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External sensory structure in Annelids

Geoff Read g.read at niwa.co.nz
Wed May 19 15:30:09 EST 2004

Thomas Hesselberg wrote:
> While examining some errant polychaetes in the SEM, I found some (what I
> believe must be!) external sensory structures on all surfaces of the worm. My
> question now exactly what kind of sensory receptor this is? See photos on
> <http://www.bath.ac.uk/~enpth/SensoryStruct.html>. I would also be interested
> to know if similar structures are found in other annelid groups. And if
> anyone knows of studies done on the ultra-structure and function of these or
> similar sensory structures in the annelids (or indeed other invertebrates), I
> would like to have some references.  

The structures found in Platynereis dumerilii (your worm) are figured in Fig. 
1 of:  

Hardege, J. D. 1999: Nereidid polychaetes as model organisms for marine 
chemical ecology. Hydrobiologia 402: 145-161.

There they are on the modified parapodial cirri. The implication in the text 
is that they are 'olfactory' chemosensory and there are references to papers 
by Boilly-Marer & Lasalle 1978, 1980 which I have not read.  I too would be 
interested if anyone has 'proved' what the function is. Please post to the 

Boilly-Marer, Y. ; Lassalle, B. 1978: Electrophysiological responses of 
Heteronereis stimulated with sex pheromones (Annelida Polychaeta). Journal of 
Experimental Zoology. 205: 119-124  

Boilly-Marer, Y. ; Lassalle, B. 1980: Electrophysiological responses of the 
central nervous system in the presence of homospecific and heterospecific sex 
pheromones in nereids (Annelida Polychaeta). Journal of Experimental Zoology. 
213: 33-39  

  Geoff Read <g.read at niwa.co.nz>

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