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Endobacterial morphotypes in nudibranch cerata tips: a SEM analysis

Schuett, Christian, Doepke, Hilke
Helgoland marine research 2013 v.67 no.2 pp. 219-227
Cnidaria, bacteria, scanning electron microscopy, symbionts
The SEM investigation of nudibranch cerata material exhibits endobacterial morphotypes found in 12 out of 13 species tested: Aeolidia papillosa, Berghia caerulescens, Coryphella brownii, Coryphella lineata, Coryphella verrucosa, Cuthona amoena, Facelina coronata, Flabellina pedata, Dendronotus frondosus, Doto coronata, Tritonia plebeia and Janolus cristatus. Endobacteria could not be detected inside Tritonia hombergi. Endobacterial morphology found inside nudibranch species was compared to bacterial morphotypes detected earlier in tentacles of cnidarian species. SEM micrographs show endobacterial analogy among nudibranch species, but also similarity to cnidarian endobacteria investigated earlier. Of course, morphological data of microbes do not allow their identification. However, since most of these nudibranch species prey on cnidaria, it cannot be excluded that many of the endobacteria detected inside nudibranch species may originate from their cnidarian prey. Our previous data describing genetic affiliation of endobacteria from nudibranchian and cnidarian species support this assumption. Dominant coccoid endobacteria mostly exhibit smooth surface and are tightly packed as aggregates and/or wrapped in envelopes. Such bacterial aggregate type has been described previously in tentacles of the cnidarian species Sagartia elegans. Similar coccoid bacteria, lacking envelopes were also found in other nudibranch species. A different type of coccoid bacteria, characterized by a rough surface, was detected inside cerata of the nudibranch species Berghia caerulescens, and surprisingly, inside tentacles of the cnidarian species Tubularia indivisa. In contrast to cnidarian endobacteria, rod-shaped microorganisms are largely absent in nudibranch cerata.