Freshwater bryozoan with lophophore extended
A brachidium, a lophophore support, visible between the valves of the Early Jurassic (Pliensbachian) brachiopod Spiriferina rostrata (35 x 30 mm).
An example of an extinct lophophorate: a Devonian microconchid (Potter Farm Formation, Alpena, Michigan).

The lophophore is a characteristic feeding organ possessed by four major groups of animals: the Brachiopoda, Bryozoa, Entoprocta, and Phoronida, which collectively constituted the Lophophorata.[1] All lophophores are found in aquatic organisms.


  • Characteristics 1
  • Classification of lophophorates 2
  • Etymology 3
  • References 4


It can most easily be described as a ring of ciliated tentacles surrounding the mouth, but it is often horseshoe-shaped or coiled. Phoronids have their lophophores in plain view, but the valves of brachiopods must be opened wide to get a good view of their lophophore.

The lophophore surrounds the mouth and is an upstream collecting system for suspension feeding. Its tentacles are hollow with extensions of a coelomic space thought to be a mesocoel. The gut is U-shaped with the anterior mouth at the center of the lophophore. The anus, where present, is also anterior, but is dorsal to the mouth. In the Bryozoa it is outside the ring of the lophophore; in the Entoprocta the anus is within the ring of the lophophore. Some brachiopods do not have an anus.

Classification of lophophorates

Groups with lophophores are called lophophorates. In the old view of metazoan phylogeny, the lophophorates were placed within the Deuterostomia. Now they have been reassessed and placed within a new Superphylum known as the Lophotrochozoa[2] (located within the Protostomia) which includes the Mollusca and Annelida.

The extinct hederelloids, microconchids, cornulitids and tentaculitids were likely lophophorates based on their biomineralization.[3]


Lophophore is derived from the Greek lophos (crest, tuft) and -phore, -phoros (φορος) (bearing), a derivative of phérein (φέρειν) (to bear); thus crest-bearing.


  1. ^ Introduction to the Lophotrochozoa - accessed 3 May 2010
  2. ^ Giribet, G. (2008). "Assembling the lophotrochozoan (=spiralian) tree of life". Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences 363 (1496): 1513–1522.  
  3. ^ Taylor, P.D.; Vinn, O.; Wilson, M. (2010). "'"Evolution of biomineralization in 'lophophorates. Special Papers in Palaeontology 84: 317–333. Retrieved 2014-06-11.