Fine structure of the terminal organ of the house fly larva, Musca domestica L.

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The terminal organs of the cephalic lobes of the house fly larva, Musca domestica L., were studied by scanning and transmission electron microscopy. Six different types of sensilla were found: (1) papilla sensillum, (2) pit sensillum, (3) spot sensillum, (4) modified papilla sensillum, (5) knob sensillum, and (6) scolopidium. The papilla, pit, spot, and modified papilla sensilla have the essential structure of contact chemoreceptors, i.e., the unbranched dendritic tips are exposed externally through a single opening. However, a tubular body, which is a characteristic structure of tactile setae, is also present in some of the dendritic tips. We assume these sensilla serve a dual function—contact chemo- and mechanoreception. The role of the knob sensilla is obscure. The scolopidia present in the dorsal and the terminal organ are probably stress detectors. Two basal bodies occur in the dendritic ciliary region of all sensilla. Both of the basal bodies (except in the scolopidia) give rise to the distal ciliary microtubules as well as the proximal rootlets.

This research was supported in part by the Office of Naval Research, PHS Research Grant EC-246 and NIH Training Grant ES-00069. Paper No. 3608 of the North Carolina State University Agricultural Experiment Station journal series. The advise of R. A. Steinbrecht is gratefully acknowledged.