Indexed on: 01 Jul '88Published on: 01 Jul '88Published in: Journal of Morphology
The distribution and histology of zymogen cells and the activity of digestive enzymes have been examined in the alimentary canal of larval, metamorphosing (stages 1-7), and adult Geotria australis (Geotriidae). Comparisons of the arrangement of the larval and adult zymogen cells are made with those observed in Mordacia mordax, a representative of the other Southern Hemisphere lamprey family (Mordaciidae), and with those reported elsewhere for holarctic lampreys (Petromyzontidae). In larval G. australis, epithelial zymogen cells are mainly restricted to the prominent pair of tubular diverticula which project forward from the oesophageal/intestinal junction. By contrast, zymogen cells of adults are present in the epithelium of both the anterior intestine and the intestinal caecum, a structure located at the new and more anterior oesophageal/intestinal junction which forms during metamorphosis. Amylolytic activity was greater in the larval diverticula than in the adult caecum, whereas the reverse was true for tryptic activity. This feature presumably reflects the high dietary contribution made by detritus and algae during the filter-feeding larval phase and by host muscle tissue during the predatory adult phase. The high tryptic activity in the caecum must promote the early breakdown of host tissue and thereby facilitate the digestion of lipids in the anterior intestine where lipolytic activity is high. At the commencement of metamorphosis, digestive activity and the number of zymogen cells declines markedly. By stage 4 the intestine has rotated anticlockwise almost 360 degrees; the two larval diverticula have disappeared; and the new exocrine caecum of the adult has started to develop from a forward proliferation of intestinal mucosal cells. While the exocrine pancreatic tissue of larval M. mordax is unique amongst lampreys in its location within a single, large diverticulum containing an extensive network of mucosal folds, that of the adult is found in the same position as in G. australis and holarctic lampreys.