Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary The fine structure of the terminal sensilla on the maxillary palps of Schistocerca gregaria has been investigated. Most organules include six neurons with dendrites extending to the tip of the cuticular peg, the opening of which is controlled so that the dendrites are not always exposed. The neurons are isolated from each other by a neurilemma cell and two other glial cells, while typical epidermal cells containing dense bundles of microtubules support the whole group of cells. At the poles of the neurons are specialised areas in which the cytoplasm is differentiated from that elsewhere. It contains a large number of mitochondria and small helical structures, while close to it are characteristic spheres of membranes, termed onion bodies, in various stages of development. It is suggested that the fluid bathing the distal parts of the dendrites and exuding from the tip of the peg has a number of specialised functions. It is probably concerned in forcing open the tip of the peg by hydrostatic pressure, it prevents the exposed tips of the dendrites from desiccating and it acts as a transmitter in which chemicals on the surfaces touched by the sensillum must dissolve before reaching the dendrites. This fluid may be produced by the neurilemma cell or by the neurons themselves. Closure of the pegs does not seem to produce any material reduction in the overall loss of water by the insect. Each neuron sends an axon to the brain; there is no peripheral fusion of axons. Possibly one neuron has a mechanoreceptor function, although no specialised terminal at the base of the peg has been observed. The concentration of mitochondria at either end of the neuron may be concerned in the production of action potentials, while the cavity of the peg and tormogen cell perhaps has a role in the conduction of the receptor potential to the perikaryon. Intercellular connections are such as to give mechanical stability to the cells of the organule and permit transport between the cells. Extracellular tubules extending from the wall of the peg into the cell complex may serve to anchor the peg during the moulting process.
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