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Keywords:

  • Phylactolaemata;
  • Plumatella;
  • Fredericella;
  • serotonergic nervous system;
  • muscular system

Abstract

The phylogenetic position of the Ectoprocta within the Lophotrochozoa is discussed controversially. For gaining more insight into ectoproct relationships and comparing it with other potentially related phyla, we analysed the myoanatomy and serotonergic nervous system of adult representatives of the Phylactolaemata (Plumatella emarginata, Plumatellavaihiriae, Plumatella fungosa, Fredericella sultana). The bodywall contains a mesh of circular and longitudinal muscles. On its distal end, the orifice possesses a prominent sphincter and continues into the vestibular wall, which has longitudinal and circular musculature. The tentacle sheath carries mostly longitudinal muscle fibres in Plumatella sp., whereas F. sultana also possesses regular circular muscle fibres. Three groups of muscles are associated with the lophophore: 1) Lophophoral arm muscles (missing in Fredericella), 2) epistome musculature and 3) tentacle musculature. The epistome flap is encompassed by smooth muscle fibres. A few fibres extend medially over the ganglion to its proximal floor. Abfrontal tentacle muscles have diagonally arranged muscle fibres in their proximal region, whereas the distal region is formed by a stack of muscles that resemble an inverted ‘V’. Frontal tentacle muscles show more variation and either possess one or two bases. The digestive tract possesses circular musculature which is striated except at the intestine where it is composed of smooth muscle fibres. The serotonergic nervous system is concentrated in the cerebral ganglion. From the latter a serotonergic nerve extends to each tentacle base. In Plumatella the inner row of tentacles at the lophophoral concavity lacks serotonergic nerves. Bodywall musculature is a common feature in many lophotrochozoan phyla, but among other filter feeders like the Ectoprocta is only present in the ‘lophophorate’ Phoronida. The longitudinal tentacle musculature is reminiscent of the condition found in phoronids and brachiopods, but differs to entoproct tentacles. Although this study shows some support for the ‘Lophophorata’, more comparative analyses of possibly related phyla are required. J. Morphol., 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.