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image of Journal of Crustacean Biology

ABSTRACT The pleopod tegumental glands (PTGs) of lobsters (Homarus americanus) are structurally similar to tegumental glands found below the eyestalks. In females, PTGs cycle with the ovary and secrete at spawning. In this study, we have examined the secretory activity of female PTGs at various times before and after ecdysis to determine if they also cycle with molting. In PTGs, secretory product is released into the ductules of the common locus and then conveyed to the surface of the pleopod through the main duct of the canal cell. Microtubules are a major secretory product of PTGs and, because they remain assembled extracellularly, their release is easy to observe ultrastructurally. All glands sampled prior to ecdysis contained numerous mature secretory vesicles and showed evidence of synthetic activity. The ductules of the common locus did not contain secretory material, except for an occasional cluster of microtubules. Four days after ecdysis, the secretory cells lacked vesicles and the ductules of the common locus were swollen with secreted material. By 8 days after molting, only the microtubular secretion could be observed in ductules, and it was evident in samples taken as late as 20 days after ecdysis. In glands sampled 8 days after ecdysis, secretory cells had already synthesized numerous new mature secretory vesicles, and all subsequent postmolt samples showed evidence of synthetic activity. Our observations indicate that synthesis of secretory vesicles in lobster PTGs is a continual process and that a massive release of vesicles occurs around the time of ecdysis.


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