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Zoolog Sci. 2003 May;20(5):647-56.

Ultrastructures and classification of circulating hemocytes in 9 botryllid ascidians (chordata: ascidiacea).

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  • 1Department of Chemistry, Biology & Marine Science, Faculty of Science, University of the Ryukyus, Okinawa, Japan.


Ultrastructures of circulating hemocytes were studied in 9 botryllid ascidians. The hemocytes are classified into five types: hemoblasts, phagocytes, granulocytes, morula cells, and pigment cells. These five types are always found in the 9 species. They should represent the major hemocyte types of the circulating cells in the blood. Hemoblasts are small hemocytes having a high nucleus/cytoplasm ratio. There are few granular or vacuolar inclusions in the cytoplasm. Phagocytes have phagocytic activity and their shape is variable depending on the amount of engulfed materials. In granulocytes, shape and size of granules are different among the species. Morula cells are characterized by several vacuoles filled with electron dense materials. In pigment cells, the bulk of the cytoplasm is occupied by one or a few vacuoles containing pigment granules. We also described some other hemocyte types found in particular species. Furthermore, we encountered free oocytes circulating in the blood in two species, Botryllus primigenus and Botrylloides lentus.

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