Ultrastructure of the skin mechanoreceptors of the Chinese giant salamander, Andrias davidianus



The ultrastructure of two kinds of mechanoreceptive organs, pit organs and neuromasts, in the skin of adult giant salamanders (Andrias davidianus) was studied by transmission electron microscopy. Neuromasts and pit organs differ in their types of synapses, the spatial distribution of kinocilia on sensory cells, and in the degree to which sensory cells are separated by processes of the supporting cells; the two organs probably serve complementary functions. The neuromasts in A. davidianus differ from those of other salamanders in the orientation of kinocilia, in the extent of intrusion of supporting cells into the sensory layer, in the degree of thickening of the synaptic membranes, in the distribution of synaptic spheres, and by the absence of a cupula. J. Morphol. 245:80–85, 2000 © 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.