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Latin american journal of aquatic research

versión On-line ISSN 0718-560X

Lat. Am. J. Aquat. Res. vol.41 no.2 Valparaíso abr. 2013

http://dx.doi.org/10.3856/vol41-issue2-fulltext-7 

Research Article

 

Taxonomic position of Lovenella gracilis (Clarke, 1882) (Lovenellidae, Hydrozoa): new evidences of microanatomy justify its maintenance in the genus Lovenella (Hincks, 1868)

Posición taxonómica de Lovenella gracilis (Clarke, 1882) (Lovenellidae, Hydrozoa): nuevas evidencias de microanatomía justifican su permanencia en el género Lovenella (Hincks, 1868)

 

Thaís Pires-Miranda 1, Amanda Ferreira-Cunha 1 & Antonio C. Marques 1

1 Departamento de Zoología, Instituto de Biociéncias, Universidade de São Paulo Rua do Mãtao Trav. 14, 101, 05508-090, São Paulo, Brazil
Corresponding author: Antonio C. Marques (marques@ib.usp.br)


ABSTRACT. Lovenella gracilis Clarke, 1882 is one of the 15 nominal species referred to the genus Lovenella Hincks, 1868, characterized by the presence of a basal line demarcating the separation between operculum and hydrotheca. However, Lovenella gracilis apparently does not have the demarcating line under light microscopy - therefore, the resurrection of the genus Dipleuron Brooks, 1882 was proposed to accommodate this species. The goal of this study is redescribe the polyp of L. gracilis trying to resolve this doubtful taxonomical status. Fertile colonies were collected in the intertidal zone of Rio Grande do Norte and Santa Catarina States, representing the first record of the species for the South Atlantic. Scanning electron microcopy of L. gracilis has shown a tenuous demarcation between operculum and hydrotheca, corroborating its position in the genus Lovenella. Considering the new evidences presented, we propose the maintenance of the species L. gracilis in the genus Lovenella, and corroborate the synonymy of Dipleuron and Lovenella.

Keywords: Lovenella, Dipleuron, operculum, taxonomy, South Atlantic, Brazil.


RESUMEN. Lovenella gracilis Clarke, 1882 es una de las 15 especies nominales referidas al género Lovenella Hincks, 1868, caracterizada por la presencia de una línea basal separando el opérculo de la hidroteca. Sin embargo, la microscopia de luz reveló la ausencia de una demarcación entre el opérculo y la hidroteca de Lovenella gracilis, y por eso se propuso su transferencia al género Dipleuron Brooks, 1882, que resurgió para acomodar esta única especie. Este trabajo tiene como finalidad la redescripción del pólipo de L. gracilis con la intención de resolver este status taxonómico dudoso. Las colonias fértiles fueron colectadas en el intermareal de las provincias de Rio Grande do Norte y Santa Catarina y representan el primer registro de la especie para el Atlántico sur. Electromicrografias evidencian una discreta demarcación entre el opérculo y la hidroteca, corroborando la posición de L. gracilis en el género Lovenella. Con respecto a las nuevas evidencias de la morfología opercular presentadas, se propone la permanencia de L. gracilis en el género Lovenella, y se corrobora la sinonimia de Dipleuron y Lovenella.

Palabras clave: Lovenella, Dipleuron, opérculo, taxonomía, Atlántico sur, Brasil.


 

INTRODUCTION

Leptothecate hydrozoans of the family Lovenellidae Russell, 1953 have a troubled taxonomical history (Calder, 1991; Bouillon et al., 2004). They have a metagenetic life cycle and, like in many other hydroid taxa, the parallel and independent use of the morphological characters of polyps and medusae eventually generated a dual classification, with different understandings and diagnoses for the, presumably, same genera.

The genus Lovenella was proposed by Hincks (1868), based on the polyp stage, and assigned to the family Campanulariidae. Russell (1953) based on the medusa stage, proposed the family Lovenellidae including the genera Eucheilota McCrady, 1859 and Lovenella Hincks, 1868. The family Lovenellidae, as described by Russell (1953), includes medusae without marginal cirri, excretory pores or peduncle, with gonads on four simple radial canals, and with lateral cirri. Kramp (1959) proposed the genus Cirrholovenia as a third genus for the Lovenellidae, based on the presence of marginal cirri in the medusa, amending the original diagnosis of the family. Other disputable arrangements have also been proposed for the family, even comprising genera traditionally included in the family Haleciidae Hincks, 1868, such as Campalecium Torrey, 1902 and Hydranthea Hincks, 1868.

