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Tissue Cell. 2000 Oct;32(5):358-65.

The brain of the Nemertodermatida (Platyhelminthes) as revealed by anti-5HT and anti-FMRFamide immunostainings.

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Zoological Institute, St Petersburg, Russia.


The taxa Nemertodermatida and Acoela have traditionally been considered closely related and classified as sister groups within the Acoelomorpha Ehlers 1984 (Platyhelminthes). Recent molecular investigations have questioned their respective position. In this study, the 5-HT and FMRFamide immunoreactivity (IR) in the nervous system of two nemertodermatids, Nemertoderma westbladi and Meara stichopi, is described. The 5-HT immunoreactive pattern differs in the two nemertodermatids studied. In M. stichopi, two loose longitudinal bundles of 5-HT-immunoreactive fibres and an basi-epidermal nerve net were observed. In N. westbladi the 5-HT-IR shows a ring-shaped commissural structure, different from the commissural brain of acoels. In both nemertodermatids, FMRFamide immunoreactive nerve fibres followed the 5-HT-immunoreactive fibres. It is demonstrated that the Nemertodermatida have neither a 'commissural brain' structure similar to that of the Acoela, nor a 'true', ganglionic brain and orthogon, typical for other Platyhelminthes. The question of the plesiomorphic or apomorphic nature of the nervous system in Nemertodermatida cannot yet be answered. The neuroanatomy of the studied worms provides no synapomorphy supporting the taxon Acoelomorpha.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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