Pogonophora (Beard Worms)


Pogonophora represents a group of segmented worms living in chitinous tubes, largely restricted to deep‐sea environments such as methane seeps and hydrothermal vents. They are unusual in lacking a mouth and anus as adults, and in having the gut tissue massively expanded and filled with symbiotic bacteria, through which they gain their nutritional requirements.

Keywords: annelida; hydrothermal vents; symbiosis; chemoautotrophic bacteria

Figure 1.

Photograph of a group of Riftia pachyptila at a hydrothermal vent. Note the bright red plume of tentacles extending from their white chitinous tubes. Photo courtesy of Dr C. Young (Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution).


Further Reading

Bergquist DC, Williams FM and Fisher CR (2000) Longevity record for deep‐sea invertebrate – the growth rate of a marine tubeworm is tailored to different environments. Nature 403: 499–500.

Ivanov AV (1963) Pogonophora. London: Academic Press.

McHugh D (1997) Molecular evidence that echiurans and pogonophorans are derived annelids. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 94: 8006–8009.

Rouse GW and Fauchald K (1995) The articulation of annelids. Zoologica Scripta 24: 269–301.

Southward EC (1999) Development of Perviata and Vestimentifera (Pogonophora). Hydrobiologia 402: 185–202.

Westheide W, McHugh D, Purschke G and Rouse GW (1999) Systematization of the Annelida: different approaches. Hydrobiologia 402: 291–307.

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How to Cite close
Rouse, Greg W(Apr 2001) Pogonophora (Beard Worms). In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0001602]