Comparative anatomy of excretory organs in vestimentiferan tube worms (Pogonophora, Obturata).
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In the past, the excretory systems of only few vestimentiferan species have been examined in detail. This study presents comparative data on eight species on the basis of histological serial sections. Ridgeia piscesae was studied by transmission electron microscopy. All species examined possess a central excretory organ consisting of numerous small branching and intertwined excretory tubules. These are connected to voluminous glandular excretory ducts that lead to the exterior by single or paired excretory pores located at the anterior end of the vestimentum. A comparative analysis shows differences among the species with regard to several features, such as the number of excretory pores, presence/absence of excretory grooves and papillae, position of the excretory organ relative to the brain, and the shape of the excretory ducts. Neither podocytes nor coelomoducts could be detected; therefore, there is no indication of the presence of metanephridia. The vestimentiferan excretory system shows some similarities with the design in Athecanephria (Pogonophora, Perviata) and a general resemblance to the design in sabellid polychaetes, even though in the latter metanephridia are clearly present.