Morphologic characterization of the ice worm Mesenchytraeus solifugus

Daniel H. Shain, Melissa R. Carter, Kurt P. Murray, Karen A. Maleski, Nancy R. Smith, Taresha R. McBride, Lisa A. Michalewicz, William M. Saidel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Ice worms occupy a unique position in metazoan phylogeny in that they are the only known annelid that completes its life cycle in ice. The mechanism(s) associated with this adaptation are likely to occur at different levels, ranging from modification of their metabolism to changes in morphology. In this study, we examined specimens of Mesenchytraeus solifugus by scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM) in an effort to identify morphologic structures that may aid in its glacial habitation. We report that M. solifugus contains an elongated head pore at the tip of its prostomium, numerous sensory structures, and differentially oriented setae that curve abruptly at their distal end. (C) 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-197
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Morphology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Developmental Biology


  • Annelid
  • Electron microscopy
  • Enchytraeid
  • Evolution
  • Head pore
  • Setae


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