Functional anatomy of scent glands in Paranemastoma quadripunctatum (Opiliones, Dyspnoi, Nemastomatidae)

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Abstract

The morphological organization and functional anatomy of prosomal defensive (scent) glands in Paranemastoma quadripunctatum, a representative of the dyspnoid harvestmen, was investigated by means of histological semithin sections, software-based 3D-reconstruction and scanning electron microscopy. Scent glands comprise large, hollow sacs on either side of the prosoma, each of these opening to the outside via one orifice (ozopore) immediately above coxa I. In contrast to the situation known from laniatorean, cyphophthalmid and some eupnoid Opiliones, ozopores are not exposed but hidden in a depression (atrium), formed by a dorsal integumental fold of the carapace and the dorsal parts of coxae I. Glandular sacs are connected to ozopores via a short duct which is equipped with a specific closing mechanism in its distal part: A layer of modified epidermal cells forms a kind of pad-like tissue, surrounding the duct like a valve. Several muscles attached to the anterior parts of the glandular reservoir and to the epithelial pad may be associated with ozopore-opening. The actual mechanism of secretion discharge seems to be highly unusual and may be hypothesized on the basis of corroborating data from behavioral observations, scent gland anatomy and secretion chemistry as follows: Enteric fluid is considered to be directed towards the ozopores via cuticular grooves in the surface of the coxapophyses of legs I. Then, the fluid is sucked into the anterior part of the scent gland reservoirs by the action of dorsal dilator muscles that widen the reservoir and produce a short-term negative pressure. After dilution/solution of the naphthoquinone-rich scent gland contents, a secretion-loaded fluid is thought to be discharged with the help of transversal compressor muscles. This is the first detailed study on the functional anatomy of scent glands and the mechanisms of secretion discharge in the Dyspnoi. J. Morphol. 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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