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Brazilian Journal of Biology

Print version ISSN 1519-6984On-line version ISSN 1678-4375

Braz. J. Biol. vol.76 no.2 São Carlos Apr./June 2016  Epub Mar 08, 2016

https://doi.org/10.1590/1519-6984.21514 

Articles

Microturbellarians (Platyhelminthes and Acoelomorpha) in Brazil: invisible organisms?

Microturbelários (Platyhelminthes e Acoelomorpha) no Brasil: organismos invisíveis?

J. A. L. Braccinia  b 

S. V. Amarala  b 

A. M. Leal-Zancheta  b  * 

aInstituto de Pesquisas de Planárias, Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos – UNISINOS, Avenida Unisinos, 950, CEP 93022-000, São Leopoldo, RS, Brazil

bPrograma de Pós-graduação em Biologia, Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos – UNISINOS, Avenida Unisinos, 950, CEP 93022-000, São Leopoldo, RS, Brazil


Abstract

Microturbellarians typically belong to the benthos and may occur in a wide variety of environments. They are abundant in freshwater and marine ecosystems and may occur in moist terrestrial habitats. However, turbellarians are seldom taken into account in studies of biodiversity. Most studies on Brazilian microturbellarians had taxonomical purposes and were done in the years 1940-1950. Thus, information on their occurrence and ecological aspects are dispersed throughout several papers. We intend here to summarize the biogeographical distribution and ecological aspects of microturbellarians recorded for Brazil, indicating the main gaps in their knowledge and possible actions to enhance studies on this group. There are 239 species of microturbellarians registered for Brazil, with records distributed in 12 states. However, just three states located in southern Brazil have records of 94% of microturbellarian species. Thus, knowledge on the systematics and geographical distribution of Brazilian microturbellarians clearly reflect the scientific activity over many years or decades in two states of southeastern and southern Brazil. Considering the scant information on this group in Brazil, which is also the situation of the Neotropical microturbellarians in general, some actions should be proposed. First, it would be necessary to sample in the diverse biomes, as well as in the various river and sea basins, based on standardized sampling protocols. Second, it would be necessary to encourage diverse research groups to include microturbellarians and/or turbellarians in general into biodiversity inventories and studies on community structure of invertebrates. Third, it is necessary to increase the number of research groups on microturbellarians, in order to augment the studies on their morphology, systematics, and ecology. Considering their abundance, species richness and ecological importance in aquatic environments, despite some peculiarities regarding their sampling, sorting and identification procedures, the challenge to study microturbellarians and enhance knowledge about them in Brazilian ecosystems should be faced.

Keywords:  Platyhelminthes; species diversity; Neotropical region; systematics; ecology

Resumo

Microturbelários são tipicamente bentônicos e podem ocorrer em uma ampla variedade de ambientes. São abundantes em ecossistemas marinhos e de água doce, podendo ocorrer em ambientes terrestres úmidos. Entretanto, turbelários raramente são considerados em estudos de diversidade. A maioria dos estudos sobre microturbelários brasileiros tiveram propósito taxonômico e foram realizados nos anos 1940-1950. Assim, informações sobre ocorrência e aspectos ecológicos estão dispersos em diversos artigos. O objetivo deste trabalho é sumarizar a distribuição biogeográfica e aspectos ecológicos dos microturbelários registrados para o Brasil, indicando as principais lacunas do conhecimento e possíveis ações para ampliar estudos sobre esse grupo. Há 239 espécies de microturbelários registradas no Brasil, com registros distribuídos em 12 estados. No entanto, 94% das espécies de microturbelários foram registradas em apenas três estados localizados no sul e sudeste do Brasil. Assim, o conhecimento sobre a sistemática e distribuição geográfica dos microturbelários claramente reflete as atividades científicas realizadas por muitos anos ou mesmo décadas em dois estados do sudeste e sul do Brasil. Considerando as escassas informações existentes sobre esse grupo no Brasil, assim como a situação dos microturbelários neotropicais em geral, algumas ações devem ser propostas. Primeiramente, é necessário realizar amostragens em diversos biomas, assim como nas várias bacias e regiões hidrográficas marinhas, baseadas em protocolos de amostragem padronizados. Em segundo lugar, faz-se necessário incentivar diversos grupos de pesquisa a incluir microturbelários e/ou turbelários em geral em inventários da biodiversidade e estudos de estrutura de comunidades de invertebrados. Em terceiro lugar, é necessário ampliar o número de grupos de pesquisa em microturbelários, para aumentar os estudos sobre sua morfologia, sistemática e ecologia. Considerando sua abundância, riqueza de espécies e importância ecológica em ambientes aquáticos, apesar de suas peculiaridades de amostragem, triagem e identificação, o desafio de estudar e ampliar o conhecimento sobre microturbelários em ecossistemas brasileiros deve ser enfrentado.

Palavras-chave:  Platyhelminthes; diversidade de espécies; região Neotropical; sistemática; ecologia

1 Introduction

Turbellarians are acoelomate, soft-bodied worms that have a sac-like gut and typically ciliated epidermal cells. Most turbellarians are hermaphrodites with cross fertilization following copulation, showing a complex reproductive system (Cannon, 1986; Rieger et al., 1991). Traditionally, flatworms used to belong to the phylum Platyhelminthes, which can be subdivided into three clades, viz. Acoelomorpha, Catenulida e Rhabditophora (Rieger et al., 1991), since Rhabditophora also includes the parasitic forms. The Acoelomorpha, however, has been removed from the Platyhelminthes into its own phylum (Baguñà and Riutort, 2004; Tyler et al., 2014; Littlewood, 2006; Larsson and Jondelius, 2008; Boll et al., 2013). The term turbellarians continues to be used and will be applied here without taxonomic connotation.

There are about 6,500 species of turbellarians worldwide (Schockaert et al., 2008). They are distributed into the following taxa: Acoela, Nemertodermatida, Catenulida, Macrostomida, Polycladida, Prolecithophora, Lecithoepitheliata, Revertospermata, Proseriata, Tricladida, Dalytyphloplanida and Kalyptorhynchia (Schockaert et al., 2008; Van Steenkiste et al., 2013). The later two constitute the rhabdocoels. Turbellarians can be divided into two major groups, with no taxonomical association: the macroturbellarians or large worms, which include triclads and polyclads, and the microturbellarians including the other turbellarian groups, the members of which are smaller.

