, Volume 92, Issue 1, pp 65-72

Ultrastructure of the gill of the hydrothermal-vent mytilid Bathymodiolus sp.

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Specimens of Bathymodiolus sp. were collected at 2 620 m depth during the “Biocyarise” Cruise (12°58′80″N; 13°56′60″W) in March 1984, and samples of the gill were fixed for ultrastructural observations. The gill of this hydrothermal-vent mytilid constitutes the main organ in the nutritional processes. The lamellae display abundant ciliation, normally comprised of frontal cilia, compound latero-frontal cirri and lateral cilia. At the ventral margin of each demi-branch, a longitudinal, ciliated, feeding groove is present. the lamellae are composed of numerous homorhabdic filaments connected by tufts of cilia. Each filament is made of a thin wall overlying a central lumen containing amoebocytes. Ultrastructural observations revealed the filament wall to be composed of four types of cells: (1) The ciliated cells of the frontal, latero-frontal and lateral ciliation, characterized by an abundance of mitochondria. (2) Mucous cells present to some degree among the ciliated cells, but more abundant on the distal edge and containing dense droplets of mucus. (3) Cells colonized at their apical pole by numerous bacteria enclosed in membrane-delimited clear spaces and composing the major part of the filament wall. (4) Thin ciliated cells separating the bacterial cells and characterised by a dense fringe of microvilli at their apical pole. The lumen of the filament contains amoebocytes of different morphological aspects which seem to accumulate electron-dense granules, possibly related to detoxification processes.

Communicated by T.M. Pérès, Marseille