Full Text Available Acoel flatworms are small marine worms traditionally considered to belong to the phylum Platyhelminthes. However, molecular phylogenetic analyses suggest that acoels are not members of Platyhelminthes, but are rather extant members of the earliest diverging Bilateria. This result has been called into question, under suspicions of a long branch attraction (LBA artefact. Here we re-examine this problem through a phylogenomic approach using 68 different protein-coding genes from the acoel Convoluta pulchra and 51 metazoan species belonging to 15 different phyla. We employ a mixture model, named CAT, previously found to overcome LBA artefacts where classical models fail. Our results unequivocally show that acoels are not part of the classically defined Platyhelminthes, making the latter polyphyletic. Moreover, they indicate a deuterostome affinity for acoels, potentially as a sister group to all deuterostomes, to Xenoturbellida, to Ambulacraria, or even to chordates. However, the weak support found for most deuterostome nodes, together with the very fast evolutionary rate of the acoel Convoluta pulchra, call for more data from slowly evolving acoels (or from its sister-group, the Nemertodermatida to solve this challenging phylogenetic problem.
Simon G. Sprecher
Full Text Available The ability of some animals to regrow their head and brain after decapitation provides a striking example of the regenerative capacity within the animal kingdom. The acoel worm Symsagittifera roscoffensis can regrow its head, brain and sensory head organs within only a few weeks after decapitation. How rapidly and to what degree it also reacquires its functionality to control behavior however remains unknown. We provide here a neuroanatomical map of the brain neuropils of the adult S. roscoffensis and show that after decapitation a normal neuroanatomical organization of the brain is restored in the majority of animals. By testing different behaviors we further show that functionality of both sensory perception and the underlying brain architecture are restored within weeks after decapitation. Interestingly not all behaviors are restored at the same speed and to the same extent. While we find that phototaxis recovered rapidly, geotaxis is not restored within 7 weeks. Our findings show that regeneration of the head, sensory organs and brain result in the restoration of directed navigation behavior, suggesting a tight coordination in the regeneration of certain sensory organs with that of their underlying neural circuits. Thus, at least in S. roscoffensis, the regenerative capacity of different sensory modalities follows distinct paths.
Full Text Available Since first described, acoels were considered members of the flatworms (Platyhelminthes. However, no clear synapomorphies among the three large flatworm taxa -- the Catenulida, the Acoelomorpha and the Rhabditophora -- have been characterized to date. Molecular phylogenies, on the other hand, commonly positioned acoels separate from other flatworms. Accordingly, our own multi-locus phylogenetic analysis using 43 genes and 23 animal species places the acoel flatworm Isodiametra pulchra at the base of all Bilateria, distant from other flatworms. By contrast, novel data on the distribution and proliferation of stem cells and the specific mode of epidermal replacement constitute a strong synapomorphy for the Acoela plus the major group of flatworms, the Rhabditophora. The expression of a piwi-like gene not only in gonadal, but also in adult somatic stem cells is another unique feature among bilaterians. These two independent stem-cell-related characters put the Acoela into the Platyhelminthes-Lophotrochozoa clade and account for the most parsimonious evolutionary explanation of epidermal cell renewal in the Bilateria. Most available multigene analyses produce conflicting results regarding the position of the acoels in the tree of life. Given these phylogenomic conflicts and the contradiction of developmental and morphological data with phylogenomic results, the monophyly of the phylum Platyhelminthes and the position of the Acoela remain unresolved. By these data, both the inclusion of Acoela within Platyhelminthes, and their separation from flatworms as basal bilaterians are well-supported alternatives.
