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Tissue Cell. 2007 Dec;39(6):399-414. Epub 2007 Sep 18.

A comparative ultrastructural investigation of the cephalic sensory organs in Opisthobranchia (Mollusca, Gastropoda).

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Institute of Ecology, Evolution and Diversity, J.W. Goethe-University Frankfurt/Main, Siesmayerstr. 70, 60054 Frankfurt/Main, Germany.


Cephalic sensory organs (CSOs) are specialised structures in the head region of adult Opisthobranchia involved in perception of different stimuli. The gross morphology of these organs differs considerably among taxa. The current study aims at describing the cellular morphology of the CSOs in order to reveal cellular patterns, especially of sensory epithelia, common for opisthobranchs. Transmission electron microscopy was used to characterise the fine structure of the organs and to compare the CSOs of four different opisthobranch species. The cellular composition of the sensory system is conserved among taxa. The epidermal cells in sensory regions are always columnar and ciliated cells are frequently apparent. The sensory cells are primary receptors arranged in subepidermal cell clusters. They extend dendrites which penetrate the epithelium and reach the surface. Some of the dendrites bear cilia, whereas others only build a small protuberance. Processing of sensory information takes place in the peripheral glomeruli of all species. Moreover, few taxa possess additional peripheral ganglia at the base of their CSOs. The results of the present study might support other investigations indicating that the posterior CSOs are primarily involved in distance chemoreception, whereas the anterior CSOs might be used for contact chemoreception and mechanoreception.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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