Integrative description of a new Dactylobiotus (Eutardigrada: Parachela) from Antarctica that reveals an intraspecific variation in tardigrade egg morphology
Tardigrades constitute one of the most important group in the challenging Antarctic terrestrial ecosystem. Living in various habitats, tardigrades play major roles as consumers and decomposers in the trophic networks of Antarctic terrestrial and freshwater environments; yet we still know little about their biodiversity. The Eutardigrada is a species rich class, for which the eggshell morphology is one of the key morphological characters. Tardigrade egg morphology shows a diverse appearance, and it is known that, despite rare, intraspecific variation is caused by seasonality, epigenetics, and external environmental conditions. Here we report Dactylobiotus ovimutans sp. nov. from King George Island, Antarctica. Interestingly, we observed a range of eggshell morphologies from the new species, although the population was cultured under controlled laboratory condition. Thus, seasonality, environmental conditions, and food source are eliminated, leaving an epigenetic factor as a main cause for variability in this case.
Authors: Kihm, Ji-Hoon, Kim, Sanghee, McInnes, Sandra J. ORCID record for Sandra J. McInnes, Zawierucha, Krzysztof, Rho, Hyun Soo, Kang, Pilmo, Park, Tae-Yoon S.