Brachionus plicatilis

Brachionus plicatilis Müller 1786

Languages: English



Monogonont rotifers, which include Brachionus, are cyclical parthenogens; they proliferate asexually in the laboratory forming clones, with males being much more infrequent than females. 


Diagnostic Description



Lorica more or less pyriform, soft, dorsal and ventral plates not distinguishable, very slightly compressed dorso-laterally, smooth or stippled. Antero-dorsal lorica margin with six short spines with broad base, nearly equal in length; median spines asymmetrical, with narrow anterior part, then rounding outward and forming broad base; intermediate spines more or less symmetrical or with outer half of base larger than inner one. Antero-ventral margin with four smoothly rounded lobes, or very broad lobes with shallow, blunt spines.  Posterior spines absent. Foot opening with small sub-square part dorsally and longer V-shaped part ventrally; posterior edges of foot opening obtuse. Trophi with all the characteristics of the genus, symmetrical.


Lorica length 274‒341.0 µm, width 200‒269 µm, head aperture 121‒156 µm, depth of dorsal sinus, 22‒36 µm, median antero-dorsal spines 11‒20 µm, lateral antero-dorsal spines 12‒26 µm; trophi length 42.3‒45.7 µm, rami width 39.1‒42.2 µm, fulcrum 10.6‒13.1 µm, manubrium 38.2‒45.2 µm, uncus length 22.0‒26.0 µm.

Ecology and Distribution


The first time it was found by Müller (1786) indicating only the littoral zone of Denmark. The species has been reported everywhere in the world.


This species, general speaking, is cosmopolite and it has been found inhabiting several brackish and saline ponds, lagoons, lakes and marshed. Brackish or saltwater species, usually in littoral regions. Oligohaline to euryhaline, thalassic and athalassic in ponds, lagoons, lakes and marshes, also in highly alkaline soda lakes; temporary and permanent waters. Planktonic. Feeding on Cyanobacteria, unicellular algae and flagellates.


Brachionus plicatilis lives and swims in the plankton. Habitats vary from oligohaline to euryhaline, some of them are temporary while others are permanent.

Trophic Strategy

This species is herbivorous and feeds microalgae.


  • Brachionus hepatotomus Gosse 1851 (synonym)
  • Brachionus muelleri Ehrenberg 1834 (synonym)

Taxonomic Notes

LOCUS TYPICUS ‒ Prat de Cabanes-Torreblanca marsh, Castellón, Spain (neotype by Ciros-Pérez et al. (2001))


Ciros-Perez, J., Gomez A., & Serra M. (2001).  On the taxonomy of three sympatric sibling species of the Brachionus plicatilis (Rotifera) complex from Spain, with the description of B-ibericus n. sp.. Journal of Plankton Research. 23(12), 
Ciros-Pérez, J., Carmona M. J., & Serra M. (2001).  Resource competition between sympatric sibling rotifer species. Limnology and Oceanography. 46:1511-1523,
Fontaneto, D., & Melone G. (2006).  Postembryonic development of hard jaws (trophi) in a species belonging to the Brachionus plicatilis complex (Rotifera, Monogononta): a morphometric analysis.. Microscopy Research and Technique. 69,
Fontaneto, D., Giordani I., Melone G., & Serra M. (2007).  Disentangling the morphological stasis in two rotifer species of the Brachionus plicatilis species complex. Hydrobiologia. 583:297-307,
Gómez, A., Serra M., Carvalho G. R., & Lunt D. H. (2002).  Speciation in ancient cryptic species complexes evidence from the molecular phylogeny of Brachionus plicatilis (Rotifera).. Evolution. 56,
Lowe, C. D., Kemp S. J., Díaz-Avalos C., & Montagnes D. J. S. (2007).  How does salinity tolerance influence the distributions of Brachionus plicatilis sibling species?. Marine Biology. 150,
Müller, O. F. (1786).  Animacula Infusoria fluviatilia et marina, quae detexit, systematice descripsit et ad vivum delineari curativ… sistit opus hoc posthumum quod cum tabulis aenis L. in lucem tradit vidua ejus nobilissima, cura Othonis Fabricii.. Hauniae. LVI,
Ortells, R., Gómez A., & Serra M. (2003).  Coexistence of cryptic rotifer species: ecological and genetic characterisation of Brachionus plicatilis.. Freshwater Biology. 48(2194–2202),