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Paddle cilia (discocilia) in chemosensitive structures of the gastropod mollusk Pleurobranchaea californica


Scanning electron microscopy of various regions of the body of the marine gastropod Pleurobranchaea californica (McFarland) has revealed a characteristic cell type that bears cilia with dilated discoid-shaped tips. The tips of the cilia consist of an expansion of the ciliary membrane around a looped distal extension of the axoneme. These kinocilia have been observed in numerous other marine invertebrates and are generally referred to as paddle cilia (Tamarin et al. 1974) or discocilia (Heimler 1978). Although many functions have been proposed for paddle cilia, little empirical evidence supports any of the proposals. In Pleurobranchaea we have found that the distribution of this ciliated cell type corresponds exactly to areas of the body known from behavioral studies (Lee et al. 1974; Davis and Matera 1981) to mediate chemoreception. Transmission electron microscopy of the epithelium lining the rhinophores and tentacles of Pleurobranchaea revealed details of the ultrastructure of these ciliated cells and showed that they are primary receptors. These ciliated receptors lie in a yellow-brown pseudostratified columnar epithelium that superficially resembles the olfactory mucosa of vertebrates.

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Correspondence to W. J. Davis.

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Matera, E.M., Davis, W.J. Paddle cilia (discocilia) in chemosensitive structures of the gastropod mollusk Pleurobranchaea californica . Cell Tissue Res. 222, 25–40 (1982).

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Key words

  • Paddle cilia
  • Discocilia
  • Pleurobranchaea
  • Chemoreceptors
  • Electron microscopy