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Keywords:

  • caruncle;
  • dorsal organs;
  • sensory organs;
  • polychaeta;
  • ultrastructure

Abstract

The nuchal organs of annelid Laonice bahusiensis (Spionidae) from northern Europe have been studied using scanning and transmission electron microscopy. L. bahusiensis is the first spionid species in which extensively developed, continuous nuchal organs are described. The nuchal organs of this genus are the longest known among polychaete annelids. They consist of paired double bands extending from the prostomium on a mid-dorsal caruncle for about 24–30 setigers. Their microanatomy corresponds to the general structural plan of nuchal organs: there are ciliated supporting cells and bipolar sensory cells with sensory cilia traversing an olfactory chamber. The organs are overlaid by a secondary paving-stone-like cover and innervated by one pair of longitudinally elongated nuchal nerves. These findings clearly favor the hypothesis that the paired, extensively developed ciliated structures found in some Spionidae are homologous with the prostomial nuchal organs characteristic of polychaete annelids. J. Morphol. 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.