The genus Lovenella Hincks, 1868, type species Lovenella clausa (Lóven, 1836), comprises 14 nominal species (Tabla. 1, 2) distributed worldwide (Figs. 1 and 2). Only L. chiquitita Millard, 1957 and L. corrugata Thornely, 1908 were recorded for the South Atlantic hitherto. The main diagnostic characters of Lovenella are the medusae with indefinite number of statocysts and and polyp with hydrotheca well demarcated by a basal line, separating it from the operculum (Fraser, 1944; Kramp, 1959; Bouillon et al., 2004).

 

Table 1. Comparison of the diagnostic characters of species of Lovenella with polyp stage recorded in literature.
 

 

Table 2. Comparison of diagnostic characters of species of Lovenella with medusa stage recorded in literature.

 

 

 
Figure 1. Distribution of the polyp stage of the species of the genus Lovenella Hincks, 1868. 1: Millard. (1957, 1975); García Corrales et al. (1979); 2: Hincks (1868); García Corrales et al. (1979); Cornelius (1995); 3: Thornely (1908); Jäderholm (1920); Vervoort (1959); Millard (1980); 4: Clarke (1882); Huvé (1952); Calder (1971, 1975); Bandel & Wedler (1987); Manning & Lindquist (2003); Dougherty & Russell (2005); Calder & Cairns (2009); 5: Nutting (1901); Fraser (1941, 1944); 6: Fraser (1938); Lees (1986); Calder et al. (2009); 7: Sars (1874); Picard (1955); 8: Fraser (1937, 1938, 1944); Vervoort (1985); Cornelius (1995); Schuchert (2000); 9: Fraser (1938, 1939, 1948); Calder et al. (2009). The symbol "?" refers to the doubtful record of Picard (1955) concerning L. (?) paniculata.

 

 
Figure 2. Distribution of the medusa stage of the species of the genus Lovenella Hincks (1868) 1: von Lendenfeld (1887); Kramp (1961); 2: Browne (1905); Kramp (1959, 1961); Bouillon (1984, 1995); Hirano & Yamada (1985); Navas-Pereira & Vannucci (1991); Xu et al. (2008); Xu (2009); 3: Fewkes (1883); Kramp (1959); 4: Millard (1975); 5: Hincks (1871); Russell (1936a, 1936b, 1953); Kramp (1959, 1961); 6: Clarke (1882); Brooks (1882); Calder (1971); 7: Xu & Huang, (1983); 8: Lin et al. (2009).

 

Oddly, the polyp of Lovenella gracilis Clarke, 1882 is defined by the operculum being a continuation of the hydrothecal wall, therefore lacking a basal line separating operculum and hydrotheca (Calder, 1971, 1975). Based on this unique character, Calder (1991) proposed the resurrection of the genus Dipleuron Brooks, 1882 in order to encompass L. gracilis. Bouillon & Boero (2000) and Bouillon et al. (2004) did not agree with this proposal, arguing that the medusae of L. gracilis presents the typical characters of the genus and that the diagnostic characters of the polyps of lovenellid are puzzling, since the opercular structure can be variable within the family, and even within the same genus. No other addition was made to the knowledge of the morphology of L. gracilis, and the taxonomical status of the species remains doubtful.

The aim of this study is to redescribe in detailed morphology the polyp of L. gracilis, based on the first material of the species sampled for the South Atlantic, and reveal new data corroborating its maintenance in the genus Lovenella.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

The material studied was collected in the intertidal zone of Tibau Beach (Tibau, State of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil) and Bombas Beach (Bombinhas, State of Santa Catarina, Brazil). The colonies were fixed in 92.5% ethanol and 4% formaldehyde solution. We have studied the morphology, morphometry and cnidome of all specimens. Morphological details were studied in scanning electronic microscopy (SEM), following routine protocol (Migotto & Marques, 1999). The cnidome was studied with squashed preparations of the fixed material, in light microscopy. Studied material has been deposited in the Cnidarian Collection of the Museu de Zoologia of the Universidade de São Paulo (MZUSP), São Paulo, Brazil.

