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Polar Biology

, Volume 25, Issue 9, pp 641–649 | Cite as

The gastrointestinal tract of Adélie penguins – morphology and function

  • Monica Olsen
  • Reidar Myklebust
  • Turid Kaino
  • Vibeke Elbrønd
  • Svein Mathiesen
Original Paper
  • 277 Downloads

Abstract.

The aim of this study was to provide data on the morphology of the gastrointestinal tract of Adélie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae). It was found to consist of a long oesophagus, a two-chambered stomach, a small intestine measuring only 5.2×body length, two rudimentary caeca and a short colon, typical of carnivorous birds. The stomach comprised a glandular proventriculus and a muscular gizzard that frequently contained grit. An acidic pH was recorded in both chambers. Ultrastructural studies of the small intestinal mucosal membrane revealed epithelial cells with elongated, irregular microvilli and high affinity for toluidine blue, absorptive intestinal epithelial cells and goblet cells. Numerous large lymphocyte-like cells were observed close to the brush border of the epithelium, and empty spaces on the epithelial surface reflected normal cell loss in the small intestine. The rudimentary caeca and colon provide relatively little volume and time for symbiotic bacteria to aid the digestion of crustacean chitin.

Keywords

Small Intestine Gastrointestinal Tract Chitin Body Length Cell Loss 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monica Olsen
    • 1
  • Reidar Myklebust
    • 2
  • Turid Kaino
    • 3
  • Vibeke Elbrønd
    • 4
  • Svein Mathiesen
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Arctic Biology and Institute of Medical Biology, University of Tromsø, 9037 Tromsø, Norway
  2. 2.Departments of Electron Microscopy and Morphology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tromsø, 9037 Tromsø, Norway
  3. 3.Department of Arctic Veterinary Medicine, The Norwegian School of Veterinary Science, 9292 Tromsø, Norway
  4. 4.Department of Anatomy and Physiology, The Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Grønnegårdsvej 7, 1870, Frederiksberg C, Denmark

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