Full Text Available A remarkable example of biological engineering is the capability of some marine animals to take advantage of photosynthesis by hosting symbiotic algae. This capacity, referred to as photosymbiosis, is based on structural and functional complexes that involve two distantly unrelated organisms. These stable photosymbiotic associations between metazoans and photosynthetic protists play fundamental roles in marine ecology as exemplified by reef communities and their vulnerability to global changes threats. Here we introduce a photosymbiotic tidal acoel flatworm, Symsagittifera roscoffensis, and its obligatory green algal photosymbiont, Tetraselmis convolutae (Lack of the algal partner invariably results in acoel lethality emphasizing the mandatory nature of the photosymbiotic algae for the animal’s survival. Together they form a composite photosymbiotic unit, which can be reared in controlled conditions that provide easy access to key life-cycle events ranging from early embryogenesis through the induction of photosymbiosis in aposymbiotic juveniles to the emergence of a functional solar-powered mature stage. Since it is possible to grow both algae and host under precisely controlled culture conditions, it is now possible to design a range of new experimental protocols that address the mechanisms and evolution of photosymbiosis. S. roscoffensis thus represents an emerging model system with experimental advantages that complement those of other photosymbiotic species, in particular corals. The basal taxonomic position of S. roscoffensis (and acoels in general also makes it a relevant model for evolutionary studies of development, stem cell biology and regeneration. Finally, it’s autotrophic lifestyle and lack of calcification make S. roscoffensis a favorable system to study the role of symbiosis in the response of marine organisms to climate change (e.g. ocean warming and acidification. In this article we summarize the state of knowledge of the
Full Text Available As a consequence of anthropogenic CO₂ emissions, oceans are becoming more acidic, a phenomenon known as ocean acidification. Many marine species predicted to be sensitive to this stressor are photosymbiotic, including corals and foraminifera. However, the direct impact of ocean acidification on the relationship between the photosynthetic and nonphotosynthetic organism remains unclear and is complicated by other physiological processes known to be sensitive to ocean acidification (e.g. calcification and feeding. We have studied the impact of extreme pH decrease/pCO₂ increase on the complete life cycle of the photosymbiotic, non-calcifying and pure autotrophic acoel worm, Symsagittifera roscoffensis. Our results show that this species is resistant to high pCO₂ with no negative or even positive effects on fitness (survival, growth, fertility and/or photosymbiotic relationship till pCO₂ up to 54 K µatm. Some sub-lethal bleaching is only observed at pCO₂ up to 270 K µatm when seawater is saturated by CO₂. This indicates that photosymbiosis can be resistant to high pCO₂. If such a finding would be confirmed in other photosymbiotic species, we could then hypothesize that negative impact of high pCO₂ observed on other photosymbiotic species such as corals and foraminifera could occur through indirect impacts at other levels (calcification, feeding.
Bery, Amandine; Cardona, Albert; Martinez, Pedro; Hartenstein, Volker
The neuroarchitecture of Acoela has been at the center of morphological debates. Some authors, using immunochemical tools, suggest that the nervous system in Acoela is organized as a commissural brain that bears little resemblance to the central, ganglionic type brain of other flatworms, and bilaterians in general. Others, who used histological staining on paraffin sections, conclude that it is a compact structure (an endonal brain; e.g., Raikova 2004; von Graff 1891; Delage Arch Zool Exp Gén 4:109-144, 1886). To address this question with modern tools, we have obtained images from serial transmission electron microscopic sections of the entire hatchling of Symsagittifera roscoffensis. In addition, we obtained data from wholemounts of hatchlings labeled with markers for serotonin and tyrosinated tubulin. Our data show that the central nervous system of a juvenile S. roscoffensis consists of an anterior compact brain, formed by a dense, bilobed mass of neuronal cell bodies surrounding a central neuropile. The neuropile flanks the median statocyst and contains several types of neurites, classified according to their types of synaptic vesicles. The neuropile issues three pairs of nerve cords that run at different dorso-ventral positions along the whole length of the body. Neuronal cell bodies flank the cords, and neuromuscular synapses are abundant. The TEM analysis also reveals different classes of peripheral sensory neurons and provides valuable information about the spatial relationships between neurites and other cell types within the brain and nerve cords. We conclude that the acoel S. roscoffensis has a central brain that is comparable in size and architecture to the brain of other (rhabditophoran) flatworms. PMID:20549514
Full Text Available Acoelomorphs are bilaterally symmetric small marine worms that lack a coelom and possess a digestive system with a single opening. Two alternative phylogenetic positions of this group within the animal tree are currently debated. In one view, Acoelomorpha is the sister group to all remaining Bilateria and as such, is a morphologically simple stepping stone in bilaterian evolution. In the other, the group is a lineage within the Deuterostomia, and therefore, has derived a simple morphology from a more complex ancestor. Acoels and the closely related Nemertodermatida and Xenoturbellida, which together form the Acoelomorpha, possess a very limited number of cell types. To further investigate the diversity and origin of mesodermal cell types we describe the expression pattern of 12 orthologs of bilaterian mesodermal markers including Six1/2, Twist, FoxC, GATA4/5/6, in the acoel Isodiametra pulchra. All the genes are expressed in stem cells (neoblasts, gonads, and at least subsets of the acoel musculature. Most are expressed in endomesodermal compartments of I. pulchra developing embryos similar to what has been described in cnidarians. Our molecular evidence indicates a very limited number of mesodermal cell types and suggests an endomesodermal origin of the gonads and the stem cell system. We discuss our results in light of the two prevailing phylogenetic positions of Acoelomorpha.
