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The illustration shows the digestive, nervous, and excretory systems in a flat, worm-like Planaria. The digestive system starts at the ventral mouth opening in the middle of the animal, and then extends to the head and tail with many lateral branches. The nervous system has two cerebral ganglia at the eyes in the head, and two longitudinal nerve cords with transverse connections along the length of the body to the tail. The excretory system is arranged in two long mesh-like structures down each side of the body. An enlargement shows a detailed flame cell, which has a bundle of cilia at one end. The cilia extend down into an excretory tube, which has slits near the cilia to allow waste fluid to enter the excretory tube and exit the animal at the excretory pore.
This planarian is a free-living flatworm that has an incomplete digestive system, an excretory system with a network of tubules throughout the body, and a nervous system made up of nerve cords running the length of the body with a concentration of nerves and photosensory and chemosensory cells at the anterior end.

Since there is no circulatory or respiratory system, gas and nutrient exchange is dependent on diffusion and intercellular junctions. This necessarily limits the thickness of the body in these organisms, constraining them to be “flat” worms. Most flatworm species are monoecious (hermaphroditic, possessing both sets of sex organs), and fertilization is typically internal. Asexual reproduction is common in some groups in which an entire organism can be regenerated from just a part of itself.

Diversity of flatworms

Flatworms are traditionally divided into four classes: Turbellaria, Monogenea, Trematoda, and Cestoda ( [link] ). The turbellarians include mainly free-living marine species, although some species live in freshwater or moist terrestrial environments. The simple planarians found in freshwater ponds and aquaria are examples. The epidermal layer of the underside of turbellarians is ciliated, and this helps them move. Some turbellarians are capable of remarkable feats of regeneration in which they may regrow the body, even from a small fragment.

Four photos of flatworms are depicted. Photo a shows a dark, opaque, wavy-edged, speckled flatworm, about three times as long as it is wide. Photo b shows a transparent, brown flatworm, with a length about eight times the width, and a slightly arrow-shaped head with two eyes. Photo c shows an oval, transparent brown flatworm, with a circular sucker at the front end and one near the middle. Photo d shows a very long, narrow, flat, white tapeworm.
Phylum Platyhelminthes is divided into four classes: (a) Bedford’s Flatworm ( Pseudobiceros bedfordi ) and the (b) planarian belong to class Turbellaria; (c) the Trematoda class includes about 20,000 species, most of which are parasitic; (d) class Cestoda includes tapeworms such as this Taenia saginata ; and the parasitic class Monogenea (not shown). (credit a: modification of work by Jan Derk; credit c: modification of work by “Sahaquiel9102”/Wikimedia Commons; credit d: modification of work by CDC)

The monogeneans are external parasites mostly of fish with life cycles consisting of a free-swimming larva that attaches to a fish to begin transformation to the parasitic adult form. They have only one host during their life, typically of just one species. The worms may produce enzymes that digest the host tissues or graze on surface mucus and skin particles. Most monogeneans are hermaphroditic, but the sperm develop first, and it is typical for them to mate between individuals and not to self-fertilize.

The trematodes, or flukes, are internal parasites of mollusks and many other groups, including humans. Trematodes have complex life cycles that involve a primary host in which sexual reproduction occurs and one or more secondary hosts in which asexual reproduction occurs. The primary host is almost always a mollusk. Trematodes are responsible for serious human diseases including schistosomiasis, caused by a blood fluke ( Schistosoma ). The disease infects an estimated 200 million people in the tropics and leads to organ damage and chronic symptoms including fatigue. Infection occurs when a human enters the water, and a larva, released from the primary snail host, locates and penetrates the skin. The parasite infects various organs in the body and feeds on red blood cells before reproducing. Many of the eggs are released in feces and find their way into a waterway where they are able to reinfect the primary snail host.

Questions & Answers

What are eukaryotic cells?
Nwosueke Reply
where does the cell get energy for active transport processes?
A'Kaysion Reply
what is synapsis
Adepoju Reply
how many turns are required to make a molecule of sucrose in Calvin cycle
Amina Reply
why Calvin cycle occurs in stroma
Amina
why do humans enhale oxygen and exhale carbondioxide?
Maryam Reply
why do humans enhale oxygen and exhale carbondioxide? For the purpose of breaking down the food
dil
what is allele
uzoka Reply
process of protein synthesis
SANTOSH Reply
what is cell
Zulf Reply
what is cytoplasm
uzoka Reply
cytoplasm is fluid of cell.
Deepak
how many major types of Cloning
Saeed Reply
two
amir
two
Zulf
comparative anatomy of gymnosperms?
Meenakshi Reply
anatomy of gymnosperms
Meenakshi
how genes are regulated
Ainjue Reply
what is storage of glycogen
Student Reply
glycogen is a protein content
Najeem
how many times breathing a day normally does a person have
Vernalyn Reply
100
Aadil
on average 18000 times a day when resting.
gagan
the -10 and -35 regions of prokaryotic promoters are called consensus sequences because
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Source:  OpenStax, Concepts of biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11487/1.9
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