Novel data on the innervation of the lophophore in adult phoronids (Lophophorata, Phoronida)
The structure of the lophophore nervous system may help clarify the status of the clade Lophophorata, whose monophyly is debated. In the current study, antibody labeling and confocal laser scanning microscopy revealed previously undescribed main nerve elements in the lophophore in adult phoronids: Phoronis australis and Phoronopsis harmeri. In both species, the nervous system includes a dorsal ganglion, a tentacle nerve ring, an inner nerve ring, intertentacular groups of perikarya, and tentacle nerves. The dorsal ganglion and tentacle nerve ring contain many serotonin-like immunoreactive perikarya of different sizes. The inner nerve ring is described for the first time in adult phoronids with complex lophophore. It contains a thin bundle of serotonin-like immunoreactive neurites. The tentacles possess abfrontal, frontal, and laterofrontal nerves. The abfrontal nerves originate from the tentacle nerve ring; the frontal tentacle nerves extend from the inner nerve ring in P. harmeri and from the intertentacular frontal nerves in P. australis. The intertentacular groups of perikarya are found in phoronids for the first time. These small nerve centers connect with neither the tentacle nerve ring nor the inner nerve ring, giving rise to the laterofrontal tentacle nerves. The discovery of the inner nerve ring in adult phoronids makes the architecture of the lophophore nervous system similar in all lophophorates and thereby supports the monophyly of this group. The presence of intertentacular nerves, perikarya, and groups of perikarya is a typical feature of the nervous system in lophophorate presumably coordinating movements of the tentacles and thereby increasing the efficiency of lophophore functioning.