Bery, Amandine; Cardona, Albert; Martinez, Pedro; Hartenstein, Volker
The neuroarchitecture of Acoela has been at the center of morphological debates. Some authors, using immunochemical tools, suggest that the nervous system in Acoela is organized as a commissural brain that bears little resemblance to the central, ganglionic type brain of other flatworms, and bilaterians in general. Others, who used histological staining on paraffin sections, conclude that it is a compact structure (an endonal brain; e.g., Raikova 2004; von Graff 1891; Delage Arch Zool Exp Gén...
Chiodin, M.; Borve, A.; Berezikov, E.; Ladurner, P.; Martinez, P.; Hejnol, A.
Acoelomorphs are bilaterally symmetric small marine worms that lack a coelom and possess a digestive system with a single opening. Two alternative phylogenetic positions of this group within the animal tree are currently debated. In one view, Acoelomorpha is the sister group to all remaining Bilater
Arroyo, Alicia S.; López-Escardó, David; de Vargas, Colomban
Animals with bilateral symmetry comprise the majority of the described species within Metazoa. However, the nature of the first bilaterian animal remains unknown. As most recent molecular phylogenies point to Xenacoelomorpha as the sister group to the rest of Bilateria, understanding their biology, ecology and diversity is key to reconstructing the nature of the last common bilaterian ancestor (Urbilateria). To date, sampling efforts have focused mainly on coastal areas, leaving potential gaps in our understanding of the full diversity of xenacoelomorphs. We therefore analysed 18S rDNA metabarcoding data from three marine projects covering benthic and pelagic habitats worldwide. Our results show that acoels have a greater richness in planktonic environments than previously described. Interestingly, we also identified a putative novel clade of acoels in the deep benthos that branches as sister group to the rest of Acoela, thus representing the earliest-branching acoel clade. Our data highlight deep-sea environments as an ideal habitat to sample acoels with key phylogenetic positions, which might be useful for reconstructing the early evolution of Bilateria. PMID:27677819
Full Text Available Abstract Background In order to increase the weak database concerning the organogenesis of Acoela – a clade regarded by many as the earliest extant offshoot of Bilateria and thus of particular interest for studies concerning the evolution of animal bodyplans – we analyzed the development of the musculature of Symsagittifera roscoffensis using F-actin labelling, confocal laserscanning microscopy, and 3D reconstruction software. Results At 40% of development between egg deposition and hatching short subepidermal fibres form. Muscle fibre development in the anterior body half precedes myogenesis in the posterior half. At 42% of development a grid of outer circular and inner longitudinal muscles is present in the bodywall. New circular muscles either branch off from present fibres or form adjacent to existing ones. The number of circular muscles is higher than that of the longitudinal muscles throughout all life cycle stages. Diagonal, circular and longitudinal muscles are initially rare but their number increases with time. The ventral side bears U-shaped muscles around the mouth, which in addition is surrounded by a sphincter muscle. With the exception of the region of the statocyst, dorsoventral muscles are present along the entire body of juveniles and adults, while adults additionally exhibit radially oriented internal muscles in the anterior tip. Outer diagonal muscles are present at the dorsal anterior tip of the adult. In adult animals, the male gonopore with its associated sexual organs expresses distinct muscles. No specific statocyst muscles were found. The muscle mantles of the needle-shaped sagittocysts are situated along the lateral edges of the animal and in the posterior end close to the male gonopore. In both juveniles and adults, non-muscular filaments, which stain positively for F-actin, are associated with certain sensory cells outside the bodywall musculature. Conclusion Compared to the myoanatomy of other acoel taxa
Full Text Available Abstract Introduction Acoels are microscopic marine worms that have become the focus of renewed debate and research due to their placement at the base of the Bilateria by molecular phylogenies. To date, Isodiametra pulchra is the most promising “model acoel” as it can be cultured and gene knockdown can be performed with double-stranded RNA. Despite its well-known morphology data on the nervous system are scarce. Therefore we examined this organ using various microscopic techniques, including histology, conventional histochemistry, electron microscopy, and immunocytochemistry in combination with CLSM and discuss our results in light of recently established phylogenies. Results The nervous system of Isodiametra pulchra consists of a bilobed brain with a dorsal posterior commissure, a frontal ring and tracts, four pairs of longitudinal neurite bundles, as well as a supramuscular and submuscular plexus. Serotonin-like immunoreactivity (SLI is displayed in parts of the brain, the longitudinal neurite bundles and a large part of the supramuscular plexus, while FMRFamide-like immunoreactivity (RFLI is displayed in parts of the brain and a distinct set of neurons, the longitudinal neurite bundles and the submuscular plexus. Despite this overlap SLI and RFLI are never colocalized. Most remarkable though is the presence of a distinct functional neuro-muscular system consisting of the statocyst, tracts, motor neurons and inner muscles, as well as the presence of various muscles that differ with regard to their ultrastructure and innervation. Conclusions The nervous system of Isodiametra pulchra consists of an insunk, bilobed brain, a peripheral part for perception and innervation of the smooth body-wall musculature as well as tracts and motor neurons that together with pseudostriated inner muscles are responsible for steering and quick movements. The insunk, bilobed brains with two to three commissures found in numerous acoels are homologous and
