and configuration of nephridia and gonoducts are described for seven species from seven genera of the interstitial polychaete family Nerillidae. The ciliated nephridia and gonoducts were identified by tubulin staining and examined with a confocal laser scanning microscope. The following species of the seven to nine-segmented nerillids were examined: Leptonerilla prospera, Nerilla antennata (nine segments); Nerillidium mediterraneum, Trochonerilla mobilis, Gen. sp. A (eight segments); and Aristonerilla brevis, Paranerilla limicola (seven segments). Two of the examined species are hermaphroditic (N. mediterraneum and Gen. sp. A). Segmented nephridia can be found from the first to the last segment, with a total of two to five pairs. One to three pairs of segmented spermioducts are present in all species. One pair of gonoducts is found in all species, except for P. limicola, where they are absent. Nephridia vary in length from half to almost twice the length of a segment and may be curled up in loops. In A. brevis and P. limicola the nephridia are discontinuously ciliated. The distribution and configuration of spermioducts and gonoducts are also variable, although to a lesser extent. The spermioduct distribution is generally consistent within genera and therefore of systematic significance. Nephridia and gonoducts are never found together in the same segments, and the results indicate that gonoducts and nephridia have developed from the same anlagen. The distribution patterns of nephridia and gonoducts are discussed with respect to segmentation, systematics, and development. J. Morphol. 261:259–269, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.