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J Morphol. 2005 Aug;265(2):197-208.

Morphology of the pharyngeal cavity, especially the surface ultrastructure of gill arches and gill rakers in relation to the feeding ecology of the catfish Rita rita (Siluriformes, Bagridae).

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Skin Physiology Laboratory, Centre of Advance Study, Department of Zoology, Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi 221 005, Uttar Pradesh, India.


Gill arches and the gill rakers of a sluggish, carnivorous catfish, Rita rita, show significant differences of their surface ultrastructure, which are recognized adaptive modifications in relation to food and feeding ecology of fish. Gill rakers on the first and second pairs of gill arches are borne on the oral side and are long and stout at the epi-ceratobranchial union. Gill rakers on the third and fourth pairs of gill arches, in contrast, are borne on the oral and aboral sides and are relatively delicate and short. Long and stout gill rakers on the first and second pairs of gill arches are considered primarily to prevent entry of undesirably large food items into the pharynx. Two types of taste buds, Type I and Type II, occur on the gill arches and the gill rakers. The raised taste buds, located at the apical ends of the gill rakers on the third, fourth, and the fifth pairs of gill arches could increase gustatory efficiency in the pharynx. Differences in the distribution of taste buds on the pharyngeal sides of different gill arches indicate that the posterior part of the pharynx plays a more crucial role in gustation than does the anterior part. Co-occurrence of teeth and taste buds on the epi- and hypopharyngeal bones denotes that food processing and gustation occur simultaneously in the pharynx. Villiform and caniform teeth on the epi- and hypopharyngeal bones are associated with a complex food-processing cycle. Mucous secretions, oozing through mucous cell openings, provide lubrication facilitating smooth passage of food through the pharynx. The angle of curvature at the epi-ceratobranchial union of the first to fourth pairs of gill arches could assist the ventral drag of ceratobranchials in lowering of the pharyngeal floor, thus resulting in a great expansion of the pharynx, as needed to accommodate the large quantities of food captured.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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