An ultrastructural study of byssus stem formation in Mytilus californianus



In Mytilus californianus, root lamellae of the byssus stem are formed by two morphologically distinct exocrine cell types. Type 1 cells contain large ellipsoid granules which are ultrastructurally identical to those of the collagen gland associated with byssus thread formation: these granules are secreted only at the base of the stem generator. Type 2 cells contain small cylindroid granules which are secreted only from the lateral surfaces of generator septa. The resultant matrix is biphasic because the two secretions are incompletely mixed. Lamellar sheets of matrix are propelled outward by the action of cilia and are molded into a cylinder at the neck region of the stem. However, the stem retains a lamellar pattern.

Byssus threads are attached to the stem by flattened rings formed from thread material which is secreted into the cervical crevice surrounding the neck.

The microanatomy of the stem forming region is described and a new term, “stem generator,” is proposed for this organ.