M. crozierae is a large flatworm of the family
Eurylephidae. Characteristic of this family is the presence of 2 tentacles on the head that
are formed from folds in the anterior portion of the body. Two clusters of
multiple eyespots in the brain of this animal are visible directly behind the
tentacles. The body is heavily pigmented with the characteristic
This species has
sometimes been identified as Pseudoceros crozieri.
HABITAT AND DISTRIBUTION
M. crozierae is a tropical
species that ranges from South Carolina to Florida, throughout the Caribbean and
M. crozierae is common throughout the IRL, and can be especially
abundant where its primary prey species, Ectinascidia turbinata occurs.
LIFE HISTORY AND POPULATION BIOLOGY
Age, Size, Lifespan
Size ranges from 5 - 40
mm, with an average size of approximately 20 mm (0.8 inches).
Maritigrella crozierae is highly abundant and is the most common flatworm
from southeast Florida to the Caribbean. Two individuals may occur per colony of
Ecteinascidia turbinata, the colonial ascidean (sea squirt) which is the
sole food source of Maritigrella crozierae.
Maritigrella crozierae is a simultaneous hermaphrodite which uses hypodermic insemination to outcross with other individuals.
Larval form of Maritigrella
crozierae is the Muller's larva.
No information is available at this time
M. crozierae feeds exclusively on the ascidian Ectinascidia
turbinata, a colonial, orange-colored tunicate. This tunicate species
produces a class of chemicals called secondary metabolites which have been shown
to be effective anti-tumor agents. M. crozierae sequesters these
chemically active compounds into its own tissues as it feeds on E. turbinata.
Thus, M. crozierae could prove to be of interest to chemists and the pharmaceutical
M. crozierae occurs with its primary prey species, Ectinascidia turbinata
Because of its
ability to sequester chemically active compounds from Ecteinascidia
turbinata, an ascidian from which antitumor compounds have been isolated, Maritigrella
crozierae can be considered to have potentially far reaching economic impact
to the pharmaceutical industry.
Johnson KB, Forward RB. 2003. Larval photoresponses of the polyclad flatworm Maritigrella crozieri (Platyhelminthes, Polycladida) (Hyman). J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 282: 103-112.
Newman LJ, Norenburg JL, Reed S. 2000. Taxonomic and biological observations on the tiger flatworm, Maritigrella crozieri (Hyman, 1939), new combination (Platyhelminthes, Polycladida, Euryleptidae) from Florida waters. J Nat Hist 34: 799-808.
Rawlinson KA. 2010. Embryonic and post-embryonic development of the polyclad flatworm Maritigrella crozieri; implications for the evolution of spiralian life history traits. Frontier Zool 7: 1-25.
Report by: J. Dineen,
Smithsonian Marine Station with thanks to L. Newman
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Page last updated: July 25, 2001