Although tardigrades are sometimes reported as eutelic animals, mitosis has been reported in several somatic tissues of adult eutardigrades. The occurrence of cell division in storage cells is particularly interesting in light of the important role that these cells play in the physiology of tardigrades. We present data on the occurrence of mitosis in storage cells of the eutardigrade Richtersius coronifer (Richters, 1903), and analyse mitotic cells in relation to different body characteristics, including egg development stage, moulting, gut content, body length, number and size of oocytes, and shape and size of the storage cells. Mitosis was present in ~20% of all animals, and was more frequent in juveniles than in adults. The proportion of cells with mitosis (‘mitotic index’) was low: 0.76% in juveniles and 1.47% in adults. In juveniles, none of the measured phenotypic characters had significant predictive power for mitosis, whereas in adult animals in moult or in late egg developmental or post-laying stage were more likely to have mitotic storage cells. The association with the later part of the moulting process was particularly strong. The low mitotic index and the strong association with moulting suggests that mitosis in storage cells may be connected with somatic growth rather than cell renewal, and that the purpose of cell division may relate to a need of more cells to support the enlarged body after moulting. However, the specific life cycle of tardigrades, where energy intake and depletion, egg development, and moulting is highly intertwined and synchronized, make conclusions about the functional role of mitosis in storage cells difficult, however, and more studies are needed to reveal the mechanisms inducing mitosis in these interesting cells.
- Zoologi (10608)