The protonephridial system of the tusk shell, Antalis entalis (Mollusca, Scaphopoda)
The development and microanatomy of the protonephridial system in larvae and postmetamorphic juveniles of Antalis entalis (Dentaliidae) have been examined by means of a semithin serial sectioning and reconstruction technique. One late larval stage has been additionally examined by transmission electron microscopy. The protonephridium appears during larval development and is reduced in the juvenile approximately 13 days after metamorphosis. This is the first unambiguous evidence of a protonephridium in a postlarval mollusc. When fully developed the protonephridium is unique in consisting of two cells only, a terminal cell (=cyrtocyte) and a duct-releasing cell with glandular appearance. The polyciliary terminal cell has several distinct ultrafiltration sites, resembling conditions in bivalve protonephridia. The large duct-releasing cell shows a very large nucleus probably reflecting polyploidy. Its basal infoldings and many mitochondria suggest metabolic activity, the cytoplasm is characterised by many distinct granules. The unique features of the scaphopod protonephridial system are compared with available data on the protonephridia of other molluscan classes. The finding gives additional evidence that protonephridia belong to the ground pattern of the Mollusca.
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