The ultrastructure and histology of the defensive epidermal glands of some marine pulmonates

Pinchuck, Shirley Clare (2009) The ultrastructure and histology of the defensive epidermal glands of some marine pulmonates. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




Histology and electron microscopy were used to describe and compare the structure of the dorso-lateral pedal defensive glands of three species of marine Basommatophora, Siphonaria capensis, S. serrata and S. gigas. All three species possessed multi-cellular glands that were larger and most abundant in S. capensis. In S. capensis and S. serrata, defensive glands were composed of two types (type I and II) of large secretory cells filled with product and some irregularly shaped support cells that surrounded a central lumen. The product of both cell types was produced by organelles confined to the bases of the cells. The entire gland was surrounded by a well developed layer of smooth muscle and collagen. Type I cells stained positively for neutral and sulphated mucins, and at the transmission electron microscope level the product had a reticulated appearance. By contrast type II gland cells stained very positively for acidic mucins and the secretory product was formed as large granular vesicles. The product from both types of cell, which appeared to be secreted by holocrine secretion, mixed in the lumen of the duct. Individuals of Siphonaria gigas had two types of lateral pedal glands, a large multi-cellular type and a tubular unicellular gland. The multi-cellular glands, which were surrounded by poorly developed muscle, contained one type of gland cell that stained for neutral and sulphated mucins only, as well as some support cells. The tubular glands contained a heterogeneous product that stained very positively for neutral and sulphated mucins. In addition two species of shell-less marine Systellommatophorans, Onchidella capensis and O. hildae, were examined. Onchidellids also posses large marginal, multi-cellular, epidermal glands that produce a repugnatorial secretion. Like the multi-cellular epidermal glands of siphonariids, those of onchidellids are surrounded by layers of smooth muscle. The muscular capsule was particularly well developed in both species of onchidellid, but more so in O. hildae. In addition, this study has shown that unlike siphonariids, muscle fibres run between the gland cells of O. capensis and O. hildae. Unlike siphonariids, onchidellids have a layer of epithelial cells lining the lumen of the gland. The well developed muscle layer and the strands of muscle running between the different gland cells indicates that the glands can be constricted to forcibly propel their secretions along the length of the duct and away from the body of the animal. Based on their product, glands of O. capensis were comprised of five different types of secretory cell and O. hildae only four. Histological and histochemical staining of the glands of showed that the secretory product is largely made up of acidic mucopolysaccharides and neutral and sulphated mucins. A single species from the order Eupulmonata, Trimusculus costatus, was examined and the glands were very different to the species from the siphonariids and onchidellids. Trimusculus costatus does not have large multi-cellular glands encapsulated in a well developed muscle layer, but based on their cell contents, three different types of large unicellular gland cell can be recognised. The glands of T. costatus gave positive results for acid, neutral and sulphated mucins, but negative results for carboxylated mucin. It is possible that the mucus secreted by T. costatus is also an anti-bacterial agent and whilst not totally eliminating bacteria may prevent the accumulation of epibionts on these sedentary limpets. The acidic or sulphated nature of the secretions may help in this role. The defensive mucous secretions of Siphonaria and Onchidella contain polypropionate derivatives, whilst the active ingredients of Trimusculus mucus have been identified as labdane diterpenes, similar to those produced by opisthobranchs. The structure of the glands thought to produce these repungnatorial secretions is very different, with the glands of T. costatus resembling those of the opisthobranchs.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Snails - Histology, Snails - Physiology, Snails - Cytology
Subjects:Q Science > QL Zoology > Morphology
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Zoology & Entomology
Supervisors:Hodges, A. N.
ID Code:1884
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:07 Feb 2011 09:46
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:21
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