Turbellarians may occur in a wide variety of environments. They are abundant in freshwater and marine ecosystems and may occur in moist terrestrial habitats. They are, however, mainly marine animals, with only 1/5 of the known species occurring in freshwater (Hyman, 1951; Schockaert et al., 2008). Turbellarians typically belong to the benthos. Triclads and polyclads occur generally on hard bottom, under stones, or associated with macrophytes, algae or gravel (Hyman, 1951; Du-Bois Reymond Marcus and Marcus, 1968). Microturbellarians usually occur on sandy or muddy bottom. Most marine turbellarians are limited to the littoral zone of the ocean (Hyman, 1951). Freshwater forms may occur in temporary or permanent wetlands, such as lakes, natural or artificial ponds, pools, ditches, streams and rivers (Kolasa, 1991; Noreña-Janssen, 1995; Young, 2001), as well as in agroecosystems (Bambaradeniya et al., 2004; Vara and Leal-Zanchet, 2013). Some marine flatworms, such as acoels and polyclads, and freshwater rhabdocoels are planctonic (Hyman, 1951; Rocha et al., 1990; Dumont et al., 2014). Some microturbellarians may occur in humid terrestrial environments (Hyman, 1951; Tessens et al., 2014); land triclads may be a species-rich group in tropical and subtropical ecosystems (Carbayo et al., 2009). The temnocephalids, a group of the taxon Dalytyphloplanida, and some members of other taxonomic groups of microturbellarians live in association with other invertebrates or with turtles, usually as ectosymbionts (Hyman, 1951; Jennings, 1997). In addition, some acoels and rhabdocoels are parasites of molluscs, echinoderms and other invertebrates (Hyman, 1951; Bush, 1981).

Microturbellarians in general were studied mainly in Brazil in the years 1940-1950 (Marcus, 1943, 1944, 1945a, b, 1946, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1954; Du-Bois Reymond Marcus, 1951; Marcus and Macnae, 1954), based on samplings in the northern littoral of the state of São Paulo and lentic environments of São Paulo city and its neighbourhood. Later, Rocha et al. (1990) and Hooge and Rocha (2006) studied, respectively, freshwater rhabdocoels and acoels from the state of São Paulo. In addition, a new species of marine rhabocoel was recently described (Reygel et al., 2014). Freshwater turbellarians from southern Brazil were investigated by Gamo and Leal-Zanchet (2004), Vara and Leal-Zanchet (2013) and Braccini and Leal-Zanchet (2013) in natural wetlands and agroecosystems. Temnocephalids from various Brazilian regions were studied by Monticelli (1899), Pereira and Cuocolo (1940, 1941), Amato et al. (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011), Amato and Amato (2005) and Seixas et al. (2010a, b, c, 2011, 2014).

Freshwater and land triclads were studied mainly in the Brazilian states of São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul (Carbayo and Froehlich, 2008; Baptista et al. 2010; Leal-Zanchet et al., 2011; Amaral et al., 2014). Polyclads were mainly known from the coast of the states of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, as well as the northeastern coast of Brazil (Carbayo and Froehlich, 2008; Bahia and Padula, 2009; Bahia et al., 2012; Bulnes and Torres, 2014).

In contrast to triclads and polyclads, which are collected directly, microturbellarians should be sampled with some substratum using a fine-meshed sweep-net (Young, 2001). Material collected by the net should be transferred to plastic vials containing water from the sampling site. The vials should be transported to the laboratory and carefully examined under a stereomicroscope (Braccini and Leal-Zanchet, 2013; Vara and Leal-Zanchet, 2013). For sorting, samples may be treated by the method of reduction of oxygen (Schockaert, 1996) or by examining all sampling water under the stereomicroscope (Brusa et al., 2003). Live turbellarians should be transferred by a pipette to a petri dish and be examined alive for observation of general shape, size and colour pattern. After that, the internal morphology should be examined using a “squeeze preparation” technique (Gamo, 1987; Young, 2001).

Considering that the macroturbellarians are the best known group among turbellarians and that their study in Brazil was summarized by Carbayo and Froehlich (2008), we will focus on Brazilian microturbellarians herein. We intend to summarize the biogeographical distribution and ecological aspects of microturbellarians recorded for Brazil, by pointing out main gaps in the knowledge about them and possible actions to enhance studies on this group.

2 Methods

Original research articles were searched in the databases Thomson Reuters (ISI) and Scielo, between August 2014 and February 2015, and in the bibliographical assets of our laboratory in the Universidade do Vale do Rio dos Sinos (UNISINOS). The following key-words were used: Platyhelminthes, Acoela, Nemertodermatida, Catenulida, Prolecithophora, Rhabdocoela, Temnocephalida, Macrostomida, Lecithoepitheliata or Revertospermata and Brazil.

We organized the data thus obtained in order to summarize the following information: species, order or other representative taxonomic group, sampling place (city and state), and type of environment where the occurrence was recorded. Regarding the environment, the following data were considered: type of substratum (sand, mud, algae etc.), type of ecosystem (marine, freshwater or brackish water) and hydric regime (lentic or lotic). In the case of temnocephalids, the associated organism was informed. The classification of marine ecoregions follows Spalding et al. (2007).

3 Geographical Distribution and Ecological Aspects

A total of 44 articles with records of microturbellarians in Brazil was found, 26 of which were available on the online databases Thomson Reuters (ISI) and Scielo. Eighteen other articles were found in the bibliographical assets of our laboratory (UNISINOS).

There are 239 species of microturbellarians registered for Brazil, with records distributed in 12 states. The highest number of species was recorded for the state of São Paulo, followed by Rio Grande do Sul and Paraná (Table 1). The central, northern and northeastern regions of Brazil have no or just a few records (Figure 1).

Table 1 Brazilian states with records of microturbellarians and number of species recorded per taxonomical group and state. 

Northern region Central region Southeastern region Southern region
Taxon Amapá Amazonas Pará Mato Grosso Mato Grosso do Sul Minas Gerais Espírito Santo Rio de Janeiro São Paulo Paraná Santa Catarina Rio Grande do Sul Number of species*
Acoela - - - - - - - - 36 - - - 36
Catenulida - - 1 - - - - - 41 13 - 21 42
Dalytyphloplanida 2 1 1 1 1 7 1 1 45 3 1 24 68
Kalyptorhynchia - - - - - - - - 20 - - 1 21
Lecithoepitheliata - - - - - - - - 2 2 - 1 2
Macrostomida - - - - - - - - 15 - - 4 17
Prolecithophora - - - - - - - - 27 - - - 27
Proseriata - - - - - - - 2 24 - - 1 25
Revertospermata - - - - - - - - 1 - - - 1
Number of species 2 1 2 1 1 7 1 3 211 18 1 52 239

- No data.

