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The hair-peg organs of the shore crab, Carcinus maenas (Crustacea, Decapoda): Ultrastructure and functional properties of sensilla sensitive to changes in seawater concentration

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The hair-peg organs of the shore crab, Carcinus maenas, are modified hair-sensilla. A small hair shaft (peg) is surrounded by a tuft of solid cuticular bristles (hairs). Each hair-peg organ is innervated by 6 sensory neurons, 2 of which have “scolopidial” (type-I) dendrites. The outer segments of all dendrites pass through a cuticular canal extending to the articulated hair base in which the 2 type-I dendrites terminate. The other 4 (type-II) dendrites reach the clavate tip of the hair shaft and have access to a terminal pore and a large sickle-shaped aperture. Three inner and 8–12 outer enveloping cells belong to a hair-peg organ. The innermost enveloping cell contains a scolopale, which has desmosomal connections to the ciliary rootlets of the type-I dendrites. An inner and an outer sensillum lymph space are present. The ultrastructural features of the dendrites and the cuticular apparatus indicate that the hair-peg organs are bimodal sensilla, comprising 2 mechano- and 4 chemosensitive sensory neurons. Extracellular recordings from the leg nerve indicate that the chemosensitive neurons of the hair-peg organs respond to changes in seawater concentration in the physiological range of Carcinus maenas.

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Correspondence to Dr. Manfred Schmidt.

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Supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (SFB 45/A1; W. Gnatzy)

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Schmidt, M. The hair-peg organs of the shore crab, Carcinus maenas (Crustacea, Decapoda): Ultrastructure and functional properties of sensilla sensitive to changes in seawater concentration. Cell Tissue Res. 257, 609–621 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00221472

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Key words

  • Sensilla
  • Mechanoreceptors
  • Chemoreceptors
  • Sea water
  • Shore crab, Carcinus maenas (Crustacea, Decapoda)