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A study of the fine structure of the pit organ of the common Japanese sea eel Conger myriaster


The fine structure of the pit organ of the sea eel has been studied by means of electron microscopy. The sensory epithelium of the pit organ consists of sensory cells and supporting cells. The apical surface of the sensory cell is studded with sensory hairs consisting of a kinocilium and stereocilia. The sensory cells are divided into two groups. In one, the kinocilium points dorsally and in the other the kinocilium points ventrally. The total number of sensory cells in one pit organ is about 100, and the ratio of cells with opposite polarity is about 1∶1.

On the basis of these structural features, the pit organ is considered to be a mechano-receptor sensitive to the movement of liquid in a dorso-ventral direction. It may also serve as an ion receptor, sensitive to environmental ion concentration.

Efferent nerve terminals make rare synaptic contacts on the afferent nerve fiber.

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Correspondence to Dr. Kiyoshi Hama.

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Hama, K. A study of the fine structure of the pit organ of the common Japanese sea eel Conger myriaster . Cell Tissue Res. 189, 375–388 (1978).

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Key words

  • Lateral line organ
  • Pit organ
  • Sea eel (Conger myriaster)
  • Electron microscopy