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PRACTICAL 7 : Flatworms, Roundworms, and Rotifers

At the end of this lab, students should be able to:











Platyhelminthes, Nematoda, and Rotifera.


identify structures and functions of representative of these groups.


state characteristics of members of these groups.


explain the difference between acoelomate and pseudocoelomate,

and know which phyla associated with each.

Flatworms of phylum Platyhelminthes, roundworm of phylum Nematode, and
rotifers of phylum Rotifera live in marine, freshwater, terrestrial, and parasitic
environment. Their morphology is more complex than that of sponges and
jellyfish. They have three germ layers: ectoderm, mesoderm, and endoderm
(described as triploblastic) and have organ made of interdependent tissues
and are the simplest animal having bilateral symmetry with distinct anterior
and posterior ends.
Flatworms have soft, wormlike bodies and are acoelomates (lack of
body cavity between the gut and body wall). They represent an important
evolutionary transition because they are the simplest forms to exhibit an
organ system level of organization and cephalization (a definite head with
sense organ). Although they are definite organs, the digestive system is still
of the gastrovascular type, incomplete with a mouth and no anus. Flatworms
are grouped in three classes: class Turbellaria: Planarians, class Trematoda:
Fluke, and class Cestoda: Tapeworms.
Roundworms are pseudocoelomates (have a false body cavity or
pseudocoel). They have a complete gut with both a mouth and an anus.
Together, the pseudocoel and the complete digestive system comprise a
tube-within-a-tube arrangement.


have slender,


bodies that taper at both ends. A complex cuticle of protein covers them.
Free-living roundworms are Rhabditus and Turbatrix, Ascaris, and Trichinella.
Rotifers are pseudocoelomates, microscopic animals, easily found in
rain gutters and spouts, and in the slimy material around the bases of
building. Their body wall is very thin, usually transparent and covered by a
cuticle composed of protein. They are dioecious; however, many species
have no males, and the eggs develop parthenogenetically.

Preserved or living specimens of :


- Dugesia (planaria)


- Taenia pisiformis

Slide and coverslip





(planaria), Taenia pisiformis



Distilled water

Experiment 1

Flatworms of phylum Platyhelminthes

Dugesia (planaria) (Figure 7.1) :


A living Dugesia was obtained and its morphology was examined with a
dissecting microscope. Features of planaria distinguish its head from its
tail was identified.


A prepared slaide of a stained planaria was examined. The ectoderm,

mesoderm, endoderm, gastrovascular cavity, and muscular pharynx
was identified.

Taenia pisiformis (Figure 7.2) :


A preserved Taenia pisiformis was obtained. The morphology of Taenia

pisiformis, internal parasites of dogs and cat was look for.


The specialized head or scolex, neck, and proglottis was identify at the
body of Taenia pisiformis.


Using a prepared slide, hooks and suckers was identified. Task that the
tape worm used these hooks and suckers was identified.

Figure 7.1 : Anatomy of a planarian. (A) Dorsal view of digestive and

nervous system. (B) Cross section and (C) longitudinal section of

planarian taken through the pharynx region. (D) Lateral view. (E)
Dorsal view. (F) Sagittal view of reproductive system.

Figure 7.2 : Structure and life cycle of the beef tapeworm, Taenia saginatus.

Discussion :

In the kingdom Animalia,the phylum Platyhelminthes represents all

flatworms.There are bilaterally symmetrical, having an anterior, posterior,
dorsal, and ventral end and two seemingly identical lateral surfaces.
However, flatworms is lacks of any type of body cavity, a fluid filled space
between the digestive tract and the body wall. The area of flatworm is filled
with tissue. Flatworms have primitive brains, comprised of clusters of nervous
tissue. Two long nerve cords run the length of the body, and they branch to
form small nerves running throughout the body. Another hallmark of
flatworms is a lack of a complete digestive tract. Flatworms take in food and
excrete waste from one single hole. The opening in the gastrula never fully
evolves in flatworms to make a tract that travels from one hole in the anterior
end to another hole in the posterior end, which would make the tract
complete. There are four classes that make up the phylum Platyhelminthes,
each with unique structures and living styles which is Turbellaria, Cestoda,
In the experiment, Taenia pisiformis come from class Cestoda also known as
tapeworms while Dugesia sp Planaria common name planaria come from
class Turbellaria.

Experiment 2

Roundworm of phylum Nematode

Ascaris (Figure 7.3) :

1. A female and male Ascaris was examined and identified the mouth and
2. By using a prepared slide of female Ascaris, ectoderm, muscle fibers,
intestine, oviducts, loops of ovaries, uteri, and pseodocoel was
3. By using a prepared slide of male Ascaris, ectoderm, muscle fibers,
intestine, loops of testis, seminal vesicle, and pseodocoel was

Figure 7.3 (A) Lateral view of female nematodes. (B) Lateral view of male
nematodes. (C) and (D) Cross section of the body.

