Royal Society Publishing

On the Structure of the Antennular Attachment Organ of the Cypris Larva of Balanus balanoides (L.)

J. A. Nott, B. A. Foster


The third segment of the antennule of the cypris larva of Balanus balanoides is modified as an attachment organ with a disk by which the cyprid attaches to submerged surfaces. The attachment disk is covered with a felt of fine cuticular villi. Opening on to the disk are terminal branches of the cement duct, numerous glands and an array of sensory hairs. The sensory structures are arthropod scolopidia with the dendrites giving rise to cilia which, distally, change to distal sensory processes. It is suggested that the cuticular hairs situated in invaginations of the cuticle around the margin of the disk function as position receptors and that the two setae lying away from the cuticle of the segment are mechanoreceptors. Three of the scolopidia have structures suiting them for chemoreception; the distal sensory processes are exposed to the exterior at the tip of the hair. Two of these hairs are positioned at the margin and one at the centre of the disk. The fourth segment, which arises from the side of the attachment organ, is packed with sensory cell processes which are associated with setae arising at the distal end; its movements are controlled by a single muscle from the third segment. A suction mechanism of adhesion is precluded as there are no structures which could effect or release suction beneath the disk. The disk could act as an adhesive pad, with the cuticular villi increasing its surface area and the antennular glands possibly secreting a viscous substance. The presence of chemoreceptors on the attachment organ indicates that a chemosensory mechanism could operate during the gregarious behaviour of settling cyprids.

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