Structure of the digestive tract of tornaria larva inEnteropneusta (Hemichordata)

Research paper by S. Sh. Dautov, L. P. Nezlin, V. V. Yushin

Indexed on: 01 Mar '94Published on: 01 Mar '94Published in: Helgoland Marine Research


The ultrastructure of the digestive tract of tornaria larva of enteropneusts was investigated. It showed that the digestive tract consists of three parts: esophagus, stomach, and intestine. The esophagus epithelium consists of two types of multiciliated epithelial cells and solitary muscle cells. Axonal tracts and neurons were found in the ventral wall of the esophagus. The cardiac sphincter contains an anterior band of strongly ciliated cells and a posterior band of cells with long vacuolized processes which partition the sphincter lumen. The stomach consists of three cell types: (1) cells with electron-opaque cytoplasm, bearing a fringed border on their apical sides; (2, 3) sparse cells with electron-light cytoplasm and different patterns of apical microvilli. Cells of the pyloric sphincter bear numerous cilia and almost no microvilli. The intestine consists of three parts. The anterior part is formed of multiciliated cells which bear the fringed border. The middle part consists of flattened cells bearing rare cilia and vast numbers of mace-like microvilli. The posterior part of the intestine is formed of cells bearing numerous cilia and few microvilli. Muscle cells were not found in either stomach or intestine epithelium. One noticed that the structure of the digestive tract of enteropneust tornaria larva differs from that of echinoid pluteus larva.