The neuroanatomy of barentsia discreta (entoprocta, coloniales) reveals significant differences between bryozoan and entoproct nervous systems
Entoprocta affinities within Lophotrochozoa remain unclear. In different studies, entoprocts are considered to be related to different groups, including Cycliophora, Bryozoa, Annelida, and Mollusca. The use of modern methods to study the neuroanatomy of Entoprocta should provide new information that may be useful for phylogenetic analysis. Results The anatomy of the nervous system in the colonial Barentsia discreta was studied using immunocytochemistry and transmission electron microscopy. The ganglion gives rise to several main nerves: paired lateral, aboral, and arcuate nerves, and three pairs of tentacular cords that branch out into tentacular nerves. The serotonergic nervous system includes paired esophageal perikarya and two large peripheral perikarya, each with a complex net of neurites. Each tentacle is innervated by one abfrontal and two laterofrontal neurite bundles. Sensory cells occur regularly along the abfrontal side of each tentacle. Star-like nerve cells are scattered in the epidermis of the calyx. The stalk is innervated by paired stalk nerves. Conclusions The neuroanatomy of the colonial Barentsia discreta is generally similar to that of solitary entoprocts but differs in the anatomy and ultrastructure of the ganglion, the number of neurite bundles in the calyx, and the distribution of serotonin in the nerve elements. A comparison of the organization of the nervous system in the Entoprocta and Bryozoa reveals many differences in tentacle innervations, which may indicate that these groups may not be closely related. Our results can not support with any certainty the homology of nervous system elements in adult entoprocts and adult “basal mollusks”.