*Species may occur in more than one locality.

Figure 1 Records of microturbellarians in Brazil. Dots represent localities where microturbellarians were sampled. 

Brazilian microturbellarians are distributed among 10 taxonomical groups. Dalytyphloplanida and Catenulida are the most species-rich, with about 28% and 18% of the recorded species, respectively, followed by Acoela (15%), Prolecithophora (11%), Proseriata (10%), Kalyptorhynchia (9%), and Macrostomida (7%). Lecithoepitheliata and Revertospermata are taxons with only few known species (Tables 1 and 2). The taxon Nemertodermatida has no records in Brazil.

Table 2 Species of Acoela recorded for Brazil, with localities of occurrence and type of environment and/or substratum where the microturbellarians were found. 

Species Locality Environment Substratum
Amphiscolops evelinae Marcus, 1947 Santos/SP; Ubatuba/SP Marine Among algae
Archaphanostoma marcusiHooge and Rocha, 2006 Ilhabela/SP Marine Sand
Avagina marci Dörjes e Karling, 1975 São Sebastião/SP; Ilhabela/SP Marine Sand
Childia etium (Marcus, 1954) São Sebastião/SP Marine Coarse sand
Childia groenlandica (Levinsen, 1879) Bertioga/SP Mangrove Mud
Childia westbladi (Marcus, 1950) Santos/SP; São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae
Convoluta hensen Bohmig, 1895 Cananéia/SP; São Sebastião/SP Marine *
Deuterogonaria thauma (Marcus, 1952) Santos/SP; São Sebastião/SP Among algae
Eumecynostomum evelinae (Marcus, 1948) Guarujá/SP; Santos/SP; São Sebastião/SP Marine Among Ulva and Enteromorpha/ mud
Faerlea antoraMarcus, 1952 São Sebastião/SP Marine Mud
Haplocelis dichona (Marcus, 1954) São Sebastião/SP Marine Sand
Haplogonaria pellita (Marcus, 1951) São Sebastião/SP Marine Fine sand
Haplogonaria sophiaeHooge and Rocha, 2006 São Sebastião/SP Marine Muddy sand
Haploposthia microphocaMarcus, 1950 São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae
Heterochaerus carvalhoi (Marcus, 1952) Santos/SP Brackish water Muddy sand
Heterochaerus sargassi (Hyman, 1939) São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae Sargassum sp./ on rock coasts
Isodiametra divae (Marcus, 1950) São Sebastião/SP; Ilhabela/SP Marine Muddy sand/coarse sand
Isodiametra westbladi (Marcus, 1949) Santos/SP; São Sebastião/SP; Ubatuba/SP; Caraguatatuba/SP; Ilhabela/SP Marine Sand
Isodiametra vexillaria (Marcus, 1948) Santos/SP; São Sebastião/SP; Ilha das Palmas/SP Marine Sand
Kuma albiventer (Marcus, 1954) São Sebastião/SP Marine Muddy sand
Kuma asilhasHooge and Rocha, 2006 São Sebastião/SP Marine Sand
Kuma belcaMarcus, 1952 Ubatuba/SP Marine Sand
Kuma brevicaudaMarcus, 1950 Cananéia/SP Marine Muddy sand
Mecynostomum tenuissimum (Westblad, 1946) São Sebastião/SP Marine Mud
Nadina evelinae (Marcus, 1952) São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae
Otocelis erinaeHooge and Rocha, 2006 São Sebastião/SP; Ilhabela/SP Marine Fine sand
Paraproporus xanthusMarcus, 1950 São Sebastião/SP Marine Mud
Paratomella rubra Rieger and Ott, 1971 São Sebastião/SP Marine Fine sand
Philactinoposthia coneyiHooge and Rocha, 2006 Ilhabela/SP Marine Sand
Philactinoposthia stylifera (Westblad, 1946) São Sebastião/SP Marine Sand
Philocelis robrochaiHooge and Rocha, 2006 Ilhabela/SP Marine Sand
Pseudactinoposthia daena (Marcus, 1954) Itanhaém/SP Mangrove Mud
Pseudanaperus tinctus (Marcus, 1952) São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae
Pseudaphanostoma divaeMarcus, 1952 Ubatuba/SP; São Sebastião/SP Marine Sand
Pseudaphanostoma herringiHooge and Rocha, 2006 Ilhabela/SP Marine Sand
Pseudokuma orphinum (Marcus, 1950) São Sebastião/SP Marine Among Sargassum stenophyllum on rock coasts

*Planctonic organism.

Acoels, a group of marine flatworms, are represented by specimens sampled only in the state of São Paulo, mainly in sandy beaches, on algae or rock coasts (Tables 1 and 2). A few specimens were found on beach ponds.

Catenulids, which are mainly freshwater inhabitants, were registered in various continental environments, mainly in southeastern and southern Brazil (Table 1). They were frequently found in lentic environments, including rice fields and their canals, or in humid terrestrial environments. Six species were found in lotic environments and two species in water accumulated among leaves of Bromeliaceae (Table 3).

Table 3 Species of Catenulida recorded for Brazil, with localities of occurrence and type of environment and/or substratum where the microturbellarians were found. 

