The dorsal strand of Polyandrocarpa misakiensis (Protochordata: Ascidiacea): a light and electron microscopic study


Hiromichi Koyama, College of Nursing, Yokohama City University, 3–9 Fukuura, Kanazawa-ku, Yokohama, 236–0004 Japan. E-mail:


The dorsal strand of a budding ascidian, Polyandrocarpa misakiensis, was studied by light and electron microscopy. The length and morphology of this organ vary even among zooids in the same colony. After curving between the paired posterior nerve trunks, the strand turns left and terminates in a dead end. The dorsal strand of this species is one of the simplest types among ascidians, since there is no branching, no extensive nerve plexus, and no neuronal or non-neuronal endocrine cells surrounding it. The strand mainly consists of a simple cuboidal epithelium, but has several variations, such as multilayered regions, and protrusions of a cellular chain. The strand cells usually have mitochondria, free ribosomes and a Golgi complex of dictyosomal type. There are many mitotic cells in the strand epithelium. The presence, between the cerebral ganglion and dorsal strand epithelium, of cells with morphology intermediate between the strand and neuronal cells suggests that the dorsal strand might supply cellular components, such as neurones, to the cerebral ganglion in adult zooids. At the caudal end, the strand cells show ultrastructural features suggesting active protein synthesis and secretion. These cells appear to be liberated from the epithelium to release the content of their granules.