The byssus threads of Pinna nobilis: A histochemical and ultrastructural study

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Andrea Diana *
Marcella Reguzzoni
Terenzio Congiu
Antonio Rescigno
Federica Sollai
Mario Raspanti
(*) Corresponding Author:
Andrea Diana | diana@unica.it

Abstract

The byssus of Pinna nobilis, the largest bivalve mollusc in the Mediterranean Sea, was investigated by histochemistry, immunohistochemistry, Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM), Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) and Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM). At low magnification, the byssus threads appeared distinctively elliptical in cross-section, with a typical size approaching 50 x 25 micron and a featureless glassy appearance. Histochemical and immunohistochemical techniques confirmed the presence of elastic domains but the absence of collagen, which is known to be the main component in other molluscs. Ultrastructural analysis by TEM revealed the presence of at least two components within the thread, and an inner arrangement of straight, tightly packed longitudinal streaks. SEM observations while confirming the inner packing of straight, parallel subfibrils, suggested in the fracture surfaces the presence of unidentified substance which cemented together the same subfibrils and which was removed by exposure to extreme pH values. AFM micrographs added further evidence for the tight packing of subfibrils and provided some evidence of orthogonal, barely visible connecting structures. Finally, HCl or NaOH treatment left the subfibrils clean and free from any other component. 


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