A study has been made of the processes of extra- and intracellular digestion in the Pacific oyster, Crassostrea gigas (Thunberg) over two 24-h cycles in winter and summer. The results show that the digestive processes are discontinuous and related to the tidal cycle. Variations in tidal height resulting from a diurnal inequality of the tide affect both the relative dissolution of the crystalline style and the relative lengths of the constituent phases of the intracellular digestive process in the digestive diverticula. On a seasonal basis the style is present for a greater length of time in winter and, conversely, remains dissolved longer in summer. A seasonal variation in the structure of the digestive tubules has also been found. The results confirm conclusions reached earlier that the processes of extracellular digestion in the stomach and intracellular digestion in the digestive diverticula of intertidal bivalves are both discontinuous, alternate, and irrevocably interrelated since breakdown of the digestive cells of the digestive diverticula following intracellular digestion results in the dissolution of the crystalline style. The arrival of food in the stomach has a minimal effect upon the style. Moreover, the cytological structure of the digestive diverticula of C. gigas undergoes a series of synchronized changes related to the tidal cycle. © 1977.
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