Species Locality Environment Substratum
Catenula alitha Marcus, 1945 São Paulo/SP; Paraná/PR Freshwater (lentic) -
Catenula evelinae (Marcus, 1945) São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic) -
Catenula lemnae Duges, 1832 São Paulo/SP; Paraná/PR; São Leopoldo/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Terra de Areia/RS; Osório/RS; Capivari do Sul/RS; Balneário Pinhal/RS; Tramandaí/RS; Cachoeirinha/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Freshwater (lentic) Sand and mud/ on macrophyte roots
Catenula leuca Marcus, 1945 São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic) -
Catenula macrura Marcus, 1945 São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic) -
Catenula sawayai (Marcus, 1945) São Paulo/SP; Paraná/PR Freshwater (lentic and lotic) -
Catenula turgida (Zacharias, 1902) São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic) -
Chordarium cryptum Marcus, 1945 São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic) -
Chordarium evelinae Marcus, 1945 São Paulo/SP; Paraná/PR Freshwater (lentic) -
Chordarium leucanthum Marcus, 1945 São Paulo/SP; Paraná/PR; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Chordarium philum Marcus, 1945 São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic) -
Dasyhormus lasius Marcus, 1945 São Paulo/SP; Paraná/PR Freshwater (lentic) -
Dasyhormus lithophorus Marcus, 1945 São Paulo/SP; Paraná/PR; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Myostenostomum tauricum Nasonov, 1924 São Paulo/SP; Cachoeirinha/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Humid terrestrial environment/ Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Rhynchoscolex evelinae Marcus, 1945 São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic and lotic) On humid macrophyte leaves (Dumortiera sp.)
Rhynchoscolex nanus Marcus, 1945 São Paulo/SP; Curitiba/PR; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Rhynchoscolex platypus Marcus, 1945 São Paulo/SP; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Rhynchoscolex pusillus Marcus, 1945 São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Rhynchoscolex simplex Leidy, 1851 São Paulo/SP; Terra de Areia/RS; Osório/RS; Capivari do Sul/RS; Tramandaí/RS; Cachoeirinha/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Humid terrestrial environment/Freshwater (lentic) Sand/ mud
Stenostomum anatirostrum Marcus, 1945 São Paulo/SP; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Freshwater (lentic and lotic) Mud
Stenostomum arevaloi Gieysztor, 1931 São Paulo/SP; Cachoeirinha/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Humid terrestrial environment/ Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Stenostomum amphotum Marcus, 1945 São Paulo/SP; Capivari do Sul/RS; Cachoeirinha/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Humid terrestrial environment/Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Stenostomum bicaudatum Kennel, 1888 São Paulo/SP; São Leopoldo/RS; Novo Hamburgo/RS; Nova Tramandaí/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Terra de Areia/RS; Osório/RS; Capivari do Sul/RS; Cachoeirinha/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Humid terrestrial environment/Freshwater (lentic) Mud and sand/ on macrophyte roots
Stenostomum ciliatum Kepner and Carter, 1931 São Paulo/SP; Paraná/PR; Cachoeirinha/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Humid terrestrial environment/ Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Stenostomum corderoi Marcus, 1945 São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic) -
Stenostomum cryptops Nuttycombe and Waters, 1935 São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic) Bromeliaceae
Stenostomum glandulosum Kepner and Carter, 1931 São Paulo/SP;
Curitiba/PR; Cachoeirinha/RS.
Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Stenostomum grande Child, 1902 São Paulo/SP; Curitiba/PR; São Leopoldo/RS; Novo Hamburgo/RS; Terra de Areia/RS; Capivari do Sul/RS; Cachoeirinha/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud and sand/ on macrophyte roots
Stenostomum hemisphericum Nasonov, 1924 Belém/PA Aquarium -
Stenostomum leucops (Duges, 1828) São Paulo/SP; São Leopoldo/RS; Novo Hamburgo/RS; Nova Tramandaí/RS; Terra de Areia/RS; Osório/RS; Tramandaí/RS; Balneário Pinhal/RS; Capivari do Sul/RS; Cachoeirinha/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Humid terrestrial environment/ Freshwater (lentic) Mud and sand/ on macrophyte roots
Stenostomum materazzoiMarcus, 1949 São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic) Dry pools
Stenostomum membranosum Kepner and Carter, 1931 São Paulo/SP; Cachoeirinha/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Stenostomum paraguayense (Martin, 1908) São Paulo/SP; Cachoeirinha/RS; Cachoeirinha/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Humid terrestrial environment/ Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Stenostomum pegephilum (Nuttycombe and Waters, 1938) São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lotic) -
Stenostomum pseudoacetabulum Nuttycombe and Waters, 1938 São Paulo/SP; Cachoeirinha/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Stenostomum rosulatum Marcus, 1945 São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Stenostomum saliens Kepner and Carter, 1931 São Paulo/SP;
Curitiba/PR; Caiobá/PR
Cachoeirinha/RS; Camaquã/RS
Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Stenostomum simplex Kepner and Carter, 1931 São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Stenostomum tuberculosum Nuttycombe and Waters, 1938 São Paulo/SP;
Campinas/SP; Cachoeirinha/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS
Freshwater (lentic and lotic) Mud
Stenostomum uronephrium Nuttycombe, 1931 São Paulo/SP; Cachoeirinha/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Stenostomum ventronephrium Nuttycombe, 1932 São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic) -
Stenostomum virginianum Nuttycombe, 1931 São Paulo/SP; Santa Rita do Passa Quatro/SP; Paraná/PR Humid terrestrial environment/ Freshwater (lentic) On humid leaves of Bromeliaceae/sand

- No information.

Macrostomids inhabit marine and freshwater environments. They occur associated to the bottom or to the vegetation. In Brazil, 11 species were recorded in marine environments of the north coast of the state of São Paulo. Six other species were sampled in lentic continental ecosystems or in brackish water in various regions (Tables 1 and 4).

Table 4 Species of Macrostomida recorded for Brazil, with localities of occurrence and type of environment and/or substratum where the microturbellarians were found. 

