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Open AccessArticle

Analysis of Encystment, Excystment, and Cyst Structure in Freshwater Eutardigrade Thulinius ruffoi (Tardigrada, Isohypsibioidea: Doryphoribiidae)

Institute of Biology, Biotechnology and Environmental Protection, Faculty of Natural Sciences, University of Silesia in Katowice, Bankowa 9, 40-007 Katowice, Poland
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2020, 12(2), 62;
Received: 20 December 2019 / Revised: 20 January 2020 / Accepted: 2 February 2020 / Published: 4 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Tardigrades Taxonomy, Biology and Ecology)
Encystment in tardigrades is relatively poorly understood. It is seen as an adaptive strategy evolved to withstand unfavorable environmental conditions. This process is an example of the epigenetic, phenotypic plasticity which is closely linked to the molting process. Thulinius ruffoi is a freshwater eutardigrade and a representative of one of the biggest eutardigrade orders. This species is able to form cysts. The ovoid-shaped cysts of this species are known from nature, but cysts may also be obtained under laboratory conditions. During encystment, the animals undergo profound morphological changes that result in cyst formation. The animals surround their bodies with cuticles that isolate them from the environment. These cuticles form a cuticular capsule (cyst wall) which is composed of three cuticles. Each cuticle is morphologically distinct. The cuticles that form the cuticular capsule are increasingly simplified. During encystment, only one, unmodified and possibly functional buccal-pharyngeal apparatus was found to be formed. Apart from the feeding apparatus, the encysted specimens also possess a set of claws, and their body is covered with its own cuticle. As a consequence, the encysted animals are fully adapted to the active life after leaving the cyst capsule.
Keywords: Thulinius ruffoi; diapause; encystment; cyst Thulinius ruffoi; diapause; encystment; cyst
MDPI and ACS Style

Janelt, K.; Poprawa, I. Analysis of Encystment, Excystment, and Cyst Structure in Freshwater Eutardigrade Thulinius ruffoi (Tardigrada, Isohypsibioidea: Doryphoribiidae). Diversity 2020, 12, 62.

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