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The development and fine structure of ultimobranchial glands in larval anurans

II. Bufo viridis, Hyla arborea, and Rana ridibunda

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A comparative optical microscopic and ultrastructural study on the ultimobranchial (UB) glands of three common species of Israeli anurans: Bufo viridis, Hyla arborea, and Rana ridibunda during metamorphosis is presented. The UB glands typically consist of a single follicle with a central lumen, though occasionally secondary follicles are present in Hyla and Rana. A single UB cell type is found which appears either in a very electrondense “dark” form or as a less dense “light” form, though the ratio of dark: light cells from gland to gland at any one stage of metamorphic development is quite variable. By the end of metamorphosis in Bufo and Hyla all the UB cells are usually of the light variety, whereas in Rana the dark cells persist. The organelles of these secretory cells including secretory granules, granular endoplasmic reticulum, free ribosomes, tonofilaments, microtubules, Golgi bodies, and lipid droplets, their distribution, abundance, and possible functions in relation to metamorphosis are described. Apocrine secretion into the central lumen of the gland is also described and discussed.

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Correspondence to Dr. Raymond Coleman.

Additional information

This study was performed during the tenure of a Fellowship under the Royal SocietyIsrael Academy Programme at Tel Aviv University. I am grateful to Dr. Zvi Yaron of the Zoology Department and the staff of the Electron Microscope Unit for facilities and support. I would also like to thank Alan D. Phillips, E.M. Unit, Bedford College, University of London, for his assistance in the analysis of the material made possible by research award B/RG/5437 from the Science Research Council, U.K.

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Coleman, R. The development and fine structure of ultimobranchial glands in larval anurans. Cell Tissue Res. 164, 215–232 (1975).

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Key words

  • Ultimobranchial glands
  • Anuran larvae
  • Metamorphosis
  • Ultrastructure