RESULTS

Lovenella gracilis Clarke, 1882 (Figs. 3a-3d; 4a-4f).

 

 
Figure 3. Light microscopy of Lovenella gracilis Clarke, 1882. a) General aspect of the colony from Rio Grande do Norte (Scale: 1 mm), b) detail of the hydrothecae (Scale: 200 µm), c) general aspect of a portion of the hydrocaulus of the colony of Santa Catarina, with internodes and hydrothecal pedicel arising from distal apophysis (Scale: 200 µm), d) detail of the hydrothecae and hydrocaulus (Scale: 100 µm).

 

 
Figure 4. Scanning electron microscopy of Lovenella gracilis Clarke, 1882. a) General aspect of the colony (Scale: 200 μm), (b-d) detail of the hydrothecae (Scales: b, c, 100 μm; d, 50 μm), e) detail of the demarcation between hydrotheca and operculum (Scale: 50 μm). f) gonotheca arising from hydrocaulus (Scale: 100 μm).

 

Lovenella gracilis Clarke, 1882, p. 139, pl. 9, fig. 25-39; Fraser, 1944, p. 174, pl. 31, fig. 147; Calder, 1971, p. 61, pl. 4, fig. h, pl. 8, fig. b-c; 1975, p. 298, fig. 3c.

Dipleuronparvum Brooks, 1882, p. 135, 139-140.

Lovenella clausa Fraser, 1910, p. 364, fig. 26a-d; 1912, p. 45 [non Lovenella clausa (Lóven, 1836)].

Dipleuron gracilis-Huvé, 1952, p. 389, fig. 1a-b, 2a-b; Calder, 1991, p. 3.

Material examined. Santa Catarina, Bombinhas, Bombas Beach (27.131°S 48.514°W, 2 m, 3.12.2006)-MZUSP4242, in formaldehyde 4%, without gono-phores, on rock and Sargassum sp.; MZUSP4260, in ethanol 92.8%, without gonophores, on rock; MZUSP4263, in ethanol 92.8%, with gonophores, on rock; MZUSP4266, in formaldehyde 4%, with gono-phores, on rock and Sargassum sp. Rio Grande do Norte, Tibau, Tibau Beach (4.835°S, 37.247°W, intertidal zone, on Donax striatus, in ethanol 92.8%)-MZUSP5356, with gonophores, 5.6.2004; MZUSP 5357, MZUSP5358, with gonophores, 15.ix.2004; MZUSP5359, with gonophores, 9.3.2004.

Description. Colonies stolonal or erect, up to 19 mm (n = 10) in height, arising directly from creeping hydrorhiza 80-240 µm (n = 10) in diameter. Hydro-caulus monosiphonic, with 0-6 annulations (n = 10) at the proximal region, branched or unbranched, divided into internodes by transverse septa at more or less regular intervals. Perisarc of main stem moderately thick, thinner at secondary branches and pedicels. Internode length 930-6640 µm (n = 10), diameter 87.5-160 µm (n = 10), with 1-7 septa (n = 10), supporting hydrothecal pedicel arising from distal apophysis. Apophyses alternate; branches or additional pedicels, when present, arising laterally to the apophysis. Pedicels either annulated throughout or with 2-11 (n = 10) distal annulations, length 110-820 um (n = 10), diameter 75-120 µm (n = 10). Hydrotheca campanulate, 350-740 µm (n = 10) deep from rim to base, 215-340 µm (n = 10) wide at margin, 100-180 µm (n = 10) wide at diaphragm; diaphragm thin, transversal; operculum with 8-11 triangular to pentagonal valves (n = 10), apparently as folded continuation of hydrothecal wall, but with discrete line demarcating operculum from hydrotheca (only in SEM). Gonothecae inverted cone-shaped, length 620-1180 µm (n = 10), diameter at margin 150-270 µm (n = 10), diameter at base 100-200 µm (n = 10); walls smooth, distal region of gonothecae deepened, with a central aperture. Gonothecal pedicels short, length 60-300 µm (n = 10), diameter 60-120 µm (n = 10), with 2-8 annulations (n = 10) throughout, arising near base of hydrothecal pedicels or directly from hydrorhiza; several medusa buds in each gonotheca, but some gonothecae empty. Nematocysts of one type: small microbasic mastigophores, dimensions 6-7 µm X 1.5-2 µm (n = 10, undischarged capsules).

