Myoanatomy of the phoronid phoronis ovalis: functional and phylogenetic implications
The myoanatomy of adult phoronids has never been comprehensively studied by fluorescent staining and confocal laser scanning microscopy. Because the organization of the musculature may provide insight into phoronid biology and phylogeny, phoronid myoanatomy warrants detailed investigation. The current study provides the first description based on the use of modern methods of the musculature of the very small phoronid Phoronis ovalis. The musculature of the lophophore base includes radial, longitudinal, and circular muscles; pharynx dilators; and paired lateroabfrontal muscles. The musculature of the anterior part of the body is formed by outer-circular, middle-diagonal, and inner-longitudinal muscles; because all of the cells in these muscles contact the basal lamina, the musculature in the anterior part of the body forms a single layer. In the posterior part of the body, diagonal muscles are absent, and the longitudinal musculature is represented by small, thin bundles. In the terminal end of the body, there is an inversion of circular and longitudinal muscles. The organization of the musculature in the lophophore base and anterior part of the body suggests that the lophophore can move in different directions in order to capture food from local water currents. The organization of the musculature of the terminal end would enable this part of the body to be used for digging into the substratum. The four-partitioned ground plan of the lophophoral musculature in P. ovalis and in bryozoans from all three main groups indicates the homology of the lophophore and the monophyly of the lophophorates as a united clade that includes three phyla: Phoronida, Bryozoa, and Brachiopoda. Some similarities in the organization of the lophophoral musculature, however, may reflect the similarities in the sessile life styles and feeding behaviors of P. ovalis and bryozoans.