Funch & Kristensen, 1995
Funch & Kristensen, 1995
Symbion is the name of a genus of aquatic animals, less than ½ mm wide, found living attached to the bodies of cold-water lobsters. They have sac-like bodies, and three distinctly different forms in different parts of their two-stage life-cycle. They appear so different from other animals that they were assigned their own, new phylum Cycliophora shortly after they were discovered in 1995. This was the first new phylum of multicelled organism to be discovered since the Loricifera in 1983.
- the American lobster (Homarus americanus, host to Symbion americanus)
- the European lobster (Homarus gammarus, host to an as yet unnamed species of Symbion)
The genus Symbion are peculiar microscopic animals, with no obvious close relatives, and which was therefore given its own phylum, called Cycliophora. The phylogenetic position of Symbion remains unclear: originally the phyla Ectoprocta and Entoprocta were considered possible relatives of Symbion, based on structural similarities. However, genetic studies suggest that Symbion may be more closely related to Gnathifera.
- Asexual Feeding Stage – At this stage, S. pandora is neither male nor female. It has a length of 347 μm and a width of 113 μm. On the posterior end of the sac-like body is a stalk with an adhesive disc, which attaches itself to the host. On the anterior end is a ciliated funnel (mouth) and an anus.
- Sexual Stage
- Male – S. pandora has a length of 84 μm and a width of 42 μm during this stage. It has no mouth or anus, which signifies the absence of a digestive system. It also has two reproductive organs.
- Female – S. pandora is the same size as the male in this stage. It does, however, have a digestive system which collapses and reconstitutes itself as a larva.
Symbion can reproduce both asexually by budding and sexually. In sexual reproduction the male attaches to a feeding stage and impregnates a budding female. The female then separates from the feeding stage and attaches herself to another host, where the larva in her develops. The female dies, and the larva escapes. The larval stage may be unscientifically referred to as sea worms. The sexual reproductive cycle is triggered when the host crustacean molts its skin in order to grow.
- P. Funch & R. M. Kristensen (1995). "Cycliophora is a new phylum with affinities to Entoprocta and Ectoprocta". Nature. 378 (6558): 711–714. doi:10.1038/378711a0.
- M. Obst; P. Funch & G. Giribet (2005). "Hidden diversity and host specificity in cycliophorans: a phylogeographic analysis along the North Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea". Molecular Ecology. 14 (14): 4427–4440. doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2005.02752.x. PMID 16313603.
- Neves RC, Kristensen RM, Wanninger A (March 2009). "Three-dimensional reconstruction of the musculature of various life cycle stages of the cycliophoran Symbion americanus". J. Morphol. 270 (3): 257–70. doi:10.1002/jmor.10681. PMID 18937332.
- P. Funch; P. Thor & M. Obst (2008). "Symbiotic relations and feeding biology of Symbion pandora (Cycliophora) and Triticella flava (Bryozoa)". Vie et Milieu. 58: 185–188.
- Piper, Ross (2007), Extraordinary Animals: An Encyclopedia of Curious and Unusual Animals, Greenwood Press.
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