Immunohistochemical study of the nervous system of the tunicate Thalia democratica (Forsskal, 1775)

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R. Pennati *
A. Dell'Anna
G. Zega
F. De Bernardi
(*) Corresponding Author:
R. Pennati | roberta.pennati@unimi.it

Abstract

Thalia democratica is a cosmopolitan tunicate belonging to the Thaliacea class. To further investigate the anatomy of this species, immunohistochemical labelling was performed using anti-tubulin and anti-serotonin antibodies on specimens collected in the Mediterranean Sea. The anti-tubulin antibody stained the cilia of the endostyle, the pericoronal bands and of the gill bar, enabling a detailed description of these structures. Moreover, immunolabelling of the nervous system showed the presence of eight pairs of nerve fibres emerging from the neural ganglion. Serotonergic cells were observed in the distal tract of the intestine, along the pericoronal bands, and in the placenta of gravid blastozooids, as well as in the neural ganglion. The presence of serotonin in the central nervous system has also been reported in the larvae of ascidians and may be linked to the planktonic life of these animals, a condition shared by adult thaliaceans and ascidian larvae. This work improves our knowledge of the anatomy of T. democratica and demonstrates the presence of a complex serotonergic system.

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