New paper in Organisms, Diversity & Evolution


Reproductive biology, embryonic development and matrotrophy in the phylactolaemate bryozoan Plumatella casmiana

Bibermair J, Ostrovsky AN, Wanninger A. & Schwaha T. 2021
Org Divers Evol (2021).
Published online 17 June 20


Bryozoa is a phylum of aquatic, colonial suspension-feeders within the Lophotrochozoa. In the Phylactolaemata embryonic development occurs in an internal brood sac on the body wall accompanied by extraembryonic nutrition. Owing to previous contradictive descriptions, many aspects of their sexual reproduction require restudy. Consequently, this study analyses embryogenesis of the freshwater bryozoan Plumatella casmiana by serial sections, 3D reconstruction and transmission electron microscopy. Early embryos cleave and soon develop into blastulae with a small central cavity. The mesoderm forms by delamination starting from the distal side towards the proximal end. In later embryos two polypides form on the posterior side that ultimately will be covered by a ciliated mantle in the larva. Embryos increase in size during development and form temporary cell contacts to the embryo sac. Mesodermal cells of the embryo sac show signs of transcellular transport indicating that embryos are nourished by transferring nutrients from the maternal coelom towards the brood cavity. This study clarifies several details such as mesoderm formation and the onset of bud development. Embryos are connected to their respective embryo sacs by a variety of temporary cytoplasmic processes formed by both tissues during embryogenesis, including a ‘placental’ ring zone. Although ultrastructural data of these cell contacts are not entirely conclusive about their function, we suggest that embryos absorb nutrients via the entire surface. The close opposition of embryos to the embryo sac implies placentation as matrotrophic mode in phylactolaemate bryozoans, with embryo sacs acting as placental analogues.21