, Volume 174, Issue 3, pp 345-350

Hygro- and thermoreceptive tarsal organ in the spider Cupiennius salei

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Extracellular recordings were made from moist cells, dry cells and warm cells in the tip pore sensilla of the spider tarsal organ. Stimulation consisted of a rapid shift from an adapting air stream to another one at different levels of partial pressure of water vapor or of temperature. The moist and the dry cells respond antagonistically to sudden changes in humidity. Both hygroreceptors are unusual in being excited in a synergistic manner by pungent vapors of very volatile, polar substances. Presumably, the hygrosensitivity is superimposed on basically chemosensitive receptors. A moist cell at average differential sensitivity is able to discriminate two successive upward steps in humidity when they differ by 11% relative humidity. For a single dry cell, the difference required for a correct discrimination between two downward humidity steps is 10% relative humidity. The moist and the dry cells are unique in that they occur in combination with warm cells. A single warm cell at average differential sensitivity is able to resolve differences in warming steps down to 0.4°C.