Introduction: Among bryozoans, cyclostome anatomy is the least studied by modern methods. New data on the nervous system fill the gap in our knowledge and make morphological analysis much more fruitful to resolve some questions of bryozoan evolution and phylogeny. Results: The nervous system of cyclostome Crisia eburnea was studied by transmission electron microscopy and confocal laser scanning microscopy. The cerebral ganglion has an upper concavity and a small inner cavity filled with cilia and microvilli, thus exhibiting features of neuroepithelium. The cerebral ganglion is associated with the circumoral nerve ring, the circumpharyngeal nerve ring, and the outer nerve ring. Each tentacle has six longitudinal neurite bundles. The body wall is innervated by thick paired longitudinal nerves. Circular nerves are associated with atrial sphincter. A membranous sac, cardia, and caecum all have nervous plexus. Conclusion: The nervous system of the cyclostome C. eburnea combines phylactolaemate and gymnolaemate features. Innervation of tentacles by six neurite bundles is similar of that in Phylactolaemata. The presence of circumpharyngeal nerve ring and outer nerve ring is characteristic of both, Cyclostomata and Gymnolaemata. The structure of the cerebral ganglion may be regarded as a result of transformation of hypothetical ancestral neuroepithelium. Primitive cerebral ganglion and combination of nerve plexus and cords in the nervous system of C. eburnea allows to suggest that the nerve system topography of C. eburnea may represent an ancestral state of nervous system organization in Bryozoa. Several scenarios describing evolution of the cerebral ganglion in different bryozoan groups are proposed.
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”.