Distributional range. North Atlantic (Clarke, 1882; Brooks, 1882; Fraser, 1910, 1912, 1944; Calder, 1971, 1975; Manning & Lindquist, 2003; Bouillon et al., 2004; Dougherty & Russell, 2005), Gulf of Mexico (Calder & Cairns, 2009), Caribbean Sea (Bandel & Wedler, 1987), Mediterranean Sea (Huvé, 1952; Picard, 1958; Bouillon et al., 2004).

DISCUSSION

Clarke (1882: 139) described the polyp and medusa of Lovenella gracilis for Chesapeake Bay, uncertain of its "relationships and systematic position" when compared to L. clausa (Lóven, 1836). Indeed, Fraser (1910, 1912) mistakenly assigned North Carolina and Massachusetts specimens of L. gracilis to L. clausa; but he corrected himself after examining further material, noting that both species are distinct and that "the European species L. clausa has not been observed in the Western Atlantic" (Fraser, 1944: 174).

Concomitantly to Clarke's description of L. gracilis, Brooks (1882) described the new genus Dipleuron, and its type-species D. parvum, based on a medusa found at North Carolina coast. Huvé (1952), based on Mediterranean material, considered L. gracilis and D. parvum similar, adopting the name Dipleuron gracilis because Lovenella would not be a valid genus since the type species L. clausa was linked to the medusa of Eucheilota hartlaubi by Russell (1936a). However, as explained by Calder (1971: 64) "Eucheilota and Lovenella are not congeneric, and the medusa E. hartlaubi has since been shown to be a Lovenella [...]".

Life cycle studies of L. gracilis eventually revealed that its medusa stage is indistinguishable from D. parvum as described by Brooks (1882) (Calder, 1971). Then, Dipleuron was reaffirmed as junior synonym of Lovenella, with the actual name L. gracilis Clarke, 1882 having priority over Dipleuron parvum Brooks, 1882. However, Calder (1991) reconsidered this synonymy when referring to L. gracilis, arguing that Dipleuron and Lovenella would be distinct because of "differences in the morphology of their opercula" (Calder, 1991: 3).

Under light microscopy, the operculum of L. gracilis is a continuation of the hydrothecal wall, without demarcation (cf Calder, 1971, 1975; Bouillon et al., 2004). The original definition of the genus Lovenella has no mention to a basal line demarcating the operculum (Hincks, 1868), therefore potentially accommodating L. gracilis. Amending diagnoses, however, have defined Lovenella by the presence of this line demarcating the operculum (Calder, 1991; Cornelius, 1995), a notable characteristic of most of the species of the genus (Millard, 1957; Cornelius, 1995). Based on this pattern, the absence of the demarcation in L. gracilis justified its transference to Dipleuron (Calder, 1991).

A refinement of the morphological study was necessary. We have found specimens representing the first record of L. gracilis for the South Atlantic and Brazilian coast (cf Migotto et al., 2002), even though Stechow (1914) recorded Gonothyraea (?) nodosa, a disputable and inconclusive similar hydroid for Rio de Janeiro coast, to which we prefer not to make inferences about its taxonomic status. Scanning electron microscopy of this Brazilian L. gracilis revealed the presence of a tenuous line separating the operculum from the hydrotheca (Fig. 4), making it clear it is a Lovenella species. Therefore, considering the troubled taxonomy of the family Lovenellidae and the new evidence presented herein, we propose the maintenance of the genus Dipleuron Brooks, 1882 as a junior synonym of Lovenella Hincks, 1868.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We would like to thank Dr. Helena Matthews-Cascon (Universidade Federal do Ceará) for providing material from Rio Grande do Norte, Dr. Peter Schuchert (Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle) and Dr. Yayoi Hirano (Chiba University) for the help with literature, and Enio Mattos (Universidade de São Paulo) for technical support. This study was supported by CAPES Procad, Prodoc e Pró-Equipamentos 1887/2007, CNPq (Proc. 490348/2006-8, 304720/2009-7, 304720/2009-7, 562143/2010-6, 563106/2010-7) and FAPESP (Proc. 2004/09961-4, 2006/58226-0, 2010/ 06927-0). This is a contribution of NP-BioMar, USP.

 

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Received: 16 May 2011; Accepted: 22 October 2012

 

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