Classification Several authors (a.o. Emig, 1997) regard Bryozoa, Phoronida and Brachiopoda as belonging to the phylum Lophophorata. Claus Nielsen is firmly of the opinion that bryozoans are not closely related to Phoronida and Brachiopoda. Inter alia, epithelial cells in Bryozoa (including Phylactolaemata) are multiciliated whereas they are monociliated in the other two phyla. He consistently allies bryozoans with the Entoprocta. I disagree with this latter affiliation. Some years ago I pointed out the homology of bryozoan gizzard teeth (ectodermal in origin) with brachiopod bristles.
A few years ago, molecular work suggested that Phoronida are an ingroup of the Brachiopoda, hence they should be regarded as shell-less brachiopods. But there is not unanimity concerning this. At the Concepcion meeting, it was reported that molecular analysis placed phylactolaemate (freshwater) bryozoans closer to Phoronida than to other bryozoans. In short, there is currently no consensus concerning the relationship of the three lophophorat [details]