Epibiotic ciliates Scyphidia sp. and diatoms on Tigriopus fulvus (Copepoda: Harpacticoida) exoskeleton

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Luigi Pane
Guido Bonello
Gian Luigi Mariottini *
(*) Corresponding Author:
Gian Luigi Mariottini | Gian.Luigi.Mariottini@unige.it


Several microorganisms – epibionts – can adhere to living supports taking advantage for their survival, feeding and movement. Epibiosis occurs particularly in aquatic environments, on both benthic and planktonic organisms, among which copepods and cladocerans represent an important living support. The harpacticoid copepod Tigriopus fulvus, living in the splashpools of rocky coasts, was studied to recognize the occurrence of epibionts on the exoskeleton surface using scanning electon microscopy techniques. The first evidence of ciliate Scyphidia sp. on Tigriopus fulvus has been described and the occurrence of algae Cocconeis sp. has been observed as well. Epibionts were found to adhere to antennae, a site linked to the exploitation of water currents carrying food particles to mouthparts and to swimming legs. The reason of the occurrence on swimming legs is less clear and needs further observations. Pertinent results are described and discussed and the influence of epibionts on life cycle and behavior of Tigriopus fulvus is considered.

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