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

  • R. Pennati | Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy.
  • A. Dell'Anna Università degli studi di Milano, Italy.
  • G. Zega Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy.
  • F. De Bernardi Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy.


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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Author Biography

R. Pennati, Università degli Studi di Milano

Original Papers
Supporting Agencies
This work was supported by grants from the MIUR (PRIN 2006058952 to F.D.) and by the University of Milano
salp, serotonin, cerebral ganglion, protochordate
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How to Cite
Pennati, R., Dell’Anna, A., Zega, G., & De Bernardi, F. (2012). Immunohistochemical study of the nervous system of the tunicate Thalia democratica (Forsskal, 1775). European Journal of Histochemistry, 56(2), e16.