Henner BRINKMANN; Hervé PHILIPPE
Phylogenomics, the inference of phylogenetic trees using genome-scale data, is becoming the rule for resolving difficult parts of the tree of life. Its promise resides in the large amount of information available, which should eliminate stochastic error. However, systematic error, which is due to limitations of reconstruction methods, is becoming more apparent. We will illustrate, using animal phylogeny as a case study, the three most efficient approaches to avoid the pitfalls of phylogenomics: (1) using a dense taxon sampling, (2) using probabilistic methods with complex models of sequence evolution that more accurately detect multiple substitutions, and (3) removing the fastest evolving part of the data (e.g., species and positions). The analysis of a dataset of 55 animal species and 102 proteins (25712 amino acid positions) shows that standard site-homogeneous model inference is sensitive to long-branch attraction artifact, whereas the site-heterogeneous CAT model is less so. The latter model correctly locates three very fast evolving species, the appendicularian tunicate Oikopleura, the acoel Convoluta and the myxozoan Buddenbrockia. Overall, the resulting tree is in excellent agreement with the new animal phylogeny, confirming that "simple" organisms like platyhelminths and nematodes are not necessarily of basal emergence. This further emphasizes the importance of secondary simplification in animals, and for organismal evolution in general.
Moroz, Leonid L
The origins of neural systems and centralized brains are one of the major transitions in evolution. These events might occur more than once over 570-600 million years. The convergent evolution of neural circuits is evident from a diversity of unique adaptive strategies implemented by ctenophores, cnidarians, acoels, molluscs, and basal deuterostomes. But, further integration of biodiversity research and neuroscience is required to decipher critical events leading to development of complex integrative and cognitive functions. Here, we outline reference species and interdisciplinary approaches in reconstructing the evolution of nervous systems. In the "omic" era, it is now possible to establish fully functional genomics laboratories aboard of oceanic ships and perform sequencing and real-time analyses of data at any oceanic location (named here as Ship-Seq). In doing so, fragile, rare, cryptic, and planktonic organisms, or even entire marine ecosystems, are becoming accessible directly to experimental and physiological analyses by modern analytical tools. Thus, we are now in a position to take full advantages from countless "experiments" Nature performed for us in the course of 3.5 billion years of biological evolution. Together with progress in computational and comparative genomics, evolutionary neuroscience, proteomic and developmental biology, a new surprising picture is emerging that reveals many ways of how nervous systems evolved. As a result, this symposium provides a unique opportunity to revisit old questions about the origins of biological complexity.
Weigert, Anne; Helm, Conrad; Hausen, Harald; Zakrzewski, Anne-C; Bleidorn, Christoph
Piwi-like genes are a subgroup of Argonaute genes which participate as gene regulators by gene silencing. In most bilaterians, such as mouse, human, insects, and zebrafish, their expression is mostly limited to gonadal stem cells. But there are some striking exceptions to this pattern; flatworms and acoels also express Piwi-like genes in somatic stem cells, due to their unique replacement system. Annelid species like Capitella teleta and Platynereis dumerilii express these genes in cells of the posterior growth zone as well as in gonadal stem cells. To investigate the expression pattern of Piwi-like genes in another annelid, we established in situ hybridization for adult Myzostoma cirriferum. Piwi-like gene transcripts recovered in an mRNA-seq library of pooled adult stages of M. cirriferum were expanded using RACE PCR, cloned and sequenced. ML analysis confirmed the identity of both transcripts as part of the Piwi1-like or Piwi2-like subfamily of Argonaute proteins. The results of in situ hybridization studies show that the expression of both Piwi-like genes, Mc-Piwi1 and Mc-Piwi2, is clearly located only in gonadal stem cells, and as such we did not find any evidence for the existence of a posterior growth zone nor expression in somatic stem cells. PMID:23609434
de Jong, Danielle M; Seaver, Elaine C
