Morphology of the nervous system of monogonont rotifer Epiphanes senta with a focus on sexual dimorphism between feeding females and dwarf males
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Background: Monogononta is a large clade of rotifers comprised of diverse morphological forms found in a wide range of ecological habitats. Most monogonont species display cyclical parthenogenesis, where generations of asexually reproducing females are interspaced by mixis events when sexual reproduction occurs between mictic females and dwarf, haploid males. The morphology of monogonont feeding females is relatively well described, however data on male anatomy are very limited. Thus far, male musculature of only two species has been described with confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) and it remains unknown how dwarfism influences the neuroanatomy of males on detailed level. Results: Here, we provide a CLSM-based description of the nervous system of both sexes of Epiphanes senta, a freshwater monogonont rotifer. The general nervous system architecture is similar between males and females and shows a similar level of complexity. However, the nervous system in males is more compact and lacks a stomatogastric part. Conclusion: Comparison of the neuroanatomy between male and normal-sized feeding females provides a better understanding of the nature of male dwarfism in Monogononta. We propose that dwarfism of monogonont nonfeeding males is the result of a specific case of heterochrony, called “proportional dwarfism” as they, due to their inability to feed, retain a juvenile body size, but still develop a complex neural architecture comparable to adult females. Reduction of the stomatogastric nervous system in the males correlates with the loss of the entire digestive tract and associated morphological structures.