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Nature and composition of the cephalic and thoracic cuticles of the hermit crab Clibanarius olivaceous

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Abstract

The structure and composition of the cephalic and thoracic cuticles of Clibanarius olivaceous Henderson are described. The cephalic cuticle is completely hardened due to tanning of the epicuticle and the outer part of the procuticle (pigmented Layer). The thoracic cuticle is partially hardened. The differences in extent of tanning reflect the chemical composition of the respective regions. The epicuticle of the cephalic region contains a protein rich in tyrosine, which combines with a sterol to form a lipoprotein complex. This in turn forms the precursor to sclerotin. Phenolic substances appear to be oxidized to quinones by the action of phenolase. The outer part of the procuticle of the cephalic region also contains phenolic substances, but this layer remains only partially tanned. This partial hardening is due to the presence of an inhibitory substance having the nature of ascorbic acid. In the epicuticle of the thoracic region, however, an arrest in tanning appears to be due not to the presence of an inhibitory substance, but to the absence of phenolase necessary for the oxidation of tanning material. In C. olivaceous, the tanning process is much abbreviated. The primary cause of hardening is calcification. The sulphydryl groups and acid mucopolysaccharide detected in the cephalic and thoracic cuticles of C. olivaceous are involved in calcification. It is suggested that hardening of the cephalic and thoracic cuticles in C. olivaceous constitutes a protection during those periods when these parts are exposed to the environment.

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Communicated by N.K. Panikkar, New Delhi

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Chockalingam, S. Nature and composition of the cephalic and thoracic cuticles of the hermit crab Clibanarius olivaceous . Mar. Biol. 26, 329–351 (1974). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00391517

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Keywords

  • Tyrosine
  • Ascorbic Acid
  • Quinone
  • Outer Part
  • Inhibitory Substance