Respiratory gut peristalsis by sea spiders

H. Arthur Woods, Steven J. Lane, Caitlin Shishido, Bret W. Tobalske, Claudia P. Arango, Amy L. Moran

Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The fundamental constraint shaping animal systems for internal gas transport is the slow pace of diffusion [1]. In response, most macroscopic animals have evolved systems for driving internal flows using muscular pumps or cilia. In arthropods, aside from terrestrial lineages that exchange gases via tracheal systems, most taxa have a dorsal heart that drives O2-carrying hemolymph through peripheral vessels and an open hemocoel [2], with O2 often bound to respiratory proteins. Here we show that pycnogonids (sea spiders), a basal group of marine arthropods [3], use a previously undescribed mechanism of internal O2 transport: flows of gut fluids and hemolymph driven by peristaltic contractions of a space-filling system of gut diverticula. This observation fundamentally expands the known range of gas-transport systems in extant arthropods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R638-R639
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 10 2017


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