Tardigrade feeding apparatus is a complexstructure with considerable taxonomic significance that canbe schematically divided into four parts: buccal ring, buccaltube, stylet system, and pharynx. We analyzed the finemorphology and the tridimensional organization of thetardigrade buccal–pharyngeal apparatus in order to clarifythe relationships between form and function and to identifynew characters for systematic and phylogenetic studies. Weconducted a comparative analysis of the cuticular structuresof the buccal–pharyngeal apparatuses of twelve eutardigradespecies, integrating data obtained by SEM and LMobservations. Morphological diversity was observed andnew cuticular structures such as the stylet coat of the styletsystem were identified. The synthesis of the buccal–pharyngealapparatus during molting was also analyzedobtaining a clear developmental sequence of its resynthesis.These findings lead us to redefine the previous interpretationsof the functioning mechanisms of the buccal–pharyngealapparatus and provide a more specific relationship between tardigrade diet and the anatomy of their feedingapparatuses. In addition, the detection by energy-dispersiveX-ray spectroscopy of calcium in the stylets, buccal tube,and placoids of eutardigrade species (i.e., Milnesium tardigradum,Paramacrobiotus richtersi) indicates that CaCO3incrustations are not an exclusive feature of heterotardigradesand lead to suppose that this trait was present in theancestors of both classes.
Form and function of the feeding apparatus in Eutardigrada (Tardigrada) / Guidetti, Roberto; Altiero, Tiziana; Marchioro, Trevor; L., Sarzi Amadè; A. M., Avdonina; Bertolani, Roberto; Rebecchi, Lorena. - In: ZOOMORPHOLOGY. - ISSN 0720-213X. - STAMPA. - 131:(2012), pp. 127-148. [10.1007/s00435-012-0149-0]