Ultrastructure of the lateral-line sense organs of the ratfish, Chimaera monstrosa

Cell Tissue Res. 1981;215(3):651-65. doi: 10.1007/BF00233539.


The ultrastructure of the lateral-line neuromasts in the ratfish, Chimaera monstrosa is described. The neuromasts rest at the bottom of open grooves and consist of sensory, supporting, basal and mantle cells. Each sensory cell is equipped with sensory hairs consisting of a single kinocilium and several stereocilia. There are several types of sensory hair arrangement, and cells with a particular arrangement from patches within the neuromast. There are two types of afferent synapse. The most common afferent synapse has a presynaptic body and is typically associated with an extensive system of anastomosing tubules on the presynaptic side. When the tubules are absent, vesicles surround the presynaptic body. These synapses are often associated into synaptic fields, containing up to 35 synaptic sites. The second type of afferent synapse does not have a presynaptic body and is not associated with the tubular system. The afferent synapses of the second type do not form synaptic fields and are uncommon. The afferent synapses are either associated with a postsynaptic sac or more commonly with a strongly osmiophilic postsynaptic membrane. The accessory cells are similar to those in the acoustico-lateralis organs of other aquatic vertebrates. A possibility of movement of the presynaptic bodies and of involvement of the tubular system in the turnover of the transmitter is discussed. A comparison of the hair tuft types in the neuromasts of Ch. monstrosa with those in the labyrinth of the goldfish and of the frog is attempted.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cilia / ultrastructure
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / ultrastructure
  • Fishes / anatomy & histology*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neurons, Afferent / ultrastructure
  • Neurons, Efferent / ultrastructure
  • Sense Organs / ultrastructure*
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / ultrastructure*
  • Synapses / ultrastructure