Species Locality Environment Substratum
Archimacrostomum brasiliensis (Marcus, 1952) Caraguatatuba/SP; São Sebastião/SP Marine Humid sand
Archimacrostomum beaufortense (Ferguson, 1937) Santos/SP; São Vicente/SP; Ilha das Palmas/SP Marine Among algae
Austromacrostomum mortenseni (Marcus, 1950) São Sebastião/SP Marine Coarse sand with Padina sp. and other algae
Karlingia lutheri (Marcus, 1948) Guarujá/SP; Santos/SP Marine Coarse sand with shell fragments
Macrostomum appendiculatum Fabricius, 1826 São Sebastião/SP; Caraguatatuba/SP Mangrove Mud
Macrostomum delphaxMarcus, 1946 São Paulo/SP; Terra de Areia/RS Freshwater (lentic) On macrophyte (Eichhornia crassipes) roots
Macrostomum evelinaeMarcus, 1946 São Sebastião/SP Marine Sand
Macrostomum johni Young, 1972 Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Osório/RS; Terra de Areia/RS; Capivari do Sul/RS; Cachoeirinha/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud and sand/ on macrophyte roots
Macrostomum tuba Graff, 1882 São Paulo/SP; São Leopoldo/RS; Nova Petrópolis/RS; Terra de Areia/RS; Osório/RS; Balneário Pinhal/RS; Cachoeirinha/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud and sand/ on macrophyte roots
Macrostomum phocurumMarcus, 1954 São Sebastião/SP; Mangrove Mud
Microstomum gabriellaeMarcus, 1950 São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae (Sargassum sp.) on rocky coast
Microstomum lineare (Müller OF, 1773) Terra de Areia/RS; Osório/RS; Tramandaí/RS; Capivari do Sul/RS; Cachoeirinha/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud and sand/ on macrophyte roots
Microstomum trichotumMarcus, 1950 São Sebastião/SP Marine Among calcareous algae
Microstomum ulumMarcus, 1950 São Sebastião/SP Marine Coarse sand with algae (Padina sp.)
Microstomum brevicepsMarcus, 1951 São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae (Sargassum sp.) on rocky coast
Microstomum rhabdotumMarcus, 1951 São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae (Sargassum sp.) on rocky coast
Myozona evelinaeMarcus, 1949 São Sebastião/SP Marine Fine and coarse snad

Rhabdocoels (Dalytyphloplanida and Kalyptorhynchia) inhabit mainly marine and freshwater environments, but some species are terrestrial. In Brazil, marine species were recorded in the north coast of the state of São Paulo, on algae, sand or mud. Freshwater species were found in lentic ecosystems, including rice fields and their canals, or lotic environments of southeastern and/or southern Brazil. Temnocephalids occur only in freshwater environments, with most species recorded in Brazil. They were found in the north, center, southeast and south of Brazil, as ectosymbiotes in turtles, decapods, insects and molluscs (Tables 1 and 5).

Table 5 Species of Rhabdocoela recorded for Brazil, with localities of occurrence and type of environment and/or substratum where the microturbellarians were found. 

