Evidence suggests that ciliated sensory structures on the feeding palps of spionid polychaetes may function as chemoreceptors to modulate deposit-feeding activity. To investigate the probable sensory nature of these ciliated cells, we used immunohistochemistry, epi-fluorescence, and confocal laser scanning microscopy to label and image sensory cells, nerves, and their organization relative to the anterior central nervous system in several spionid polychaete species. Antibodies directed against acetylated alphatubulin were used to label the nervous system and detail the innervation of palp sensory cells in all species. In addition, the distribution of serotonin (5-HT) and FMRFamide-like immunoreactivity was compared in the spionid polychaetes Dipolydora quadrilobata and Pygospio elegans. The distribution of serotonin immunoreactivity was also examined in the palps of Polydora cornuta and Streblospio benedicti. Serotonin immunoreactivity was concentrated in cells underlying the food groove of the palps, in the palp nerves, and in the cerebral ganglion. FMRFamide-like immunoreactivity was associated with the cerebral ganglia, nuchal organs and palp nerves, and also with the perikarya of ciliated sensory cells on the palps.
(c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.