, Volume 115, Issue 2, pp 83–97 | Cite as

The organization of the nervous system in Plathelminthes. The neuropeptide F-immunoreactive pattern in Catenulida, Macrostomida, Proseriata

  • Maria Reuter
  • Aaron G. Maule
  • David W. Halton
  • Margaretha K. S. Gustafsson
  • Chris Shaw
Original Paper


The organization of the nervous system of Archilopsis unipunctata Promonotus schultzei and Paramonotus hamatus (Monocelididae, Proseriata) and Stenostomum leucops (Catenulida) and Microstomum lineare (Macrostomida) was studied by immunocytochemistry, using antibodies to the authentic flatworm neuropeptide F (NPF) (Moniezia expansa). The organization of the nervous system of the Monocelididae was compared to that of the nervous system of Bothriomolus balticus (Otoplanidae), a previously studied species of another family of the Proseriata. The results show that the main nerve cords (MCs), independent of lateral or ventral position in the Monocelididae and the Otoplanidae, correspond to each other. The study also confirms the status of the lateral cords as main cords (MCs) in S. leucops and M. lineare. Common for MCs in the members of the investigated taxa are the following features: MCs consist of many fibres, originate from the brain and are adjoined to 5-HT-positive neurons. In Monocelididae and Otoplanidae, the MCs additionally have the same type of contact to the pharyngeal nervous system. Also common for both proseriate families is the organization of the two lateral nerve cords, with weaker connections to the brain, and the pair of dorsal cords running above the brain. The organization of the minor cords differs. The Monocelididae have a pair of thin ventral cords forming a mirror image of the dorsal pair. Furthermore, an unpaired ventral medial cord connecting medial commissural cells was observed in P. schultzei. Marginal nerve cords, observed in Otoplanidae, are absent in Monocelididae. All minor nerve cords are closely connected to the peripheral nerve plexus. The postulated trends of condensation of plexal fibres to cords and/or the flexibility of the peripheral nerve plexus are discussed. In addition, the immunoreactivity (IR) pattern of NPF was compared to the IR patterns of the neuropeptide RFamide and the indoleamine, 5-HT (serotonin). Significant differences between the distribution of IR to NPF and to 5-HT occur. 5-HT-IR dominates in the submuscular and subepidermal plexuses. In the stomatogastric plexus of M. lineare, only peptidergic IR is observed in the intestinal nerve net. The distribution of NPF-IR in fibres and cells of the intestinal wall in M. lineare indicates a regulatory function for this peptide in the gut, while a relationship with ciliary and muscular locomotion is suggested for the 5-HT-IR occurring in the subepidermal and submuscular nerve, plexuses. In M. lineare, the study revealed an NPF- and RFamide-positive cell pair, marking the finished development of new zooids. This finding indicates that constancy of these cells is maintained in this asexually reproducing and regenerating species.


Nerve Cord Lateral Nerve Lateral Cord Ventral Cord Medial Cord 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Reuter
    • 1
    • 2
  • Aaron G. Maule
    • 1
    • 2
  • David W. Halton
    • 1
    • 2
  • Margaretha K. S. Gustafsson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Chris Shaw
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BiologyÅbo Akademi UniversityÅboFinland
  2. 2.Comparative Neuroendocrinology Research Group, The Queen'sUniversity of BelfastBelfastNorthern Ireland, UK

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