Ultrastructure of the statocysts in the apodous sea cucumber Leptosynapta inhaerens (Holothuroidea, Echinodermata)

  • Ehlers U
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Abstract

The burrowing sea cucumber Leptosynapta inhaerens possesses five pairs of statocysts, one pair on either side of each radial nerve cord where it arises from the circumoral nerve ring. The nerve cords exhibit only ectoneural components at the level of the statocysts. A sinus-like epineural canal lies superjacent to each cord. This canal is lined by a robust monociliated neuroepithelium which lacks any special support cells. Beneath the neuroepithelium, the somata of the ectoneural neurons form a perikaryal layer whereas the axons are located within the proximal parts of the cords. Glial cells have not been found. Each statocyst is a hollow sense organ. Its central cavity is lined by a monolayer of monociliated parietal cells. Axons of these parietal cells extend towards the statocyst nerve which connects each statocyst with the ectoneural pathways of the cord. A single lithocyte floats within each central statocyst cavity. This unciliated cell contains a voluminous vacuole with the statolith and several smaller vacuoles. It is concluded that statocysts do not belong to the basic organization of the Holothuroidea but have been evolved within this group. The statement, that the statocysts of apodous sea cucumbers and that of the enigmatic Xenoturbella bocki are homologous organs, is rejected.

Author-supplied keywords

  • (Anatomy and Histology
  • (Invertebrata
  • (Sense Organs
  • Associated Structures and Functions
  • Comparative and Experimental Morpho
  • Digestive System
  • General and Comparative--C
  • General and Comparative--M
  • Holothuroidea
  • Nervous System
  • Neuron
  • Parietal Cell
  • Sense Organs
  • Sensory System
  • Statocyst
  • Statolith
  • Turbellaria
  • Ultrastructure
  • animals
  • echinoderms
  • helminths
  • invertebrates
  • platyhelminths

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Authors

  • Ulrich Ehlers

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