• ultrastructure;
  • Bryozoa;
  • Phylactolaemata;
  • coelom;
  • epistome;
  • excretory organ


Only species belonging to the bryozoan subtaxon Phylactolaemata possess an epistome. To test whether there is a specific coelomic cavity inside the epistome, Fredericella sultana, Plumatella emarginata, and Lophopus crystallinus were studied on the ultrastructural level. In F. sultana and P. emarginata, the epistome contains a coelomic cavity. The cavity is confluent with the trunk coelom and lined by peritoneal and myoepithelial cells. The lophophore coelom extends into the tentacles and is connected to the trunk coelom by two weakly ciliated coelomic ducts on either side of the rectum. The lophophore coelom passes the epistome coelom on its anterior side. This region has traditionally been called the forked canal and hypothesized to represent the site of excretion. L. crystallinus lacks an epistome. It has a simple ciliated field where an epistome is situated in the other species. Underneath this field, the forked canal is situated. Compared with the other species, it is pronounced and exhibits a dense ciliation. Despite the occurrence of podocytes, which are prerequisites for a selected fluid transfer, there is no indication for an excretory function of the forked canal, especially as no excretory porus was found. J. Morphol. 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.