Send to

Choose Destination
Biol Bull. 2004 Apr;206(2):65-77.

Identification and activity-dependent labeling of peripheral sensory structures on a spionid polychaete.

Author information

School of Marine Sciences, 5751 Murray Hall, University of Maine, Orono, Maine 04469, USA.


In marine sedimentary habitats, chemoreception is thought to coordinate feeding in many deposit-feeding invertebrates such as polychaetes, snails, and clams. Relatively little is known, however, about the chemosensory structures and mechanism of signal transduction in deposit feeders. Using electron microscopy, confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM), and immunohistochemistry, we investigated the structure and function of putative chemosensory cells on the feeding appendages of a deposit-feeding polychaete species, Dipolydora quadrilobata. Tufts of putative sensory cilia were distributed over the prostomium and feeding palps and typically occurred next to pores. Examination of these regions with transmission electron microscopy revealed multiciliated cells with adjacent glandular cells beneath the pores. The sensory cells of prostomium and palps were similar, displaying an abundance of apical mitochondria and relatively short ciliary rootlets. Staining with antiserum against acetylated alpha-tubulin was examined by CLSM, and revealed axonal processes from putative sensory tufts on the palp surface to palp nerves, as well as many free nerve endings. Activity-dependent cell labeling experiments were used to test the sensitivity of putative sensory cells on the palps to an amino acid mixture that elicited feeding in previous behavioral experiments. In static exposures, the number of lateral and abfrontal cells labeled in response to the amino acid mixture was significantly greater than in the controls. Ultrastructural, positional, and now physiological evidence strongly suggests that spionid feeding palps are equipped with sensory cells, at least some of which function as chemoreceptors.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for University of Chicago Press
Loading ...
Support Center