Regeneration, the ability to replace lost tissues and body parts following traumatic injury, occurs widely throughout the animal tree of life. Regeneration occurs either by remodeling of pre-existing tissues, through addition of new cells by cell division, or a combination of both. We describe a staging system for posterior regeneration in the annelid, Capitella teleta, and use the C. teleta Hox gene code as markers of regional identity for regenerating tissue along the anterior-posterior axis. Following amputation of different posterior regions of the animal, a blastema forms and by two days, proliferating cells are detected by EdU incorporation, demonstrating that epimorphosis occurs during posterior regeneration of C. teleta. Neurites rapidly extend into the blastema, and gradually become organized into discrete nerves before new ganglia appear approximately seven days after amputation. In situ hybridization shows that seven of the ten Hox genes examined are expressed in the blastema, suggesting roles in patterning the newly forming tissue, although neither spatial nor temporal co-linearity was detected. We hypothesized that following amputation, Hox gene expression in pre-existing segments would be re-organized to scale, and the remaining fragment would express the complete suite of Hox genes. Surprisingly, most Hox genes display stable expression patterns in the ganglia of pre-existing tissue following amputation at multiple axial positions, indicating general stability of segmental identity. However, the three Hox genes, CapI-lox4, CapI-lox2 and CapI-Post2, each shift its anterior expression boundary by one segment, and each shift includes a subset of cells in the ganglia. This expression shift depends upon the axial position of the amputation. In C. teleta, thoracic segments exhibit stable positional identity with limited morphallaxis, in contrast with the extensive body remodeling that occurs during regeneration of some other annelids, planarians and acoel
Lyons, Deirdre C; Martindale, Mark Q; Srivastava, Mansi
An adult animal's form is shaped by the collective behavior of cells during embryonic development. To understand the forces that drove the divergence of animal body-plans, evolutionary developmental biology has focused largely on studying genetic networks operating during development. However, it is less well understood how these networks modulate characteristics at the cellular level, such as the shape, polarity, or migration of cells. We organized the "Cell's view of animal body plan evolution" symposium for the 2014 The Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology meeting with the explicit goal of bringing together researchers studying the cell biology of embryonic development in diverse animal taxa. Using a broad range of established and emerging technologies, including live imaging, single-cell analysis, and mathematical modeling, symposium participants revealed mechanisms underlying cells' behavior, a few of which we highlight here. Shape, adhesion, and movements of cells can be modulated over the course of evolution to alter adult body-plans and a major theme explored during the symposium was the role of actomyosin in coordinating diverse behaviors of cells underlying morphogenesis in a myriad of contexts. Uncovering whether conserved or divergent genetic mechanisms guide the contractility of actomyosin in these systems will be crucial to understanding the evolution of the body-plans of animals from a cellular perspective. Many speakers presented research describing developmental phenomena in which cell division and tissue growth can control the form of the adult, and other presenters shared work on studying cell-fate specification, an important source of novelty in animal body-plans. Participants also presented studies of regeneration in annelids, flatworms, acoels, and cnidarians, and provided a unifying view of the regulation of cellular behavior during different life-history stages. Additionally, several presentations highlighted technological
Rubens M. Lopes
Full Text Available Marine zooplankton research in Brazil has been primarily descriptive, with most studies focusing on community structure analysis and related issues. The composition and spatial distribution of several taxonomic groups are currently well known, although less-abundant and small-sized taxa as well as initial stages of almost all species have received little attention. Some numerically important taxa such as heterotrophic protists, ctenophores, acoel turbellarians and ostracods remain virtually unstudied. Large sectors of the continental shelf have not been sampled in detail, particularly those areas influenced by the North Brazil Current (5ºN-15ºS. Zooplankton abundance and biomass in offshore waters have seldom been quantified, and information on the distribution and vertical migration of meso- and bathypelagic species are lacking. Additional faunistic assessments must target those less-studied taxa and geographical locations. However, priority in ecological studies should be given to process-oriented investigations aimed at understanding the mechanisms controlling zooplankton distribution, trophic interactions within pelagic food webs and production cycles in relation to the physical environment. An effort should be made to incorporate state-of-the-art sampling technology and analytical methods into future research projects.As pesquisas sobre o zooplâncton marinho no Brasil têm sido primariamente descritivas, com a maioria dos estudos enfocando a análise da estrutura da comunidade e assuntos relacionados. A composição e a distribuição espacial de muitos grupos taxonômicos encontram-se bem estudadas, embora os táxons menos abundantes e de menores dimensões, assimcomo os estágios iniciais do ciclo de vida da maioria das espécies, tenham recebido pouca atenção. Alguns táxons numericamenteimportantes encontram-se pouco estudados, como no caso dos protistas heterotróficos, ctenóforos, turbelários acelos e ostrácodes. Amplos