Buddenbrockia plumatellae

Buddenbrockia plumatellae is a tiny parasitic worm of freshwater bryozoans (moss animals). First described in 1910 by the German natural historian, Olaw Schröder, it has been encountered by only a few scientists since.

Infection with Buddenbrockia reduces growth and reproduction and may cause mortality of bryozoan hosts (Canning et al. 2002). There is also some evidence that carp and minnow are susceptible to Buddenbrockia infections transmitted from bryozoans.

The anatomy and life-style of this tiny worm are so unusual that until very recently it remained unclear where to place it in the animal kingdom.



Species detail

Mature Buddenbrockia plumatellae are colourless, whitish worms, with grainy mass of internal ovoid spores. 

The spores have 2 sporoplasms and 4 polar capsules.


Myxozoan diagnostic characters include:

  • anatomy of the spores
  • the ultrastructure of the polar capsules 
  • DNA sequence data  

Within the Myxozoa the genera Buddenbrockia and Tetracapsuloides are united in the Malacosporea.

Malacosporean characters include 

  • production of soft spores
  • utilisation of freshwater bryozoans as primary hosts
  • development of true tissues
  • Tip of Buddenbrockia worm with fluorescent-stained musculature (green).

    Find out about the form and structure of Buddenbrockia plumatellae, learn about similar looking species and read what studies have suggested about the evolution of the species.

  • The bryozoan Plumatella fungosa, a common host of Buddenbrockia plumatellae
    Habitat and distribution

    Learn where in the world, as well as the host species, that Buddenbrockia plumatellae is known from, what is known about its typical habitats.

  • Developing worms (arrowheads) attached to gut of bryozoan host.
    Host infections

    Discover the interactions that Buddenbrockia plumatellae has with other species and the impact it has on these species.

  • Buddenbrockia plumatellae

    Get reference material for Buddenbrockia plumatellae.


Buddenbrockia plumatellae

Buddenbrockia plumatellae, mature worm. Light micrograph (Photo: A. Gruhl).

Buddenbrockia plumatellae

Buddenbrockia plumatellae worms in a colony of Plumatella sp. Drawing from original species description (Schröder 1910).

Buddenbrockia plumatellae

Buddenbrockia plumatellae worm leaving bryozoan host. Light micrograph (Photo: S. Tops).

Buddenbrockia plumatellae

Detail of spores in a mature worm. Light micrograph (Photo: A. Gruhl).


This classification is the one that is best supported but the myxozoans have not formally been recognised as cnidarians.


Dr A Gruhl

Post doctoral fellow, Department of Zoology.

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