Molecular and morphological analysis of an Antarctic tardigrade, Acutuncus antarcticus
AbstractWe isolated a species of tardigrade from moss samples collected from Langhovde and Skarvsnes, near Syowa station, East Antarctic, from which we cultured a parthenogenetic strain in Petri dishes with co-occurring cyanobacteria or green algae. This culture was maintained at both 4 and 10ºC, though the latter proved more suitable for growth. Eggs were laid free, rather than in exuviae. We isolated the 18S rRNA sequences from this tardigrade, identical to that of Acutuncus antarcticus from King George island, South Shetland islands. Morphological analyses via both light and scanning electron microscopy also show general agreement with characteristics of A. antarcticus: dorsal and ventral apophyses for the insertion of stylet muscles and dorsal longitudinal thickening on the anterior part of buccal tube; presence of pharyngeal apophyses, two macroplacoids and absence of a microplacoid; the surface structure of egg; and claw shape. Peribuccal lamellae were absent, but six oval swellings surrounded the mouth opening. An additional study of moss pillars from lake Hotoke-ike, Skarvsnes, proved the existence of the same tardigrade taxon living at the bottom of the lake.
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