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Acta Anat (Basel). 1986;127(2):81-7.

Fine structure of the tapetum cellulosum of the grey seal (Halichoerus grypus).


The morphology of the tapetum lucidum of the grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) has been studied by light and electron microscopy. The reflective layer in this species is a tapetum cellulosum situated in the choroid and covering the entire effective fundus. Posteriorly the tapetum is composed of 30-35 layers of flattened polygonal cells. This number gradually declines to 15-20 layers in the extreme periphery. Near the retinal epithelial layer the tapetal cells are larger and more regular (brick-like) in arrangement whereas further from the retina the tapetal cells become more irregular in outline and more widely separated by collagen fibrils and connective tissue cells. In this outer region the tapetal cells are gradually replaced by melanocytes of the choroid. Within the tapetal cells a few mitochondria and profiles of smooth endoplasmic reticulum are scattered peripherally while the majority of the cell organelles are clustered near the centrally located vesicular nucleus. The dominant feature of the tapetal cells is, however, an accumulation of numerous electron-dense rodlets of presumed zinc cysteine. These rodlets are the reflective material of the tapetum and are arranged with their long axes perpendicular to the incoming light. The orientation of these rodlets is usually uniform within each tapetal cell but varies between adjacent cells. The diameter (0.10 micron) and spacing (0.15 micron) of these rodlets is consistent with the principles of constructive interference. Blood vessels penetrate the tapetum at right angles to supply the choriocapillaris which is indented into the amelanotic retinal epithelium to give a flat reflective surface to the tapetum.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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