Zoological Studies

Vol. 57, 2018

(update: 2018.09.03; 10.17) 

Diversity and Distribution of Peritrich Ciliates on the Snail Physa acuta Draparnaud, 1805 (Gastropoda: Physidae) in a Eutrophic Lotic System

Bianca Sartini1, Roberto Marchesini1, Sthefane D'ávila2, Marta D’Agosto1, and Roberto Júnio Pedroso Dias1,*


1Laboratório de Protozoologia, Programa de Pós-graduação em Ciências Biológicas (Zoologia), ICB, Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora, Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, 36036-900, Brazil
2Museu de Malacologia Prof. Maury Pinto de Oliveira, ICB, Universidade Federal de Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, 36036-900, Brazil

(Received 9 September 2017; Accepted 26 July 2018; Communicated by Benny K.K. Chan)

Bianca Sartini, Roberto Marchesini, Sthefane D´ávila, Marta D’Agosto, and Roberto Júnio Pedroso Dias (2018) Freshwater gastropods represent good models for the investigation of epibiotic relationships because their shells act as hard substrates, offering a range of microhabitats that peritrich ciliates can occupy. In the present study we analyzed the community composition and structure of peritrich epibionts on the basibiont freshwater gastropod Physa acuta. We also investigated the spatial distribution of these ciliates on the shells of the basibionts, assuming the premise that the shell is a topologically complex substrate. Among the 140 analyzed snails, 60.7% were colonized by peritrichs. We observed seven peritrich species: Epistylis plicatilis and Epistylis sp. (Epistylididae); Opercularia articulata (Operculariidae); Carchesium polypinum, Vorticella campanula and Vorticella sp. (Vorticellidae) and Thuricola kellicottiana (Vaginicollidae). We observed a high prevalence of epibiosis (> 60%) when all species of ciliates were considered conjunctly. However, the prevalence was low (1-58%) when each species was considered separately, reflecting their aggregate distribution pattern. The most prevalent species were Epistylis sp. (58.60%), Vorticella sp. (14.30%) and O. articulata (13.60%). Although the epibionts were distributed through the shell’s entire extension, we observed greater values of abundance, density, diversity and dominance on the dorsal surface. Only Epistylis sp. was widely distributed on the ventral surface. We also observed that the peritrichs predominantly occupied the areas of the shell delimited by the sutures. We interpreted these distribution patterns considering that the peritrichs select their attachment sites under pressures related to basibiont behavior, physical forces that may dislocate them and protective characteristics of the shell’s areas.

Key words: Brazil, Peritrichia, Physa acuta, Protozoan epibionts, Site preference.

*Correspondence: Tel: +55 32 21023223. E-mail: rjuniodias@hotmail.com