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A Study on the Digestive Physiology of a Marine Polychaete (Eulalia viridis) through Microanatomical Changes of Epithelia During the Digestive Cycle

  • Ana P. Rodrigo (a1), Maria H. Costa (a1), António Pedro Alves de Matos (a2), Francisco Carrapiço (a3) and Pedro M. Costa (a1)...
Abstract

As for many invertebrates, the gut of marine polychaete species has key physiological functions. However, studies integrating microanatomical descriptions with physiological processes are scarce. The present investigates histological, histochemical and cytological changes in the alimentary canal during the digestive cycle of the marine annelid Eulalia viridis, a species that combines opportunist scavenging, predation and cannibalistic behavior. The gut is comprised of an eversible pharynx, esophagus, intestine and rectum. Three main phases of digestion were identified, namely, resting/secretory, absorptive and excretory. The intestinal epithelium is complex and exhibited the most significant changes regarding intracellular digestion, excretion and storage. Conversely, the pharynx and esophagus were chiefly important for enzyme secretion. The results also indicate the existence of two distinct types of secretory cells in the intestine, with likely distinct physiological roles. Some similarities have been found between the intestinal epithelia and the molluscan (especially cephalopod) digestive gland, as, for instance, the shedding of apical corpuscles by digestive cells at posterior stages of digestion. The findings indicate that the digestive process in this worm is complex and related to the many physiological roles that cells need to play in the presence of reduced organ differentiation.

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* Corresponding author. pmcosta@fct.unl.pt
References
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Microscopy and Microanalysis
  • ISSN: 1431-9276
  • EISSN: 1435-8115
  • URL: /core/journals/microscopy-and-microanalysis
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