Mesozoa

MESOZOA CHARACTERISTICS

Relatively few cells deposited in only two layers
They are endoparasites.
Complex life-histories
Reproduction includes self-fertilising hermaphrodites, sexual and asexual.
Marine
No tissues or organs
No muscles
No nervous system
No digestive or excretory system

This small phylum contains only fifty species in two Classes, the Rhombozoa and Orthonecta.

The Rhomboza are parasites of Cephalopod Molluscs. They range in size from 0.5 - 7.5 mm, and have only 20 - 30 ciliated cells around one single axial cell. Their life-cycle is not completely known.

The Orthonecta are parasites of marine invertebrates. They are free-living in the sexual stage. The germinal cells invade their host, then multiply to form a multinucleate plasmodium that can reproduce asexually producing other plasmodia. When single-sex cells are produced they leave the host to reproduce sexually.

It is not known whether the two Classes are truly related, nor has their taxonomic position been settled, as some authorities believe they are more closely related to the ciliated Protozoa.

Rhopalura sp. mezozoa

Rhopalura sp., above, is a parasite of Platyhelminthes, Mollusca and Annelida. Its body is simply a layer of epithelial cells, many with cilia, surrounding a group of sex cells.