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Biofouling. 2006;22(5-6):329-38.

Adhesive mechanisms in cephalopods: a review.

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  • 1Cell Imaging and Ultrastructure, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.


Several genera of cephalopods (Nautilus, Sepia, Euprymna and Idiosepius) produce adhesive secretions, which are used for attachment to the substratum, for mating and to capture prey. These adhesive structures are located in different parts of the body, viz. in the digital tentacles (Nautilus), in the ventral surface of the mantle and fourth arm pair (Sepia), in the dorsal epidermis (Euprymna), or in the dorsal mantle side and partly on the fins (Idiosepius). Adhesion in Sepia is induced by suction of dermal structures on the mantle, while for Nautilus, Euprymna and Idiosepius adhesion is probably achieved by chemical substances. Histochemical studies indicate that in Nautilus and Idiosepius secretory cells that appear to be involved in adhesion stain for carbohydrates and protein, whilst in Euprymna only carbohydrates are detectable. De-adhesion is either achieved by muscle contraction of the tentacles and mantle (Nautilus and Sepia) or by secretion of substances (Euprymna). The de-adhesive mechanism used by Idiosepius remains unknown.

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