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Fine morphology of the jaw apparatus of Puncturella noachina (Fissurellidae, Vetigastropoda)



Jaws of various kinds occur in virtually all groups of Mollusca, except for Polyplacophora and Bivalvia. Molluscan jaws are formed by the buccal epithelium and either constitute a single plate, a paired formation or a serial structure. Buccal ectodermal structures in gastropods are rather different. They can be nonrenewable or having final growth, like the hooks in Clione (Gastropoda, Gymnosomata). In this case, they are formed by a single cell. Conversely, they can be renewable during the entire life span and in this case they are formed by a set of cells, like the formation of the radula. The fine structure of the jaws was studied in the gastropod Puncturella noachina. The jaw is situated in the buccal cavity and consists of paired elongated cuticular plates. On the anterior edge of each cuticular plate there are numerous longitudinally oriented rodlets disposed over the entire jaw surface and immersed into a cuticular matrix. The jaw can be divided into four zones situated successively toward the anterior edge: 1) the posterior area: the zone of formation of the thick cuticle covering the entire jaw and forming the electron-dense outer layer of the jaw plate; 2) the zone of rodlet formation; 3) the zone of rodlet arrangement; and 4) the anterior zone: the free scraping edge of the plate, or the erosion zone. In the general pattern of jaw formation, Puncturella noachina resembles Testudinalia tessulata (Patellogastropoda) studied previously. The basis of the jaw is a cuticular plate formed by the activity of the strongly developed microvillar apparatus of the gnathoepithelium. However, the mechanism of renewal of the jaw anterior part in P. noachina is much more complex as its scraping edge consists not just of a thick cuticular matrix rather than of a system of denticles being the projecting endings of rodlets. J. Morphol. 275:775–787, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.