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, 9 (2), 383-94

The Fine Structure of the Cilia From Ctenophore Swimming-Plates

The Fine Structure of the Cilia From Ctenophore Swimming-Plates

B A AFZELIUS. J Biophys Biochem Cytol.


The ctenophore swimming-plate has been examined with the electron microscope. It has been recognized as an association of long cilia in tight hexagonal packing. One of the directions of the hexagonal packing is parallel to the long edge of the swimming-plate and is perpendicular to the direction of the ciliary beat. All the cilia in the swimming-plate are identically oriented. The effective beat in the movement of the swimming-plate is directed towards the aboral pole of the animal, and this is also the side of the unpaired peripheral filament in all the cilia. The direction of the ciliary beat is fixed in relation to the position of the filaments of the cilia. The swimming-plate cilium differs from other types of cilia and flagella in having a filament arrangement that can be described as 9 + 3 as opposed to the conventional 9 + 2 pattern. The central filaments appear in a group of two "tubular" filaments and an associated compact filament. The compact filament might have a supporting function. It has been called "midfilament." Two of the peripheral nine filaments (Fig. 1, Nos. 3 and 8) are joined to the ciliary membrane by means of slender lamellae, which divide the cilium into two unequal compartments. These lamellae have been called "compartmenting lamellae." Some observations of the arrangement of the compartmenting lamelae indicate that they function by cementing the cilia together in lateral rows. The cilia of the rows meet at a short distance from each other, leaving a gap of 30 A only. The meeting points are close to the termini of the compartmenting ridges. An electron-dense substance is sometimes seen bridging the gap. Some irregularities are noted with regard to the arrangement of the compartmenting lamellae particularly at the peripheral rows of cilia. In many cilia in these rows there are small vesicles beneath the ciliary membrane.

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