Species Locality Environment Substratum*
Dalytyphloplanida
Anoplodium evelinaeMarcus, 1949
Santos/SP; São Sebastião/SP Marine Holoturoidea
Artinga evelinaeMarcus, 1948 Santos/SP; Guarujá/SP Marine Among algae
Baicalellia evelinaeMarcus, 1946 São Paulo/SP; Umuarama/SP; Campos do Jordão/SP Freshwater (lentic) Sand
Brinkmanniella augustiMarcus, 1951 São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae
Bothromesostoma evelinaeMarcus, 1946 São Paulo/SP; Osório/RS; Terra de Areia/RS. Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Bothromesostoma personatum (Schmidt, 1848) Cachoeirinha/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Byrsophlebs lutheri (Marcus, 1952) Cananéia/SP; São Sebastião/SP; São Vicente/SP Marine Among algae
Daelja secutaMarcus, 1951 Cananéia/SP Marine Areia lodosa
Gieysztoria acariaia (Marcus, 1946) São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic) -
Gieysztoria bellis (Marcus, 1946) São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lotic) On macrophyte roots (Eichhornia sp.)
Gieysztoria complicata (Fuhrmann, 1912) Curitiba/PR Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Gieysztoria cypris (Marcus, 1946) São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lotic) On macrophytes (Myriophyllum sp.) and grass
Gieysztoria evelinae (Marcus, 1946) São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic) -
Gieysztoria hymanae (Marcus, 1946) São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic) -
Gieysztoria intricata (Marcus, 1946) São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Gieysztoria ornata (Hofsten N, 1907) São Paulo/SP; Tramandaí/RS; Osório/RS; Capivari do Sul/RS; Cachoeirinha/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud and sand
Gieysztoria rubra (Fuhrmann, 1894) Cachoeirinha/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Gieysztoria therapaina (Marcus, 1946) Campos do Jordão/SP Freshwater (lentic) On riparian vegetation
Gieysztoria thymara (Marcus, 1946) São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lotic) On macrophytes (Myriophyllum sp.) and grass
Gieysztoria tridesma (Marcus, 1946) São Paulo/SP; Tremembé/SP Freshwater (lentic and lotic) -
Gieysztoria triquetra (Fuhrmann, 1894) Terra de Areia/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud/ on macrophytes
Gieysztoria trisolena (Marcus, 1946) São Paulo/SP; Cachoeirinha/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Gieysztoria uncia (Marcus, 1946) São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic) -
Gyratrix hermaphroditus Ehrenberg, 1831 São Paulo/SP; Curitiba/PR; Terra de Areia/RS; Balneário Pinhal/RS; Capivari do Sul/RS; Cachoeirinha/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud and sand/ on macrophyte roots
Haloplanella iblaMarcus, 1952 São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae
Kalyla gabriellaeMarcus, 1951 São Vicente/SP; Guarujá/SP Marine Sand
Lenopharynx triopsMarcus, 1951 São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae
Lurus evelinaeMarcus, 1950 Santos/SP Marine Fine sand/ in intertidal areas
Microdalyellia sawayaiMarcus, 1946 Botucatu/SP; São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lotic and lentic) On macrophytes
Memyla phocanellaMarcus, 1952 Caraguatatuba/SP Brackish water (lotic) Muddy sand
Mesostoma craci Schmidt, 1858 Belo Horizonte/MG Freshwater (lentic) -
Mesostoma ehrenbergii (Focke, 1836) São Paulo/SP; Novo Hamburgo/RS; Nova Tramandaí/RS; Terra de Areia/RS; Osório/RS; Balneário Pinhal/RS; Cachoeirinha/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS;
Belo Horizonte/MG
Freshwater (lentic) Mud and sand/ on macrophyte roots and grass
Mesostoma lingua (Abildgaard, 1789) Osório/RS; Cachoeirinha/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Mesostoma platycephalum Braun, 1885 Cachoeirinha/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Mesostoma productum (Schmidt, 1848) São Leopoldo/RS; Nova Tramandaí/RS; Nova Petrópolis/RS; Terra de Areia/RS; Osório/RS; Capivari do Sul/RS; Camaquã/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud and sand/ on macrophyte roots
Nygulgus evelinaeMarcus, 1954 Itanhaém/SP Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Olisthanella opistomiformis Nasonov, 1924 São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic) On macrophytes
Phaenocora bresslauiMarcus, 1946 São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic and lotic) On macrophyte roots (Eichhornia crassipes)
Phaenocora chloroxanthaMarcus, 1946 São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic and lotic) On macrophyte roots (Eichhornia crassipes)
Phaenocora evelinaeMarcus, 1946 São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic and lotic) On macrophyte roots (Eichhornia crassipes)
Phaenocora typhlops Vejdovsky, 1880 Cachoeirinha/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Phaenocora unipunctata (Ørsted, 1843) Cachoeirinha/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Pogaina suslica (Marcus, 1951) São Sebastião/SP Marine Fine sand
Pogaina tifaMarcus, 1954 São Sebastião/SP Marine Fine and coarse sand
Promesostoma scylaxMarcus, 1952 São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae
Ruanis pandulaMarcus, 1952 São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae
Strongylostoma dicorymbumMarcus, 1946 São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lentic and lotic) -
Temnocephala axenos Monticelli, 1889 Blumenau/SC; Curitiba/PR; Porto Alegre/RS; Quaraí/RS; Rio Grande/RS Freshwater Decapoda
Temnocephala brevicornis Monticelli, 1889 Viçosa/MG; Juiz de Fora/MG; Teresópolis/RJ; Resende/RJ, Angra dos Reis/RJ; Varginha/SP; Santa Tereza/ES; Viamão/RS Freshwater (lentic) Pleurodira
Temnocephala caddisflyi Amato, Amato and Seixas, 2011 Jaboticatubas/MG Freshwater (lotic) Trichoptera
Temnocephala curvicirriAmato and Amato, 2005 Eldorado do Sul/RS; Viamão/RS Freshwater (lentic) Hemiptera
Temnocephala cyanoglandulaAmato et al., 2003 Cambará do Sul/RS Freshwater (lentic) Decapoda
Temnocephala decarloi Moretto, 1978 Serra do Cipó/MG; Brumadinho/MG Freshwater (lentic) Hemiptera
Temnocephala haswelli Ponce de Leon, 1989 Porto Alegre/RS; Guaíba/RS; Eldorado do Sul/RS; Barra do Ribeiro/RS; Maquiné/RS; Tramandaí/RS Freshwater (lentic and lotic) Mollusca
Temnocephala iheringi Haswell, 1893 Porto Alegre/RS; Barra do Ribeiro/RS; Santa Vitória do Palmar/RS; Guaíba/RS; Eldorado do Sul/RS; Maquiné/RS;
Salobra/MS; Guaicurus/MS
Freshwater (lentic and lotic) Mollusca
Temnocephala kingsleyaeDamborenea, 1994 Pedra do Marcírio/AP Freshwater (lotic) Decapoda
Temnocephala lanei Pereira and Cuoccolo, 1941 Santana do Riacho/MG; Juquiá/SP. Freshwater (lotic) Hemiptera
Temnocephala longivaginataSeixas et al., 2011 Peixe Boi/PA Freshwater (lotic) Decapoda
Temnocephala lutzi Monticelli, 1913 Guaíba/RS; Porto Alegre/RS; Maquiné/RS; São José dos Ausentes/RS; Rio Negro/AM; Lago do Prato/AM; Arquipélago das Anavilhanas/AM; Cachoeira Grande/AM
Piracicaba/SP; Rio Amapá Grande/AP
Freshwater (lentic and lotic) Decapoda
Temnocephala microdactyla Monticelli, 1903 MG Freshwater (lotic) Decapoda
Temnocephala minutocirrusAmato et al., 2007 Maquiné/RS; São José dos Ausentes/RS Freshwater (lotic) Hemiptera
Temnocephala pereirai Volonterio, 2010 Capão do Leão/RS Freshwater (lentic) Pleurodira
Temnocephala pignalberiae Dioni, 1967 Poconé/MT; Cuiabá/MT; Bebedouro/SP Freshwater (lentic and lotic) Decapoda
Temnocephala rochensis Ponce de Leon, 1979 Santa Vitória do Palmar/RS; Jaguarão/RS; São Lourenço do Sul/RS Freshwater (lentic and lotic) Mollusca
Temnocephala trapeziformisAmato et al., 2006 Maquiné/RS; São José dos Ausentes/RS Freshwater (lotic) Decapoda
Temnocephala travassosfillioi Pereira and Cuoccolo, 1941 Serra da Cantareira/SP; São Bernardo do Cipó/SP Freshwater (lotic) Decapoda
Trigonostomum lilliei (Graff, 1911) Santos/SP; São Vicente/SP Marine Among green algae
Trisaccopharynx pusa (Marcus, 1952) São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae
Kalyptorhynchia
Alcha evelinaeMarcus, 1949
Santos/SP; São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae
Carcharodorhynchus brasiliensis Reygel, Schockaert and Artois, 2014 São Sebastião/SP Marine Sand
Cheliplana asicaMarcus, 1952 Cananéia/SP; Caraguatatuba/SP Brackish water Sand/ mud
Cheliplana targa (Marcus, 1952) Santos/SP Marine Fine sand
Harsa obnixaMarcus, 1951 Cananéia/SP; Caraguatatuba/SP; São Sebastião/SP Freshwater (lotic) and brackish water Sand/ mud
Itaipusa divaeMarcus, 1949 Santos/SP; Praia Grande/SP Marine Sand/ on algae
Itaipusa evelinae (Marcus, 1954) São Sebastião/SP; Santos/SP Marine Coarse sand with algae
Oneppus timiusMarcus, 1952 Caraguatatuba/SP; São Sebastião/SP Marine Sand/ mud
Oneppus lacusMarcus, 1954 Itanhaém/SP Marine Mud
Opisthocystis goettei (Bresslau, 1906) Cachoeirinha/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud
Paulodora felis (Marcus, 1954) São Sebastião/SP Marine Coarse sand
Paulodora fredelyna (Marcus, 1948) Santos/SP Marine Among green algae
Paulodora matarazzoiMarcus, 1948 Santos/SP Marine Among green algae
Paraustrorhynchus elixus (Marcus, 1954) Santos/SP; São Sebastião/SP Marine Coarse sand
Polycystis gabriellae (Marcus, 1948) Santos/SP; Guarujá/SP Marine Among green algae
Proschizorhynchella atopus (Marcus, 1950) São Sebastião/SP Marine Fine sand
Rhinolasius sartusMarcus, 1951 Cananéia/SP Freshwater (lentic)/brackish water Sand
Schizorhynchoides martaeMarcus, 1950 Cananéia/SP Brackish Sand/ mud
Toia yciaMarcus, 1952 São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae
Trapichorhynchus tapesMarcus, 1949 Santos/SP; São Sebastião/SP Marine Coarse sand
Utelga deinaMarcus, 1949 Santos/SP Marine Among green algae

- No information.

