Marine Biology

, Volume 146, Issue 2, pp 315–323 | Cite as

Musculature of the primitive gastrotrich Neodasys (Chaetonotida): functional adaptations to the interstitial environment and phylogenetic significance

Research Article


Gastrotrichs are acoelomate micrometazoans common to marine interstitial environments of sublittoral sediments and exposed sandy beaches. The genus Neodasys (Chaetonotida) contains three marine species known from oceans and seas worldwide, and figures prominently in discussions of gastrotrich origins. To gain insight into the phylogenetic position of Neodasys and to understand the adaptive significance of muscle anatomy in marine interstitial gastrotrichs, a fluorescent phalloidin-linked marker was used to view the organization of muscles in two species from North America and Australia. Muscular topography of Neodasys cirritus from Florida, USA, and Neodasys cf. uchidai from Queensland, Australia, was found to be similar between species and to basal species of Macrodasyida; muscles were present in circular, longitudinal and helicoidal patterns. Musculature of the midgut region was partially reduced relative to basal macrodasyidan gastrotrichs, but well developed relative to most other chaetonotidan gastrotrichs. In general, muscle patterns in species of Neodasys closely correspond with those of other gastrotrichs of similar size and body type, and may therefore reflect a common adaptive solution to the physical demands of the interstitial environment. Results also suggest that reductions in midgut musculature may be functionally related to oviposition and, as such, are probably not homologous with similar reductions of circular muscles in other species of Chaetonotida.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Smithsonian Marine StationFort PierceUSA

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