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J Morphol. 2011 Mar;272(3):371-8. doi: 10.1002/jmor.10922. Epub 2011 Jan 18.

Ultrastructural analyses support different morphological lineages in the phylum Placozoa Grell, 1971.

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Dipartimento di Scienze dell'Uomo, dell'Ambiente e della Natura, Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo, Campus Scientifico, Località Crocicchia, 61029 Urbino, Italy.


The morphology and ultrastructure of 10 clonal placozoan lineages were studied. We scored several morphological characters at a cellular and intracellular level and identified a number of morphological differences among clones. Some differences appear clone specific and allow recognizing five distinct lineages based on morphological criteria only. These data will be crucial for a yet to be established placozoan systematics. Furthermore, we here describe three new diagnostic morphological characters for Placozoa: a new structure in the upper epithelium, called "concave disc," two distinct subpopulations of fiber cells, and especially small cells in the body margin. Besides the fiber cells appear to be arranged in several layers forming a complex, three-dimensional net not previously described. We also describe the marginal cells as the formerly suggested potential stem-cell type. The basic morphology is revised.

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