The 20,000 known nematode species inhabit terrestrial, marine, and
freshwater environments and are found in almost all moist habitats. The
taxon includes numerous plant and animal parasites, many of which are of
medical or agricultural importance, but most are free-living (nonparasitic). Most nematodes, or roundworms, are long, slender, almost
featureless externally, tapered at both ends, and round in cross section. The
body cavity, if present, is a hemocoel derived from the blastocoel.
The body is covered with a thick extracellular cuticle secreted by a
cellular or syncytial epidermis that is molted during juvenile
development. The epidermal nuclei are sunken below the epithelial layer
into four longitudinal epidermal cords that extend the length of the
animal. The body wall has well-developed longitudinal but no circular
The gut is complete with terminal anterior mouth and subterminal
posterior anus. It comprises ectodermal foregut and hindgut and an
endodermal midgut. The body cavity, or hemocoel, is not lined with
mesothelium and there is no muscle, connective tissue, or other mesodermal
derivative associated with the midgut.
The nervous system is a ganglionated circumenteric ring, hence the
name cycloneuralia, with several longitudinal nerve cords, the most
important of which is the ganglionated, double, ventral cord. The nerve
cords are located in the longitudinal epidermal cords, along with the
epidermal nuclei. Cytoplasmic innervation processes from the longitudinal
muscles extend to the longitudinal nerve cords and serve the function of
motor neurons, which are absent. Sensory equipment may include unique
chemosensory amphids and sensory bristles around the mouth.

Most nematodes lack cilia or flagella, even in the sperm. There are,
however, ciliary derivatives in the amphids and cilia are present in the gut
epithelium of some nematodes. Roundworms are ammonotelic and nitrogen
excretion is mostly by diffusion across the body wall. Osmoregulation is
accomplished by an excretory canal system in some and perhaps by
excretory glands. No nephridia are present.
Nematodes are typically gonochoric and fertilization is internal with
copulation. Sexual dimorphism is common. Nematode sperm have no
flagella and probably employ amoeboid locomotion. Nematode development
features a phenomenon known as chromosome diminution in which much of
the chromosome material of presumptive somatic cells degenerates and is
lost. Germ cells, however, retain the full complement of genetic
material. Development is direct and includes four juvenile and one adult
instar separated from each other by molts. Most nematodes are small (<3
mm) and free-living but some of the parasitic species, such as Ascaris, may
reach 50 cm.
Ascaris is an intestinal parasite in pigs. Parasitic nematodes tend to be
much larger than free-living nematodes. Digestive tract, when it is compare
this slide to the whole preserved Ascaris. If you dissect one of those
specimens, it will show that the internal organs (gut and reproductive organs)
are simply hanging free inside the body cavity, or pseudocoel. In this crosssection, the intestine doesn't appear to be attached at all, and if you look
closely (at 40x magnification), will show that the wall of the intestine consists
of just one layer of epithelium, with no other tissue layers attached.
Reproductive organs are ovary is makes the eggs and uterus is stores eggs
until they are released for external fertalization.
The male differs mainly in terms of its reproductive organs is
where testis is a long tube, looping back and forth throughout the body; in
this cross-sectional view, there appear to be multiple separate testes. The
testis makes sperm. The vas deferens (also called ductus deferens) is

another part of the same tubular male reproductive tract; it is responsible for
storing and maturing sperm.

Post-lab Questions









Radial symmetry
Sea anemones display radial symmetry.These organisms resemble a
pie where several cutting planes produce roughly identical pieces. An
organism with radial symmetry exhibits no left or right sides. They have
a top and a bottom (dorsal and ventral surface) only.
Most radially symmetric animals are symmetrical about an axis
extending from the center of the oral surface, which contains the
mouth, to the center of the opposite, or aboral, end. This type of
symmetry is especially suitable for sessile animals such as the sea
anemone, floating animals such as jellyfish, and slow moving
organisms such as starfish.
Bilateral symetry
In bilateral symmetry (also called plane symmetry), only one plane,
called the sagittal plane, will divide an organism into roughly mirror
image halves. Thus there is approximate reflection symmetry. Often the
two halves can meaningfully be referred to as the right and left halves,

e.g. in the case of an animal with a main direction of motion in the

plane of symmetry.

What are the advantages of a roundworms digestive system having

two opening?
The roundworm can continue eating, and the ingested material will be
processed appropriately, with different chemicals dumped into it at
different locations along the length of the alimentary canal to assist in
the digestion of the material. It provides for sequential processing of
the material in a spatial manner. The planaria, by contrast, has to use a
time-based manner for processing of ingested material.That is, for best
efficiency, it would eat its fill first, and then have time-based events in
the digestion rather than location-based.

3. Describe several adaptations of parasitic flatworms to their external

A parasitic flatworm has less-evolved digestive system, since they
absorb the nutriens directly from the host, having no point to digest
They also have more complex reproductive life cycle, where they lay
eggs that will be put in the feces. Then a food will be contaminated
with eggs, new flatworms will develop to other hosts. Also, parasitic
flatworms will usually have hooks on the scolex (anterior region) to
attach it to the wall of the gut, and they have an extra outer covering
(glycocalyx) to protect it from being digested.