New paper in Journal of Morphology


Morphology of ctenostome bryozoans: 6. Amphibiobeania epiphylla

Schwaha T, Waeschenbach A, De Blauwe H & Gordon DP. 2022.
Journal of Morphology, 1– 12. . Link. Published online 7 October 2022


Ctenostome bryozoans are unmineralized and mostly marine. Their lack of calcified skeletal features requires other characters to be considered for systematic and phylogenetic considerations. As a continuation of an ongoing series of studies, we herein investigate the morphology of Amphibiobeania epiphylla, a unique bryozoan inhabiting mangrove leaves that are highly exposed to tidal cycles and regular dry events according to the tidal cycle. Besides this interesting mode of life, the species was originally interpreted to be a weakly mineralized cheilostome bryozoan, whereas molecular data place it among ctenostome bryozoans. To elucidate the systematic and phylogenetic position of the genus and also find morphological adaptations to an extreme habitat, we investigated the morphology of A. epiphylla in detail. Zooids show a lophophore with eight tentacles and a simple gut with a prominent caecum, lophophoral anus and most notably a distinct gizzard in the cardiac region. Gizzard teeth are multiple, simple homogeneous cuticular structures. The cuticle of the zooid is rather uniform and shows no respective thickenings into opercular flaps or folds. Likewise, apertural muscles are represented by a single pair of muscles. There are no specific closing muscles in the apertural area like the operculum occlusors of cheilostomes. Most prominent within zooids is a spongiose tissue filling most of the body cavity. Although not properly understood, this tissue may aid in keeping animals moist and hydrated during prolonged dry times. In summary, all morphological characters support a ctenostome rather than a cheilostome affinity, possibly with Vesicularioidea or Victorelloidea. In addition, we provide new molecular data that clearly supports such a closer relationship.