, Volume 535-536, Issue 1, pp 25-35

Comparative structure of the epidermis in polychaetes (Annelida)

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The polychaete epidermis generally consists of a single layer of supportive cells, gland cells and sensory cells. Except for the latter, this paper reviews the recent literature on the annelid epidermis, focussing on the mentioned cell types and the cuticle. The annelid epidermis is compared to that of Sipuncula, Echiura and Myzostomida. Supportive cells predominate in the polychaete epidermis. They show a high structural diversity even within single specimens. Ciliated cells are usually multiciliary and only two cases of monociliary epidermis cells are known. Unambigous epithilio-muscle cells are only described in feeding palps of a Magelona species. Secretory cells release a large number of gland products and some of them are essential for tube secretion. Rather pecularities of the cells and its arrangement within glands than the ultrastructure of the secretions is useful for phylogenetic considerations. One of the main components of the cuticle is collagen. Recent studies indicate that annelid cuticular collagen differs in several aspects from collagen of the connective tissue and might be of interest for systematics.