Environmental Biology of Fishes

, Volume 38, Issue 1–3, pp 253–267 | Cite as

Ontogeny of the umbilical cord and placenta in the Atlantic sharpnose shark,Rhizoprionodon terraenovae

  • William C. Hamlett
Article

Synopsis

The Atlantic sharpnose shark is a viviparous anamniote that develops an epitheliochorial yolksac placenta. Initially, contents of the yolksac nourish the embryos. Yolk is partially digested in the yolk syncytial-endoderm complex and subsequently transferred to the vitelline circulation. Yolk is also transported by ciliary activity of the yolk stalk ductus to the fetal gut for digestion. When embryos are 4.0cm in length, vascular ridges, termed appendiculae, develop on the yolk stalk. As yolk stores are depleted, the yolksac differentiates into the fetal portion of the placenta and the uterus abutting the yolksac differentiates into the maternal portion of the placenta. The yolk stalk differentiates into an elongate umbilical cord. The uterine epithelium produces secretions that are positive by the periodic acid-Schiff and alcian blue methods and metachromatic when stained with toluidine blue. Uterine capillaries are continuous and the surface epithelium is active both in secretion and transport of nutrients. When the embryos are 7–10cm in length, appendiculae are elongate, branched and populated by separate microvillar and granulated cells. Appendiculae may function as a paraplacental nutrient absorptive organ and be involved in the regulation of osmolarity of periembryonic fluids. The fetal placenta has two functional regions: a proximal portion that is presumed to function as a steroid producing organ and a distal portion that effects nutrient and metabolic exchange between the mother and fetus. Characteristics of the fetal placenta include endocytotic activity, crystalline-like cytoplasmic bodies and fenestrated capillaries. Fetal and maternal components of the placenta are separated by the egg envelope.

Key words

Yolksac Fetal membranes Viviparity Elasmobranchs 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • William C. Hamlett
    • 1
  1. 1.Indiana University School of Medicine, South Bend Center for Medical Education, University of Notre DameNotre DameU.S.A.

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