Pogonophorans are sedentary marine worms that have no intestine. The body is bilaterally symmetrical, and the length exceeds the width by hundreds of times. The body has several segments and sections. They live in tubes made from protein and chitin.

Pogonophorans occur in all oceans and many of the marginal seas at depths from 20 (but mostly over 200 m) to > 8000 m and generally prefer cold waters. They live primarily on soft silty bottoms, especially in reducing sediments. Pogonophorans are particularly interesting in terms of their feeding habits, because they primarily get their energy from chemoautotrophic bacteria that live endosymbiotically in a specialized organ called the trophosome.

Until recently Pogonophorans where palced in their own phyla, because they appeared to be so unique morophologically, but DNA sequencing shows they are simply a family of polychaetes. Currently about 170 species of Pogonophora are recorded worldwide. At least 11 species of Pogonophora are known from the Arctic, but other species will probably be discovered in future.

Page Author: Bodil Bluhm
Created: Sept 20, 2010

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