*For temnocephalids, the host organism is indicated.

Lecithopitheliates may occur in freshwater, terrestrial and marine environments, but they are represented in Brazil by only two freshwater species, Prorhynchus stagnalis Schultze, 1851 and Geocentrophora applanata (Kennel, 1888). Prorhynchus stagnalis, considered world-wide distributed, was recorded in various localities in southeastern and southern Brazil, whereas G. applanata was sampled in two localities of central and southeastern Brazil (Tables 1 and 6).

Table 6 Species of Prolecithophora, Lecithoepitheliata and Revertospermata recorded for Brazil, with localities of occurrence and type of environment and/or substratum where the microturbellarians were found. 

Species Locality Environment Substratum
Lecithoepitheliata
Geocentrophora applanata (Kennel, 1888)
Campinas/SP; Caiobá/PR Humid terrestrial environment/ Freshwater (lotic) In Bromeliaceae
Prorhynchus stagnalis Schultze, 1851 Curitiba/PR; São Paulo/SP; Terra de Areia/RS; Osório/RS; Capivari do Sul/RS; Balneário Pinhal/RS; Tramandaí/RS; Cachoeirinha/RS; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Freshwater (lentic) Mud and sand/on macrophyte roots
Prolecithophora
Acmostomum canarium Marcus, 1947 Santos/SP Marine Among algae
Cylindrostoma netsicumMarcus, 1950 São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae (Sargassum sp.)
Cylindrostoma ibeenumMarcus, 1950 São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae
Cylindrostoma monotrochum (Graff, 1882) São Sebastião/SP Marine Coarse sand with Padina sp. and other algae
Cylindrostoma hyljeumMarcus, 1952 São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae
Einarhelmins musta (Marcus, 1952) Ubatuba/SP Marine Among algae and bryozoans
Monoophorum tigacumMarcus, 1950 São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae
Plagiostomum acoluthumMarcus, 1948 Santos/SP Marine Among algae
Plagiostomum autectumMarcus, 1948 Santos/SP Marine Among algae
Plagiostomum clusumMarcus, 1951 São Sebastião/SP Marine Coarse sand/
Plagiostomum elachisterum (Marcus, 1948) Guarujá/SP; Santos/SP Marine Among algae
Plagiostomum evelinaeMarcus, 1946 São Paulo/SP Freshwater (lotic and lentic) -
Plagiostomum girardi girardi Westblad, 1956 Guarujá/SP; Santos/SP Marine Among algae
Plagiostomum kurrumMarcus, 1951 São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae
Plagiostomum lapinumMarcus, 1952 Caraguatatuba/SP; São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae
Plagiostomum nonatoiMarcus, 1948 Santos/SP; São Vicente/SP Marine Among green algae (Ulva sp.) on rocky coast
Plagiostomum remaneiMarcus, 1954 São Sebastião/SP Marine Coarse sand with Padina sp.
Plagiostomum sagaxMarcus, 1951 São Sebastião/SP Marine Coarse sand with Padina sp.
Plagiostomum thelotrichumMarcus, 1951 Santos/SP Marine Among algae
Plicastoma astrum Marcus, 1947 Santos/SP Marine Sand
Plicastoma carvalhoi Marcus, 1947 Santos/SP Marine Among algae
Plicastoma phocae Marcus, 1947 Santos/SP Marine Among algae
Puzostoma evelinaeMarcus, 1950 Santos/SP; São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae
Rosmarium evelinaeMarcus, 1950 São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae
Thallagus divaeMarcus, 1951 São Sebastião/SP Marine Coarse sand
Tuilica evelinaMarcus, 1951 São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae
Vorticeros cyrtum Marcus, 1947 Santos/SP Marine Among algae
Revertospermata
Urastoma cyprinae (Graff, 1882)
São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae, parasiting a bivalve

- No information.

Prolecithophorans inhabit freshwater and marine environments, but they have no records in Brazilian freshwater ecosystems (Vara and Leal-Zanchet, 2013; Braccini and Leal-Zanchet, 2013). The members of this taxon were sampled in marine environments on coastal areas of the state of São Paulo (Table 1). They were found on algae (Padina and Ulva) or on sandy and rocky coasts (Tables 1 and 6).

Revertospermats are exclusively marine flatworms. They are represented in Brazil by a single species, Urastoma cyprinae (Graff, 1882), found on the coast of the state of São Paulo (Tables 1 and 6). It is a parasite which inhabits the gills of bivalves.

Proseriates may occur in marine and freshwater environments, but almost all Brazilian species were sampled mainly in the north coast of the state of São Paulo (Table 1). They were found mainly in small ponds with high organic matter content. Only Bothrioplana semperi Braun, 1881 was sampled in freshwater environments of southeastern and southern Brazil (Table 7).

Table 7 Species of Proseriata recorded for Brazil, with localities of occurrence and type of environment and/or substratum where the microturbellarians were found. 

