Phoronids, like other Lophophorata (Bryozoa and Brachiopoda) are filter feeders. The lophophore performs various functions, the most important of which is the collection and sorting of food particles. The mechanism of sorting has been well studied for many other groups of invertebrate, but until now it has remained obscure for phoronids. With the help of functional morphology data we are proposing a possible scheme of sorting in phoronids on the example of Phoronopsis harmeri. The lower limit of the particle size is defined by the distance between laterofrontal cilia of tentacles and equals 1.2 μm. Larger particles are transferred by frontal cilia to the basis of the tentacles, where they pass into the lophophoral groove. The distance between the epistome and the external row of tentacles regulates the upper limit of the particle size that are suitable for food. Only particles whose size does not exceed 12 μm get into the lophophoral groove and further into the mouth. Larger particles collect in the space above the epistome and are removed from the lophophore. The size of the food particles that phoronids consume by filtration lies in a range 1.2–12 μm. These are bacteria and small phytoplankton organisms. At the same time the significant individual mobility of the phoronid tentacles plays an important role in the expansion of the pabular spectrum to large inactive zooplankton and phytoplankton organisms reaching a size of 50–100 μm.
Russian Journal of Marine Biology – Springer Journals
Published: May 8, 2010
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