Lateral organs in sedentary polychaetes (Annelida) - Ultrastructure and phylogenetic significance of an insufficiently known sense organ
|Anatomy & Morphology; Annelida; CENTRAL-NERVOUS-SYSTEM; lateral organs; morphology; PATTERN; polychaetes; POSITION; SEM; sense organs; TEM; Zoology
Lateral organs are sense organs visible as densely ciliated pits or papillae between the noto- and the neuropodia in certain taxa of sedentary polychaetes. Ultrastructural studies in about 10 species of the following taxa Maldanidae, Opheliidae, Orbiniidae, Paraonidae, Magelonidae, Spionidae, Poecilochaetidae and Terebellidae have been designed to evaluate whether these organs are homologous among polychaetes. In spite of great external diversity, the investigations revealed an overall ultrastructural similarity. Differences between species investigated mainly concern the size of the organs as well as the number and arrangement of cells. The organs comprise supportive cells and uniciliated penetrative sensory cells. Their dendrites are closely arranged and thus their cilia may resemble multiciliated cells. There are two types of sensory cells: one type possesses no or mainly thin microvilli of which usually only a few reach the cuticular surface, and in the other type the cilium is consistently surrounded by 10 strong microvilli, which form a pore-like opening in the cuticle. Further differences occur in the structure of the rootlet system. Basally, a retractor muscle attaches to the organ. The systematic significance of these organs within Annelida is discussed with respect to the conflicting phylogenetic hypotheses explaining the relationships of annelid taxa.
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