Species Locality Environment Substratum
Bothrioplana semperi Braun, 1881 São Paulo/SP; Santo Antônio da Patrulha/RS; Camaquã/RS Freshwater (lentic) Water with high organic matter content/ mud
Duplominona mica (Marcus, 1951) São Sebastião/SP Marine Sand
Duplominona tridens (Marcus, 1954) São Sebastião/SP Marine Coarse sand with Padina sp.
Inaloa scalopura (Marcus, 1949) São Sebastião/SP; São Vicente/SP Freshwater (lotic) and marine Sand
Itaspis evelinaeMarcus, 1952 Ubatuba/SP Marine Coarse or medium sand
Kata evelinaeMarcus, 1949 São Sebastião/SP Marine Sand
Kata lerodaMarcus, 1950 São Sebastião/SP Marine Fine sand
Meidiama lutheriMarcus, 1946 Guarujá/SP Water with shell fragments
Mesoda gabriellaeMarcus, 1949 São Sebastião/SP Freshwater (lotic) and marine Sand
Mesoda thelura (Marcus, 1951) São Sebastião/SP Marine Fine sand
Minona divaeMarcus, 1951 Rio de Janeiro/RJ Marine Fine sand with shell fragments
Minona evelinaeMarcus, 1946 Guarujá/SP Marine Sand with shell fragments
Monocelis tabiraMarcus, 1950 Santos/SP; São Sebastião/SP; Rio de Janeiro/RJ Marine Fine sand
Necia sophaMarcus, 1950 Santos/SP; São Sebastião/SP Marine Among algae
Nematoplana asitaMarcus, 1950 São Sebastião/SP Marine Sand
Nematoplana naiaMarcus, 1949 Santos/SP Marine Coarse sand
Parotoplana moyaMarcus, 1949 São Sebastião/SP Marine Coarse sand
Peraclistus itaipusMarcus, 1950 Santos/SP Marine In tubes of Terebellidae
Philosyrtis eumecaMarcus, 1950 Santos/SP Marine Fine sand with shell fragments
Promonotus erinaceusMarcus, 1950 São Sebastião/SP Marine Sand on a river mouth
Promonotus villacaeMarcus, 1949 São Vicente/SP Freshwater (lotic) and brackish water Sand/ mud
Tabaota curiosaMarcus, 1950 São Sebastião/SP Marine Medium sand
Togarma evelinaeMarcus, 1949 São Sebastião/SP Marine Coarse sand
Vannuccia martaeMarcus, 1948 Guarujá/SP Marine Sand with shell fragments
Vannuccia taleaMarcus, 1954 São Sebastião/SP Marine Coarse sand in the intertidal zone

4 Discussion and Conclusions

Just three Brazilian states, located in southeastern and southern Brazil, concentrate 94% of the microturbellarian species recorded for the country. Two of them, São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul, house research groups on turbellarians, clearly reflecting the scientific activity over many years or decades.

Most marine microturbellarian diversity is known only in a small portion of the Warm Temperate Southwestern Atlantic, since the marine microturbellarian groups were almost exclusively studied in a small part of the northern littoral of the state of São Paulo (Marcus, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1952; Hooge and Rocha, 2006). Just scattered records exist for the Tropical Southwestern Atlantic and Northern Brazil Shelf.

From twelve hydrographic regions, only the South Atlantic and Southern Atlantic regions have more than just occasional records of microturbellarians. Such records were mainly distributed among São Paulo, Rio Grande do Sul and Paraná (Marcus, 1943, 1944, 1945a, 1951, 1954; Gamo and Leal-Zanchet, 2004; Vara and Leal-Zanchet, 2013; Braccini and Leal-Zanchet, 2013). Considering the freshwater groups, the temnocephalids certainly constitute an exception, with species recorded for various regions in Brazil (Monticelli, 1899; Pereira and Cuocolo, 1940, 1941; Ferreira Yuki et al., 1993; Damborenea, 1994; Ernst and Lovich, 1996; Vianna and Melo, 2002; Amato et al., 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011; Amato and Amato, 2005; Seixas et al., 2010a, b, c, 2011, 2014). Microturbellarians occurring in terrestrial environments were known only by occasional records in the state of São Paulo (Marcus, 1945b). Considering the six Brazilian biomes, only a small part of the Atlantic Forest, mainly the one located in Southern and Southeastern regions, have records of microturbellarians. Scattered or no records were done for the Amazonian, Caatinga, Savanna, Pampa and Pantanal biomes.

In addition to taxonomical studies, freshwater microturbellarian diversity was also investigated through recent inventories and studies on community structure done in the state of Rio Grande do Sul (Gamo and Leal-Zanchet, 2004; Braccini and Leal-Zanchet, 2013; Vara and Leal-Zanchet, 2013). In these studies, many unidentified species of catenulids, lecithopitheliates, macrostomids and rhabdocoels, among others, were recorded in agroecosystems and natural lentic environments of southern Brazil (Braccini and Leal-Zanchet, 2013; Vara and Leal-Zanchet, 2013). Thus, it is almost unnecessary to emphasize that the known microturbellarian diversity in Brazil represents only a very small part of the existing biodiversity.

Considering the scant information on the taxonomy and biogeography on Brazilian microturbellarians, which is also the situation of the Neotropical microturbellarians in general, some actions should be proposed. First, it would be necessary to sample in the diverse biomes, as well as in the various river and sea basins, following standardized sampling protocols, as for example, the guidelines of the Rapid Assessment Program, in order to quickly generate data about the local and regional diversity (Alonso et al., 2011). Second, it would be necessary to encourage diverse research groups to include microturbellarians and/or turbellarians in general in biodiversity inventories and studies on community structure of invertebrates. Third, it is necessary to increase the number of research groups on microturbellarians, in order to augment the studies on their morphology, systematic, and ecology.

There are, however, some problems for the inclusion of microturbellarians in ample biodiversity inventories. Microturbellarians should be sorted alive under the stereomicroscope and analyzed under the microscope to study their morphology with identification purposes (Young, 2001; Brusa et al., 2003). Thus, some adjustments in the sampling procedures used for other invertebrates are needed, such as the collection of water for sorting the live microturbellarians at the laboratory. Another problem is concerned with the identification of microturbellarians, because for the same reason mentioned above, it would be difficult to send live specimens for the identification at species level by specialists.

Besides the abundance and species richness of microturbellarians in freshwater and marine ecosystems, these organisms may feed on a wide range of benthic and planctonic invertebrates, such as oligochaetes, rotifers, cladocerans, copepods and nematodes, among other organisms including bacteria, algae and protozoans (Young, 2001). Thus, considering their abundance, species richness and ecological importance in aquatic environments, the challenge to study these organisms and enhance their knowledge in Brazilian ecosystems should be faced.

Acknowledgements

We thank the Brazilian Research Council (CNPq), the Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES) and Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado do Rio Grande do Sul (FAPERGS) for grants and fellowships in support of this study. Juliana Espíndola is acknowlegdeged for her help in summarizing bibliographical information about marine microturbellarians. We thank MSc. Edward Benya and Paulo Firmino for the English review of the manuscript. Dr. Francisco Brusa, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina, is thanked for a critical reading of an early version of the manuscript. An anonymous reviewer is acknowledged for their helpful suggestions.

(With 1 figure)

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Received: October 10, 2014; Accepted: March 04, 2015

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