Morphology of the ampullae of Lorenzini in juvenile freshwater bull sharks

paperPublished online on 17. December 2014

Morphology of the ampullae of Lorenzini in juvenile freshwater Carcharhinus leucas

Darryl L. Whitehead, Arnault R.G. Gauthier, Erica W.H. Mu, Mike B. Bennett,
Ian R. Tibbetts


Ampullae of Lorenzini were examined from juvenile Carcharhinus leucas (831–1,045 mm total length) captured from freshwater regions of the Brisbane River. The ampullary organ structure differs from all other previously described ampullae in the canal wall structure, the general shape of the ampullary canal, and the apically nucleated supportive cells. Ampullary pores of 140–205 µm in diameter are distributed over the surface of the head region with 2,681 and 2,913 pores present in two sharks that were studied in detail. The primary variation of the ampullary organs appears in the canal epithelial cells which occur as either flattened squamous epithelial cells or a second form of pseudostratified contour-ridged epithelial cells; both cell types appear to release material into the ampullary lumen. Secondarily, this ampullary canal varies due to involuted walls that form a clover-like canal wall structure. At the proximal end of the canal, contour-ridged cells abut a narrow region of cuboidal epithelial cells that verge on the constant, six alveolar sacs of the ampulla. The alveolar sacs contain numerous receptor and supportive cells bound by tight junctions and desmosomes. Pear-shaped receptor cells that possess a single apical kinocilium are connected basally by unmyelinated neural boutons. Opposed to previously described ampullae of Lorenzini, the supportive cells have an apical nucleus, possess a low number of microvilli, and form a unique, jagged alveolar wall. A centrally positioned centrum cap of cuboidal epithelial cells overlies a primary afferent lateral line nerve.

Journal of Morphology. doi: 10.1002/jmor.20355



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