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Metecdysial Molt Staging and Changes in the Cuticle in the Crayfish Orconectes Sanborni (Faxon) 1)

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image of Crustaceana

The metecdysial (postmolt) period in Orconectes sanborni was divided into a series of stages, and the stages named following Drach (1939). It was shown that not only are stages A1 and C4 based on criteria applicable to all crustaceans universally, but stages A2 and C1 may also be based on such criteria. Therefore, during the metecdysial period, only stages B, C2, and C3 must be based on criteria that vary with the species. Staining of tle cuticle with iron hematoxylin and eosin was basically the same at all stages. Only the epicuticle changed in staining with Mallory's triple stain and in reaction to the periodic acid Schiff and dihydroxy-dinaphthyl-disulfide tests. In all these, the epicuticle displayed a loss in staining or reactivity between stages Ai and B. It was found that the following criteria can be used to determine the metecdysial stages: Stage Ai begins immediately after ecdysis. The body surface is slippery and very soft. Stage A2. The integument is tough and parchment-like. Stage B. The carapace begins to feel brittle, but the postorbital ridge and cervical groove can still be bent readily with the finger nail. Stage C1. The postorbital ridge and cervical groove are rigid. Stage C2. Only the gastric region of the carapace and the areola are less rigid than they will become later. Stage C3. The entire carapace has achieved its final state of rigidity. Stage C4. The cuticle is complete. The inner, non-calcified membranous layer is now present. No reliable method for recognizing the presence of the membranous layer was found other than the examination of sections. By the use of Alizarin red S to detect calcium in sections of the cuticle, it was shown that the method used by Drach (1939) and Travis (1960) is not reliable in O. sanborni.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biological Sciences, Kent State University, Kent, Ohio 44240, U.S.A.


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